The Holiday season is upon us! There is coconut eggnog in the grocery stores, Christmas decorations galore! It can be tempting to take part of the shopping frenzy that is this time of year, and as you might know, I am doing a 50 Day No Spend Challenge from Nov. 16th to Jan. 4th. While my intentions for not shopping for myself are all well and good in theory, it does get tricky when I am bombarded with all the sales, limited editions and the onslaught of STUFF everywhere when I open my phone, or go anywhere in the vicinity of shops. I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help minimize personal spending as well as a list of things you an do to keep yourself entertained and taking good care of yourself over the Holidays without breaking the bank.
- Keep a wishlist – I’ve been keeping wish lists on my phone since my first No Spend Challenge in the spring. I’ve found that I’m far less likely to spend impulsively when I’m keeping track of exactly what I want and need on a list on my phone. If I have an idea of exactly what I want, I’m less likely to spend on something I don’t need. Beyond keeping a list of things that you have your eye on, you can create a wish list of gifts you want to give people. If you keep a list of gift ideas with the cost of the items, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re going to be spending over the Holidays, and ensure that you’re not going over budget. Secondarily, even though I am not spending on myself this season, it doesn’t mean that I completely stop wanting new stuff. So rather than buying the item, I keep it in a wish list. Chances are it will still be there come January 5th if I still really want it.
- Unsubscribe from retailers email lists – This one is pretty self-explanatory and is especially good to do this time of year – even just for the sake of your inbox! I woke up with ten e-mails this morning, all from retailers! So I have to take my own advice and spend the five or ten minutes it takes to unsubscribe from all the shops and websites that keep sending promotional emails. If you don’t know about the sales and the coupons, then you won’t be tempted by them.
- Minimize and curate your social media consumption – I’m looking at you, Instagram! You may even want to unfollow people who frequently post about new products, or post hauls and free PR that they receive. It doesn’t have to be permanent, just for the time that you’re looking to not be triggered into buying things you don’t need. I’d also recommend staying off apps like Pinterest and Instagram if you find that it makes you want new things. Be discerning about what content you’re consuming and how much of that content is about acquiring products. Curate the types of Youtube videos that you watch and try to limit or omit videos like hauls, favourites videos, and unboxing videos from your feed. Can you tell I’ve seen my fair share of these? You could also go full force with a Social Media Detox, as I am doing now.
- Avoid going into shops (irl or online) – I was walking around downtown the other day, and I’ve gotta admit I was very tempted to go into one or two of the many beautiful boutiques in Gastown, “just to look around.” But we all know where that leads and the best advice is just don’t do it. This includes online shopping. Don’t browse your favourite online retailers and definitely do not put anything in your shopping cart for later. You’ll just end up thinking about it all day and end up humming and hawing over whether you should stick to your No Spend rule or cave and buy that cute new sweater.
What to do instead:
- YouTube – Instead of watching Hauls, Favourites Videos, Try-On Videos, watch Steal Her Style by Use Less, Shop Your Closet or One Item 15 Ways by Alyssa Beltempo. I’d also recommend watching Vlogs or Recipe Videos – there are plenty out this time of year. I always love watching Lauren Toyota’s Hot For Food recipe videos her Lauren In Real Life vlogs and What I Ate In A Day videos. Follow youtubers who focus on minimalism, conscious consumption, and ethical fashion. Some of my favourites are, as mentioned above: Use Less, Alyssa Beltempo, My Green Closet, A Small Wardrobe, and Kristen Leo.
- Make time for hobbies or exercise. Often times shopping can take up quite a lot of time when you take into account the time it takes to get to wherever you’re going, the time it takes to find what you’re looking for or to browse around, and then more time to get home. Even if you’re just shopping online, time seems to just disappear; browsing online shops really can eat up a large chunk of your day without you even realizing. Shopping is time consuming… When you decide to stop shopping as a pass-time, you have a lot more time to do other things that you enjoy, or activities that maybe you’ve wanted to get into but have put off doing. You can carve out time to do more reading, start meditation, go to a yoga class, start running, do some daily writing like morning pages, work out at the gym, etc. By prioritizing healthy habits and hobbies, you won’t feel as much of a need to fill time with shopping, and frankly you’ll be too busy with all the new things you’re doing!
- Treat yourself to experiences. Often times when we want to go shopping, more often than not we want the experience of going out and treating ourselves in one way or another. We want to take in beauty and style, or adorn ourselves or our living spaces as a form of self-love or self-care. It can even feel like a creative expression when you are crafting outfit ideas, or beautifying your space with new decor. By thinking about the positive outcomes that you get when shopping, you can start to identify other activities or experiences that might give you the same types of feelings, whether that’s experiencing beauty and style, exercising your creativity or simply showing yourself extra love and care. Some ideas are treating yourself to a day out at a museum or art gallery to get your fill of beauty and style; visiting a botanical garden or going for a long walk out in nature to fill you up with natural beauty and serenity; or taking to an art class, or a dance class to exercise your creativity. You can also invest the money you might otherwise spend on material items with experiences to show yourself extra love and care by going for a massage, or getting acupuncture, or scheduling a personal training session at a gym. Finally, invest in counselling or therapy as a form of self-care that maybe isn’t as “fun” as the others, but is truly beneficial in the long run.
These are the tips that I’ve been using over the last few weeks while I’ve been doing my No Spend Challenge. The ones that have helped me the most so far are doing the Social Media Detox, staying away from shops, and investing in experiences over material items. For example, over the last month I’ve started taking piano lessons again, gone back to counseling and went for acupuncture this week. Let me know if you have any tips to help minimize your personal spending and what you’ve been doing to show yourself some extra TLC in the comments below.