The Rules for My Second Yearlong Shopping Ban


Holy moly. I never could have imagined the type of response I got from last week’s post. (And, oddly enough, that’s exactly how I started the post that outlined the rules to my first yearlong shopping ban.) I’ve been away at a conference since Wednesday, so I’m still trying to catch up on your comments and emails (sorry!), but I’ve read them all and have to say… I am so excited for round two.

As I was nearing the end of the first year, I went through all the posts I’d written about it and asked myself one question: are you happy with the results? The answer was yes. Halfway through the first year, this experiment became about so much more than just the goal to not spend money on stuff I didn’t need, and the results of that continue to appreciate. However, there’s one thing I regret not doing:

Tracking everything I did buy.

I’m not talking about the one pair of jeans I replaced or the dress I bought for those weddings. No, I’m talking about the toothpaste, shampoo, and soap I bought throughout the year; all those basic necessities you actually need. As July 6th approached, I kept thinking, I wonder how many things I actually bought? I wish I’d kept track! That regret stuck with me and is the reason why I want to do this for another year.

See, the rules for my second yearlong shopping ban are essentially going to remain the same.

I’m allowed to shop for:

  • groceries
  • gardening supplies
  • cosmetics (only basics, like mascara, and only after I run out)
  • toiletries (toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.)
  • ingredients for shampoo/conditioner/cleaning products/laundry detergent
  • gifts for others
  • business expenses (notebooks, software, etc.)
  • a few things on my new approved shopping list

And I’m NOT allowed to shop for:

  • “fun” cosmetics (namely nail polish)
  • clothes (unless I lose weight and nothing fits)
  • shoes and accessories
  • books and magazines
  • household items (candles, decor, furniture, etc.)
  • basic kitchen supplies, cleaning products and laundry detergent
  • electronics and appliances
  • takeout coffee

See? It’s basically the same set of rules – and I don’t foresee this being very difficult, per se. I have more than enough unread books to get me through the next year (which is going to be another challenge of its own), all the clothes I need to wear and no more daily takeout coffee habit; this is a lifestyle now, where I’ll only buy things that need to be replaced (and toss/donate the old items I’m replacing).

My challenge for Year 2 is that I want to keep track of every single item I buy and use. Like the box of tampons I bought yesterday (sorry, fellas) and the travel-size bottle of ibuprofen that went along with it. I’m genuinely curious to know how much a person needs to consume in a year, so I’m going to document what I buy/use and share the results here with all of you.

We’re so quick to stockpile toiletries, like toothpaste, lotions and soaps, but how much do we actually use up in a year? Of course, the answers would vary, depending on how many times you brushed your teeth, showered and lathered up each day. But I think I’m a fairly average consumer, in that I use a little bit of everything, so hopefully the data will show how much the average (female) consumer needs.

At the end of each month, in my budget recap posts, I’m going to list what I bought as well as keep track of it all in a spreadsheet. When July 6th, 2016 comes around, I’ll add up the total number of items I bought and share it in the final recap post – and I think the list will be shorter than any of us could have imagined. (And if I’m wrong, that will be eye-opening for me, too!)

Two Other Challenges

On top of tracking all the things I buy in the next 12 months, there are two other challenges I want to take on:

  1. “Shop” my bookshelf – This past year, I borrowed and read so many books from the library, but I barely made a dent in the stacks of unread books I currently own. For this next year, I want to skip the library altogether and just read what’s already on my bookshelf. (One exception will be made for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, which I cannot wait to borrow and read.) When I’m done each book, I’m going to donate it to my local library, as I did last year.
  2. Support my friends and a charity of their choice – I have a number of friends who work for themselves, and who make a living by selling books and products through their sites – and not being able to support them this past year made me feel awful. To make up for it, this year, when a friend launches a new book or product, I’m going to buy it so I can support their work and careers, and I’m also going to donate the same amount of money to a charity of their choice.

That’s three challenges in total, all of which should make for a very interesting – and hopefully more giving – year. I will also include any progress reports on these two other challenges, in my monthly budget recap posts, to make the second yearlong shopping ban even more transparent than the first.

My hope for this second year is that it will not only inspire more of you to stop making some impulse purchases, as well as try shopping bans of your own, but it will make you think about how much you consume overall – and maybe inspire you to cut back and try to shrink your carbon footprint even a teeny tiny bit, or find ways to do good things (like give back more) with your money.

Who’s planning to join me (in any capacity/for any length of time)? :)

  • Hi – I found your blog through I love your plan and am truly inspired by your shopping ban. One of my biggest issues is online shopping! I browse fashion & home blogs out of boredom and suddenly I ‘need’ a new necklace, purse, wall mirror, etc. I know that these type of blogs trigger my ‘need’ for more, so I’m slowly trying to clean out my blogroll & instagram feed ;)

    Best of luck as you venture into your 2nd year-long ban! I’ll be following along and trying to implement my own budget/shopping ban.

    • You bring up a great point, Megan! When I started my first ban, I unfollowed anything that would trigger me – so things like the Chapters/Indigo social media accounts, etc. – and I also unsubscribed from about a million email newsletter subscriptions. It was a lifesaver. Even if you don’t do a full ban, I would suggest doing the same! It’s nice to want to support companies you care about (like when friends own them), but we shouldn’t shop just for the sake of shopping. Good luck!

    • Agreed!! I am working on unfollowing all the home decor -instagrammers. because while their pictures are so beautiful and it is a hobby i love, we don’t have it in the budget while getting out of debt. And sometimes (or maybe always) out of sight, out of mind is easier :) In fact, I haven’t been in target in a while either, and now I find that store really overwhelming.

    • That’s fabulous!! And having dropped 12 pounds (8 more to go), I promise that plenty of pants and skirts can be altered before they truly have to be replaced. There does, though, come a point when some things look downright comical they’re so big.

      I’m going to sign on to the shopping ban for 3 months and see how it goes. My rules will be a little different from yours; I have a chronic illness and, when it strikes, I have to outsource on occasion (e.g. grab some soup & salad from Panera, get someone to handle the yard if the hubs is out of town and I can’t manage it, whatever). Generally I over-cook when I’m feeling well and pop things in the freezer for those times when I don’t. Massage will also be on my allowed list, as it’s part of my medical treatment (best. prescription. ever).

      I told the hubs I want to pull up a dumpster and throw half the contents of the house into it. He’s not really on board… But whatever. I’ve got clothes I haven’t worn, items we haven’t used, decor that has overstayed its welcome, and “not our style” gifts that shouldn’t be holding us guilt-hostage for another day. ONWARD.

      Thanks for being such an inspiration!!!

      • Stephanie I also have a chronic condition and sometimes have to rely upon outsourcing for the things I just can’t do. However I just wanted to encourage you with minimising your possessions in that it will really take some burden away and make life so much easier especially when unwell. I find I can cope with the house alot better because cleaning is halved without the clutter. Plus I don’t get worn out moving the ‘stuff’ around and finding places to put it! Less stuff=less stress:)

  • This is a great idea and inspiration for anyone who finds it difficult to not shop impulsively! Look forward to following along! This will give you a lot of insights about yourself; what you like and why you like it. We could all use a little more mindfulness! Good luck!

  • As always I wish you luck on your ban and lifestyle changes. I think supporting your friends is an awesome idea.

    I know in our house a bottle of shampoo lasts about 6 months. My husband has very little hair and I only wash mine every 4-5 days. I know a tube of toothpaste lasts about a year (not including the little bit of traveling we do with small tubes). I would be interesting to me to see how much dental floss we go through. We do buy a lot of that.

    If you want to save on tampons, look into the Diva cup. It is amazing and you only need to replace it about once a year and they run about $35.

    I am now on day 13 of my shopping ban. It is actually easier than I thought. Now maybe I thought I got my shopping fix when I had to order my husband 2 new pairs of shorts. He only had one pair of regular shorts and one pair of workout shorts. We thought 2 pairs of regular shorts, and 2 pairs of workout ones (since he goes to the gym 3 times a week) seemed like a reasonable thing to have. It means we don’t have to do a load of laundry every night. Also, I admit I get a little excited when he buys clothes because he still has some that he had when I met him almost 20 years ago . . . . teehee!

    • Ok, you’re not the first woman I know to say something like that about her husband, haha. Why do men never seem to outgrow their clothes!? That’s too funny, Kristen. Glad to hear the ban is going well, so far! And thanks for the suggestion re: the DivaCup. Is it TMI if I ask if you use one personally? I don’t know anyone who does. I’m definitely curious, but it also freaks me out for some reason… like how does it work, and could it ever leave a huge mess!? (The things we women have to deal with!)

