A lot has happened since I committed to a shopping ban as part of my Year of Less Challenge last year. I kept a diary (electronic of course) of my milestones along the way and I finally felt ready to share them with you below.
Update 1 (July 2018)
6 months have passed since I committed to a shopping ban as part of my Year of Less Challenge…time flies!!
The impact was clear within 2 months, however I wanted to wait a while before sharing insights from my journey to make sure they remained true. My goal was to be as strict as possible yet also honest, so I have to share my challenges and “slip-ups” as well. Here they are in no particular order:
- I have always taken it for granted that I can purchase things immediately, whether it be clothes, makeup, homewares, electronics. When you have the ability to purchase for instant gratification it can lead to impulse purchases that lose their meaning very quickly. I’ve noticed that there is temptation everywhere to follow the latest trends – instagram, emails, tv shows. Once I was conscious of impulse purchases and had committed myself to the shopping ban, it was easy to delete the tempting emails and focus on what I actually needed to consume.
- I noticed a drop in my credit card bill of approx $1,500 per month because there was nothing but food, bills and petrol remaining. It meant that I could put away money for our Bali trip and not dip into savings to cover monthly purchases.
- I started to “shop” from my wardrobe and bathroom drawers. It’s surprisingly satisfying to work my way through products and clothing I already own, particularly when I forgot I even owned them!
- I spent three days cleaning out my bedroom at my parents place. The last time I lived at home was 10 years ago so there was a lot of stuff that no longer held the same value as it did in the past. I realised that I have completely changed as a person, so the clothes and stuff I value has too. The lesson being that you should not accumulate too much during periods of your life because you are very likely to change again. I would hate to add up how much money I spent on clothes and items I have now donated to charity!!
- Committing to the ban has made me very conscious of what I purchase – there is a sense of guilt if I break the pact I have made with myself. Apart from food the only things I have purchased in the first three months were some blackout curtains for Zara’s room so she can learn to sleep better during the daytime, cot sheets for her bed now that she is sleeping in her room, and a contactless thermometer which I used when Zara was sick. These items have been on my “essentials” list for months and I know they will continue to be valued for a long time.
- After the first three months I have had a couple of “cheat purchases”. The first was a book by a Rachael Finch. A copy was not available from the library and I want to use it for recipes instead of purchasing HelloFresh. Secondly I went to the Lorna Jane warehouse sale and bought two short sleeved t-shirts to wear in place of singlets on my walks. My skin was seeing way too much sun so I was happy that I could compromise by purchasing the t-shirts for half their original price.
- For my return to work in September I have discovered that my black trousers and dresses fit perfectly now that I have lost my pregnancy weight. I don’t need to overhaul my corporate wardrobe because the key pieces are classic! I have decided that all I need for my capsule wardrobe are a few neutral tops, a jacket and a pair of ballet flats. I found a couple of tops from Seed at the Myer stocktake sale for $30 each and a leather jacket on sale that will be great for work and casual outings. Before I return to work I will re-organise my wardrobe so I can easily access my staple work outfits and remove overwhelm from having too many choices.
- I have been tempted to sign up for a couple of online courses run by my favourite life coaches, however I go back to my list of banned purchases and it reminds me why I decided to embark on this shopping ban in the first place. I am enough without adding another course to my to-do list!
In addition to the above, I wanted to take this experiment to another level and create further ways to save money beyond the shopping ban. So far, I’ve achieved the following savings:
- Recovered one off CTP refunds from our two cars of $160. This was essentially free money that I was eligible to claim back.
- Reviewed our private health insurance and downgraded our policy for the next 12 months. This has resulted in saving $220 per month or $2,640 for the year!! I don’t even need to pay it upfront to get the discount. I just removed items we won’t need and can upgrade at any time (being conscious of waiting periods).
- Completed some ad-hoc contract work for my industry professional body which I used as an opportunity to keep my corporate mind active. I really enjoyed the work because I had space to complete it without pressure.
- Avoided re-joining the gym in favour of doing more walks and once-weekly yoga classes so that I don’t feel the pressure to attend before I have the time to really commit.
- Obtained a debit card to make purchases when I don’t have cash in my wallet instead of being forced to use my credit card. I can see the money leaving my account so it has acted as a hand-brake to daily spending.
I want to stress that I have not been perfect during this experiment to date, yet it has been more than effective in helping me to get clear on my priorities. In June I suffered a “relapse” and purchased a couple of magazines and items I could have done without. My only explanation for these purchases was pure boredom and knowing that no-one was forcing me to stick to my impulse shopping ban. On a positive note I was very aware of my behaviour and I didn’t experience any buyers remorse because I knew from the start that the “high” would not last.
I am now motivated to continue on my journey and think carefully about any non-essential purchasing decisions. I hope this inspires you to do the same!
Update 2 (March 2019)
I’ve been back at work for 6 months part time. The shopping ban has been relaxed but my default is to say no to purchases. Slowly the spaces in our apartment are being decluttered as I use things. Replacements are carefully evaluated before purchasing. After a few weeks of improvising due to running out of facial moisturiser, I was ready to treat myself. First I ask – “Do I really need this?” In this case the answer is yes. And when I spend a bit more to buy Australian made and it glides onto my skin with a beautiful natural scent I feel so grateful. Ditto when I finally got the courage (and funds) to consider laser eye surgery. It was something I thought about for years and a week later I have not regretted the decision to go ahead. Two decades of glasses, contact lenses and solutions be gone. Life changing for someone that is craving less.
My new motivation is to take as little as possible when we move home in August.
Further donations are made to charity and friends. It is slightly sickening to think about the historical cost of all these items that don’t fit my life anymore. Yet holding onto dresses that fit me when I was 10kgs heavier JUST IN CASE seems insane.
The apartment feels lighter.
I feel lighter.
Update 3 (July 2019)
I can’t believe we have been in our new home for almost 6 weeks…a lot earlier than expected! We found our dream home and decided that bridging finance was worth the risk. There were a few very stressful weeks leading up to settlement, but we can finally rest easy as we now have a sale date for our old place.
Although I had spent the last 9 months decluttering and avoiding shopping, we still had a lot of stuff to move. I spent the weeks leading up to the move organising like items into storage containers and boxes and it made life much easier when it came to unpacking.
Our new place has loads of storage and space, so it is tempting to fill it up! My latest challenge has been to find creative places to store items so that we can avoid purchasing furniture for the sake of it. My books now have a home in the kitchen cupboards which are too high to reach on foot. The laundry is the home for everything miscellaneous! Our walk in wardrobe has more space for clothes so they don’t take over the spare bedroom.
Once we are settled I can’t wait to share more.