Why I’m Upping the Ante on My Yearlong Shopping Ban

It’s been 6 months and 20 days since I started my yearlong shopping ban. That’s 204 days of not buying clothes, shoes, books, notebooks, electronics, household items, nail polish… or takeout coffee (other than when I’m travelling). I’ve purchased a few of the things from the approved shopping list I created at the beginning, as well as groceries and toiletries – and that’s it. Even though I’ve only recently crossed the halfway mark in this 365-day journey, I don’t think it’s too soon for me to tell you: it’s changed me forever – and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being the type of consumer I was before.

First, remember that I’ve never identified with being a shopaholic. I recently did an interview for a newspaper in Germany (so cool!) and the reporter asked me repeatedly if I’d racked up my old debt by purchasing lots of new clothes, shoes, etc. “Surely, you have lots of shoes,” she said. Nope! That’s never been my style. I’ve always been someone who paid for experiences, not things. Most of my credit card debt was from dinners and nights out at the bar (mostly nights out at the bar). And even though I stopped drinking a couple years ago, I continued to spend a lot of money on coffee and meals out.

So, if I’m not a shopaholic, why put myself on a shopping ban? Because, over the years, my home still came to be filled with stuff I didn’t use. Some of it I paid for, some of it was gifted… but I held onto it all for the “what if” moments. What if I want to curl up and watch all these DVDs one day? What if I lose 20 lbs. and fit into that dress again? (Note: “What if” never happens, and just thinking about it can make you feel bad.) I was also a mindless consumer. I’d buy a new bottle of lotion, then come home to see I had two under the sink. And I bought any book in sight, simply because I wanted to read it “one day”.

For that reason alone, the shopping ban has been worth it. It took a few months, but I’ve finally rid myself of the 10+ year-old habit of buying every book on my to-read list; that was so deeply engrained in me that I swear I could complete a transaction on Amazon or Kobo in 20 seconds or less. Click, click, click, click, mine – and then they’d sit on my bookshelf for years, before I finally cracked them open. (Truth bomb: Many still remain untouched.) I would say the greatest win of this adventure, so far, is that I memorized my new library card number before my new MasterCard number.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself. For instance, I finally realized that I’ve always been someone who cycles through the same few outfits each week. In fact, would you be surprised if I told you I’ve worn the exact same pair of jeans every single day for the past 204 days? It’s true. My $20 jeans from Old Navy have served me well. And I’ve been this way my whole life. Each week, my wardrobe has consisted of 1-2 pairs of pants, 3-4 shirts and 1-2 pairs of shoes (TOMS or rain boots). Honestly, it’s no wonder it was so easy for me to toss all those bags of clothes… I never wore any of them, and I knew it!

Finally, I’ve discovered which of the items I used to buy (but can’t right now) I actually value. Up until 204 days ago, I would’ve told you I valued books; that I’d collect them forever and build the biggest, baddest library you’d ever seen. What I’ve discovered is that I really just value reading, and I don’t need to buy every book in sight to get the good feeling that comes with it. The Port Moody Public Library is my new best friend. We hangout every few weeks and she lends me a stack of new reading material to get through, before our next scheduled hangout. I love her and value our new relationship.

Of all the things I’m not allowed to shop for, candles are at the top of things I miss and truly value. That probably sounds crazy, right? It’s an object you literally pay to light on fire… and then it disappears. I might as well just take a match to a $5 bill. But I love them. You’ll always find one at my desk, flickering away as I’m writing in the early morning or at night. I mention this because I recently realized that I’ll run out of my beloved vanilla-scented IKEA tealights soon and I’m actually going to miss them. So, I won’t go back to buying books, when this is over… but there will be $3.99 packages of candles, in my future.

Overall, the greatest lesson I’ve learned in the past 204 days is that I don’t need to spend money to be happy. From time-to-time, I’ll feel the pang to buy something new, but the ban forces me to stop and question why I really want to shop. Is it to make myself feel better? Or would I actually be fulfilling a need? The answer is usually that I’m sad or feel gross (hello PMS) and want a pick-me-up. But by not being able to give into those impulse purchases, and later reflecting on them, I can tell you that none of them would’ve made me happy or improved my life in any way.