      • I’ve been using the Diva Cup for 10 years now-maybe even 11! The replacement time has been changed in that length of time from way longer than a year. I’m on my third one in that time period and love it. A little learning curve but such a great product. I’ve a couple of friends who went with the Ladycup instead.

        • I use the diva cup too! Love it! My co-worker convinced me to get one, she said it’s a major game changer, and it truly is.

        • I’ve been thinking of going with this when my period returns (I’m presently breastfeeding my almost 8 months old daughter). Thank you for the suggestion!

        • Count me in as another happy Diva Cup customer. I have been using one for 12 years and let me tell you, I do not miss tampons (or pads).

          There is a slight learning curve with it– just like with tampons. I tried it out three or four times before I started using it regularly. If it’s in wrong, it can leak (which is also true of tampons), but when it’s in wrong, you can tell. It is really great– much more comfortable than tampons (especially if you exercise– flexibility is not to be underestimated!), never dries out, doesn’t have to be constantly changed. And there is an incredible feeling of satisfaction realizing that I haven’t purchased a disposable menstrual product since I was 21!

        • Thanks for all your replies, ladies! Might have to add a DivaCup to the approved shopping list. :)

      • Yes I use one. I have concerted at least 3 of my friends. If you can use a tampon you can use this. It is slightly more invasive. It is easy. If you have a normal flow you only need to change it ever 12 hours. You can put in early and not worry about toxic shock etc. I suggest wearing a pad the first month because there is a slight talent to putting it in correctly. You may also be worried it isn’t right when it is. If you can feel it, it is wrong😀 there website is very helpful.

        I have some issues in this department – extremely heavy flow – it is a godsend that gave me back 2 days a month.

        Let me know if you have more questions.

  • I’m going to be joining you – aside from my no buying snack quest, I’ve recently got engaged. We’re planning a very small civil wedding next year but we’re also in the middle of saving for a house deposit and I want to make sure that none of the money already being saved ends up going near the wedding (plus, whatever is left can go towards the house fund). Still hammering out rules and length but will be starting on the 1st of August.

    • Woo hoo! It sounds like a great time in your life to start a ban of some sorts, Meg. Can’t wait to hear what you decide on re: your rules!

  • I love this idea! I’ve been trying to live a minimalist lifestyle for 3 years, and while my house is decluttered, I still find myself spending and consuming much more than I want to (usually on dining out, toiletries, impulse convenience store buys). You’ve inspired me to track what I’m spending for a month to really see where my impulses are, and to finally get rid of all the clothes in my closet that I’ve been holding onto in case I gain back the 15 pounds that I lost over a year ago. I’ve been digging through the archives (P.S. I also quit drinking 6 months ago; it made a huge difference in my life) – thank you for the inspiration!

    • I think tracking your spending for a month is a fantastic idea, Kris! And might I suggest also tracking the individual things you buy? I’ve always just written down $10 at this store, $20 at that store, etc. But what do we actually BUY at these stores!? I think the data will be fascinating. Definitely get rid of those old clothes! You don’t need them. (And congrats on giving up booze. From one Sober Sally to another, I’m sending you a huge hug and high five!)

  • I am excited to follow along on another year of the shopping ban!

    I chuckled at your statement on stockpiling toiletries. I recently went through my bathroom/closet (it’s a walk-through style in my studio) and threw out half used bottles of lotion that I couldn’t stand the scent of, but never tossed when I bought a new bottle. I also found an unopened bottle of Philosophy face cleanser that I’ve probably had for over 18 months, all the while purchasing refills of the cleanser I’m currently using. So I’ll be using that when I finish up the current bottle of face wash. And we aren’t even going to discuss the Travel Toiletries Drawer…

    • Ha! I used to have a travel toiletries bag… but I’ve tried to use everything up, over the past year. Now I just fill up a few reusable bottles. Good luck using up what you have! ;)

  • I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and even prepped and make it through a week or two and then would go back to my old ways. I’d love to try again. I’m on my way to a new job and yesterday budgeted how I could save one check a month. I’ll be paid twice a month instead of bi-weekly, which makes budgeting so much easier.

    My allowed buys will be:
    A few things for my new rental house that I’ll be sharing with a friend (inevitably a few things will come up)
    Work clothes but only if seriously needed. I start in a corporate bank VP position today and have to look the part. I lost 20 pounds and have already bought what I think is plenty but stay tuned. I bought a new suit and some tops and a dress yesterday. My only planned buy is a second, comfortable pair of navy dress shoes but I have a gift card for $25 US, which should be close to the full cost.
    Eating at restaurants while traveling on business – Side note, if anyone lives in Chicago or Detroit, I’ll be there a lot. :)

    What I could run in to trouble with:
    Work lunches. I don’t know what the culture will be. I didn’t bring one today because I don’t know where the break room will be, and I’ll be lucky to make it from my cube or office to the bathroom and back without getting lost.

    • Sounds like you’re going through a big transition, Meg, so be kind to yourself for the first month! I would say be mindful as you create new routines in your new job, so you can set boundaries around how much you’re comfortable spending each month as well as pushing yourself to cut back/save a little more. You’ll get into your groove soon enough! Good luck – and congrats on the new gig! :)

  • I love the idea of writing every single purchase down. I did that 12 years ago during my exchange year in Arizona. It’s not only fun to look through but I don’t know how many times I go “Why did you buy that”. I am trying to shop as less as possible and I am determined to use up all my stuff especially cosmetics (but also food) On Instagram there are the hashtags #hitthepan and in German it’s #aufgebraucht but I think the English hashtag is #empties. It really motivates me looking through those pictures :)
    I wonder do you ever go overboard with groceries? Like buying too much so it will spoil in the fridge (I’m so guilty of this!) or do meal plan? I tended to buy more food during my no spend months.

    • Jenny,

      I keep an inventory listing of what is in our freezer. This way, I know what not to buy. I also try to use the old stock first. :-)

    • Wow, I’m going to have to check out those hashtags, Jenny! Thanks for telling me about that. As for food, no, it’s pretty rare for me to throw anything out. I typically buy enough food for 3-4 days, eat that up and then shop for more. That’s a habit I developed while I was paying down my debt, and it’s stuck with me (thank goodness). So I guess that’s my suggestion: just buy what you need for 3-4 days (it’s probably a lot less than you think) and go from there.

    • Jenny from Germany,

      It’s interesting because when I lived in London, we had a small “bar-sized” fridge (based on North American standards). We did not have the issue of produce going bad. Now we have a massive, “regular-sized” fridge, and the only time it was full is when we had three adults living here. My partner and I had been buying our food weekly, but sometimes we would throw out rotting produce, so now we’re transitioning to this “buy it once it’s used up” plan, which means we’re stopping at the store every 2-3 days, but we haven’t thrown anything out yet. Seems a bit paradoxical if you ask me!

    • Thanks everyone for their ideas! I actually know what’s in my fridge/freezer I just never use it. Guess I am in need of some serious meal planning. Going grocery shopping every few days is challenging as I would need a car to go but I am not allowed to drive for medical reasons and therefore always need my boyfriend to drive me. Suppose we need to be more disciplined about using what we have :/

  • Did you inventory what you’re starting with? I am so, so close to deciding to jump in whole hog with you. I will join you on the book thing though – no more until I’m done with everything I have and donated what I don’t want to read.

    • Hmm, I haven’t done an exact inventory, but I can give estimates for some things. Like I have probably a month’s worth of shampoo/conditioner still, and then I’ll need to try homemade methods! But then I have one big bottle of lotion that will probably last me until Christmas, haha. So I don’t have a lot! But I don’t need a lot either. :) Excited you’re going to join me in the book ban!

  • I’m a new reader and just started following along!

    I love the concept of tracking everything. I currently track everything I spend, but if I go to the pharmacy I’ll just write down “Pharmacy – $20” instead of tracking every single thing I buy. This year I’m focused on my personal savings rate/monthly expenses but maybe next year I’ll really break it down. Tracking expenses in general is a great way to reduce spending though because I definitely feel bad if I spend more than I expect to spend.

    • Yea, I think it’ll be an interesting part of the experiment, that’s for sure. Glad you’re here to follow along, Elizabeth! :)

  • I discovered your blog yesterday and kind of fell in love with it! (I went to bed way too late, reading it…)
    You ARE inspiring and I am taking the plunge with you on one aspect : eating out. I am addicted to restaurants and I spend waaaaaay too much on it (and I need to lose a lot of weight, so… correlation there). So…. Yeah… I am embarking with you on a year long ban of solo-restaurants outings. Basically, I will be cutting out all restaurants, on site or take-out, including the junk I get at the corner store (so just grocery will be ok) if I am not in a social setting. If it`s in a social situation (with friends, with family) it will be OK, but no more solo-restaurant-eating until July 6th 2016!

