Why I’m Doing a 30-Day Shopping Ban

Why I'm Doing a 30-Day Shopping Ban

For the past few months, I’ve noticed an old and familiar habit slowly creep back into my life: impulsiveness. Specifically, impulsive spending. It started shortly after I finally found and bought a couch. That was an intentional purchase paid for with money I had set aside for it. But from there, I’ve made a few spending decisions that weren’t very well thought out. I booked a one-way flight and agreed to go on a road trip with someone I had never met before. I bought a rug that I do love but didn’t necessarily need. I picked up my first-ever deck of tarot cards. I bought a piece of wood and convinced myself I would turn it into a shelf or side table. A few books have been added to my shelves. And I’ve been craving more.

None of this has broken the bank, so to speak. I haven’t gone into any debt and I’m not stressed about money (though I am running on a leaner budget, since choosing to stop freelancing). So I don’t feel bad or guilty or any shame about the money I’ve spent. I do, however, feel like it’s out of alignment with who I am. In fact, that’s something I’ve been feeling in many areas of my life.

Looking around my apartment right now, I can tell something isn’t right with me personally. My bookshelves, which are normally organized with everything in its place, are now full of stuff. At a quick glance, I don’t know what half of it is, but I’m sure there’s mail I’ve ignored and sticky notes I’ve misplaced. I can see notebooks and pads of paper I had started writing ideas in hiding under more books and random inanimate objects. Next to the shelves is a stack of books I had planned to donate but is still collecting dust. In my bedroom, my dresser is also disorganized and I know my wardrobe could stand to be pared down a bit. And by the front door, there are no less than four reusable bags full of recycling I have been too lazy to take downstairs.

On top of this physical mess in my home, my digital life looks even worse. Two weeks ago, I stopped ignoring my inbox and accepted the fact that I had more than 200 emails to reply to. Before you ask, yes, they required genuine and thoughtful replies. I’m a veteran when it comes to crossing the easy tasks off a list (including replying to short emails), which makes me feel like I’m still being productive or making progress – but it can get me nowhere and fast. In this case, while I had stayed on top of the weekly duties for my blog and Rockstar Finance, there were emails from mid-May I still hadn’t replied to. Mid-May. All of these things are physical representations of how messy life has been since the dogs passed.

With the trauma and loss that’s occurred this year, it makes sense that I’ve been seeking a little instant gratification here and there – and that includes only tackling the easy tasks, in order to trick myself into feeling like I’m still getting things done. But it’s also gotten me back to a place where I’m feeling overwhelmed and a little lost. I’ve lost touch with my personal goals and don’t know exactly what I’m working towards anymore, which makes it a lot easier to waste money on things I might not need or make decisions that are out of character for me. When I find myself here, I know the best thing I can do is hit pause and check in with myself – and one of the ways I like to do that is with a shopping ban.

You might be wondering why or how a shopping ban could help. I did one for two years, so you would think I had learned all the lessons from the experience that I possibly could by now. But even though I only completed that experiment in July 2016, a lot has changed since then. I’ve celebrated two birthdays. I’ve travelled alone and moved to a new city. I’ve experienced a few major losses. I’ve made new friends. I wrote a book and started some other new projects. And in the past few months, I’ve started going to therapy which has changed my life and also turned it upside down at the same time. A lot has happened since last summer. A lot has changed. I am a different person and, for that reason, I think I have some different goals and values.

That is where the shopping ban comes in. When I did my extended ban, there were multiple parts to it, all of which helped me figure out who I was and what I really wanted. First, I hit pause on my spending. Then I decluttered and took inventory of what I kept. I tidied up my home and my digital life. I did some goals + values exercises. And I finished feeling like the best version of myself, because I finally felt like I knew myself.

I’m missing that feeling. My first shopping ban was not about depriving myself. It helped me switch from feeling like I was merely surviving (both in the financial sense and physical sense) to feeling empowered. It helped me figure out who I was and what I really wanted, and put me back in the control seat of my life. And yes, it also helped me change a few habits and learn some mindfulness techniques, which I think we could all use a refresher on from time-to-time. However, more than anything, it got me to a place where I finally felt like I was in alignment. The current state of my home and my life proves that I’m not there right now, so that is my main goal – but there will be a lot of little goals/tasks to work on along the way.

Here are my intentions for this month’s slow living experiment.