When I first started this shopping ban, you guys were all supportive, but the general response I received from friends in my real life was that I was crazy. “A YEAR!? That’s sooo long!” In some ways I agreed, but I also thought it might be too easy. The list of things I’ve been allowed to shop for has enabled me to still enjoy many of the daily conveniences I could probably save money on. I think I’ve learned everything I’m going to learn about myself, so far in this journey… which is why it’s time to up the ante, change the rules and push myself even further.

Minimalism vs. Simple Living

When I made the decision to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, my goal was simply to pare down my belongings, until every item in my home had a purpose. After completing my final declutter this past weekend, I can now say that I’ve accomplished that – and I’m left with just 40% of what I once owned. This + the shopping ban have proved that life is better with less. By removing all the external conflicts from my home and my mind, I have more time to give to family, friends and myself, and to do the things I love. I also have a lot more money in the bank, which is just an incredible bonus.

Something I’ve come across numerous times, throughout this journey, is the topic of minimalism vs. simple living. Some writers and experts on these topics believe they are one and the same, while others see some big differences. As explained in this article, keywords used to describe minimalism often include: declutter, less is more and anti-consumerism. Simple living, on the other hand, is all about: self-sufficiency, sustainability and simply slowing down. It’s a more holistic approach to living an intentional life… and, at this stage in my journey, I think I’m finally ready for it.

When I was a kid, we grew a lot of our own food. I have vivid memories of running out to the garden to get chives for our baked potatoes, and picking a plum from the tree and eating it in the grass. We canned all the peaches and nectarines from our trees that were tied up against the house, made jam from the berry bushes along the fence and baked apple pies. (There were so many apple pies!) To go along with this, I had a mom who made my clothes and who could sew/stitch anything, and a dad who somehow knew how to do absolutely everything – and if he didn’t know how, he’d learn.

At some point, while growing up in the digital revolution (which many believe is still just getting started) and moving out on my own, I chose to forego that lifestyle and opted for one that was more convenient: if I could buy it, I did. I learned how to cook and bake, but I never learned how to sew, patch a rip in my clothes, fix things around the house… and I know absolutely nothing about gardening. Instead, I spent countless hours of my 20s in front of a television, made the “I’m too busy” excuse for everything and drove my car shorter distances than I’d ever care to admit. And I’m done with it.

I want to be more self-sufficient. I want to grow some of my own food, learn how to sew (or at least mend) my own clothes, and make my own shampoo/conditioner/laundry detergent/cleaning products. I want to embrace sustainable living and reduce my carbon footprint, namely by walking more but also through my diet. I want to reduce the amount of meat I eat and the number of pre-packaged goods I consume. I really want to be conscious of the products I buy, in an attempt to reduce my waste. Overall, I just want to slow down, make the time to live a more conscious life and enjoy every minute of it.

Obviously, this won’t happen overnight; some of it might not even happen in the next five months, or for as long as I’m living in a condo vs. a house with a yard. But let’s talk about how it’s going to change my shopping ban…

The New Rules for My Yearlong Shopping Ban

First, let’s talk about what I’m NOT allowed to shop for, because I’ve moved some things to this list:

  • “fun” cosmetics (namely nail polish)
  • clothes (except for a few essentials, or if I lose weight and nothing fits)
  • shoes
  • accessories (purses, scarves, jewellery, etc.)
  • books, magazines and notebooks
  • household items (candles, decor, furniture, etc.)
  • electronics and appliances
  • takeout coffee
  • basic kitchen supplies (plastic wrap, tin foil, etc.)
  • cleaning products and laundry detergent

What I’m allowed to shop for:

  • groceries
  • cosmetics (only basics, like mascara, and only after I run out)
  • toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo*, toilet paper, etc.)
  • a few essential clothing items identified at the beginning of this challenge
  • gifts for others
  • gardening supplies
  • ingredients for shampoo/conditioner/cleaning products/laundry detergent

*I highlighted shampoo because I have enough to last for a couple months, but if this experiment goes south then I’m not going to forbid myself from buying the sulfate-free stuff I currently use.

As you can see from the two lists above, I want to spend the rest of this time trying to make more of the things I use, so I can consume less. It’s not just about saving money. In fact, to get started, I imagine it’ll cost more to do it this way (although I’ll be looking at ways to save, and am all ears if you have suggestions). I just want to become even more conscious about what I consume, try to produce more myself and take pride in whatever I make. It also won’t hurt for me to switch to more natural ingredients, especially per hair and cleaning products.