    • WOW! What a great idea for a ban, Isabelle! I still eat at restaurants a few times/month, but have cut back sooo much in the past month or so, and want to continue to do so in the future. At first, I’m guessing you’ll feel as though it’s a bit of a struggle… or it’ll feel too restrictive/annoying and you’ll want to give up. Don’t. Do not give in to that feeling. You’ll eventually push past it, build new habits and get to a point where you don’t crave it anymore. It took me months to get over takeout coffee, but I’m so much better for it. GOOD LUCK!

  • Well, this all sounds very reasonable. I’m proud of you to be in a position to support your friends and colleagues in their endeavours and also be in a strong position to give to charity. Giving sure does fuel our female nurturing spirit, doesn’t it? This weekend, I was listening to Dr. John Grey on the differences of male and female brains. Now, of course, my awareness is allowing me to see the differences all around me. When giving to others, remember to also give to yourself for looking after your own needs will place you in a better position to help and support others. Given your loyal tribe of followers, I think each and any one of us will be there to help and support you when you reach out to us.

    I’m not in a financial position to give to charity, at this time. But I am decluttering my apartment and giving everything to the Diabetes organization, as they will come collect the household and small electronic items.

    As always, keep up the good work.

    • Yes, I’ve been advised by many friends that I need to give to myself as well, right now – not just because of the shopping ban, but for personal reasons too. That’s why I want the paddleboard; to get out on the water, even just by myself, and meditate. :)

  • Hey, Cait! I wish you all the luck on this new ride! Love the new ideas to support your friends.
    I’ve been tracking every single thing I buy for a while, even I before I joined you on the shopping ban. It’s really eye-opening—we end up stocking a lot of things we think are essential but that in reality are really just there for “what if” situations (“what if get sick and can’t leave the house for a month, I’d better have some spare toothpaste safely stored here”). It’s insane.
    I usually buy toothpaste, tampons and so on in drugstores. Less visits to the drugstores had a very positive collateral effect: I buy very little medicine nowadays. I never have painkillers in my house and I’m too lazy to go out and buy one if I have a headache. So I discovered the power of making some tea, or taking a bath, or even just lying down for a while. My health has been much better ever since. When I look at the old “what I bough today” spreadsheets and see all the medicine I used to buy I feel even more positive and focused on this whole new path I’m in. Hope you’ll have as many surprises as I did :-)


    • You’re making me wish I had tracked what I bought 5 years ago, so I could compare it to what I buy now – the differences would be HUGE. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Leticia. Onto Year 2! :)

  • This is too exciting, I like the components you’ve added to this second year long shopping ban! I also absolutely love, love the idea that when you finish a book you donate it to your local library. I’m excited to say that my fiance & I are creating our own challenge inspired by your shopping ban!! We are planning to start fresh middle of August once we lay out the ground work and get through this move. We’re so ready to take on this, and I want to thank you for being the inspiration for it! :) I hope you’re enjoying Portland, Cait! If you do get any opportunities – make sure to check out/eat at a food cart! The city of PDX is very well known for them. :)

    • Oh, we did! I had a grilled cheese and a falafel – on two different days, of course, haha. The grilled cheese was AMAZING. Excited to hear more about your own challenge inspired by the ban! :)

  • Hi Cait – I’m a former West Coast girl (raised on the Sunshine Coast, went to University in Vancouver) who just found your blog and have enjoyed reading the archives and your recent entries.

    I know that you’ve got your “rules” and challenges set for year 2 of your shopping ban, but I have a suggestion for something you might want to consider later in the year. Have you considered adding some rules or principles about “permitted shopping” that relate to your impact on the planet (including the impact on animals)? For example, I’m not sure if you eat meat or dairy, but if you consume either of those products, reducing your consumption of them (and replacing them with vegan choices) can have a significant, positive impact on the environment (as well as being more compassionate). When shopping for groceries and other permitted items, you could also record (and then aim to reduce) the number of items you buy with “too much packaging”. Your blog is influential, so the choices you make (and write about) may encourage others to make positive changes that help the environment and treat animals more compassionately, too.

    Thanks for considering this suggestion.

    • Hi JH – great comment, and yes, I’ve written about that once (albeit briefly) before. I used to be a vegetarian, but do eat some meat now – but I cook mostly vegetarian food at home and typically only eat meat when I go out. I also try to mostly purchase items around the perimeter of the grocery store – so produce, almond milk, bread and meat – and have certainly reduced how much packaged goods I buy. Always looking to get better, though. Thanks for your comment and suggestion. :)

  • Hey Cait! I’ve been checking your blog daily since you mentioned your second year of shopping ban in your last post (AMAZING. Seriously, you’re such an inspiration) and am excited to see the results of your experiments this year. I have decided to join you and do a little shopping ban of my own! I keep thinking that I’ve downsized a lot but after moving last week and unpacking my house (ahem, mostly just my closet), I realized that I have MORE than enough stuff to get me through a year without buying any new clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup, books, kitchen supplies or office supplies. I’m easing into the coffee thing by making it my goal to eat breakfast and make coffee at home every morning (but if I want to swing by Starbucks in the afternoon for an iced coffee, I’m letting that slide… for now).

    Just wanted to post this somewhere to make it real and to say thank you for making me believe it is possible! You’re a huge inspiration.

    • Hey, Erika! So nice to see a comment from you over here – and I’m so excited you’re going to do a shopping ban of your own! Moving is SO EYE-OPENING, eh!? I actually just moved again, and got rid of a few more things… it’s crazy how many items are in our homes that we don’t even realize exist. Every time you feel the need to shop, just remember what’s waiting at home for you. Good luck, girl! And thanks for the thoughtful comment. :)

  • I’m in. To be fair, we are currently living abroad as a family of four. We came here in January with 6 suitcases and will leave here in December with 4. We have built in motivation! Before we came it was easy to say “if we are not packing it, we are not buying it”. That mantra has rung true many times. I still have some areas where I struggle, but reading your blog is reminding me to explore the reasons why I shop.

    I echo the diva cup recommendations:)

    • Wow, how are you going down to just 4 suitcases, Sarah!? What are you getting rid of? :)

  • Aw, still no candles? I thought you were really excited to start buying (and burning) candles again?

    • @Kate,

      They have lavender tea candles @ Victoria Lavender Company. When I saw them I thought of you and your shopping ban. As for me, they were too gorgeous to resist; so they will keep me company in my batch time… :-)

    • Nope, no candles! I will admit that my friends gifted me a few for my birthday two weeks ago, so I’m just going to use them sparingly and try to make them last. :)

  • Ahh, so exciting! The more I read about your shopping ban, the more and more I consider it. I’m not quite there yet, but I have been inspired to get rid of TONS of my belongings. I’m definitely on a minimalist streak and it seems to get stronger the more I get into personal finance. I’m excited to follow your adventure and I’m sure I’ll get up the guts to do my own eventually too.

    • Do it, Heather! Ok, only if you feel the need to… but I would definitely encourage even a 30-day ban. :)

  • Hello! Just found your site last night…amazing! I’ve been ready to jump into this for awhile so today seems as good a day as any, right?! We just caught up on our bills and have been watching what we spend…sort of. I’d like to take this challenge to see how much better can we do saving money. While I shop thrift stores for clothing and such, I still can be swept up in the “it’s sooo cheap, I should buy it” mentality, only to donate it back to the store later. I’m going to write down each items that I REALLY need and then adopt the “1-in-1-out” rule for clothing and shoes. I also have a bookshelf with many unread books and may even cut down our internet to save money…at $30 a month savings, that’s $360 a year! When I look at it like that, it makes it doable! Thanks for the encouragement in your posts, I’m reading them from the beginning 😉

    • Wow, reading from the beginning is a big undertaking, Tina! Feel free to skip some, hehe. I love that you’re going to adopt the 1-in-1-out rule. I wish I could take credit for that (I don’t actually know who coined it) but am excited we’re both going to follow it. Good luck! :)

  • This sounds great! When you do make your own toiletries, especially hair conditioner, don’t put any wax like Candelila or beeswax in it, because I learned the hard way that that doesn’t work! Unless you’re going for dreadlocks. LOL. Love the idea of tracking everything you do buy — it will be good for us all to see how much or little one truly needs. Thanks for continuing to lead the way!

  • Love the new rules! I’ll be very interested to see how much you buy. Keeping track seems tedious, but I guess if you’re on a shopping ban your not buying much to begin with!

    I also love the idea of incorporating charitable giving into this challenge. That is an area I really need to work on.

