Nine Months Without Shopping and Takeout Coffee

April 10, 2015

As I said, a bit more urban...

On Tuesday, I hit the nine-month mark of my yearlong shopping ban, and I’ve spent most of the rest of this week wondering where the heck the time has gone. It honestly feels like it was just a month or two ago that my apartment was covered in stuff, ready to be bagged/boxed up and donated, and I was asking myself if I would actually be able to get through an entire year without shopping (or wanting to replace anything I’d gotten rid of). Now, I’m only 88 days away from the finish line and I’m struggling to remember when the last time I felt the urge to buy something was. My archives tell me I haven’t given a proper update on how the shopping ban has been going since I decided to up the ante back in January. Truthfully, I’ve just been trucking along… but I did have to break the ban once, for the very first time, and I also decided to change one of the rules.

Shopping Ban Update

A couple weeks ago, I briefly mentioned that the shopping ban was tested when my jeans ripped in the inner thigh. Considering I’d worn the same $20 pair of Old Navy jeans for 250-something days straight, at that point, I’m almost surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I went to Twitter and asked if I was allowed to buy a pair to replace them, so long as I threw the first pair out. The response: 14 yeses and not a single no. For some reason, though, I decided to continue wearing them, and even pulled out the sewing machine I’m borrowing from my family to patch up the hole. (Remember that I only learned how to sew two months ago – a huge win for the ban, as it meant I could fix two pairs of pants I would’ve otherwise thrown out.) If you’ve ever tried to patch a hole in the inner thigh of a pair of jeans, you can imagine how long that lasted (and how pretty it looked). I eventually gave up and went to Old Navy to buy a new pair of jeans to replace them – and I regret my decision, but it’s not because I “broke” the shopping ban.

I’m disappointed that I replaced my cheap pair of jeans with another cheap pair of jeans. If I had really stopped to think about it, I would’ve realized that the reason I usually need to buy jeans from Old Navy 1-2 times/year is because they are made of poor quality material. Sure, they fit my body well… but I forgot how stiff and uncomfortable they are, when they come out of their first 10+ washes. I hate putting them on right now, because they aren’t broken in (which takes a couple months). I just don’t feel good in them. And when you put on something that you don’t feel good in, you start to wish you didn’t have to wear it and then regret spending money on it. I know this will likely pass in a few more weeks, but I can’t help but wonder how much happier I would’ve been if I’d spent $60-80 on a pair of jeans from the Gap or even Levi’s. Sometimes I think about donating this pair now and replacing them with something better (and softer!), but I think I’ll just learn the lesson and wait until the ban is over.

Aside from jeans, there’s nothing I really think about buying. All the pangs for candles and magazines and nail polish are gone. And books – I truly don’t ever think about buying them anymore. It helps that I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t even been able to finish some of my library books before I have to return them. There’s now a constant reminder in the back of my mind telling me “you don’t have time to read them, so there’s no point buying them”- and that’s the end of that. I don’t foresee any other shopping ban hurdles coming my way in the next 88 days, except for maybe when Sarah and I are travelling together next month. We’re going to 4 cities in 10 days (5 if you count the Toronto airport), and it’s always hard not to want to pick something up to remember a trip by. But if I’ve avoided shopping in NYC twice already, throughout this ban, I’m sure I can do it again.

Takeout Coffee Update

As you know, giving up takeout coffee was a real struggle for me in the beginning. The first month was probably the worst and it forced me to recognize what my habits were. I realized I craved takeout coffee when I was extremely tired in the morning, when I left to drive to my old coworking space (or any old office in years past), before I ran errands and, really, before any drive that would take longer than 30 minutes. I’ve been drinking coffee for half my life, so I’d created all these little habits for when I would consume it – and breaking them wasn’t easy. (Note that I’ve continued to drink coffee, I just make it at home now.) By the 3-month mark, I felt as though I’d kicked the habit, because I wasn’t craving takeout coffee as much. But then David came to town in October, invited me to coffee after dinner one night, and I ordered/paid/drank my entire latte before we got on the topic of the shopping ban and I realized I’d just broken the takeout coffee ban.

