Toward the end of 2017, I decided that I wanted to attempt a shopping ban in the new year. I’ve tried this before with semi-success, for a few months last year. This time I wanted to do it right. I wanted to do it for a full year.
And then, two days into the new year, I was tempted. A colleague walked into the office wearing a beautiful shirt. A perfect shade of grey. The kind of shape that flatters everyone. The kind of shirt that can be dressed up and down. Basically, the kind of shirt dreams are made of. It was from a well-known fast fashion store. One which I knew was having a sale. You can imagine the outcome of that conversation. Me rushing to the store after work, tail between my legs as I considered how weak I was. Luckily, for me and my credit card, I couldn’t find the shirt. I left empty-handed. My dignity somewhat bruised but my resolution intact.
Until two weeks later when I found myself in that same store. With an important event coming up in a few weeks, I convinced myself that I needed a pair of black pants. Luckily, after walking around the store and considering each pair of black pants, all of which were somehow wrong, I again left empty-handed. I’d realised as I walked through the racks that I had a pair of black pants at home that I loved. I loved them so much that I wore them often and somehow that had convinced me that they weren’t good enough, weren’t special enough to wear for a special occasion. But really that should have convinced me that they were the perfect choice. I already loved them and felt comfortable in them. If that’s not what you should expect from a pair of pants, I don’t know what is. Again, I felt resolute to stick to my decision.
What happened in 2017?
I’d decided to go on a six-month shopping ban after feeling uninspired by the options while on holiday overseas. If there was nothing in those stores that could tempt me, why was I so tempted at home? The answer was that I wanted to create a wardrobe filled with clothes from my favourite local designers. So, realising there was nothing I truly wanted or needed, I embarked on this shopping ban feeling motivated to keep my credit card firmly inside my wallet.
That didn’t last too long. Within a couple of months, both of my favourite local designers held sales. There were other items I needed like a wallet, piece of art and a pair of gym leggings. Because all of those are, obviously, essential purchases. And while I didn’t regret buying those items, they ensured an end to my shopping ban. I was now powerless to resist. Favorited local designer with a sale? I was there. Another favourite local designer released a new line of shoes? Count me in!
Why I decided to attempt a shopping ban this year
My finances were looking rather sad toward the end of 2017. And, no, it wasn’t because of the festive season. My family has (luckily) opted out of festive consumer consumption. There were no gifts to buy or meals to eat at extravagant restaurants. The state of my finances could be blamed on no one and nothing but me and my lack of self-control.
In addition, I knew that in a couple days I would receive both The Financial Diet and Cait Flanders’ book, The Year of Less. These were two websites which always motivated me toward financial wellness. And I know my problems were not nearly as big as the debt Cait paid off and the debt millions of other people still face. But I didn’t want a credit card balance. Not even a couple hundred dollars. Not when I knew it was for things as silly as shirts, pants and shoes.
I decided to get serious
I created a spreadsheet for myself of my spending over the past few months. I saw just how much I’d overspent and how much money I needed to cut from my spending. Then I noticed that the exact amount I wanted to save monthly was the average amount I’d spent in my clothing category over the past six months. Coincidence? I think not.
The good news is now I feel like I have everything I need. I’ve stocked up on shirts, pants and shoes. I feel able to dress like a stylish but casual professional on a daily basis. While I’ve committed to this shopping challenge, I won’t be overly harsh on myself. If I choose to buy, I’ll do so carefully and after considering my options.
And, by now, I’ve finished (and loved) both books and feel more motivated than ever before. So, I can once again attempt a shopping ban. This time, feeling far more capable (and better dressed) than I had last year.