    • Yea, I was worried it would be tedious, but it’s been two weeks so far and I’ve still only bought those tampons + Advil. So maybe it won’t be so bad! :)

  • Good for you! I recently starting my purchases also. As a minimalist, I haven’t been a ‘shopper’ in years, but I am curious to track my purchases and see if there is anything I can continue to cut out like unhealthy food choices. Also, as a minimalist, I love when things multipurpose. I’ve starting using things like coconut oil, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and olive oil for bathroom needs like toothpaste, facial cleansers, moisturizers, deodorant, etc… They also double up for cooking and cleaning! Not only does this save money and packaging, but it feels less cluttered.

    • That’s a great point! I have certainly found a few products in my home are multi-purpose. As I continue on this journey, I’m guessing I’ll find even more purposes for some of the basic items I keep. :)

  • When I first read your story, I honestly thought that is must be relatively easy for you because you are single with no kids. As I thought about the choices you make, however, I realized that this is completely possible for families to achieve because this is basically how we live our lives.

    While we aren’t able to save half of our income, unfortunately, we are able to survive huge income losses due to the economy’s downturn. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment and a testimony to the success of your way of living.

    Thank you so much for your willingness to share your journey. There’s no telling how many lives you will inspire and how many near financial catastrophes your story will have helped to avert.

    Blessings to you on this journey!

    • I agree with you. I was also thinking that it is much easier for a single/no kids person to decide where – and how much – to allocate her money. But even if I am a married mom of two, I always have control over what I buy for myself and what personnal material possessions I wish to keep or not, and I am always on the lookout for cheaper/used options for my family needs. Everybody has is own challenges, single or not, with or without kids.

    • Appreciate comments from both of you on this matter, as I’ve certainly received a few comments about how easy it is because I’m single. Honestly, I’m more concerned at this point that I’ll never meet a guy who can get on board with this idea, haha! And I do wonder what it will be like whenever I have kids… but there are some fantastic minimalist bloggers who have kids that will inspire me when that day comes. :)

  • I always admire everyone who accomplish what you have done. I am a spender and a saver myself. I am pretty much debt-free (besides my mortgage). I have adapted a minimalist lifestyle myself as I don’t buy as many candles, etc stuff to my home. I do spend money on educating myself through different courses, books, conferences and travelling. However, I always try to find the best deals and make extra. Good luck, you are doing wonderful :)

    • Thanks, Reelika! (Also, that’s a beautiful name!) I obviously spend money on trips/conferences, as well, and don’t see that stopping anytime soon. But I do think I’m going to cut back on travel a bit in Year 2…

  • Awesome! I love the idea of tracking everything you do buy–looking forward to reading those posts! I had the same revelation about toiletries last year too–namely that I was buying more than we were using. We now have a strict policy of only buying new toiletries when stuff has actually run out, which ensures that we use every last drop of shampoo, etc.

    I also went through a toiletry simplification project (which sounds a lot more detailed than it really is… ) mostly I just stopped using extra/redundant items, like no more body wash (just bar soap), no more make-up (although mascara slipped through the cracks there ;) ), no more unnecessary lotion, etc.

    At any rate, I’m very excited to read along with year 2!! I’m joining you on most of these fronts–especially the no clothes and no “unnecessary stuff” buying.

    • Woo hoo! Knew we’d relate on this stuff, friend. I think Year 2 will be a very interesting experiment… don’t want to make any predictions yet, but I believe it’ll be eye-opening for us all. :)

  • Hi Cait! This is really inspiring to me! I’m curious as to whether your shopping ban also included services/classes? Things like yoga class, haircuts etc. What about entertainment (such as going to the movies)? Thanks for your help and good luck with year 2!

    • Workout/yoga classes are ok, as are haircuts and entertainment. I don’t spend much on that stuff anyway, though… might get two haircuts/year (no colour), go to a few classes and maybe 2-3 movies. Hope that answers your question! Thanks for the luck :)

  • Hi Cait! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and was inspired to try the shopping ban. However, I had no one to do it with and found that it’s not easy without any support. I’m so glad you decided to do a Round #2 on this. I’m joining you this time around!!!

  • Cait- if you’re interested in sustainability and minimalism you should give up the tampons and look into something like the diva (menstrual) cup!

    • Yes, many people have suggested that, Justine! I do believe I’ll give it a try. :)

  • I was inspired to try a shopping ban, taking it a week at a time, for the first week. Now, I’m going to hop on board for the full year! Looking forward to hearing more about how it goes for you. Best of luck!

    • Wow, that’s awesome, Brandon! What do you think is going to be the toughest thing to give up? Anything you buy often but don’t really need more of?

  • This is going to be fun to read! I like the idea of tracking numerically each and every item you use. You are entirely right, as humans we have a tendency to stockpile and then forget items only to throw them away.
    I’m still on my ban until the end of 2015 so I’ll be right there with you. Not sure about next year, we’ll see ;)

  • I don’t know if I’ll join you in a full year of a shopping ban… but I am excited to follow along. I do, however, like the idea of an “approved” shopping list… I may have to start that… I’ve had a couple things on my shopping list since January… but have managed just fine without them… but if I were to find the perfect item, I may be able to let go of a few things in my house that are just filling the space until I can get the right thing… like a good pair of black flats… then I could toss a couple of the others that I only use because I don’t have a pair of black ones…

  • This is such a great idea! I’ve been mindlessly buying stuff for years and more so in the past year. I love the idea of looking at the feelings and thoughts behind my buying habits as I do it so automatically and blindly. About 15 years ago I went travelling around the world for a year with one rucksack and a holdall of belongings. It made me rethink all the stuff that we think we need and buy and I spent a few years only buying necessities. I’m not sure what happened from then to now but I have way more stuff than I really need and am still buying. I really want to cut back on my spending and reduce the belongings I have. I am going to have a go for a month and will keep a diary to help me get through. I look forward to hearing how you get on as I know this will inspire me to do it.

    • I think one month is perfect, Lynne! If you decide to do it for longer after, great – but we can learn a lot about ourselves and our spending habits in just those first 30 days. How was Week 1? :)

  • OK…. I’m definitely in… There is so much for me to cut out that I’m now going to sit down and write my “rules” for my shopping ban!! Excited for this journey…. Thx Cait!!

  • I am so excited to read about this!! Seeing your “approved shopping list” has given me the guts to try my own shopping ban; I think I have always failed miserably because I never made any allowances and therefore just gave up. I have slowly overtime been incorporating a lot of these practices in my life (stopped the constant Sephora shopping/new clothes ordering online) but was still buying more than I need – mostly because I don’t actually NEED anything! Also have been making my own laundry detergent and after I use up my shampoo/toothpaste going to give making my own a go. Relate on one more note as I am 1 1/4 years alcohol free :)
    Best wishes!!

    • How is making your own laundry detergent going, Marlon!? I haven’t tried that yet but should run out of what I had later this month, so will need to make some this summer! Any recipes you can share? :)
      Also, huge congrats on your sobriety. Life is so much better without alcohol. <3

  • Back in the days after hurricane Katrina I helped a group make personal care packages. We asked for donations of specific items. I was amazed at how many tubes of toothpaste we received that were past their expiration dates. Apparently, that’s an easy thing to stockpile. I’ve also had meds go bad because I stocked up when they were on sale. Neither of those things turned out to be bargains for their buyers. Lesson learned.

  • I’m starting my shopping ban today. I’ve followed your blog for the past few months but this is my first time commenting. Thank you for lighting a fire on my own spending freeze! I recently read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and have Kondo’d my closet (and much of my home). I’m left with a fraction of the stuff and it feels great. However, I do have a few clothing items and 2 pairs of shoes on my “approved shopping list” that I would like to purchase in the next 6 months for various occasions/travel. I’m ready to go cold turkey on the rest! I just started tracking my purchases as well – I tend to stockpile my cleaning products and a few toiletries (toothpaste and face wipes) so this is the eye-opening I need. Thank you again and I am anxious to follow along.

    • Sounds like we’ve been down similar paths recently, Megan! I’m excited to hear how YOUR spending freeze goes. Please keep me in the loop, as time goes on! :)

  • I like your rules this time around, Cait – I love that bit about supporting friends who are making digital products. Must have been hard to resist doing so last year!
    I have a list of things that are on my “do not buy” list, but my real focus will be on reducing my takeout consumption. I eat way too many lunches and dinners on the go, and the worst part is that I don’t even enjoy the food anymore. It’s just a habit that I haven’t been bothered to break.
    Have you ever thought about creating a Slack community that would allow for those of us playing along to post our approved purchases lists and banned item lists? We could check in periodically and also offer support. Thinking big here – it might even act as a Freecycle for people living in a similar area… maybe one of the group members wants to read a book that you’ve finished with, for example.