That was an unconscious move on my part – I was truly just lost in the moment, that night. A couple months ago, however, I made a conscious decision to partially lift the takeout coffee ban. I’m still not buying takeout coffee when I’m alone. A huge win, in fact, might be that I’m finally starting to think that spending $5 on a latte is a huge waste of money; the idea makes me feel a little bit sick, which is crazy because it wouldn’t hurt my finances at all – I think I’ve just stopped valuing it. With that being said, after 7 months or so, I finally got sick of having to say “I can’t get one” when I met friends for brunch. And it was the worst when I had business meetings at coffee shops! After struggling to understand why it felt so bad to be in those situations, I realized that the point of the takeout coffee ban wasn’t to make things awkward; it was simply to break my habit – and I’ve accomplished that. So, over the last two months, I have had takeout coffee 3-4 times in those situations, and with no regrets.

Now, for the numbers. At the beginning of the shopping ban, I decided I would put $100/month into a savings account, as well as any money I made from selling things I was getting rid of. I ended up saving $760 in the first 3 months and used it to purchase a new bed (which was on the approved shopping list). Since then, I’ve increased my savings goal from $100/month to $150, then $200/month and now $250 – and I’ve also deposited some Tangerine referral bonuses, random amounts leftover on payday, etc. As of today, there is $1,750 in the account and I should have at least $2,500 saved up by July 6th.


I still have no idea what I’m going to do with it all. I want to upgrade my phone, and I’d like to buy a computer chair with more back support, but altogether that’ll probably only cost about 30% of what I’ll have saved – which means there’ll be a nice little chunk of money still waiting for me, when this is all over. I guess we’ll just have to see what I do with it when I get there. :)

Many of you told me you were starting your own shopping bans in March and April. How are you doing, so far?

Flickr: tubb

  • Sarah Elizabeth April 10, 2015 at 4:37 am

    Aaah, girl so proud and impressed! I feel you on the jeans problem! Mine are awful fitting, but I’m struggling to decide if I should spend the €50 needed to replace them well! xx Keep up the great work! You’re inspirational x

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      If they don’t fit right, I’d replace them. It’s like wearing a bra that doesn’t fit right – makes you feel uncomfortable/bad about yourself. Don’t feel that way! I’d replace them (and toss the bad ones), so it’s 1-in-1-out.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods April 10, 2015 at 4:41 am

    I love what you said about not valuing takeout coffee anymore. That’s how I feel about so many things too! Stuff that I used to always buy–cosmetics, clothes, shoes–just don’t matter to me anymore. Sure, I’m on a “ban” from buying them, but I also don’t desire them anymore. Once I realized how very fine and happy I was without buying these things, I realized how unimportant they are to my life. Far better to save the money!

    Also, funny note on fixing jeans holes–Mr. FW had a massive hole in the, uh, crotch region of his jeans and we were able to rescue the pants by using a combination of an iron-on patch and my mom’s sewing machine. He ironed the patch to the inside of the pants, which serves to really knit the fabric back together and then he used the sewing machine to reinforce the patch. He performed this surgery 3 months ago and it seems to be holding thus far. TBD how long it’ll last… :)

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ha, that’s funny. I put in a pretty good patch (with my existing skills, that is) but once denim is torn, it’s only a matter of time for it to keep ripping, ripping and ripping some more.

  • Amanda April 10, 2015 at 5:02 am

    I think the lesson you learned with the jeans is a valuable one. There’s certain stores I’ve stopped shopping at because I was tired of the clothes only lasting a couple of months before it ripped, the shape was ruined, etc. Yes, I have to spend more upfront, but I end up saving money long term because the clothes last longer, and I’m not shopping as often. Plus, the higher price point forces you to think more/be more intentional about your purchases and take better care of it. Congrats on making it to 9 months!

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      I hadn’t thought about how the higher price point would force you to be intentional about your decision… but that makes sense. Think about it: I bought the same crappy jeans on a whim, because I knew they were cheap and I knew where they were. Buying nicer jeans would’ve taken more time, as I would’ve had to check out a few stores, etc. but I probably would’ve been much happier with my decision (so long as the price was still within my budget, ha). Thanks for giving me something to think about, Amanda!

  • Jackie April 10, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Next time you need jeans, I would suggest checking out value village or the Salvation Army. I’ve regularly found very gently used (nearly new) high end jeans for $7. And quality jeans last a long time and may even be slightly broken in for you! The key is to hit up thrift stores in good neighborhoods, that’s where you score the best items. Better yet, drop off a donation and use the coupon you get, or go on a ‘sale’ day. You can really score big sometimes!