Experiment #7: Slow Consumption!? Sure, let’s go with that. ;)

  • complete a 30-day shopping ban (August 3rd – September 1st)
  • do a small declutter/purge + take inventory of some of my stuff
  • organize my digital life (inbox, blog post drafts folder, files/folders, pictures, etc.)
  • do some values + goal-setting exercises
  • get back into alignment with myself :)

For this shopping ban, the rules will be the same as always: I can buy groceries, gas for my car and anything I run out of that I need. But honestly, I think I have everything in my home I could possibly need for the next month. I’ll keep you posted on that, of course.

I’ve already started working on my digital clutter. First, I replied to every single one of the emails in my inbox. It took three full work days (about 25 hours) but I’m done and already feel so much better. Oddly enough, I’m genuinely looking forward to cleaning up my phone and desktop files soon.

But the next thing I have to do is this declutter/purge (and finally take out all the recycling). On Saturday, I’m leaving Squamish and won’t be back until the first week of September, so it’s now or never – and like most writers, I always work better on a deadline! So that’s what I’ll be doing this week.

Like I said before, the overall action required of a shopping ban is to simply hit pause and check in with yourself. It’s a timeout from consuming so we can figure out what we actually want in our lives. That’s it.

Do you want to do this 30-day shopping ban with me? Or do you feel like you need to do even one of the exercises? Let me know and I’ll make sure we have some productive conversations about it this month. :)

Enter the Simplify Your Life and Finances Giveaway


PS – Don’t forget to enter my current giveaway! As the saying goes, ”what consumes your mind controls your life” – and your finances, in my opinion. This summer, start simplifying both. Learn from some of the most influential people in the minimalism + intentional living spaces and create the simpler life you want. Good luck, friends!

  • I feel like I’ve been on a shopping ban for three years, when I lost my long-term, well paying job (thank you, globalisation). So I’m on, but I will have to shop for back to school at some point during the month. But since this applies to my kids, I am officially not buying anything for me this month. Like you I have everything I need. I applaud you for clearing your inbox, I am planning to do the same this month, and also clear the wardrobe and finally bring these new and never worn clothes to the second- hand shop.

    • Good thinking re: bringing clothes to the second-hand shop, Miss Agnes! Extends their lifespan and puts a few dollars back in your bank account. :)

  • I hadn’t associated impulsive spending with my current discontent, what a cool concept. I would like do this experiment too.

    • It’s definitely something worth looking at, when you find yourself in that place, Lori. I can usually figure it out just by stopping myself and asking what’s going in my life, in the environment, how I’m feeling, etc.

  • I’m a teacher so summer enables me to do a lot more decluttering and less is coming in, but I would like to reduce what I consume so more conversations about it are always useful to me.

  • Thank you for sharing this post and reminding me that you sometimes need to revisit things you have done before and can still learn from them. I hope that this month’s shopping ban goes well for you and gets you back to where you want to be. Last year I was really inspired reading about your two year shopping ban. I set myself a modified version to suit me as I wasn’t quite ready for a ban with my first rule that I had to add it to a list and wait for at least a week before I could buy it. That way, any of the initial impulse had worn off. The second rule was that if at the end of that week I still wanted it then I could only buy it second hand. I’m excited to join in with you and see if i can manage a month under your rules, especially as I’m going camping and don’t own much gear. It will be good to have a reason to not get seduced by the outdoor shops.

    • Ohhh yes, that’s a hard one for me too, Eleanor – not being seduced by the outdoor shops, haha. But something I always remind myself of with camping is that MOST of the time you can also borrow stuff from friends. We don’t all need to own the newest/best of the gear that’s out there. If you only go camping once or twice a year, borrow from friends – and lend when you own to them, too.

  • I wonder if it’s a seasonal thing? My spending always seems to shoot way up in the summer and I am not really sure why. I also feel more stressed in the summer, so I’m just gonna chalk it all up to heat/humidity messing with my brain, haha.

    I need a shopping ban just for coffee to go and eating out. Those are my weaknesses. I’m not a big shopper and don’t purchase a lot of stuff anymore, but I can’t go a day without buying a coffee or lunch/dinner out.

    • Hey, that’s a great idea, Hanna! I feel fine with my coffee/restaurant spending, but remember when I used to get 1-2 takeout coffees a day (now it’s more like 1/week). Doing a ban on that in the first year is definitely what helped me change that habit.

