It’s been about a month since I finished my first 60 Day Challenge, and I feel a little untethered without it to be honest! I’ve definitely noticed a surge in my spending habits since finishing my challenge… which wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. But I am ready to buckle down again and create a new challenge (some new boundaries) to continue on this path to more conscious spending. The biggest thing that I learned about not buying clothing, makeup, or accessories for two months is that my urge to consume goes beyond shopping for fun items like clothes and makeup – the real issue is impulse shopping. If you’re not familiar with my first 60 day challenge, please read the 60 Day No Spend Challenge and the 60 Day No Spend Challenge Wrap Up to find out about what I set out to do, the perimeters, and how it went.
As you may have gleaned from the paragraph above, I’ve decided that my next 60 Day Challenge is going to be a No Impulse Shopping Challenge! Throughout May and June, when I wasn’t allowing myself to buy “fun” things, I compensated by making frequent trips to the grocery store; spending more money on food than I normally would. As I mentioned in the wrap-up post, my boyfriend James and I do our meal-planning and grocery shopping on Sundays. We go to the Farmer’s Market, and the grocery store to pick up everything we need for whole week. Generally this means that we are set and don’t need anything else, so all those extra trips I was making to the grocery store were totally unnecessary. These extra trips to the grocery store brought my impulse shopping habit to the forefront of my mind during my “no spend” challenge, not only because I was spending more money in an area I didn’t need to, and because I was buying things that weren’t so good for me. It’s much easier to stick to a healthy diet when you aren’t making frequent impromptu trips to the store just because.
Once I finished the No Spend Challenge at the beginning of July, I felt an overwhelming urge to go shopping for clothes! This is partially because summer was now in full swing and I found that I didn’t have enough shorts, tank tops, dresses, etc, for the warmer months. But also because I felt like I had earned it, having not bought anything for two months. The month of July was a bit of a free for all in terms of buying new clothes, but I have tried to keep it to things that I do actually need. I’ve noticed though, that even though I’ve been adding new items to my wardrobe, the craving for more is still present! I’ve been journalling about it, but still don’t quite understand the impetus! When I have no perimeters around what I can and cannot consume, I tend to veer toward excess. For example, my eating habits changed for the better when I became vegan simply because a lot of the junk food and treats that I consumed had meat and dairy in them. So when I cut out meat and dairy, by default I was cutting out a lot of the junk food I would normally buy. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword now, since there are so many more vegan options available! These days I need more self-discipline to not overdo it with vegan junk food since it’s so much more accessible! The same goes for shopping: when I decided to start shopping more ethically and sustainably, it curbed my habits in many ways because I stopped supporting fast fashion and large chain stores. However, as time goes on, and I become more familiar with local brands, thrift stores, and ethical online retailers, I find shopping for clothing easier again, which is lucky for the side of me that loves to indulge in fashion, and not so lucky for my wallet. If you want to read more about my Tips For Shopping Sustainably, please read my latest post.
I learned that my spending habits definitely improve when I have clear boundaries, however, cutting out shopping for clothing and make-up only halted spending in one area and did not address the urge to consume, the underlying habit. It’s time to take new action and to try and go a little deeper into this drive to use shopping as a pass-time and as a coping mechanism. And what better way to do this than to create a new challenge?
I will begin the 60 Days No Impulse Shopping Challenge on Aug 1st and it will go until September 29th. During these two months I will not be allowed to make any impulse purchases in any category – groceries, clothing, makeup, accessories, books, homewares, etc… I am considering impulse shopping as anything that I have not planned to buy before leaving the house.
For food, I will no longer be making mid-week grocery trips unless it is decided upon at the beginning of the week and I will not be allowed to buy anything that is not on our list (no last-minute additions at the grocery store). For clothing, I have a wish list on my phone of the items that I’d like to add to my wardrobe, and for these 60 days I am not allowed to purchase any item that is not already on my wish list. I will create another wish list for makeup and skin care, and a miscellaneous wish list for home wares, books, and accessories. The goal of only buying what is on my list is that I will not be tempted to buy things that I don’t actually need. I want to take the impulsivity out of shopping and to try to be more thoughtful and to avoid overspending on things that catch my eye in a store.
I want this 60 Day Challenge to feel more like a meditative and reflective challenge, as oppose to the last one, which was simply about restriction. I will allow myself to purchase items that I do really want and will use, while trying to curb the habit of shopping as a pass-time or as a distraction from processing my emotions. I’m hoping that this challenge will help me to distance myself from the instant gratification that I often seek from shopping.
The 24-hour Rule:
I can buy any type of item I want, as long as I have thought about it beforehand. It should either be on a grocery list or a wish list before leaving my house. For items that are not food items, I have to wait at least 24 hours between writing it on my wish list and going out to buy it – this includes online shopping (of which I do little, but 24-hour rule still stands). If I see something in a store that I really like that is not on my list, I have to add it to my wish list when I get home (not in the store), and then wait at least 24 hours before purchasing it. I have to wait to add it to my list until I get home because I want to give myself a bit of buffering time to think about whether or not I really want it. This also gives me the opportunity to take stock of what I already have at home, and to see if I already have something similar that I can make do with.
I will keep the same consequence that I used in my original 60 Day No Spend Challenge. If I buy something impulsively that is not on my list, or if I don’t wait 24 hours before purchasing, I must put double the amount of whatever I spent into my savings account. So, for example, if I go into a store and impulsively buy a pair of jeans for $80.00, then I have to put $160.00 into my savings account.
That’s basically it! It might sound very rudimentary for those of you that are already thoughtful and frugal shoppers. These challenges help me to address the habits that I wish to change, and it also helps me to dive deeper into what my motivations are. Sometimes I find it disheartening that I rely on something as frivolous and superficial as shopping as a means of coping. I am trying to not judge myself too harshly about my shopping / spending habits, and instead use these challenges to observe the feelings and urges that come up. I’m hoping that this will help me to get to the deeper root of these behaviours. The truth is, this is something that I’ve relied on for a long time, and it’s not going to change overnight. The best I can do is to continue to give myself small challenges to slowly curb my behaviours, and to chip away at breaking bad habits, while building a more productive and positive outlook on how I spend my time and my money. I hope you will share with me any progress you’ve made in curbing your own spending habits, and please share any issues you’ve encountered along the way. Thanks for reading!