    • nello April 10, 2015 at 10:09 am

      I second the Salvation Army or any thrift store. I’m always amazed at all the expensive clothes that seem to end up there. I once had a thought that due to all of these “fad diets”, a lot of women go up and down in clothing size…thus getting rid of items as they gain or lose weight. :) Love this shopping ban, I’m on one myself and it’s been remarkably eye-opening!

      • Freckles April 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

        I “third” the suggestion for thrift stores. I have found clothing there new, with tags. If you sign up for a “Value Village” card they also have 50% off sales about every 2-3 months or so.

        I never shopped at a thrift store until about 3 years ago. And I didn’t even tell anybody I was doing it because I felt there was a stigma. Then, after the first time you buy something, realize how little you paid for it and what good condition it’s in it’s hard to buy retail again. In fact the only thing I have purchased “retail” has been underwear in the past 3 years.

        Thrift stores have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. They used to only stock clothing that was 20-30 years old, very out of fashion. Then, as others have mentioned, people’s weights fluctuate more now, people have more disposable income, and go on major decluttering binges so the stock is always changing and is usually quite current. Also, there are stores that give their unsold stock (new with tags) directly to the thrift stores.

        Pssst … here’s a secret. I have been known to go to thrift stores on 50% off days, find designer label clothing, then take them to consignment stores the next day and sell for a 200% profit.

        If you have time, how about thinking about this is a “project”, a subject for a blog posting. A good tip definitely is to go to a larger thrift store in a more affluent neighbourhood.

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks for all the great advice, you three! I have perused the jean aisle at Value Village before, but should’ve done it again. Will think about that next time!

  • Lisa April 10, 2015 at 6:32 am

    I feel ya on the jeans dilemma. I had a pair that I was in love with but kept having to take to the dry-cleaner’s to get mended. I paid something like $120 for them (while my credit card was maxed out, so this was a while ago) but they were the best! They were black denim but never faded no matter how many times a I washed them. They also never stretched out between washes. Finally after a year and a half they started to wear a hole in the crotch, so I threw them out and replaced them with a $40 pair from Bluenotes. I wish I had just budgeted a bit more and bought the same pair again! These jeans are now seriously faded and I’ve only had them for almost four months. I’m also the kind of person that wears the same pair of pants every day, so it would have been better to have just spent a bit more for a better quality pair that made me feel good. Lesson learned!

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Just curious: why did the first pair keep needing to be mended? Rips/tears?

      • Lisa April 11, 2015 at 4:54 am

        The seam at the waist kept coming undone (I guess they were a bit too small on me). It seemed worth it to bring them in for repairs until the crotch hole started to appear.

  • Sharon April 10, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I definitely think it’s wise to invest in quality pieces of clothing – especially for items you wear all the time. My husband always brags about getting cheap clothing from H&M and Uniqlo, but I can’t tell you how often he complains about rips or needs to buy replacements. I have been working on paying down my credit cards for the last two years, and I was THRILLED when I got a big check from Uncle Sam for my tax return. 80% of it went to my CC balance, but I decided to use 20% for travel expenses and clothing. I waited until I found a sale on Polyvore (NM Last Call has great markdowns on everything and they do offer incredible flash sales frequently), and with each item I added to my cart I asked myself “Do I REALLY need this? What happens if I DON’T Buy this?” I’ve been in need of an updated wardrobe for my job and there were several threadbare pieces I needed to replace, so it was pretty easy for me to just give in and buy. Sometimes your clothes get to the point where they are beyond repair.

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      That’s great you were able to update your wardrobe, Sharon! I know I could certainly stand to replace a few things, after this is all over and done with. Still, when I see that there are only 88 days to go, I know I’m happy to wait. Delayed gratification to the max, right? ;)

  • Adam @ April 10, 2015 at 7:11 am

    That’s impressive. I’ve certainly never gone 9 months.

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Ha, thanks Adam.

  • Alyssa April 10, 2015 at 7:17 am


    You go girl! Isn’t amazing how a year flies by when you’re incredibly focused and driven? The take-out coffee lesson is a huge one! Throughout college, it seemed like everyone was fueled by take-out coffee. It was difficult to transition into making coffee at home. But once you get in that routine, you realize the oodles of dollars you’re saving by making that warm cup of goodness at home. :) It’s great to see your monthly savings goal has been increased from this ban!