Now, here’s where I’ll admit that I have no idea if this’ll stick. I might make laundry detergent once and decide it’s the most annoying thing ever. But I at least want to try, before I make that assumption. I’ll also admit that I currently have enough for the next 1-2 months, so I won’t be blogging about this just yet. Where I plan to start this next leg of the ban is by researching when I should plant vegetables in BC, what types of containers I should use (and which will fit on my deck), and look for ways to save on supplies. After that, I’m going to ask my mom for a sewing lesson. And maybe I’ll try to make candles!

Oh, and I’ve been putting $100/month into a savings account this whole time, and have decided to up it to $200. Since I currently have $900 in there, I’ll add an extra $100 on payday this week, then save $200/month for the next five months; that’ll leave me with $2,000 to shop with, when this is over. I still have no idea what I’m going to buy. There’s no goal here. I’m saving to prove that it’s possible to cut back and still be happy. So far, though, my best guess is I’ll replace my 3-year-old iPhone, maybe buy a bike and consider getting an espresso machine. Or maybe I’ll just go on a trip! We’ll see.

I have 161 days to go. That also means I have 161 days left in my 20s, before the big 3-0 arrives… yikes! If I can grow something without killing it, make some of my own products and stitch a button on a shirt, I’ll feel a lot better about entering a new decade. But even if I fail, at least I’ll be able to say I tried.

Have any tips as I enter this next stage of the ban? I’m all ears, friends!

  • I swear, we are currently on the same trajectory in this stages of our lives. Yesterday I was talking with my dad because I want to build my own bed frame and headboard. I am on a path of minimalism/simple living/financial independence. I am finding that all those ideas are interconnected and function better as a whole. I have recently come across Marie Kondo’s book on minimalism and it’s on hold at the library (which as you write is a great source of fun), I can probably give you the coles notes when I done.

  • Sewing is easy, as is candle making. Those won’t be any trouble at all for you, I’m sure of it. (I say this as someone who can do both :P) As for the hair stuff, try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse. That’s the one I’ve seen people swear by the most on the internet, and people say once your hair adjusts you only have to wash it like, once a week or something.

    Susie of http://pinsandprocrastination.com runs a blog you might want to check out — she a lot of her own beauty products, cleaning stuff, etc. Might be a helpful resource!

  • Does Vancouver have any community gardens in your area? Some types of veggies do well in pots, but most do much better in the actual soil. As far as patio plants, I suggest starting with tomatoes, peppers and your favorite herbs.

  • Hi Cait,
    I have been reading your blog for awhile, not much for commenting, just soaking it in, and getting inspired. Just wanted to thank you for helping me break my latte habit, and although I am not nearly as strict with myself as you have been, I have removed a couple of categories from my spending, namely clothes and cosmetics, and reduced my other purchasing by asking “how will this improve my life?” I won’t likely ever go back to my old shopping ways, I love watching my savings grow, and I only wish I could have seen the light years ago….

    Keep up the great blogging, you are touching a lot of lives. Have a great day!

    • Jewel, your comment made my whole day. Doesn’t it feel great to break yourself from habits, and focus on what truly matters to you? Or, as you said, what will improve your life? I swear, watching my savings grow is just a bonus… a great one! But just a bonus. It feels so good to be living a more intentional life. Thank YOU for reading and finally commenting. :)

  • Cait,
    I love your honesty! it’s been so great to see the change in you, your lifestyle, your ideals. I also love it because it didn’t happen overnight in an age when everyone wants everything immediately. You have shown to a new generation, that previous generations were right when they said patience is a virtue and when you want something it is always worth the wait. Congratulations on your new journey and I can’t wait to hear how the homemade shampoo works out :) Right now I’m going to google how to make my own laundry detergent!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Judith! I hadn’t thought about that before, but I guess I was moving in the direction of living a life where I wanted everything now, now, now, and have since slowed my pace. So far, it’s been worth it. :)

  • Thank you for the jeans comment, I thought I was the only person who literally wore the same pair of jeans every day. I mean, I wash them! (about once a week, or when they get really sweaty/smelly, whichever comes first)

    All I can say about the rest is “go you!” And a word of encouragement about the sewing: sewing is easy, but if you’re a butterfingers like me, don’t get discouraged if you feel clumsy or make big stitches or it seems to take forever to do anything at first. It’s a physical skill like anything else and you get a lot better at it with practice. I’m very good, but I’ve been sewing since I was nine, and I definitely am much better at it now than I was then :) If you want to get better faster, then get some waste fabric and, when you’re hanging out with the radio or tv or a friend, just sew straight seams across it to practice.

