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?