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      I can’t believe I *finally* changed my thoughts/feelings about takeout coffee. It seriously took all this time for me to finally see that it should just be a treat, not a daily expense. I knew I’d never go back to buying it as often as I did, but now I truly can’t IMAGINE spending the amount I used to spend on coffee each month ever again. The stuff I make at home is delicious. $5 lattes be damned!

  • Our Next Life April 10, 2015 at 7:54 am

    What a great example the take-out coffee provides. Not really about the coffee at all, but about identifying mindless habits. Certainly there are ways we can all apply this to our lives! And totally agree with you — you should not feel constrained when meeting up with people at a coffeeshop. Thanks for sharing your continued struggles and wins on the shopping ban journey. We’re not doing a formal shopping ban, but certainly trying to be much more conscious of our purchases overall, in our effort to retire early and also just to avoid accumulating unnecessary things. Have a great day!

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      I’ve learned so many little lessons from giving up takeout coffee, and they just seem to keep coming – but you’re right, they’ve all been about what happens when you decide to change a habit (not just stop spending money). Thanks for your always-thoughtful comments! :)

  • Lexie Reed April 10, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I am in my 2nd year of a self enforced shopping ban. I also do not put value on take out coffee,magazines and clothing. Take out coffee to me is like throwing cash out a window. I hate the waste. I had to buy walking shoes when I wore holes through mine from my walking program. That has been my only need in over a year. Would love a post about how your saving. My bills are so high I cannot save yet but soon making a big jump to sharing a house to save even more and give myself a break on rent.

  • Danielle April 10, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I am the exact same way with the pants thing, except my cheap pants of preference are Joe Fresh instead of Old Navy. I think these frugal ‘habits’ are oddly the hardest to break. Would a pair of $80 last longer and probably LOOK and FEEL better than a pair of $25 jeans? Absolutely. But I still look at clothes as short-term spending, not long term. I’ve gotten better with shoes, coats and bags, but I struggle with pants/shirts/anything that can change when my weight fluctuates.

    I am encouraging you to put some of that money towards a good desk chair, I don’t have one at home and it’s absolutely noticeable.

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Oh yea, the new chair will be a must-buy. I should actually start looking around now, as I don’t want to make a quick decision (like I did with the cheap jeans, lol). I spend 8 hours/day in it, so it has to be perfect!

  • Bridget April 10, 2015 at 8:14 am


    Like every single pair tears in exactly the same place. I just ruined a pair this week — split as I was putting on my socks. A month ago, same thing. The pair I’m wearing right now is on their last legs (ha! pun intended!) . And why? Because I bought ALL three pairs on the same trip to Salt Lake City in… 2013 it must have been. So now they’re all wearing out at a the same time.

    I’ve tried Old Navy jeans but I find they stretch out and don’t fit like 3 months after I buy them. So now I’m partial to AG Stevies from Anthropologie but their $200/pair in Canada. They’re $150/pair in the USA, which is why I stocked up on my last trip to see my parents and the dollar was on par. Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do when they split.

    Basically my strategy right now is “it’s summer, you’re going to be wearing dresses for the next 4 months, you can procrastinate this”

    • Bridget April 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

      just want to clarify that “when they split” in the above comment refers to my pants, not my parents =p

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Haha, yea I guess I hadn’t thought about that, but I don’t really need new jeans for summer. I have nice khaki capris I wear most of the time and… wow, come to think of it. I bought them from the Gap I think 2-3 summers ago and they are still in almost mint condition! NO RIPS IN THE INNER THIGHS! Something for me to think about, when I *do* buy my next pair of jeans… ;)

  • Sara Oss April 10, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I like the way that you modified your takeout coffee ban. I had always been reading it as a take-away coffee ban so I didn’t realize how strict you were being initially.

    I’m not one of the people who was going on a ban, but I think I may enact one of my own after my birthday later this month. I am curious what my mindless triggers are for buying coffee/takeout/clothing/etc. When I’m having a rough period of insomnia I’ll usually fall asleep to random YouTube videos and I’m wondering if I’m picking up purchasing patterns from there.

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Oh, Sara… I was crazy, in the beginning, haha. I literally drank coffee at home *before* going to brunch with friends, because I knew I wasn’t allowed to get any at the restaurant. And I only go for brunch maybe once/month! So what’s wrong with ONE coffee!? Nothing! (See, I was crazy.)

      And I would be *fascinated* to hear more about your thought process re: why YouTube videos might be affecting your purchases. I’d definitely challenge you to do a shopping ban for even 30 days and maybe not watch YouTube during that time!? Sounds like a weird rule, but everyone’s bans should be unique and created to meet their needs. Maybe that should be part of yours!