    • Haha, yea I wash mine every 2-3 weeks maybe? I’m scared they’ll shrink and I’ll be stuck with short jeans for 5 months. :P

      And thanks for the tips! I’m not going to buy a sewing machine anytime soon, so don’t think I’ll do much of that yet… but I’m definitely going to ask my mom to teach me some of what she knows, the next time I go home!

  • Yes to one pair of jeans for 204 days!

    I believe we talked about this at the RateHub event, but I only own two pairs of pants, including my one pair of jeans. That’s partly because I hate wearing pants and have a hard time finding ones that fit right, but once I’ve found them – what’s the point of getting more than one?

  • Mine is going until September, when we buy a house, but I think I could go longer. I don’t miss buying things! Candles, though, I hear you completely. I asked for them for Christmas and got a ton, I love them. I burn a candle every single day.
    Try the blog One Good Thing by Jillee for DIY products. I’ve never looked up shampoo, but her laundry detergent is so easy (she has many cleaner recipes and detergent recipes.) Everything is easy to make, seriously 2 or 3 ingredients and way cheaper and better for the environment. I love her.

    • Go you, Stephanie! When did you start your ban? And thanks for the blog suggestion. Sounds like there are lots of great blogs specializing in DIY products. More to read. :)

      • Mine started in September, officially, but unofficially a few months before that since I was moving and didn’t want to accumulate anything else! December was rough with Christmas, but other than that it’s been smooth sailing.

  • Firstly, I LOVE your blog. It’s been a great source of inspiration to me as I’ve been going through my own process of getting my finances under control.

    Secondly, don’t worry a thing about turning 30. My 30s were the absolute best decade of my life so far (and my 40s are shaping up to be pretty good as well). I found clarity and confidence, and my relationships strengthened as a result of that. The only suggestion I have is to take care of yourself physically. I’ve not experienced any big problems so far, but I’m definitely not working at 100% capacity anymore. Your body WILL change, but you can counter it quite a lot by staying active and eating well.

    Good luck and thanks again!

    • Good suggestion, Andrea. I workout 3-4 days/week, but want to push myself even harder, lose a few pounds and gain more muscle, before my hip surgery. The better shape I’m in, the easier my recovery will be. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself!

      Also, happy to hear you like the blog. Thanks for saying so. :)

  • After reading this all I want to do is rush home and start purging. Decluttering as been on my mind a lot, especially knowing that there’s a move in my near-ish future (or maybe because of that). I do NOT want to be hauling junk across the country! I was thinking of dedicating a day each week to a different problem area of the apartment so that it doesn’t feel like such an overwhelming task.

    How amazing is it to look back at your journey and see how much you’ve accomplished? I like how you introduce new steps gradually – I imagine that makes it a lot easier to adapt and and change.

    If the DIY cleaners work, are you planning on posting the recipes? I’d be interested in giving them a try!

    • Nope, I speak from experience, girl… you do NOT want to haul stuff across the country, unless it’s absolutely necessary! If you can take the time to do your purge before you move, do it. Otherwise, be RUTHLESS when it comes time to pack. I haven’t missed a single thing, so far. (I don’t even remember what most of it was.)

      And sure, I could post recipes!

  • For homemade cleaning VINEGAR will be your friend! I use a combo of Vinegar and Blue Dawn dish soap for majority of my cleaning and it works WONDERS! I still use Lysol for the toilet and Pledge for the wood but everything else gets the Dawn/Vinegar combo. The next time I need to make a batch I’m going to soak lemon or orange peels in the vinegar first to leave a more pleasant, less vinegary smell.

    This summer I canned for the first time. It was slightly expensive because I had to buy the canner and the jars but the home canned peaches and homemade jams were totally worth it!

    • Thanks for the tips, Nadia! I don’t know that I’ll can (mostly to avoid all the extra sugars) but producing some of my own veggies would be pretty cool. :)

      • You’re welcome! Fair enough on the fruit/jam thing. I’m hoping to do my own pickles in the summer as well. Not so much sugar in those!

  • Your spending patterns sound a lot like mine. I really enjoy take-out coffee, experiences, and candles too. I wear my clothes on repeat and I have a very simple house. I’m not ready to eliminate coffee though!