  • Hi Cait. This is perfect timing. I’ve tried to do shopping bans before but I’ve always failed. A one month ban feels more doable then I can extend it to the next month and so on. I started yesterday to 31st August.

    I could do with doing some decluttering as well. I find it hard to get rid of certain things. I managed it with my wardrobe although it could do with another look. I have a cupboard in the spare room that is full to the brim. I take everything out to sort through it but then end up putting most of it back.

    • So it sounds like you need a proper decluttering system rather than a sorting/organizing system. Does that sound right, Michele?

  • Yes! I recently quit my job so that I could do a hard-reset on my professional life. Great decision, but all the extra spare time (plus a few weddings) has encouraged me to hit a level of consumerism that I would normally avoid even when I had a regular income. This period is supposed to be about mindfulness and reconnecting to myself, and I think a shopping ban is a great way to hold myself to that!

  • I think I am going to do a shopping ban too. I used to be a compulsive shopper too, but have gotten way better in that category in the last year or so. But do feel the urge to shop whenever I am stressed or feel like some aspect of my life is out of my control, and that has been creeping in lately. Shopping ban it is! Going to try and focus on mending my current wardrobe and selling/donating my current pile of such items.

    • I love this, Elizabeth, because it gives you two projects at once. In the time you might have thought about shopping, you’ll be focused on mending clothes and selling/donating things. Good luck!

  • I’m going to do the shopping ban as well! I’ve completely fallen off my debt payment plans thanks to emergency car repairs (like breaking down on the side of the highway type emergency) and having my sister who is decidedly not committed to less clutter, less things, etc. living with me this summer,so I’m in! Sister is moving out on Friday, which was always planned, so it is time for me to buckle down again!

    • It definitely sounds like a good time to declutter anyway, Alex! But there’s lots of things we can work on this month. I’m excited. :)

  • Sure you bought a few things but personally for us in the PNW we get a little loose with the rest of the organization in our lives during summer. I write less and worry about organizing the house less and worry about the small things less because I don’t have time. It is summer and we spend every moment we can in the forests, by the rivers and lakes or on the nearby mountains. We have focused on what is important in that present period of time. We have all the time in the world during our wet dark winter months to dial our habits in perfectly :) That being said I could use some challenge for myself, I think they are fun and rewarding.

    • It’s true, but I can’t say I’ve spent as much time outdoors this summer as I’d thought. The simple truth is I’ve just been pushing things off and letting things pile up. It’s time to clean up and figure out what’s next!

  • I totally get the urge to buy more books to fill up the bookshelf. And it’s such an easy thing to justify. What’s wrong with wanting more books?! But it can definitely add up. Especially when they are more decorative than educational!

    • I don’t know if I’ve ever bought any that were purely for decoration, but if you don’t read them that’s the only purpose our books serve on our shelves.

  • I’ve been feeling this way lately as well! Old, compulsive habits that I thought I had gotten rid of are slowly starting to creep back in. Maybe it’s time to finally commit to a shopping ban! I think its important to not go down a guilt spiral because you’re habits haven’t been perfect lately. It happens. We’re all human. It’s awesome that you have recognized the behaviour and are going to do something about it!

    • I think I’ll probably find this is something I do once or even twice a year! Just a mini timeout from consuming things + figuring out what I want.

  • I think I may have done an accidental shopping ban earlier this year. April rolled around and I realized I had hardly bought anything for three months. Would love to try this consciously later this year, as currently, I’m doing a no-coffee challenge. With too many challenges, it makes it easier to set myself up for failure. I do, however, need to get on the decluttering and selling of stuff I don’t wear, so maybe that can be my goal for August instead!

    • Love it! I find decluttering on its own often inspires me to shop less anyway, because I’m reminded of how much I spent on stuff I barely used.

  • We’ve gone out to lunch quite a few times this summer and while it has been nice, especially eating by the beach, we have to reign that in. Eating out is expensive. And honestly, the money could be put to better use.

