My Shopping Ban Was a Test Run

So, in order to pay off my debt, I went on a shopping ban as part of my New Years Resolution/Lenten sacrifice. It’s been good and bad. I was doing pretty well the first month and then the trickle happened: when you do one thing outside of your resolution and it “trickles” until your resolution becomes more of a test run. Here’s what I think my setbacks were:

1) I was asked to work in our L.A. office for a week. It just so happened to be during the polar vortex of 2019. While my travel and room were covered, we stayed for an extra day so we could take the girls to Disneyland.

2) My need to organize and plan took over when I purchased the Erin Condren Seasonal Box. I purchase one every season and I literally had FOMO. I LOVED everything in the box and I’ll use everything, but still, it wasn’t necessary. The good news is that I’ve been reusing the boxes to mail my Poshmark sales!

3) My love of wine put me over my grocery budget, but then I don’t have to buy wine for the next several months, so maybe it’s really a win. 

4) Coffee! One of my favorite minimalist bloggers is Jennifer at Simply + Fiercely. The other day she posted on Instagram: “Everything in Moderation. Except Coffee.” I saved that one because it’s my vice. I’ve purchased flavor syrups, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream so I could recreate some of my favorite Starbucks drinks at a fraction of the price. However, I still had credits on my Starbucks card, so I would go and get Starbucks on my lazy days, but then wouldn’t have enough credits so I would have to put more on. It’s been a vicious cycle, but I’ve finally managed to stop myself from getting anything that would be over those credits. I recently got a gift card for $5. So I’m basically allowed one drink and will most likely not go to Starbucks again until another gift card comes my way. Or at least I’m going to try!

5) Michigan weather is often unpredictable. In the morning it can be 48°F when I leave for work at 6:30am and then 70°F when I leave work at 4pm. I started off my journey utilizing Project 333, the backward hanger trick, and more recently the KonMari method. In trying to dress for winter/summer on the same day I realized that I got rid of more of my layering clothing than I had originally planned. I have a love of cardigan sweaters and have them in almost every color, except not enough items to wear under them. So then H&M was having a sale and I strategically bought solid tops, but now I’m wondering how necessary they were. I probably could have put a white shirt under any of the cardigans and been fine. Also, now that I’m not able to nurse the younger because of slowdown, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to gain some weight and needed new work pants. The issue for me with pants is that I have no butt. So pants fit weird on me – except at American Eagle. So, I bought some American Eagle pants and lo and behold, Rakuten (Formally EBates) was having a 15% back anniversary offer! If you’ve never heard of Rakuten or EBates, it’s amazing! You get cash “rebates” from shopping online and now in stores! Follow my referral link above to learn more. My current lifetime cashback since I started back in November of 2013 is $363.28. So, while I will get cash back for my purchase, I probably could have still used some of my other pants by adding an extender or something for much less than the price of new pants.

6) Birthdays. Kids birthdays are just hard. We don’t buy my daughters everything they want and we try to be strategic with purchases in that hopefully the younger will want to play with the same things later. Nonetheless, I don’t want to not give her anything – which can just be a new shirt because she’s growing and needs new shirts. Side note: She also loves a good bargain, much like her dad, but nothing beats the time that I got her a brand new Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Scooter for $3. The cashier scanned my rewards voucher twice. Then saw her mistake, said “Oops, I scanned it twice. Oh, well, your total is $3.” Actually, I had bought a few other things as well, but that was my total, so really the scooter was even less!!! The point, though, is that after all the party favors, and food, and decorations, and then gifts, you end up spending more than you planned. Even if you got a lot of the decorations from Dollar Tree.

7) Buying lunch. I try to make enough food at dinner to have leftovers for lunch, but it doesn’t always happen. While I use every reward program I can for restaurants around here, I’ve had to purchase lunch without some kind of reward points or bonus buy. Sometimes I wait to see if there is leftover food from a lunch meeting, but most of the time, because my morning starts at 5am, I’m starving by 11am and can’t wait. I’m going to try to bring more snacks to work to help with those early cravings.

So, while I can’t say I actually did do the Shopping Ban for more than a few weeks, I can say that I did a test run…and failed miserably. However, in this failure, I have seen where my weaknesses are and what I need to work on. Every day on my way to work I see a billboard that talks about quitting smoking. While I can’t remember the actual words on the billboard, the message is that each time you quit you learn what you need to do the next time. You figure out what works and doesn’t work for you. While I’ve heard that smoking is a hard one to kick, I think the message is universal for most things anyone is trying to quit. I’m not trying to quit shopping altogether, but I am trying to become a more mindful purchaser, and in doing this ban, I’m learning what my weaknesses are and will find ways to battle those weaknesses in a more mindful way.

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