    • I’ve actually never used Slack before, but you’re the second person to mention it to me recently… so it might be something I have to look at! I was thinking small (a closed Facebook group) but maybe I should think bigger. :) Really appreciate that suggestion, Maggie! I feel like we’re on the cusp of something big here, and I’ll need everyone’s help to make it happen. Also, congrats on deciding to cut back on takeout consumption! I am going to join you in that as well, in Year 2.

  • I am in a much less extreme fashion. I am aiming to keep food shop to $100-$150 per week which is fairly low in australia. Also to save $100 every two weeks for clothes which I am going to save until I have finished being pregnant and reached my goal!

    Finally to automatically save money ( all money after bills, childcare and groceries) and keep that money for both of us ( husband and I) to decide on luxuries worth it like travel, a meal out, trip to movies etc

  • Excellent post. We all own too much “stuff”. So easy to add those one or two extra items to your shopping each week. My best suggestion is if you do loose weight to try sewing rather than buying new clothes. If you plan on going down more than one size this will save you a lot of money. Most clothing can be taken in with an electric sewing machine (jeans are hard). Look forward to next years post.

  • I am going to join you and track everything I buy. I track everything I buy in broad categories, grocery, household cleaning supplies, etc. But I think breaking it down further will help me realize if some of things I buy inside the categories are pointless.

    • I started keeping a spending diary in 2012, and the original plan was only to do it for three months. Well, it’s been three YEARS, and the spending diary is still going. I love it! I do make notes when it’s something unusual, for example, “Entertainment: $20 (concert ticket).” But in the more routine categories like Groceries and Toiletries, I almost never itemize purchases, or make notes. But it would be interesting to know where all that grocery money is going!

      • That’s incredible, Kirsten! I’m not going to track what I buy at the grocery store, either… that would get seriously annoying, and I rarely waste food anyway, so I don’t feel the need. I’m mostly curious about things like toiletries. Should be a good challenge, either way!

  • Looking forward to following you on year 2! We are guilty of stocking up on toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, dish soap and toothpaste etc etc…ughhh COSTCO! But we do wait until we have gone through the giant amount before we buy more. For my personal toiletries I am fairly good at waiting until my shampoo, tampons etc run out before I purchase any more. I find buying in bulk is cheaper in the long run as long as everything gets used, but I think maybe we will look into only buying what we actually need vs. will need. I hate waste which is why we make frequent trips to the grocery store so our food does not spoil.

    I am not going on a shopping ban per se, but more being more continuous consumer. Use products that have less packaging and only shop for what I need, similar to your one in one out rule. I don’t eat out or buy coffee often but will make sure that does not change.

    Good luck and as always great post!!

    • Being a conscious consumer is a great goal, L. Thanks for sharing your experiences here!

  • I also just started following your blog and this is such a great idea. As someone said above, I go to the pharmacy for one or two things and end up with all the candy/chocolate that’s on sale. I’ll try to record everything I buy so that I will become more mindful. Thanks for such a great blog Cait!

  • Excellent start to year 2 – sounds like a great plan. I did a shopping ban for 2-3 months this winter and it went better than expected. I think I will try another 3 months and see how that goes. I don’t feel that I’m quite at the place to be super strict yet – I’m aiming for no clothes, shoes, jewellry, toiletries, itunes/ibooks purchases (argh!! this will be the hard one), take lunches to work and work on clearning out the freezer/pantry at home. I need to firm up the details, but it should be a sort of fun challenge!

    • Sounds like a great challenge to me, Laura! There should always be one thing that you feel will be tough to give up – that’s what makes it a challenge, right? Good luck!

  • You are very inspirational! And I enjoy reading your posts…very interesting and well written! We are currently working on paying down our hefty debt load, while at the same time, trying to be more conscious consumers. We are also doing a declutter of our home, aiming to minimize the stuff we own but don’t really use, and organize the stuff we are left with. We hope that by doing so we can have a “fresh start” and eliminate a lot of the stress that all this extra “stuff” is causing. A shopping ban sounds like a great idea…would definitely help with the debt payoff and give us that extra push. How have you stayed motivated on your journey of paying off debt and now the shopping ban? I find that some days are great, where it’s easy to say “no” and stay on track, while other days can be so tough. Travel, eating out and coffee outings are the main culprits…although we also enjoy eating at home, this requires a lot of time and planning, often leaving me feeling burnt out. And if we do end up taking-out or going-out, I’m left feeling guilty which isn’t healthy either. So far, reading personal finance and minimalist blogs (like yours) have been extremely helpful on this journey. It’s good to know we’re not alone in this. Congrats on completing the first year of your shopping ban and good luck with the next one. I look forward to reading about your experiences and following along, in our own way.

    • I think it’s just gotten easier as time has gone on, Monika. I wasn’t perfect when I was paying off debt… I still spent money (on some things I tossed when I decluttered). But the shopping ban just made me tighten up my spending and become more clear about what my goals/intentions are. Because I know what my goals are, and what I value, it’s a lot easier to say “no” to spending money on things that don’t align with it. And I truly know that even on my worst day, when all I want to do is indulge in retail therapy, it will NOT help me feel better (and will only set my financial goals back). I don’t know if there are any lessons in that, but knowing what’s important to me is what helps me stay motivated.

  • I’m totally doing this with you, on a smaller scale. I’ll talk to Jason tonight to make sure he’s on board with an eating out ban. You’re right. It’s not just the savings, but it’s the environmental factor and of course the health factor. Sounds like fun, too!

    • Woo woo! I’m going to do that one with you for a month, minus one lunch date with a friend who I haven’t seen in 4 years.

  • After re-reading your rules, I am ready to commit to my own set of rules for my one year shopping-ban starting right now. Here they are:
    * no personal restaurants outings/takeout (social setting is ok)
    * no makeup
    * no books or magazines, except for those required for my book club (and only if I can’t get them at the public library)
    * no shampoo/conditonner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorants, laundry soap, dish soap (because I already have a gigantic stash) – unless we run out
    * no shoes, unless absolutely necessary
    * no fancy note books and pens
    * no membership to a new gym. I already belong to one I don’t go to, and also have pre-paid punch cards for Zumba, yoga and aerobics… I’m set.
    * no bags/handbags
    * No new clothes, except for (necessary) shoes, panties, socks and bra (if needed).
    * no jewelry/accessories
    * no fancy dishes (like serving dish, or tea pots, or..etc)
    Seems like a lot, but not somuch since I am not into shopping much. Will be an interesting experience for sure! Thanks for the inspiration, I’m putting this list in my wallet…

    • Putting it in your wallet is a great idea, Isabelle! Maybe others will take note of that (or I’ll mention it in a future post). Thanks for sharing your rules with us!

  • HEllo conrats for your first year of shopping ban and also for decision to repeat it, I’m going to have a sort of shopping ban from august for some months maybe deciding to repat period if it will be good… I like your new rukes for charity and also tu write number of items you’ll buy. I think it will be another great yer for you!!!:P

  • This is awesome and has made me want to try my hand at a shopping ban. I think I might try for a shorter period of time like 3 months to start. I already do a pretty good job of not spending on myself, I have an 11 month old who costs a lot. I also like the idea of writing down everything I buy. I find having to write it down works as a deterrent. I am less likely to buy if it has to be written somewhere for me to see! Thanks!!!!!

    • Three months is still a great amount of time, Tracey! And that’s exactly how I feel about spending money in general. Because I know I need to write it down later, I often decide not to spend the money at all, haha. Good luck with your ban!

  • Greetings Cait

    Thank you for creating all this inspirational cyber space.
    I have been a careful spender in general – accountant in profession accountant in life….. but there is a lot of space for improvement.
    I will be with you in almost all the list you listed down. I will not buy any clothes, shoes and handbags for myself three 3 years. I will not go in restaurants’ or coffee for 1 year.
    I have 2 babies but I have been blessed with a lot of friends that give me a lot of stuff. I use Public Library for the books – Exception my CPA program books!!!!!!!!!!

    I can’t commit for Tide, Finish , Vim for cleaning purposes.

    I have been very happy with the use of Shoppers Drugmart Points card. I buy only where is 20* points and I buy only necessities that have discount that day – shampoo, tampons, Tylenol ….. I buty stuff when they have redeem your points.
    I use dried skin of oranges and lemons to make the house smell nice ( or dried mint).

    If you ever miss magazines – please go for a visit to Loblaws or LCBO they have great on store magazine & you can return it back.