  • Amanda @ My Life, I Guess April 10, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Congrats on sticking to your goals so well! I’ve been on a sort of “forced” shopping ban since being laid off last year. I still slip every now and then and buy candy or something small, but I haven’t bought any clothes, accessories, or “things” in that long. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not buy ANYTHING, but for the most part, avoiding all stores except for groceries hasn’t’ been that hard :)

    P.S. Old Navy jeans are the only pants that I’ve ever owned in my entire life that I wore-out before I out-grew. I’m kind of surprised that they lasted that long for you!

    • Cait Flanders April 10, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Ha, yea they aren’t great, eh? But they seriously do fit me so well! Rawr. Stupid Old Navy.

  • Brittany Bergman April 10, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Way to go, Cait! I’m so impressed by you and the progress you’ve made during these past 9 months. It’s really inspiring. I’m with you on the Old Navy jeans — it’s hard because they fit SO well, but I always reach for my favorite pair because they are stretchier, broken in, and softer. I did pay a bit more for them at Nordstrom Rack, but I’ve had them for more than four years and they’re just now starting to wear out. I definitely got my money’s worth out of the purchase (I think they were $40). But I’m afraid that day is coming when the worn-out parts of the inner thigh become real holes! :(

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Ugh, it’s the worst when they become real holes! I feel your pain, Brittany. Hope you get a little more life out of yours yet…

  • Devan April 10, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Hi Cait, you inspired me to start a month-long shopping ban on April 1, including take out coffee and lunches. I’m only 10 days in and it’s already changing my outlook! I’ve succeeded in packing my lunch for work everyday, and now that I’m in a groove with it, I can’t believe I had let myself fall into the habit of buying lunch so often. Now when my co-workers are all scrambling at noon to organize a take-out order, I just grab my lunch bag and enjoy my full lunch break in peace. Not only am I saving money, I’m eating healthier lunches and I really think it makes my work days less stressful overall. I’ve never been one to “go shopping” in regular stores that often, but I do a lot of online shopping, which I wanted to curb. With the ban, it’s so great because now if I get an e-mail with some promotion for a product or store I like, I don’t even have to go through the thought process of “Hmmm, do I want to buy anything right now? Do I need anything from here? Should I stock up while they’re having a sale?” Instead, I just say “Nope, shopping ban!” and delete. In fact, I’ve unsubscribed to a lot of the e-mails I had been getting from retailers. You don’t realize how many signals you’re getting to buy, buy, buy every day, until you’re really paying attention! The hardest for me has been the take-out coffee, for the very same reasons you described. I realized I had created all these little rituals around buying coffee and had become dependent on those rituals to evoke certain feelings in my day. Need to buckle down on a big project? Get a coffee to help you focus. Morning full of tedious meetings ahead? Get a coffee to soothe the boredom. Totally rocked a presentation? Get a coffee to celebrate. I’ve actually forced myself to change the language in my head from “get a coffee” to “buy a coffee” to acknowledge that these coffees have a cost! I’ll admit, the first week was rough and I was having all these internal debates, negotiating with myself about why it would be ok to cheat in some particular situation, but I didn’t give in! And already I’m realizing that the those little temporary boosts I was getting from buying coffee are not as important to me as reaching my greater financial goals. Plus, I really want to find other healthier ways to motivate and reward myself. Thanks for reading this long comment and for all the support and encouragement you provide to so many people through this blog. There was one instance early in the month when I almost broke down and bought a coffee. I had nearly talked myself into it, but then I actually thought to myself, “No! I want to be able to report back to Cait and tell her I succeeded!” I’m very excited to see where I’ll be on April 30 and beyond!

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Devan! The last sentence about how you wanted to tell me you succeeded made my day. If you ever want to chat about your ban, feel free to email me! (It’s listed on my contact page.) I love that you noticed how stress-free lunch breaks can be when you don’t need to scramble to figure out what you’re going to eat. Yes, it’s great we’re eating healthier stuff… but it’s also just amazing that we don’t have to worry about making any decisions (which quickly became bad/unhealthy ones)! Good luck with the next 19 days, and please write when you’re done!