    • Oh, I still drink coffee! I just make it at home, hehe. I don’t think that’ll be changing anytime soon. ;)

  • 1. Same jean story. I thought I was the only one.
    2. This is the most thoughtful post I’ve read on frugality and spending bans and that whole ball of wax in a very, very long time. If ever. (And I seem to read a lot of them).
    3. Have you read Happy Money? It sounds right up your alley.

    • 1. Nope! Prez + VP of the One Pair of Jeans Club, we are.
      2. Thank you, Sandi. I’m glad you liked it. :)
      3. I have not, but I just put it on hold at the library. Thanks!

  • Caitlin, your determination and self-discovery are inspirational! You may find this useful in your newest endeavor: as a way to control my allergies, I switched to cleaning my bathroom and kitchen surfaces with mainly just baking soda (scrub) and vinegar (rinse) several years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s been a much healthier and definitely more cost efficient option for me! Good luck with your newest initiative!

    • Thanks for the suggestion + explanation on how to use them, Michelle! Also great to know you’ve noticed some healthy benefits from switching over. As always, appreciate your support. :)

  • CAIT!! The most inspiring woman I know. It was great seeing you the other night. I think when I shop from now on I will adopt the “What would Cait do?” philosophy.

    I’ve been using up my products before I buy new stuff, and let me tell you, I never thought things could last so long!! I was a sucker for buying little bottles of hand cream, cause I thought “well I’ll always use this and there’s hardly any in there”. But even using one tube several times a day will last a month or more! So I probably have AT LEAST 6 months of handcream sitting in my apartment/at work right now.

    • “What would Cait do?” hehe. I like that, Jacquie!

      Isn’t it crazy how long products last for!? It’s been nearly 7 months and I only just used the last bottle of ONE bottle of lotion. One! And I have another bottle that’s like double the size, which means it should last at least a year. We don’t need multiple bottles with multiple scents… at least, not until we’ve used up what we have! Keep it up. :)

  • Good for you! I have to admit, I don’t foresee me making laundry detergent or shampoo anytime soon, but I respect your ability to try this.

    I am working very hard not to buy things I don’t need. I mean truly need. The only clothing I have purchased since your ban was the 1 sweater (it was on my list as we were packing for our trip I realized casual clothes are what I was missing) and bras and underwear (to replace ones that really needed to go . . . . a girl really can’t live with only one bra!) While I admit I love clothes and clothes shopping, for the most part it has been easy. I have been working to put what I have in different outfits and that has been fun.

    Another way we are trying to save money is to not go grocery shopping every week. We are trying to go every two weeks (and we do a Costco run about every 6 weeks for meat etc). This has been going well. We have had to run in one time to get milk and eggs, but that was all. Our grocery budget, including a trip to Costco has dropped about 37% this month (the first month of the plan). We are working to see if we can continue to eat the food we love at this reduced price and drop this even more. Time will tell!

    Thanks for continuing to inspire!

    • Nope, we definitely can’t live with just one bra! I wore just one for a couple months and it got absolutely trashed. Gotta switch ’em up! Also, HOLY HECK, look at that percentage of savings on groceries! Nicely done, Kristen. :)

  • I always love reading your blog because you always seem to have the right thing to say right when I need it. I have been so impressed with your shopping ban. I haven’t actually put myself on a shopping ban, but when my girlfriends and I went on a girls’ trip the other weekend and spent some time shopping, I gave myself an “approved shopping list” of a couple items (black flats & small silver hoop earrings). We went in to a lot of stores and shopped for hours, but I ended the day without buying a thing (except some mid afternoon wine & snacks) because I didn’t find either of those items.

    I am excited to hear how your deck gardening goes. I have a goal of gardening lots of veggies in my backyard this year, but have zero knowledge on the subject, so I will be learning similar things. Good luck!

    • Ahhh, that reminds me of my approved shopping ban list too! Honestly, I can’t tell you how many hoodies I’ve tried on, but I refuse to buy one until I find “the one”. You know? The one that is the perfect length and fit, is soft and built to last. At this rate, I think I’m going to wait until I go to Tofino in May and buy a new Storm hoodie (to replace the Storm hoodie I’ve been wearing for the past two years).

      Should I blog about gardening stuff? A little bit, anyway? Would be fun to learn with/from others, as I get going! :)

      • I’ve always liked the hoodies from Sitka in Victoria, but I haven’t tried the ones at Storm before.