    Good luck with your shopping ban Cait :)

    • I do think stuff like that gets a little out of control in the summer months, in general. But yes, if you know you’d rather be putting the money towards something else, do that! I can already think of a couple things I’d rather put my money towards…

    • It’s probably because those two words sound negative. That’s something I think about a lot, but it’s probably a little too late to change. ;)

  • This resonates so much, Cait. I sold my house at the end of June and moved into a new home with my life partner. I also noticed suddenly I was purchasing things I didn’t really need and wasn’t concerned about not following my budget strictly. So…I took back a bunch of things (whew, that felt good!) and got back to the budget. Having paid off over $35,000 of debt in 2016 this needed to happy to keep me on my journey to debt free. I also notice that with combining two households, even though we both purged A LOT before moving, there are so many duplicates, and things aren’t organized in a way that is peaceful to me. So I will do a version of this challenge with you. I need to keep my spending in line, purge and organize physical items, and clean up the emails that end up in junk mail. Also, I need to get back to my Desire Map planner (Danielle LaPorte) to connect back with myself as well. It’s been far too easy to lose myself in all of this transition, and I’m feeling it physically and in a sort of lethargy and a desire to hole up in my house. It’s time to reset.

    • YES! Michelle, it sounds like you know exactly what you want to work on, as well as some of what you’re working towards. I’m so excited to hear how you’re feeling at the end of this month!

  • I’m in a similar place this month – some life changing decisions have been made (and I feel a huge weight off my shoulders), there’s some family stuff coming that may not be pleasant (old age waits for no one), and I feel like I’ve been pinballing around my changed/changing landscape with little purchases. I bought a book today, very nearly bought a blazer I don’t need – a ban will bring me some calm. Truth be known, I’m still decluttering from when I moved into my current space 3 years ago. A ban will give me space – I’m with you! We’ve so got this.

  • I am with you. I think I need to do this as well. Maybe I can get my daughter to as school is starting up and we need to go through her things as well. Although my one purchase has been in the works for a while and will be finalizing this month but I can work on everything else. I already cancelled my meal delivery service. Go Me!

    • Oh wow! So you found the meal delivery service wasn’t helpful? Or was costing too much? I’ve never tried something like that, so am just curious what your reason for cancelling was. :)

  • I SO need to organize/purge and get the budget under control. I have been staring at my closet for weeks…er…months… thinking I need to purge the bejesus out of it. I literally can’t find things i know I have! It’s absurd. And my home office looks like a bomb went off, so much that I can barely make room to work in there. I will start my challenge next week, after I return from vacation. It’s going to be tough to declutter when I’m not home! I also need to rejig the budget and get back on track. I’m hoping DH and I can chat about that after kids are asleep while on vacation and we have a bit of time to breathe. As for a shopping ban, I put myself on one earlier this month. I’ll have to buy my son some new school shoes, as he has worn through his runners this summer, but otherwise, nothing on the horizon.

  • This post hit the nail on the head for me. Since quitting my job to be with our sons full-time, I’ve been more lax with spending. I’m taking a moment to reflect on why this is happening. Ofcourse with major transition comes that unstable feeling and old habits creep back. So, I’m in for a 30 day shopping ban, Cait! Thank you for the nudge. :)

    • I’m starting to think that a great time for shopping bans is shortly *after* a transition of some sort. It’s hard to do them during a transition, because you don’t know what will come up. But as you start to settle into a new routine, you usually know what feels off-balance and how you could correct it. Will be curious to hear how you’re feeling in a month, Lindsey!

  • I don’t feel like I need to participate in the shopping ban; I haven’t really purchased anything out of the ordinary in a while. But I’ll still go all-in. I definitely need to spend some time organizing though. There are some things that I haven’t touched since I moved a few months ago, and I could probably send a few boxes/bags of things out the door. Good luck and I look forward to your update posts!

  • I have been following you since your first shopping ban and keep saying I’m going to do one of my own. Like you mentioned, I really like to cross off the easy things and push the hard things to later. I would like to say, “no more!” but I know it takes practice. I’ll start the 30 day ban today – I can do that!

    • Oh I’m so excited for you, Courtney! There’s still potential for a challenge to come up in 30 days, but it’s much easier to chew off than a longer ban. :)

  • I really like the thoughtfulness of your spending ban and would like to join you. I am going to review a bit more and write down specific goals that will mirror yours but be customized to me.

    1) complete a 30-day shopping ban (August 3rd – September 1st) – yes! (I have a specific year-end savings goal. The spending ban will hopefully help me extend my goal to a stretch goal. Also want to use what is in my freezer to help with reducing groceries)
    2) do a small declutter/purge + take inventory of some of my stuff ( I will have to start small, closet, kitchen, office)
    3) do some values + goal-setting exercises – Yes!
    4) get back into alignment with myself :) – Yes!