  • Eva Z. April 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Good job on the shopping ban, you are a huge inspiration!!! For me it’s a hassle to buy coffee…at home, I press a button on a machine and it’s done (if I want one, normally I drink tea anyway). If I’d buy it I would have to go out of my way, find a coffee shop, find parking, get out of the car, stand in line, get coffee (pay exorbitant amount of money for a cup of coffee) and leave…I know you can do drive-through but not all shops have it…Ah, I’d rather not :) But I understand how it becomes a habit and you don’t even think about it. I agree with others on the jeans, it may be better to pay a bit more but get a really good pair… recently I ordered online two pairs to compare, one for $50 and one for $150…I thought that the $150 pair will make my butt look like Heidi Klum’s, while the other one will be meh…Interestingly enough, the $50 fit me better, was more comfortable so I returned the 3x more expensive one…The cheaper one is lasting really well so far…often you pay just for the brand. Also good are resale shops.

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Wow, well great you were able to return the other pair, Eva! And yes, the process of having to wait in line + pay $$ for coffee does NOT interest me anymore… I honestly can’t understand how I was comfortable doing that for so long!

  • Dawn April 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    When it comes to clothing purchases – I try and keep to a self imposed rule of “cost per wear”. If you are going to wear a pair of jeans 250+ times – then you can spend some serious money on them. Of course, my weakness is shoes – so twice a year (spring and fall) I buy a pair of shoes that cost a bit, but I’m going to wear that pair for the next six months…so it’s got a low “cost per wear”. And, of course, I’ve budgeted for them!! Keep up the amazing work, Cait – I LOVE reading about your journey – it’s been very inspirational!

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Thank you so much, Dawn! I’ve never really bothered with the cost per wear thing, as I wear the same clothes almost every day, haha… so I should be able to spend ALL my money on it, at this rate. ;) But it’s a good thing for others to consider, for sure. Especially for items you’re buying for one occasion – should try to think of other times you could possibly wear it, so you make the most of it!

  • Nadia April 10, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with Dawn. I always spend more on my jeans because I wear them all of the time and want them t0 last. Also I find the Old Navy one NEVER look good on me. My prefered brand is Silver Jeans. LOVE LOVE the way they look on me (they do fantastic thing for my butt LOL). They’re usually 90-100 not on sale but it’s worth it because they last and look good on me.

    • Jackie April 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      As per my comment above, I just got new, perfect condition Silvers for $6.99 at the Salvation Army. Score!!

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      $6.99! Whoa. That’s not real life, haha.

  • Tamara Koop April 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Cait, gosh you’re an inspiration!! I am into my 3rd month now of decluttering and have almost finished – yeah!! I’ve been obsessed and totally single minded but it’s got the job done relatively quickly! What a massive difference it’s made! I am also now 2 months into my 12 month shopping ban and am amazed at the amount of cash just staying put in my purse each week!! It’s like “where did all this cash come from”…. so now of course I am putting it towards paying off my credit card debt. :) I have also imposed a coffee ban of sorts too…. we have a pod coffee machine at home which I used to use every day at least twice a day….but I was ignoring just how much money pods were and then I also found out my pods aren’t biodegradable so I got all environmentally and economically upset. I was also ignoring the fact that my body actually doesn’t handle coffee very well. When I drink it, I suffer from heart palpitations, night sweats, insomnia, headaches and body aches and pains …. which I was just stupidly ignoring…. so a month ago I put the coffee pod machine away….(I just bring it out for guests every few weeks) .. I went through 3 days of coffee withdrawal..ugh!. then swapped to drinking loose leaf tea in a pretty tea pot every morning. So now I feel 100% better and am saving at least $30 a month from not buying coffee pods! Another win for my purse and new minimalist lifestyle and really, it was just another very simple change to make. To make all these changes, I’ve found you just have to have that “moment” when you go enough is enough, time to face the music, make a proper decision, stick to it and reap the benefits!! Then every day gets easier and lighter as you say goodbye to the old stuff, old habits and old thought patterns! Your blog and inspirational ideas have flooded my life with light and space and peace. Thank you!

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Wow, Tamara, it sounds like you’re right at the start of some big changes! I found that, once I pushed past some of the stuff you’re describing, I started to have some seriously deep/retrospective thoughts. Be ready for them! They will change your outlook on things forever, I promise. Can’t wait to hear about your journey, as you get further along! :)

  • Master Nerd April 10, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Congrats on making it this far with your shopping ban! Personally I find that if I don’t go to the mall I don’t buy anything. I used to go to the mall much more frequently, and inevitably bought stuff more frequently. Now I tend to only go when I genuinely need something (e.g., jeans that actually fit me) a few times a year and often end up buying a few things if there’s a good deal. My favourite shopping is when I travel, because I can often find things I can’t buy at home, or for cheaper than at home.

