A Five Month Shopping Ban - Lessons Learned

Last August I began a five month shopping ban, which ended on New Year's Eve 2017. The rules of the ban were:

- No purchases of clothing, shoes, toiletries/makeup or household items
- I was allowed to buy groceries, eat out and replace any necessities (light bulbs, toothpaste, trash bags) but only once they ran out

I set a few goals I wanted to achieve as a result of the ban and now I'm looking back on what I learned, what I achieved and what I will do going forward.

Goals

Save money

Break shopping addiction

Be mindful of consumption



Save money

To kick off this goal I had my job increase the amount of money that is automatically transferred in to my savings account. Unfortunately some family obligations also increased around this time so I used my savings to contribute to that each month. When all was said and done I ended up with about the same amount I was saving before.

There was, however an unexpected success in this area. During the ban I cut my credit card use down to zero. Prior to the ban - if there was something I wanted to pay for, but didn't have enough cash in my checking account - I'd use credit. In those five months I didn't have any expenses that were beyond my means. Once I stopped shopping for things I didn't need I was able to live comfortably on my salary.

Lesson Learned: You can't save what you don't have, but you sure can spent it.


Be mindful of consumption

This was a goal I achieved early on in the ban and has been the most lasting lesson learned. I couldn't buy deodorant in the 5 months I participated in the ban because every time I finished one stick I'd find another half used stick somewhere in my bathroom. By the time the ban was over I'd found something like 5 sticks of deodorant - all in various states of use. 

That prompted me to see how many unopened mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner I had from various hotels. Well I'll tell you how many...enough to donate a shoe box full to another blogger who was putting together overnight kits for foster kids. And the thing is, I'd taken all those mini bottles with no intention of using them. I believe that in an abundant world - where all of my needs are met - there will always be available shampoo and conditioner.

Lesson Learned: Take only what you need.


Break shopping addiction

I started out strong by setting myself up for success not failure. I stopped going to the mall for the entire length of the ban. When I got catalogs in the mail I immediately threw them away without reading them. I turned off all sale notifications and didn't log in to my coupon email account - yes I have a separate email address that I give to stores when they sign me up for promotions, that way all of my coupons are in one place. 

But guess what happens when you have a shopping addition and you can't shop? You find a new thing to be addicted to. For me, not being able to buy clothes/makeup etc. meant that I purchased a whole lot of groceries. It was the only thing that I was allowed to buy without restriction and boy did I! And guys...I don't even cook! 

Once I realized I was still feeding my addiction by grocery shopping I became more mindful. I took the same amount of trips to Whole Foods, but I realized I didn't have to buy everything. If it made me feel better to be at the store and take something home with me than one or two items would feel the same as $100 worth of groceries - which to be fair - at Whole Foods is still only like four things. 

The true test of how far I'd come in recovering from my addiction came on the final day of the ban. I drove 3 hours (on New Year's Eve) from Washington, DC to Pennsylvania to break my fast at King of Prussia - a luxury mall with stores ranging from Primark to Hermes. I'm happy to report I had an amazing time at the mall and truly satisfied my urge to "shop" even though I brought home very few things. I finally discovered the pleasure of appreciating beautiful things without needing to possess them. 

Think of the mall like you would a zoo; one that cages beautiful Chanel bags and designer lipsticks and where petting is totally allowed. They even change the livestock every season so there's always something new on exhibit. Go to the mall, pet the nice things, get your fix then go home and think about what - if anything- you actually NEED to add to your life. No one goes to the zoo to pick up a few animals on their way home from work. 

Lesson Learned: I don't have to own it to appreciate it.


I've noticed that my shopping habits have evolved as I've gotten older. I'm more able to identify when an article of clothing or a shoe is a knock off of something designer. This usually prompts a mad search for the original item that inspired the copy. I'm interested in how functional the original item is and I think about how many times a week I think I'd wear it. If the cost per wear is lower to buy the high end version because I'm getting years of use out of it I'm more likely to save up for the original items with the higher price tag. 

I've also started to develop strong preferences for everything from the brand of water I drink to the lotion I use to the silhouette I wear to work and on the weekends. I'm figuring out what's important to me and what makes me feel like the highest version of myself. For that I'm truly grateful. I think taking the time out to do nothing gives you the clarity you need to decide your next steps. 


I would love to know if you've ever taken time off from shopping. Have you participated in a shopping ban? If so what did you learn? Leave me a comment below or tag me on social media using the hashtag #WearIWent 


Happy Shopping!

6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! It was such a great process. I learned so much.
      xo
      B

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  2. This is such an awesome post. Lots of great Lesson Learned! I did a mini ban recently for like 1 month- lol. It's amazing how resourceful we can be when we have to use up all that we have currently in our possession. I'm heading into another personal items/ cloths - shopping ban - from Feb-the end of April. I'm also doing a food ban where I have to use up what's currently in the pantry, freezer and cupboards before I replace it - I'm pushing for 3-4 weeks. This forced me to make very tasty Lasagna yesterday so I can't complain!!!

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    1. I love this. Believe me I tried shopping bans MANY times in the past and failed every time. Even when they were for shorter duration. That made me even more proud of myself that I was successful this time around. Good luck with your ban projects. Let me know what you learned!
      xo
      B

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  3. Also, I love your outfit. It looks Fab!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hehe...thank you! I call this look...shopping without pants lol
      xo
      B

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Let me know what you think! #breaellis or #weariwent

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