    Thank you Cait. I love your open honesty and self reflection. I am so glad you had the dogs in your life and hope you can celebrate them and fill the emptiness with love, not things.

    • Re: #2 – you’re smart to start small! I’m only going to look at my clothes + books this month. And thanks for the kind note at the end, Linda. :)

  • My cat needs dental surgery this month, and I’ve noticed my expenses creeping up elsewhere, too. I’ve gotten back into reading literary science fiction via Patreon (because that’s where they hide the serif versions!), but along the way, I somehow started buying single issues of .mobi literary mags from other places. It’s a bit excessive because I have between 14-15 books out from my university library or friends that I need to get through. I need to self-impose a library checkout ban in addition to a necessities limit on spending this month.

    I hope that the ban goes well for you, and my condolences on the loss of your loved ones.

    • I’ve been there regarding the library book ban. I’m in the middle of one now. I belong to three systems,one of which lets me have the books for 12 weeks if no-one requests, and I still was running into due dates. Whenever I saw a book recommended that sounded good, I reserved now. Now I put it on a list the library system lets me keep so when I get down to 2 books left to read, I’ll pick one from my list (400+) to reserve. I think I was using the books to hide.

    • This is so interesting. If/when you two are able to find personal solutions for this, I’d love to hear more about what that looked like for you. <3

  • I feel like I’ve been on a 2 year decluttering journey! But I completely get where you are from, and I’m down for a 30 day shopping ban as well.

  • I’m joining the shopping ban! For me, the trigger is “innocently perusing” pretty things on the internet, visiting consumerist websites I visited religiously when I was at low points in my life or mindless surfing. It means I’m trying to dull the edge on a feeling/thing I’m avoiding.

    One thing that helps me during these times is focusing on getting more sleep. It helps provide some clarity and energy to figure things out vs. being in a tough spot and continually numbing the feelings with useless activities.

    This = 100% truth –> : I’ve started going to therapy which has changed my life and also turned it upside down at the same time.

    • To go along with sleep, I would add eating well! If I eat a lot of sugar/junk food, I’m more likely to suffer mood swings which then cause me to do other things like spend money.

  • Yip – I definitely need a shopping ban. It was school holidays here recently in NZ and I always go a bit nuts when out of routine (I’m a teacher). Hopefully a 30 day ban will re-set my thinking. I also need to give up chocolate! As I’ve already eaten chocolate today, I’ll start on both tomorrow.

    • Giving up chocolate can be tough! I’ve done it for periods of time. Things that help: having some bulk nuts, peanut butter and fresh fruit on-hand.

  • I’ve just started your mindful budget program! I’m tracking my expenses right now, but I have already noticed a change. I put back the ten dollar pair of perfect black shorts that were on sale at the boutique I work at. It’s getting cooler, and I really need a pair of black pants. I can use that ten dollars at Goodwill to find something that fits my needs now, and if summer rolls around next year, and I find I still need shorts, I can get them then.

    • Ahhh, I love this, Kristin! You know exactly what you need and are budgeting for it. That’s what it’s all about. :)

  • Cait, I am going to do this with you. Will begin August 10th-Sept 10! I too am feeling out of sorts and off track. The summer and really the year has not been what I had hoped to accomplish and need a regroup and rewind but move forward. I think it is time to rework my thoughts/goals for the year. Thanks for sharing this with us and i am there with you!
    Peace, Nancy

    • This is why I think it’s so important to stop worrying about making resolutions on Jan 1. Our lives really do tell us when we NEED to make changes. Apparently, that time for us is early-August this year. :)

  • When I was in the grief of the loss of one of my beloved dogs, I thought I was the only person in the world who could be so devastated by the loss of a dog. I found a community that taught me the loss of a pet can be as devastating as the loss of any loved one. There were days I could barely lift myself up to go on with live. Now 6 years 8 days later my heart still aches but I can breathe into the pain now and know that despite the devastation I felt, I wouldn’t not have traded the time I had with my dog to avoid it.

    I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you put into your email reply to me.

    I have also noticed as life has become busy and because I truly had needed to buy some things, I have been spending more money then I would have liked. I am working out the details of my own shopping ban. I think it will be – personal items for me/house – replacement only if truly needed – with the exception of the piece of art we pick up on our travels; some books (we don’t live near a library); gifts for others. We will see how it goes!