    In addition to Value Village, you could also check out consignment stores (not sure if someone already suggested that). Sadly for men, consignment stores and Value Village have little to offer, and what they do have rarely fits. I also second the idea of spending a little more to get quality clothing that will last longer. I don’t mean blowing crazy money on overpriced designer brands, but more so middle of the road stuff that is well made and fits you well.

    Take out coffee is absurdly overpriced. I can understand the occasional outing/meeting to ‘go for coffee’ since that’s more of a social event and it’s still much cheaper than a restaurant meal. What boggles my mind are the people at my work that buy take out coffee every day (many more than once) despite the fact that we have the exact same coffee for FREE available 24/7 in the office. Instead of spending 2 min to walk to the kitchen and pour themselves a cup, they spend 20 min to leave the building, wait in line, pay money, and then come back to get the exact same thing!

    Anyway, good luck with the last 88 days! At this point, I’m sure it will zoom by!

    • Cait Flanders April 11, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      “Instead of spending 2 min to walk to the kitchen and pour themselves a cup, they spend 20 min to leave the building, wait in line, pay money, and then come back to get the exact same thing!” <– Yes! I will say, some office coffee is disgusting… but I’m finally starting to realize how ludicrous it is to spend all that time (and money, of course) waiting for something, when I can make really good coffee at home! Crazy stuff, I tell ya.

      • Master Nerd April 11, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        Yeah some work coffee can be pretty awful! That’s when it’s time to turn your desk into a coffee bar of course, haha!

  • Kristen April 12, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Congrats for sticking to your shopping ban. Buy yourself one nice pair of jeans when you are done. You won’t regret it and you will be amazed at how long you have them!

    My rule for take out tea is simple – it is allowed when I am traveling for work or have a meeting in the coffee shop. The rest of the time I make it at home or I keep tea and a kettle at the office (where I am 3 days a week).

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      I’m definitely going to buy myself a better pair in the summer/fall. It’s been another week and I still hate these ones. And sounds like we have the same rule re: takeout drinks now!

  • Chela @SmashOdyssey April 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Great job with the savings! That´s massive! I definitely agree that it´s okay to break the shopping ban for the necessary jeans, and honestly, I wouldn´t go for the more expensive pair. I find even jeans from the Gap or Levi´s rip, too–especially if you´re wearing them daily. I´m like this with my shoes. I have one pair of inexpensive flats I wear every single day, until they´ve got holes. It´s maybe once or twice a year, but I´m happy to throw them out and get another pair of cute $10 flats. It doesn´t even feel like shopping. If I were going through expensive shoes once or twice a year, I´d be much more mad about it.

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Well, I’m mostly unhappy with how crappy the material is… they’re still so hard/stiff. Gap jeans you can just pull on and they are soft right from the start. That’s what I’m missing. I don’t even like putting these ones on, so find I’m not wearing them very often. So I’m going to “upgrade”, so to speak, when this is over and I find a better pair.

  • Ronnica, Striving Stewardess April 12, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Sounds like you’re doing well!

    I’m having a bit of a jeans-situation with my everyday shoes. I have worn them almost everyday since September, but sadly they are almost worn out now. I liked the ones I have, but is it really worth paying $20 for shoes I’ll have less than a year (and then have to throw in a landfill)? Thinking about paying up to 3-4 times as much, with the hope that those shoes could last me several years and possibly be able to fixed by a cobbler (they still exist, right?) when needed.

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      I don’t have much experience with shoes, but I do know this: they only get a certain amount of mileage before you’ll have to replace them. Take running shoes, for example. They’re usually at least $100, but once you put in a certain amount of km’s, they are trashed – and not just on the outside, but in how much support they have left. I usually need a new pair every 2 years from all the running I used to do/hiking I do now. So I don’t really know if spending more helps – that is, if you wear them every day.

  • Sadie April 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I keep a very small wardrobe, and so I wear my clothes out faster. I have really become averse to things that wear out quickly. I have never bought anything– ANYTHING– from Old Navy that I haven’t regretted almost immediately. Seams that spontaneously unravel, jersey that pills after three wears, jeans that become un-shaped in strange ways. I have friends who tell me about their great Old Navy staples, but I have seriously never bought a single thing there that lasted (including a coat for my husband– every button popped off within the first winter!).