        I’d say yes to blogging a bit about your gardening. I’d be interested to see how it works for you. There are loads of pinterest boards about patio vegetable gardens. They are fun to use as references.

  • Three cheers for sustainable living! Making your own cleaning products is a breeze, although I can’t vouch for laundry detergent or shampoo. Container gardening is also super fun, and so rewarding for the amount of money it takes to get started. Good luck!

  • Candles are pretty easy too make. I started a hand-poured candle business when I was in high school. The hardest part is getting certain scents to bind with the wax and preventing wells (holes) from forming in the wax. It isn’t that difficult, doesn’t require too much equipment, and I actually enjoyed the manufacturing process. I’m not sure how cost effective it is to make candles for personal use, since I always made them in bulk. Definitely worth a try though!

    • I imagine I’ll make a batch at a time! Maybe not “bulk” but 10? 15? We’ll see, I guess!

  • Hey Cait,

    I’m curious about the choice to move basic kitchen supplies (plastic wrap, tinfoil) into your do-not-buy list, and how that relates to making your own supplies. Or is it about aiming to eliminate single-use products?


    • Good question. I’m obviously not making my own supplies re: those two. The truth is, I only use either of those products when I’m wrapping something up… and I have lots of tupperware for that! So that’s just about eliminating unnecessary waste. :)

    • I also have a weakness for Uniqlo, and Muji!! I go a bit nuts when I travel to Asia, but hopefully once we have it in Canada I’ll be able to keep it more in control?? Hopefully, but probably not :| Everything at Uniqlo is just so amazing!!

      Ok this comment is not helping Cait’s shopping ban! apologies!

  • “It’s an object you literally pay to light on fire… and then it disappears. I might as well just take a match to a $5 bill. ” – Funniest thing I’ve read ALL. DAY.

    you are a riot, girl… and LOVING THIS NEW ADDITION!!!!

    • THANKS! And glad it made you laugh, haha. It’s true! But I don’t care. Bring on all the candles!

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who wants to spend money on candles and wear the same jeans every day :)! Mr. FW is a scented candle connoisseur and we have a few that we love and are trying to light as infrequently as possible in order to stretch them out a litttttttle longer.

    For my no-clothes-buying ban, I found that it gets easier as more time elapses. Now that I’m into my second year, I rarely even think about it anymore. I imagine I’ll hit a point at which I really need some clothes and I’ll just decide to break the ban then.

    I think it’s awesome you’re doing this and sticking with it! Stay strong, good luck, and keep us posted :)

    • Totally with you re: clothes. I don’t really care at all! I’ll be happy to replace these jeans, when this is over, but that’s about it. Another $20 won’t hurt the budget, and I know I’ll get good use out of them, hehe.

      Also, I love that you both enjoy scented candles! Would you guys ever try making them? Let’s do it together! (Virtually, of course.)

      • My sister makes candles and I’m very impressed with her efforts. I think it’s something I’d explore on the homestead–with the luxury of more time and space :). But if you do it, let me know how it works out!

  • You are incredibly inspiring Cait. You’re lease on life is amazing. I wish you nothing but good wishes and I can’t wait to hear all about it! I also aspire for a lot of these. I grow my own herbs and am pretty good about my usage of stuff like tin foil. I rarely.use.plastic wrap and if i need tin foil (rare) i recycle it afterwards. Good luck!!

    • Ooo what herbs do you grow!? Have you ever grown cilantro? I think that’s one of the only herbs I actually use! Other than maybe mint, and sometimes basil. I’m excited to do this. Thanks for the support, lady!

      • I actually LOATH cilantro, it’s a taste that doesn’t jive with me haha. Year round I have basil and rosemary for sure-I almost always have scallions/green onions too since I cook with them a lot. You could probably easily do container gardening in your apartment.

  • I love hearing about your journey! I can imagine how much your life has changed. I started challenging myself this past month — I didn’t drink one thing. I don’t have a problem, but I enjoy happy hour and drinking on a regular basis. But it’s costly, you know? So this month, I just cut it out completely! And now I’m cutting back significantly on coffee too. I love that I can make changes on things that I felt were just part of my lifestyle. Cutting back makes me feel in control and helps my budget. It also becomes more of a luxury to drink at a bar, or have coffee.

