On September 30th, I completed 90 days of no unnecessary spending.
Actually, 92 days, since both July and August were 31-day months. During this time, I did not buy clothes, jewelry, make-up, household decor, or coffee. I didn’t even go out to dinner more than once per week. I did spend on my wedding, but other than that it was an extended dry-spell of no-spend.
Read the journey…
This post has taken me a long time to write. Partly because October has been a whirlwind month for me (will explain later, but follow me on Instagram for more real-time updates!), but also because it’s taken some time to process life-without-the-mindless-buy. I do wish I had gotten this post out sooner, since I’ve definitely had some spendy days as time since the end of the shopping ban has passed, but there’s still a lot to say about it all.
The shopping ban changed me. A lot.
More than I expected. More than I realized. Even since it ended, it’s been hard to shake. The day it ended, I went for coffee with Jaymee of Smart Woman Blog (who is amazing so please check her out!) then to the drug store where I purchased 2 new nailpolishes and a magazine. That’s all it took for alarm bells to start going off in my head, “Whoa, Bridge, you’ve spent $25 let’s cool it.” I felt like I was cheating on an exam. After 30 days of restriction, it was weird to spend freely.
Since that first week I’ve relented a little. I’ve reloaded my Starbucks card twice, bought some books on my Kindle, purchased a new pair of flats, one tube of lipstick, and pricey moisturizer. Altogether this probably comes to $300. Not cheap by any means, but a far cry from my old spending habits which are typically 4x to 5x that amount. I keep waiting for the buy-everything-in-sight wave to hit me, but it hasn’t yet.
Before the shopping ban, my want list was lengthly: a new designer bag, a full wardrobe of cosy new sweaters, all the make-up I’ve been putting buying off since July. The list is long and, for the most part, it’s still untouched. That’s not to say I’ll never buy anything ever again, I even have some major purchases coming up (including a new winter jacket and a new phone) but I feel free of needless buying — and I want to hold onto this feeling as long as I can.
I’m afraid once I let my guard down, and buy the jeans/book/whatever, I’ll have to start all over.
I’ve always enjoyed spending money. It’s actually the main reason I’ve insisted I need to earn over $100,000 per year — so I don’t have to worry, so I don’t have to count pennies and agonize about going $50 over budget in one category. It’s only recently occurred to me that this is an unhealthy existence. God knows why I thought it’d be easier to pull in six-figures than it is to simply change my perspective about earning and spending. Sometimes its easier to put in 80-hour work weeks than it is go to battle with your own beliefs.
I’ve been operating from a scarcity mindset, even when I had everything I needed
The things we buy have a way of temporarily reassuring us that how hard we work is worth it. It’s some innate affinity for martyrdom that makes us suffer for the car, the house, the vacations, the early retirement, and so on. It’s a vicious cycle of punishment so we can placate ourselves later.
If I do this, then it’s worth it.
Whether you believe you are “suffering to buy” or “buying to suffer” depends only on in which order you make your purchases.
If you work hard to buy status items with cash, you are suffering to buy, and if you buy things you can’t afford with credit, the work hard to pay off your debts, you are buying to suffer. Unfortunately, suffering is part of both equations.
It’s only recently that I’ve started asking if it’s really worth it, if I need the endgame, if I can choose something different. To work to afford a certain lifestyle is an incorrect way of thinking, even it seems to be the only narrative available. It’s not, but you can’t see that if you’re too deep into it. It’s only over the past few months, thanks to the Shopping Ban, that have I been able to divorce my income from my lifestyle, and find ways to pursue each independently without either hinging on the other (with the exception, obviously, that I must earn a small income in order to afford my most basic needs).
If your needs are small and affordable, you have the freedom to earn whatever income you want, at any time you want.
And that may be the biggest reason to do a shopping ban: to set your baseline as low as possible, to live without the constraints of your job as well as the constraints of your spending, and finally find the life you want.