Thursday, May 2, 2019

My Shopping Ban Rules

I may buy groceries from time to time at Target. 
But for the next year, I vow to keep these bulls-eye bags at bay. 

Five years ago in Canada, a random blogger named Cait Flanders decided to triple-dog-dare her over-shopped self to a year-long shopping ban. Then she wrote a fascinating book about her experience, which eventually found its way to me. And now I find myself driven to join her journey.

We truly are ripples in a pond, people. We affect each others' lives.

Although my overall goal for this project is mostly the same as Cait's - to experience the joy and freedom of buying only what I truly need - my list of essentials looks a bit different from hers:

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What I am allowed to shop for:


Full permission to buy what I need but only if  1) I stay within my daily budget of $45 and 2) I use everything up before it spoils. I'm looking at you, refrigerator vegetable drawer.

Household supplies.

I enjoy running a well-stocked home, and that covers a lot of ground:

Picture hangers and Command strips.
Parchment paper and cupcake liners.
Vinegar, bleach, and ammonia.
Printer paper and envelopes
Every size of Sharpie imaginable.

I give myself permission to buy these things but only as needed. No stockpiling.


By no stretch of the imagination could I be considered a wardrobe shopaholic. When it comes to clothes, shoes, and accessories, I tend to lean into a very few favorites until they are so worn and tired that my daughters literally beg me to buy something new.

This past month, I've been pushing myself to get rid of worn-out clothes and fill in the holes with new, well-considered purchases. For my summer wardrobe, I'm still looking for:

2-3 short dresses
1 long dress
1-2 print pants
1 handbag
2-3 yoga shorts
a pair of jeans

I give myself permission to buy these things, and a short list of winter must-haves to be determined later. But only when I find exactly what I want.

Personal Care.

This is not a problem area for me. As much as I love to stand in Target and smell all the body lotions, I usually only buy what I need. Full permission granted for replacing toiletries, cosmetics, and first aid supplies, as well as monthly pedicures (foot health matters) and twice-yearly trips to the hair salon.


End tables
Plants and pots
Candles and oils

I'm cutting back hard in this category. I can keep myself busy for at least a year by simply rearranging what I already have, and if I'm totally bored, I give myself permission to shop at thrift stores.

I also give myself permission to buy some much-needed new sheets and towels, and two new desk chairs for our office.

Home Improvement.

A handful of big-ticket items are still looming on our renovation to-do list :

baseboards on the first floor
laundry room counter, sink and floors
upstairs bathrooms
second half of the windows - we already replaced the first half.

We're slowly working our way through that list, with a separate financing source, so these projects are not affected by the shopping ban.

However, the first rule of home ownership will undoubtedly continue to function: Things break. As always, there will be small tasks popping up here and there: painting, replacing door knobs, replacing light fixtures, installing new shelves.

I give myself permission to tackle any home improvement project but only after a three-month decision-making time allowance for considering all my options.

Art Projects and DIY.

Yes. I give my creative impulses free reign with two important stipulations: I may buy new supplies only when 1) I have checked my inventories to be sure I don't already own what I need and 2) I commit to starting the project that same day. No more abandoned Michaels bags full of good intentions.

Sports Gear.

I'm thinking about buying a new pair of skis for next season. My current K2s have been kicking around for at least fifteen years, and bombed around Stevens Pass on easily 300 different days. They have served me well but the time has come for them to move on.

And possibly a pair of roller skates. Watch Sharp Objects. You'll understand why.

Both purchases are permitted, as long as I shop carefully and buy exactly what I need.

Gifts for Others.

Fully permitted as long as I stay within my budgets.

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What I'm not allowed to shop for:

Books and Magazines.  Library only.

Notebooks. My weakness.

Electronics and Small Appliances. No new phone until my old one dies; and I promise to replace with an older model. And I think I might want a food processor but I'm going to make myself wait until the shopping ban is over. If I am sure I want it after a year has passed, I'll buy it.

Lazy meals. Skip the processed foods, fast-food drive-through, and unnecessary beverage runs.

Organizers. Just no. I can improvise with what I've already got.

* * * * *

My shopping ban will help me make a big step in the right direction of eliminating clutter and making more mindful decisions about how I spend my dollars.  But I'm serving up specific challenges to myself in those areas too.

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