    I also wear the same clothes — because I actually hate shopping. Go Cait, we’re rooting for you! p.s. your candle comment was on point, lol.

    • Couldn’t agree more re: what you cut back on later becoming a luxury. I’ll admit, I enjoy every sip of the delicious lattes I order while travelling, hehe. It’s also made me appreciate the coffee I make at home that much more, though! Glad to hear you had a good month, friend. :)

  • I honestly don’t know how you do it..:/ you’re amazing. I agree with you on the shopping front and also struggle with the candles and books. I’ve been a silent reader for the past two years and have been struggling with the same situation you were in. I was offered an opportunity out a few times- parents offered to pay (with the condition that I just need to focus on school so I didnt need to pay it back) to one of my dearest friends paying..all roads leading me back to my current one. ): Struggling to make ends meet, too many card payments to keep up with… car payments..and me making the biggest impulse decision of them all and deciding to go on a trip I couldn’t afford + quit my job. ): Any advice? (I am starting a new job soon however it’ll be 2 weeks before I can even get paid..till then..negative income) I wanted to do debt consolidation.. :/

    Thank you

    • Hi Rene,

      It sounds like you’re aware of your situation, but still haven’t hit the “rock bottom” that might force you to finally stop spending. If it’s possible, let me be your proof that rock bottom is probably coming. I don’t say that to scare you or hurt your feelings! I’d just rather see you try to turn your situation around now, before it’s too late. I couldn’t have turned my situation around without a) calculating how much money I brought home each month b) tracking my spending and c) creating a budget. If it’s possible, at least do a + b. I think it’ll be really eye-opening.

      You’re in control of your finances – nobody else, just you. Remember that! And good luck.

      Write anytime,


      • Hi Cait :) Thank you so much for the advice and being able to share your story with us as well. I think I finally hit rock bottom with close to 40 in the bank and thousands in debt / car loans..I ended up talking to someone about debt consolidation however I wasn’t able to apply due to not having any liquid savings ): What are some things you did to help yourself get out of debt (in the beginning with no job and payments to be made?) I ended up talking to my boyfriends parents and they agreed to help me as well as have me go under a strict financial planner they have.

  • Being a coffe lover I vote for espresso machine, however I am doing a sort of shopping ban for the next 6 months and also if I am on the beginning is quiet hard sometime resist to temptation so congrats for your hard work and resistance!!!

    • Thanks, Giulia! I’ve thought about buying an espresso machine for a long time. I’m still not sure I will, but it’s something to consider. Good luck with your ban!

  • I LOVE IT! When we decluttered a lot of these truths came to the surface for us too. It’s made so much sense I’ve been inspiring my own readers for the last month to declutter.

    When was that… yesterday? The day before?… I posted about books. It is so amazing to have a library be your book place. They organize them and store them and update them and you don’t have to worry about a thing.

    And I also am happy to hear the jean thing. My own pair are going on a week solid (I have two pair and the other pair are MIA. I think they probably got stuck in the husband’s dresser instead and I’ve just haven’t looked yet.) I was feeling guilty an hour ago but now I’m okay with it. : P

    And my gardening tip is to plant lots of tomatoes. You can make so many things with them. Oh, and when you make ketchup don’t bother skinning and de-seeding the tomatoes. I love our textured ketchup. It’s faster, less waste, and add fiber! Win, win, win!

    • Thanks for the gardening tips! And never feel guilty/weird about that one pair of jeans. Although, if there’s a pair stuck somewhere, I’d probably want to get them out! :)

  • I love this post so much I read it three times!! As always, a really sound and honest approach to your challenges that helps me reflect on my priorities too. Good luck! You’ll nail it.

  • I’m so happy to read this article today. This is very inspirational and I couldn’t have put it into better words. I try to explain this type of thing to friends that I don’t need to spend money to be happy but not everyone gets it. I don’t see it as depriving myself by not buying stuff or not eating out. Pretty much everything you said in this article is what I’ve been thinking and have started doing myself. I’ve also accumulated debt mainly because of eating out and random stuff I didn’t need but I wouldn’t have considered myself a shopaholic either.

    I also miss the days when my family did simple things, like go for walks, drive up the mountains and go for bike rides on the bike paths. My family couldn’t afford very much so that’s what we did. And I have to say I was a pretty happy child.