    I find that GAP jeans stretch out too much, as well. I love Levi’s. You can get exactly the cut and style you want and then just wear the hell out of them, and they only look better.

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Ha, that’s a good point about Old Navy. Jeans have always been fine for me (once they wear in a bit) but almost everything else I’ve bought from there went out the door when I decluttered.

  • Zina at Debt Free After Three April 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Great post! I’ve wanted to do a shopping ban ever since I paid off my loans. It’s so easy to see small expenses like coffee, candy, etc. and not think of it as a big deal. But I do think they represent a mindset that it’s ok to treat yourself. I try not to get food or coffee out unless I’m with someone. That way it’s more of an experience instead of something I’m doing for convenience.

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Exactly! That’d be a great mini shopping ban in itself, Zina. :)

  • middle class April 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I just had to chime in and remind people that $$ does not always equal quality. At some point, the difference between a $50 and $200 pair of jeans is likely based on brand name, overhead costs, marketing, etc.. Don’t get me started on the cost per wear justification!

    • Cait Flanders April 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      100% agree! I’d never spend over $100 on jeans, personally. But I think it’ll be worth upgrading from $30 to $50-60, just so I can own something softer and that is actually comfortable. These are sh*t, lol.

  • Ruth April 16, 2015 at 5:16 am

    I just came back from a family vacation in Florida. It was a fabulous time with all including my 20 mos old grandson! I had the opportunity to go to a few of those outlet store areas as some of my extended family are shoppers while I am not much of one in my later years. I’m sure I would have been face and eyes into it in my 20s and 30s.! and then had the usual dose of buyers remorse when my visa bill arrived especially with the dollar as low as it is!!
    Well it was an experience! It reminded me of the mouse maze concept as people ran up and down the corridors in and out of shop doors. I’m sure there were some good deals to be had if you really needed something but I sat down just people watching and wondered how many people could actually afford the items they ‘thought’ they needed!
    That would never have happened before I too started on this goal to make life simpler and less cluttered. I’m tired of digging my house out of things I know longer use or need. It is hard to understand when you are young that your needs/wants and indeed goals will change as you age.
    After nearly 25 years of work I want to retire and having to wait til I reach a certain age to maximize my income because of lack of foresight makes me frustrated and cranky some days. I am tired of counting my annual leave days like they were gold nuggets.
    I really thought I would want to work much longer but my opinions have changed over the years. I have lost family and friends to early illness and the preciousness of health and life are more apparent to me than ever before. The arrival of my grandson probably has something to do with that! The joy he brings to my life is immeasurably. I think I knew having a grandchild would but I never really understood how much.
    I want more time and energy for myself also to explore new interests and opportunities. Hopefully I will be able to do that in a couple of years. That’s my rant for today. Thanks for listening.

    • Cait Flanders April 18, 2015 at 7:52 am

      Not a rant at all, Ruth – I love that you shared all of this! First, the outlet mall experience would’ve been fascinating. I don’t think I could go near one of those, at this point – not because it would make me want to shop but because I think I’d feel a bit sick watching that exact experience you just described. People don’t need all this stuff! It’s great that you’re focused on living a simpler life with less clutter now, and interesting to read the reasons why you think you finally decided to do so. More time and energy to do what you love are at the top of my list of reasons for why I want to maintain this new lifestyle. Hope you experience them both soon. :)

  • Beth July 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I am new to your blog so I am just now getting caught up on all the previous articles. I had to laugh at the Old Navy discussion – I JUST placed a large order from Old Navy’s website last week. Mostly workout clothes as mine are in a sad state of affairs, & they were having a big sale. My order does not include any jeans, however! LOL. I have found some decent & inexpensive (under $20) Levi’s at Ross recently.

    I need some advice on how to get started decluttering – and how to get my husband on board. The first step is to get him to admit he has a problem. He has so many pairs of shoes that he had to go out & buy a portable shoe rack to hold them all. I bet you he has more than 20 pairs of Sanuk sandals alone. It’s ridiculous!
    Another problem is getting him to “let go” of things we are not using & have no use for. For example, we have not one, not two, but THREE portable wifi speakers. Do we use them? NO! They’re sitting on a shelf, collecting dust. ARGH!!!
    Please advise!