    What we do for postcards – I love to write a postcard to my mom and dearest friends – with a pen!!!!
    I am encouraging my son to hand made the cards for his friends with just reused paper ( gif papers that we receive) & stickers???????? But I like to send cards from Dollar store to my friends?
    Old fashion person.
    Being sincere – I will follow you very very closely and become more lady in the same time. Good manners are always in fashion.
    Thank you for the blog

    • These are amazing suggestions, Ariana – thank you so much for taking the time to write them here. And you’re taking on a BIG challenge! No clothes/shoes for 3 years!? Do you have a lot of stuff that you already own and can use up? I’m excited to hear how it goes for you! :)

  • Cait your determination is awe inspiring. You’re going to rock this second year I know it!

    I had my appointment with the specialist on Tuesday and I have to have a root canal done. Thankfully it’s only the one tooth and not both. The dumb thing is that for whatever reason I have to pay them first and then the insurance company will reimburse me. I mean they’ll send the paperwork in but I can’t believe I have to pay upfront. Seriously it’s 2015 you can’t direct bill that? On the other hand I will be so glad to be pain free.

    I’m going to be doing some sort of ban. Probably getting stricter with taking lunches to work and not buying Coca-Cola. I’m really trying to decrease my sugar intake. This will be better for my wallet (and my waistline).

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the root canal, Nadia! But I’m not really surprised you’ll have to pay first and then get reimbursed; my plan was the same (when I still had benefits). Giving up Coca-Cola will absolutely be great for your wallet and waistline… and, might I add, your teeth. ;) I could cut back on my sugar intake, as well. Thanks for giving me another push.

  • I decided to become minimalist (along with trying to be zero waster – wow, that’s really really hard, and Now I’m happy with only trying to be zero waster, and no plastic, where possible) earlier this year, so I visited your blog couple of times, and I must say I’m impressed. Good job!
    I trow like 90% of my wardrobe, and my biggest problem were/are gifts (clothes for me, toys for kids, etc.)

    When I read your post I must wonder does freebies on kindle count? I have so many books on my shelf, and on Kindle, but When I see something is free, I just one-click it. Maybe I shouldn’t do it?

    Also, I would like to suggest that you make your own toothpaste, you have so many recepies online, and it is too easy to make one! You should try :)

    • Hmm, I don’t know if I have an answer about freebies! I guess I would say… if you know you’re going to read it, and it doesn’t just “sit” on your Kindle taking up space, then it’s worth getting. I find that just looking at all the unread books I still own sometimes overwhelms me!

  • Awesome! So I am going to join you, well for a little while to start with. I am committing to a month of no spending. I am allowed to purchase groceries, paint (because I had already committed to painting a room) and new electric blanket for my daughter – its freezing in NZ at the moment.

    I WILL NOT be purchasing books (ok, so I have to admit I just checked my kindle and I have 447 unread books on it! Seeing as I only read around 150 per year I have enough for 3 years. My God! It’s still going to be hard, I LOVE books. I will also not be buying lunch (I can totally make it myself), clothes, shoes, movie tickets.

    I’m giving it a go for a month but really I want to try a year so just dipping my toes in to start with.

    So looking forward to this, I start tomorrow morning.

    • YOU READ 150 BOOKS/YEAR!? What am I doing with my life, Vicki? Haha. That’s incredible! And so impressive. But yes, you have enough for 3 years… so get through them, and try not to look at all the new ones that come out!

  • I am soo intrigued by your project! I just caught the tail end of your last year and so was thrilled that you are basically running through it again. It is also super pertinent to my husband and I as we cope with an income a fourth of what it was because of an accident, then career change for him and my taking time off so we can have a baby. Your story has made what seemed daunting and overwhelming, and just plain crazy, doable and exciting. I’ll be an avid reader of your posts and will for sure be adopting some practices!

  • You should check out Lauren at I’m working towards minimalism/becoming a better spender-saver as well, but also my environmental footprint. Anyway, the reason I mention it is because she makes ALL of her own cleaning/hygiene products. So you might be interested in the toothpaste and deodorant etc. I’m new to your blog so I’m excited to start reading your archives and keep up with your second year of living my dream life!! (money wise ;)) Have a good one!

    • Ooo, thanks for the link, Maddie! I’m always looking for new blogs – this one looks fantastic.

  • I’m IN!!! Just need to figure out the details…we have kids that makes things intereting but we get tons of hand me downs and cloth diaper so that will help.

  • Cait,
    I love how your shopping ban this year is focused even more on trusteeship- Gandhi’s word for using what you have – physical things such as money and books, but also abstract things like your time, writing skills, and creativity – to benefit others. Has your journey of becoming unburdened by “stuff” has led you to want to give more or has this always been important to you?

    • Hmm, I’ve always done a little bit of volunteer work here and there (mostly walking dogs at animal shelters and mentoring teens). But I’ve been more giving with my money since becoming debt-free, and certainly feel the need to give my time/services more as a result of this new desire to live a simpler life. This is deserving of a post of its own, but I can now just finally see that in our “convenient” era we spend more time alone doing things by ourselves… but part of living a simpler life is spending/giving more time to others, and building a greater sense of community in our lives. This blog has been one piece of that puzzle for me, but I want to take it offline, as well. :)

  • Can’t wait to see how this develops for you over year two! Your posts from the last year were really eye-opening for me– I had never heard of a shopping ban before. I’ve just started a two month plastic ban, and I’m pledging to start my own 12 month shopping ban in September. Really excited to learn from this, and glad I can refer to your posts when I need a motivational kick. Good luck with year two!

    • Wow, a two-month plastic ban sounds interesting, Dylan. I’m going to check out your blog now!

  • Found your blog on and love it!! How inspiring!! I have an informal shopping ban in order to keep a frugal budget to help us get out of debt FAST. But, I haven’t actually written down anything that is “off limits.” Maybe I should to make it more official. I’ve gone through many of the same mental and emotional processes you mentioned of realizing I was an impulsive shopper, I needed to stop buying beauty products or nail polish, or kids stuff or clothes, or lattes when I was running errands (and on and on) and I’m amazed at how much less money we spend now. Thanks for writing!

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to comment, Renee! And you don’t have to make it more official, if you don’t need to – especially if you just want it to be your lifestyle. I think this is my lifestyle now, but I really want to do a second year so I can track everything I buy; that’s an experiment I’m really interested in. Anyway, happy spending less to us both ;)

  • Just found your blog, great work. We all need to be conscious about our consumption. You NEED to find a menstral cup sister. Seriously. Then you can also stop buying tampons. I like the Diva cup personally, but there are many to choose from. So much better for your health and the planet than using bleached cotton, you will never go back to tampons. Trust me. Try it.

    • Haha, I love that half of all women have left a comment saying this! I don’t think I know anyone in real life who uses it, but I’m totally up for trying it. Thanks :)

  • I am already on a clothes shopping ban, started on July 1st. I just managed to survive a trip to Montreal with no purchases, but I will keep following your blog this year for inspiration!

    • Good job, Emily! I went to NYC 3 times and didn’t buy anything… so if I can do that, you can do your clothes shopping ban too!

  • I’m in! I’ve been embracing the simple living philosophy. But it’s now for real as a take a buy-out offer from my company. I don’t want to re-enter the corporate world. I need to learn to live on a really tight budget. Your list of what NOT to buy is exactly mine (how did you read my budget ???). And I love your first challenge. I though will extend it to music and workout videos. Along with books, I have plenty of material I own already to explore before I borrow new stuff from the library.

  • Hi Cait! Congratulations on your journey so far! I just came across your blog today and it’s really inspiring! One question – before you started did you literally count every single item (plate, fork, trinket, etc)? I want to get started, but the prospect of counting every single item in my house seems so daunting!

    • You mean before I started decluttering? The answer is yes… but I didn’t count BEFORE I started – I counted as I was doing it. For example, I pulled all the books off my shelf, then counted how many I kept and how many I donated. It was a little daunting, I guess, but I really enjoyed it! (Maybe I’m weird? haha)

  • The other day Costco had my coffee filters. I was so excited! They are a fraction of the cost. I had two packages in my cart. 300 filters! Really? I left the store with only one package. Huge victory. Thanks for making an impact.

    • Nice! I’m guessing you’ll find a similar sale after you’ve used up the first 150. :)

  • Holy cow, no take out coffee? Are you crazy? Just kidding. When you add up the cost of the coffee over a year thats whats really crazy. Anyways, our 25 year old son is moving us into the minimal stage. I don’t mind, I’d rather travel than buy cloths. So this week I’ve signed up for a couple of blogs to inspire me. We’ll see. The one question I’ll share is what about the family heirlooms and momentems? For example, I went through my fathers things after he passed away and found and note book from a drawing glass he took in college. As the pages in the book progressed you could see how his drawing impoved to the final pages where the work was spectacullar. I didn’t know he took the class much less was so talented with drawing. My dad worked for a computer giant his entire life and collected some unique itmes that we have kept. Like a transistor tube, ( the stuff in our cell phones started much larger). These things I have kepted and shared with young people so they can see what things where like 50/60/70 years ago. So I’ll stop rambling and just say it’s a great idea to live with less but lets not throw everything out and have nothing left to show our kids and grand kids.

