Less is More - Shopping Ban Summary for Month 1
Have you ever read a book and felt inspired to start THAT right NOW? I have, more times than I would want to admit. In a few cases, I’ve even taken the plunge. So it was with “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store”. Author Cait Flanders spent first one, then two solid years buying only what she needed, using up what she had, and getting rid of anything non-essential. The rest is summed up in the title, but it’s still worth a read.
There’s no easy way to say “I think I have a spending problem”. Cait did, and she wanted to break her bad cycles and build new habits. I’ve suspected I have one too, but the truth is that I just don’t know. I don’t have the data. And I want that data. Bad.
So it was that in late November, I decided that I would, with zero fanfare and a lot of planning-on-the-fly, start my own shopping ban in December and run it for a year. YIKES.
My shopping ban rules are inspired by Cait’s, but not enslaved to them. For Month 1, here are the rules:
Write down EVERYTHING you spend and which account it came from
No shopping outside of the approved monthly shopping list
Purchase toiletries only when used up (toilet paper and diapers are the exception)
(NEW!) Gift budget must be set prior to purchasing a gift
NEVER EVER buy anything just because it’s on sale
No shopping for fun (reading in bookstores is ok)
Houseplants are not essential
Coffee out only with friends
December went well, but not perfectly. I purchased two houseplants because they were on sale (…oops), but otherwise no non-essentials. My friend at my day job, Amy*, has agreed to be my “sponsor”, and allows me to check in with her prior to any unusual purchases. This no-bullshit, tough love Aussie has been a lifesaver during this month.
We did the “worst” on food and eating out. Our tiny family of three spent $700+ on food this month. We enjoyed a few meals out, and treated friends and family to a few as well. We’re setting next month’s budget to $600 (with the understanding that my birthday is at the end of the month, and I am allowed one semi-fancy meal). It’s astonishing how quickly eating out adds up, and horrifying to remember how much we used to do it.
GOALS FOR JANUARY:
$600 on food
No material birthday present to myself**
Set birthday present budgets in advance***
Begin saving with Digit
*name changed for privacy
**Can we say “jewelry”?
***A story for another post.