What I Learned From My Shopping Ban


First, I want to apologize for not being more consistent this month. I promised more posts and I didn’t deliver. My writing has suffered this past month due to house hunting, starting school and some car troubles. Not to mention we took two trips this month and I spent a full week planning and stressing about a neighborhood BBQ.

So, the next few months I’m going to be finishing up my BA in English and trying to get un-busy and caught up.

But, on to the shopping ban. The ban went splendidly! Here’s what I bought (that I can remember):

  • Groceries (duh!)
  • Soap Nut Body Wash
  • 5 books required for my fiction writing class
  • Supplies for neighborhood BBQ

Overall, it was pretty easy to avoid shopping this month because we had so much going on. We’re also saving up for a house, which is great motivation to avoid online shopping carts and random purchases while grocery shopping. I’m going to continue my shopping ban as much as possible until we find and purchase a home so we can save as much as possible for the many and varied expenses of buying a home.

However, it was not always easy to avoid pulling out my credit card or clicking that add to cart button. Here’s what I learned from the experience this month:

  1. Delay, delay, delay! Impulse buys are my number one weakness when shopping. You’re at the store and suddenly this great idea hits you or you remember something you “needed” or a project you intend to do. Suddenly you’re knee-deep in purchases for some project that you forget about the next day. Or, you think X product will be cool, funny, interesting, fun, etc. If you feel the pull to buy, put it off for a couple weeks. If there’s still interest there after a few weeks, analyze the purchase again.
  2. Question everything. Mental questioning will help you decide what you really need and what you don’t. Do I need this? Will it improve my life? Will it solve a problem or make me happier? Do I really need this? Really?
  3. It’s easy to avoid buying things if you just avoid the store. However, unless you’re living on a homestead and sew your own clothing, we all have to visit a store at some point. So, when you do visit a store, follow some of these tips I’ve found useful:
    1. Plan ahead: make a list, know where and when you’re going.
    2. Don’t wander: stick to the list and don’t meander around the store.
    3. Try to avoid supermarkets: if you can, get groceries at stores that carry only or mostly groceries. Farmer’s markets, produce stands, etc. are even better. We shop at Winco (western states grocery store) because it’s 95% groceries. Not much temptation to buy random stuff if there is no random stuff.
  4. Don’t go shopping unless you need to go shopping. This seems obvious, but it’s such a powerful practice. This will help you save money (by not spending it), save time, energy, avoid clutter and embrace minimalism. Only go shopping when there are things that you absolutely need to get. This includes things like replacing worn out clothing, groceries, gifts, etc.

Overall, this experiment was an easy one. It’s easy for me to not go shopping and buy things I don’t need for 31 days. I admire people like Cait Flanders, who did a 2 year shopping ban! That takes a lot of guts and self-control. Sarah and I have decided to drastically limit our spending until we buy and move into a new house, so we’ll be continuing a sort-of-shopping-ban until then.


This month (September 2016) I’ll be promoting various books about Gratitude. Some I have read and others I have not. All of these are affiliate links, so I get some money if you buy them. Any money goes back into making this site better and more useful (and keeping it online!).

This book comes highly acclaimed and is all about how to live a more grateful life. Read The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Get it from Amazon here:

Also published on Medium.

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