    • Nope, and I would agree with that, Gary! I kept my high school yearbooks. I’ve probably only looked at them 5-6 times since graduating in 2003, but they make me laugh and I definitely my kids to see them one day. :)

      • So this past weekend my wife and I finished empting our first closet. We stored ten large tubs of of my sons toys, books and Christmas decorations there. He now lives in a tiny home so we have come to realize he will never have room for this stuff. Not sure how I feel yet. Well move on to the study next and see what happens. Our books we’ll be the difficult task. We love our books. Well see.

  • I am IN!! I have been self-soothing with books, clothes, home decor and make-up/skin product shopping while in a very toxic job situation. I start my new fabulous, healthy job on Monday July 20th so I think this should also be the first day of my shopping ban! My book addiction is out of hand – seriously this needs to stop! I will probably need a new pair of boots this winter as mine are falling apart, but other than that I have everything I need (and more!).
    I did a year shopping ban in 2009 and it was fabulous! I need to realize sooner when I am stress-shopping so I can use a healthier coping mechanism and save myself from any further debt!

  • Yes! I will be joining along as well! It’s kinda funny because as I was reading this blog and a handful of replies, after about 20 or so I began to realize it was a large sum of females here. I must admit that at times as a guy we tend to feel like we have things well under control when in reality our ships are sinking faster than the girls! Thank you so much for all of the information you have given us so far. I hope to begin to document my journey to becoming debt free as well. I look forward to your future posts and will continue to connect on here as well as on Twitter. If anyone else would like to follow along and network ideas as well, feel free to add my twitterhandle..”itweetmike” Send me a message and let me know you’re working towards a shopping ban and becoming debt free.

    • I know that I have more male readers than commenters would show… so maybe girls are just more inclined to reply!? I don’t know. But always appreciate hearing from guys, Mike! Good luck in your journey to becoming debt-free; it will be well worth whatever sacrifices you may have to make, to make it happen!

  • I am not sure how I stumbled across your blog today, maybe a link from becomingminimalist. I did something like this about 10 years ago, right out of high school. Looking back it lasted until I got married. I have been trying to figure out why I was able to save so much when I was so young and making so little and I realized I didn’t spend money on frivolous things. After a year I would only buy from thrift stores when I really needed something.

    I have been really wanting to get back to that but, I have had a hard time with my husband. So today I sat down with him, he is on board for 3 months. Our list of allowed buys is longer than I wish but, it is a start and having 3 kids I think I need to give myself a bit of grace and ease into changing the way we live. I have been donating car fulls of items to charities the last couple of months. I plan to continue that and maybe sell some things to help fund a family vacation or something fun with our kids.

    Thanks for starting this. I look forward to following along.

    • Isn’t it interesting how we can be so financially fit for while, then fall off the wagon and let spending creep back in? It’s similar to the way we handle diets and weight control, I guess. I’m grateful you came and shared your experiences here, Ashley! Hope we connect more over the next year.

  • I noticed the top comment recommended the diva cup and I wanted to chime in! I use a Sckoon cup and love it. I’ve used it for over two years now and love not having to spend money on tampons. I recommend this live journal if you’re interested in getting a menstrual cup! there’s lots of info there and they’ll help guide you to finding a cup that works for you! Good luck. :)

  • I love this! I haven’t heard of a shopping ban until I just read your article, but this is very much how we try to live in our daily lives (just buying what we need — though we have no strict rules around it).

    I have two suggestions for you. First, if you’re looking at simplifying and doing less buying for your feminine care needs (also, protecting your health!), try reusable menstrual care products. They’re great. I wrote an article on them here:

    Second, try using essential oils to make your own beauty and household care products. I make my own face serum:
    As well as Insect Deterrent, Household Cleaners, Sleep Creams, and more (many, but not all recipes are on my blog — I’m happy to help you find recipes for other things I haven’t yet posted — they’re also great for scenting your homemade candles and such).

  • I’m in! I tried no more clothes but failed this spring, but i’m already questioning the need for each thing I buy, thosr days, and I often put it back on the shelf or empty my “online” cart. So I think I should do good! I will follow you from Montréal!

  • Greeting from Ireland :D

    Am starting my 5 month shopping ban on Friday as its pay day – so good luck to us all
    However i have 2 store loyalty cards with quite a bit of spending on them – am looking for advice as to what to do with them ?? Please help :)

    • Hi from Canada! :) Hmm, I don’t have any store loyalty cards, so I’m not quite sure what to suggest. I’d maybe say that if you don’t use them for a few months, it might be worth cancelling them – so long as you still have another credit card from your bank that holds your credit history. Store credit cards are notorious for charging high interest rates – much higher than what your regular card might charge you. So maybe you don’t need them at all?

  • Hi,

    I found your blog through a recommendation from Joshua Becker ( I’m in…with some trepedation, but I’m in for the year. I “retired” last year after 35 years with the same company, and I’m coming to the end of my package. I’m trying to postpone starting my pension for another year and not touch my 401Ks for a few more years, so I want to live off the nest egg that I’ve accumulated over the past year. Honestly, my biggest hurdles will be giving up take-out coffee and Whole Foods salad bar (love their tofu). I’ve already unsubscribed to all of the shopping e-mails…taken my name off all catalog lists and deleted the pinterest and etsy apps from my phone. As others said, you are very inspiring and I think your lessons are applicable no matter what your age. Well, I’m off to set up my “rules” for the year. Thanks again!

    • Replied to your email this morning, DJ, but look forward to hearing what your “rules” will be!

  • I’m definitely need to start adding some rules to my life. I have definitely started letting my spending get out of control and am not making smart decisions for my family. I can commit to a week to start with, and I’m really interested in you tracking all of your purchases! What a great idea!

  • I’ve just started reading this blog as well. My wife and I are starting this in the next week or two so we can curb our $25k of debt. We’ve been working on a plan to pay it off in two years, like what you’ve done. These are some great ideas! I’m interested in tracking how much I actually consume during a year and find ways to save a few bucks here and there.

  • Hi! A new comer to your website. You have inspired me to do a shopping ban myself. Thank you!! My journey starts tomorrow.

  • Hey Caitlyn, it’s Laurie’s daughter.

    I love your blog post and shopping ban idea. I’m currently on maternity leave so my income is drastically reduced for the year. As such, I’ve banned myself from purchasing take out coffees and we only eat out if we have gift cards.
    I love home decor but rather than purchasing new pieces we’ve been redoing or making our own stuff. I’ve also started swapping items with other moms as my new babe was born in opposite seasons from my older son, therefore the clothes from my first are the wrong season for my second. Definitely saving that way.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts.

    • Those are great ways to save, Lindsay! Also, it’s so nice to hear from you. Can’t wait to see pics of the newest addition to your family. :)

    • Hey Lindsay:

      I was so excited to learn of the birth of your two children!! Congratulations! If my memory serves me well, you have always been good at being mindful with your spending. And you are quite creative and innovative. No doubt the little one will have everything he needs and more.

  • Thank you ! Your blog of shopping ban helped me to understand myself ! Now I will try to follow your second year, which will be my first of shopping ban ! I have tried by myself a year ago… Life is easier with a little help :D

    Carina, mother of four, Finland

    • Ahhh, hi to you in Finland, Carina! So cool to connect with you + more people in your part of the world. Life is certainly easier with a little help; that’s the point of community, right? Happy you’re here :)

  • Such an amazing thing you accomplished this past year! Congratulations! I love that you will be tracking your purchases. Regardless of a shopping ban, I think all of us could benefit from taking note of all that we consume. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Hey there. I just read your journey and have realized that this is my next step in some capacity. I have just jumped into minimalism and have been purging astronomical amounts of stuff. I am happier. The problem is I need to relearn how to shop. As in the impulse things and discovering what is truly needed. Sometimes the slate has to be cleared to figure it all out. You write very well. You are a total inspiration. I need to figure out how this ban will look for our family. Keep on sharing.

