Happpppy Tuesday! Eek, it’s a little scary pressing “schedule” on this post, but…I’m going to have to rip off the bandaid! And no, this is not an early April Fools joke—it’s just something I’ve been curious to try and I figure now is the time. Yes, that’s right—starting April 1, I’m going one month without shopping and will chronicle the “challenge” here. So, what exactly does this entail? Well, several things, which I’ll explain below.
Let’s start with the basics.
“Why, Sarah, why? What made you decide to do this?”
I was pretty motivated reading the Refinery 29 Money Diaries I shared a few weeks ago, and they made me want to be better at managing my budget. I’ve always been curious about doing a 30-day no shopping challenge, but it never feels like the right time (December, for example, would be an extremely difficult month to do this because of the holidays, and this past fall I was still purchasing several items for my apartment). This month, all I really have on the docket in terms of major events (aka major spending) is a friend’s wedding in Seattle. I’ve already purchased my airfare, paid my share of the Airbnb, ordered my registry gift, and picked up dresses for the wedding and a pre-wedding event (one was only $17 at Buffalo Exchange, and the other was on sale at LOFT). Of course, my friends and I will be going out to do some sightseeing and eating/drinking at various restaurants and bars, but when I think of Seattle, I don’t think, “Omg, what great shopping!” (Don’t tell me if I’m wrong!). Also, we’ll be taking advantage of experiences, not things, while we’re there, and that’s really what matters most.
While I’ve picked somewhat of an “easy” month to do this challenge, it’s really my day-to-day life that will be hard to regulate. I actually do most of my shopping online, which is somewhat of a contrast to when I lived in New York. So, the biggest thing I’ll have to work on will be resisting the temptation to click “add to cart.” With Amazon Prime and other similar services (and the fact that Google Chrome automatically fills in my billing and shipping information!), it can be really hard to sit down and think twice about a purchase. This challenge will force me to really contemplate whether I “need” something. I’ve also read advice that recommends putting off purchases for multiple weeks anyway (something that can be difficult for this little bargain shopper!).
“Can you actually do this?”
I don’t know! I’ve read other accounts of 30-day challenges (I recently read this one pertaining to drinking), and people slip up from time to time, whether it’s out of frustration or because they feel like breaking the ban is super “worth it” in a certain situation. So yeah, if Gray Malin decides to start selling his artwork for $50 instead of the usual $200 during April, I’ll buy one! That ain’t gonna happen, but you get the point. The goal will be to not have one of these slipups, but nobody’s perfect. Even if I can begin to be more mindful about my purchases, that’s still a valuable lifestyle change. But yes, I’m a pretty goal-oriented person and aim to please, so I’ll really try my best to stay on track.
“You’re doing this as a challenge? Is it really that hard?”
I wouldn’t be referring to something as a challenge if I didn’t think it was, well, a challenge for me. If this wouldn’t be a challenge for you, all the more power to ya!
Obviously, this challenge in itself is a #firstworldproblem. Many people wouldn’t have to take such a challenge because discretionary shopping simply isn’t an option. And I definitely want to acknowledge that here.
I have to remind myself that while I’m frustrated with my habits in this area, there are many other ways in which I’m on top of my game. We can all improve in one way or another (or in most of our cases, in multiple ways), and it’s a good thing we don’t all face the same challenges, or we wouldn’t be able to look at one another for inspiration!
What will you buy and what will you avoid?
I’ll still buy things like groceries and drugstore items, use transportation services, and go out with friends. But I won’t be actively “shopping” as a hobby. I don’t think you need to deprive yourself of fun and nourishment to stay within budget (just read the Money Diaries!). I don’t spend a ton of money on groceries as it is, so maybe I’ll allow myself some more wiggle room in that area. I’m sure food shopping can be just as satisfying as shopping shopping if I let myself go in with that mindset! I can’t decide if it would be cheating or not to treat myself to something like an exercise class…it isn’t technically “shopping,” but it’s still an unnecessary indulgence. Buuuut it’s good for you. Thoughts?!
How are you going to motivate yourself?
I’d love to eventually host a (very belated) housewarming party at my apartment, but having a large group of people over can get expensive! I’d like to be able to invite friends from various parts of my life over for a fun night without worrying too much about the cost (one of the reasons it always seems easier to do this type of thing with roommates!). So that’s definitely on the to do list once the challenge is over.
Also, even posting this for y’all to see is motivation enough. Setting goals that involve lifestyle changes are hard. It’s like when you set your alarm for 5:30 am promising yourself that you’ll work out before work…except in that situation, no one has to know but you. So I’m posting this on here so that you guys can hold me accountable. Please do (kindly).
Check back halfway through the month for an update on how this is going…and wish me lots of luck!