    Good luck with your new challenge. :)

    • I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately – how simple things were when we were kids. We didn’t need much and life was good. Something to consider. :)

  • For what to plant and when, check out West Coast seeds. They have a comprehensive (and easy to follow) guide for when to plant, transplant, etc https://www.westcoastseeds.com/garden-resources/west-coast-seeds-planting-charts/

    Homemade cleaning supplies are super easy and super cheap. It took my partner some time to get used to the smell of vinegar rather than windex, but now he loves it! Another decent option is the Soap Dispensary. They have eco-friendly, refillable cleaning and personal care products.

    • Thanks for the link, Nadine! I found that site in my search last night. And the Soap Dispensary looks awesome! I might have to check that out. :)

  • Cait, I always enjoy reading your blog but I do LOVE this post! I live in Germany so I am dying to know to which newspaper you gave an interview to!
    I love how saving money and having to pay off my car has changed my shopping habits. I live in the suburb of a big city here and yesterday has been the first time within three months that I actually went to the city to shop for new shoes and a few other things. All budgeted for and I did desperately need new shoes because the old ones had holes in them for I don’t know how long and I kept getting wet feet when it was rainig . I thought it would be fun to shop around but it wasn’t. I ended up with the exact pair as before! I do the capsule wardrobe and I love it and I think I only use about 15 items on a regular basis and I only use two pair of jeans.
    Good luck with the gardening! For me it was pricey in the beginning because of a lot of trial and error but you’ll get the hang of it!

    Love from Germany

    • Hmm, I don’t actually know which paper it’ll be in, haha… but if I find out, I’ll let you know! This actually made me realize I’m kinda sad I won’t see it in-person! Oh well.

      Sounds like you’re on top of your budgeting, and spending only when it fits in – congrats! It feels great to be in control of your finances, doesn’t it? :)

  • You are amazing! And you know, and this just might be me because you know I’m a money hoarder, at the end of this experiment, you may not even want to spend the money. Sometimes I save money for a particular purpose, and when I have it saved up, it’s harder to let it go, so I just hold off even longer. Or you can just go crazy and have an awesome time surfing in Hawaii.

    • That’s very true! But then you said surfing in Hawaii and I got excited, haha… so if nothing else, I think it’ll go towards a fun trip. :D

  • 2015 is my year of doing some serious savings towards my question mark (a house – so tired of renting) and I’ve been on a slower decluttering journey (gently encouraging my partner to join in) for the last couple of months too, so it was so inspiring to read this post. I’m generally pretty good with not shopping (particularly clothes, urgh.) but my grocery bill is getting a bit ridic (even for two of us), so that’s an area to work on! I’ve just rejigged my budget for 2015’s first pay cheque and tarted up my spending tracker, so that should really help.

    I am also a one pair of jeans wearer and really, I do tend to only reach for certain items, weekly. So that’s definitely an area I can declutter further! Do need to replace a couple items but other than that, I think I am quite close to a capsule wardrobe.

  • I have absolutely no time to read your stuff now but a glance tells me I have to soon. I’ll be back. Nice premise!

    I have never been a big shopper but I still have too much stuff. My most successful ban has been on television – many years free now.

  • I just stumbled and your blog and I am so inspired! I have the same problem as you with books. I love my bookshelf and books are like old friends, I’ll go back and revisit them constantly. Buying books has been a difficult habit to break on my saving journey.

    Thanks for the awesome post, I’m excited to keep reading!

  • Sounds like we’re in pretty similar places! I only had a 1-month ban on shopping (which I finished yesterday), and it has definitely changed me. I like what you said about knowing what of the things you used to purchased before matter to you…and which don’t. I guess there was wisdom in what my parents would tell me growing up in that I shouldn’t buy something the first time I think of it, but should wait for the next shopping trip, and if I still want it, get it then.

    I’ve been making my own dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent for a few years now…worth it! I want to keep figuring out how to make my own things like that, for the cost, but also to use less packaging.

    • Do you have a good dishwasher detergent recipe, Ronnica? I realized that’s the first thing I’m going to run out of!

  • Here is the best all-purpose bathroom cleaner you will ever use:
    1/4 cup dishwasher rinse aid (the blue stuff-no name is good)
    1/3 cup rubbing alcohol
    enough water to fill a Dollar store spray bottle
    This stuff cleans, disinfects, and shines sinks, tubs, showers, chrome, etc. Use a few times weekly to keep things looking spotless. And it’s cheap as chips, too.

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