    • Thanks, Gadiela! Glad you’re here and finding some inspiration from my little experiment. Look forward to seeing what we both accomplish in the coming months :)

  • I love your blog. I live in Tanzania (in East Africa) where good shops are rare so it definitely helps me avoid shopping. I also move every couple of years to another country which has controlled my hoarding tendencies. Living here where some products are expensive and hard to find though, I buy things in bulk when I’m in other countries. Essentials such as moisturizer or sunscreen. When I have space in my suitcase, I also buy toiletries such as lotion, shampoo, etc. I can find them here but they’re expensive and re-stocking is rare. I find that I know what I consume in a year, more or less. Reading your blog is still a source of inspiration, however. Moving around as I do, I want to be conscious of how to be a minimalist as best as I can and adopt good spending habits. I can sometimes save up to 40% of my main salary – and that’s the problem – I only do it sometimes. Your posts have made me rethink about a lot of things, areas I can do better on. Thanks a lot!

    • How often do you move, Angela? I feel like that would be both stressful and also a great way to become and stay a minimalist. I have the same savings struggles as you do, still – sometimes I can save 40% of my income, other months just 20%. This month has certainly been a different challenge, as it’s my first being self-employed. Anyway, I’m really glad you commented! Hope to connect more in Year 2. :)

  • It’s inspiring how many are doing this. It’d be great if there was somewhere (a forum, maybe?) where people could post their own rules / approved buying list, their start date / goal duration, and talk about how they’re doing!

    • I’ve thought about that a lot, Leslie! I was thinking of creating a private Facebook group for everyone, but am open to other suggestions. (A forum can be a lot of work.) Would that interest you at all?

  • I absolutely plan to. Started this year with that same willpower but boredom and stress caused that to fall by the wayside. I’m inspired all over again and look forward to making this my life.

    • YES, CHRISSY! The last few words made me smile. This IS your life… make of it whatever you want. :)

  • I’m going to sort of join you the only difference is I have thrown a dice for each week and whatever it says I’m writing that amount in my diary for each week and that will be a bit of money I can spend anyway I like for treats e.t.c, If I get a 6 I can then throw the dice twice the next week, makes it a bit of a game.Then I will write down how I spent it and how much enjoyment I got out of it, and the treat doesn’t have to be only for me either. So this week I got a five, so £5.

    • Wow, that sounds like fun, Julie! I love that you’re making a game out of it… definitely makes it more interesting. Have fun! And let me know how it’s going, as time goes on :)

  • New here, so much goody. One thing I’ve found helpful to me is writing the date on an item when I first start to use it. That way, I have a better understanding how long it will last. For example, I use a regular size tube of toothpaste up in about 5 months. My toothpaste doesn’t usually go on sale so unless I can get a really good bargain price in it, I only need one extra tube in the cabinet. I find this is helpful in other items around the house as well. Good for budgeting practices as well. Thanks for letting me comment.

    • That’s a great idea, Jules! I was guessing I’d only use 3 tubes in a year… but I guess we’ll see, eh? Thanks for sharing the idea!

      • You know, you don’t need all that toothpaste they show you in the commercials either, right? A small smear on your brush is really all you need. It is the brushing that is important, not really a bunch of toothpaste. That is how a tube lasts me that long. Even my dentist agrees, and thinks of me when he brushes his teeth!

  • New reader here. Question — how do I get my husband to be honest in reporting his spending? It will be easy for me, but I don’t know that I can get him on board. He wants to retire in January, so that might be incentive, but he’s very much a “stick your head in the sand” kinda guy. Enjoy your blog. Good luck this year!

    • That’s a good question and one I don’t have personal experience with, Odette. I’d suggest trying to find some personal finance blogs that focus on couples + money. The only thing I know to be true, so far, is that we can all lead by example. So create good habits with your own personal finances and try to involve him in any decisions that need to be made. Good luck!

  • Love that you are doing this again! I want to join this time, starting July 26 (my birthday). I think I will go for 3 months at a time, “renewing” it for another 3 months. I plan to travel in October, so I am allowed to get something then (as long as it fits in my carry-on).
    Your new blog post mentions a closed facebook group – would love to join please.
    Keep up the great work. I find this really inspiring.

    • That’s today! (Happy Birthday!) Three months is a perfect amount of time, Rosee – you’ll feel a little bit of pain, mostly in giving up something that you have a bad habit of spending money on, but it’ll also teach you a lot about yourself! Good luck!

  • I was so surprised to stumble on this challenge post. I started a similar challenge myself and now I will add the tracking idea as well!

  • Hi Cait!
    I came across your blog and love it! I am a 30 something years old girl from Switzerland, and I started a similar approach to yours two years ago. Within 16 months, I got rid of over 2000 things in my flat (not even a big one). And still have to go through the kitchen. I am in the middle of a shopping ban myself and it has gone quite well so far. I have to say I am quite proud of myself! Yay!!
    To make things even more difficult, I am also im a no-waste transition. So quite a lot of things going on these last two years in my life but what started as a challenge is now becoming a lifestyle.
    I am happy I found out about your blog now and would love to join the challenge for your second year!
    By the way, just love the way you write

  • I’ve been doing intense decluttering for months with the goal of only keeping things that truly made me happy. For instance, I got rid of 14 bags of clothes, shoes and bags. I didn’t realize how much it would change my life. I’ve lost weight, am more focused and more grounded than ever. I’ve also stopped obsessing about shopping (a way to deal with anxiety for me)–something I thought would never happen. I’ve been quietly following your year-long shopping ban. It inspired me so much that I decided to do a 3 month shopping ban. Mostly going well but forgot about it in early days and once found myself in the middle of mindless shopping. Once I remembered I quickly ushered myself out the door! I already feel more mindful in my shopping and am making much more progress on a book I’m writing which I attribute to greater focus (without being distracted by shopping). Thanks for the inspiration!

    P.S. Would love to join the Facebook group if you start one.

  • Although I have cut back alot in spending, i still want to do more . I tend to stockpile toiletries, but am stopping. I, too, am going to track everything i buy starting today.
    I love this post! I was on Courtney Weaver’s blog and she noted it .

  • Just read your last post about your year without spending. Fabulous! If only I could manage to enthuse my OH on this one. Hard with kids in tow and we’re not too bad really, but we could be better I’m sure.
    I just wondered, at you mention of purchasing Tampons! whether you’d heard of these
    One purchase, better for the environment and your body.
    Good luck with Year2!

  • Hi Cait,

    I am catching up on your blog posts as I must admit I missed quite a few during my year-long break from blogging!

    Well done on completing your one-year shopping ban, you did so well, I am really amazed at your results! Not sure I could have managed the whole year of no shopping!

    Good luck with your 2nd year shopping ban, I will sure be following your progress! :)

    Eva xo

  • Cait, if you are interested in making your own personal care items (like shampoo) you definitely need to check out She has oodles and oodles of great recipes and suggestions.

    I have done a LOT of downsizing in the last few years, but I sense another round coming…bits of clutter seem to be creeping up on us and I need to nip that in the bud. Fortunately for me, I married a “born-minimalist” who has never been attached to things. He cheers when I get rid of stuff. Also, I agree with what you and some of the others have said about avoiding sites and emails that feed temptation. I had to stop looking at home decor sites and even the budget-friendly DIY sites. I find they can make me more discontented with what I have, rather than being thankful. Once every few months, I read this lovely, well-written blog post titled “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Death” written by a woman that reminds me how very FORTUNATE I am to have my functioning kitchen (even if my appliances aren’t the latest models.) She really puts it all in perspective and reminds me how silly I am to worry over things like the color of my stove.

  • Loved this blog, now I’ll go back to catch up on the rest! I hope to take your shopping discipline and better apply it to my own life. Of course, I say this juuuust as I’m about to go to the grocery store. Of course, I buy food there, but I spend a lot of time perusing magazines in the “guy section” of the store.

  • I’ve also found that people stockpile way too many things like lotions and creams and other random cosmetic stuff. My goal this year is to purge/use up the stuff I don’t use and only buy something when I need it.

    Also, everyone should remember that Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart (only 30 days) have return policies for cosmetics. If you don’t like it, take it back! Don’t let it sit around and be a $20 purchase that does nothing.

  • Try a Moon Cup. They cost about $30 and last for years. Tampons are tested on animals. 😔

  • Cait, I found your blog a few weeks ago and have immersed myself in it. It’s so inspiring and even though I’m a minimalist, this post caused me to go back to my one bookshelf and pull out more books to sell or give away. I’m determined to keep only books that I re-read or use periodically. Also, I have several really nice signed cookbooks that I have never even cooked from like one from Jacques Pepin. So I decided to try some recipes out of each cookbook and then decide whether I love them or not. Because why am I holding onto cookbooks if I don’t like the recipes in them? Ridiculous! It was because they are signed and expensive books that were gifted to me. I help people declutter as a side job and I too gave away a copy of the Kondo book (after I read your post) along with The Joy of Less. I don’t need those books anymore because I already live a very minimalist life but I just wanted to say your blog has brought some fresh inspiration to me. :) blessings to you on your fun journey!

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