    • I’m so glad you found that community, Kristen. One of my best friends tragically lost her dog in February too, so we’ve been able to lean on each other this year. I also know my family is hurting. We’re grateful to have so many dog lovers in our lives, as no one judges us for our pain. They all get it. I’ll wish you luck with your ban, whatever it looks like for you!

  • I desperately need/want to do a shopping ban and declutter, but can’t start until Sept (new puppy coming). Or at least I can’t start with the ban. I can start decluttering (oh my, the stuff!!!).

  • I feel like I always need to do this. With 3 kids, I feel like our house is usually over run with lots of things. We moved regularly before a quite a few years, but now that we’re settled, I feel the creep of collecting things building up. This is a good reminder!

  • I’m slowly cleaning up my shelves again. I went on a bit of a roller coaster ride this summer and now I need to reorganize and settle myself. Good for you for recognizing the signs before a bigger problem is created.

  • Your post came at the perfect time for me! I’ve actually been reading your blog since your first shopping ban and have always wanted to try but found it rather daunting. 30 days seems much more manageable to begin with though. I just recently achieved my emergency fund savings goal, and then a series of unexpected things happened, including moving to a new city, some huge unavoidable expenses and an unexpected tax debt :( Since moving house I’ve had to buy a new desk (now working form home), but I’ve also spent quite a lot on clothes (it’s colder here!) and household items. I feel like with all these expenses I need to really pare down my spending and get my emergency fund back in order – and hopefully save for more fun stuff too! I feel like I have to remind myself that I already have everything that I need. But I think takeaway food is a big weakness that I need to reign in too. Thanks for the impetus. OK, starting… now!

  • Totally understand what you are going through Cait. I find myself getting slightly overwhelmed with everything but then only ticking off the easy tasks. The trap of thinking you are making some headway but really not so much!). I have been slowly upgrading my childhood bedroom as I transition from one move to the next. I really just want it sorted, once and for all…. It’s definitely a slow slog but can’t wait for that feeling once it’s done! I am also getting more and more interested in the effect of my footprint on the world. But then I tend to fall down the perfectionist trap of trying to get it all just right (which we know is an impossible task). Baby steps all the way! And as life changes sometimes we have to revisit some of the lessons we have learned and update them to fit with our current circumstances. Good luck with the shopping ban :)

  • You’re so genuine. When my world is crazy (can’t get any wor-mmmph) thankfully, there’s always Cait.

  • Yes, I need to do this ban as I was on an “impulse” purchasing frenzy yesterday and charged out the wazoo! I’d love to see more encouraging words from you on setting boundaries and living with what you have as to what you think you “want” as any given moment. Patience is not a virtue of mine and I struggle with the “waiting” game before I make a purchase. I wish credit cards weren’t so easy to use! Carol

  • I’ve heard that you are never supposed to buy tarot cards for yourself, they should be a gift from someone to you. Sorry I’m superstitious about that! I’d give goes away and start fresh.

  • Yes! I’m with you! I won’t do a formal shopping ban, but from August 15th to September 15th I will really analyze each dollar spent and askmyself if it’s for a need or a want. And stop myself from getting the “wants” as much as possible. I’ve been way lessfrugal for the past 2 years or so and it’s affecting my goals like putting more money on the mortgage and into savings. I need to shake things up! Have a great time in Victoria! We just visited there last month, it’s beautiful!

  • I need to work on a goals / values exercise. And at least a 30 day shopping ban. Including food! Time to clean out the freezer before I end up having to just throw it all out!

  • Good luck, dear Cait!
    I look forward to hearing the results of your 30-day ban. I like how you acknowledge the problem but stay cool in the head and treat yourself with kindness as you address the issue. Really, my respect to you. I know it’s not an easy thing to achieve.
    I’ll join the ban too! Starting a few days into August but better to start now than wait until September 1st for the sake of a good date.
    Safe travels too!

  • I’ve been focusing on being more intentional with my purchasing over the last 6 months-year and I’ve really been pleased with the change. Stopping to evaluate is it a need or a want has made a huge difference in my spending habits, I do still struggle when it comes to buying books for my kid but I think of that as more of a need :) Have been doing tons of decluttering and selling items we do not need or use. We just moved into our new house and I adopted your plan of not buying anything for the new home until we were in and settled and even now we are largely holding off on a few key items until we find something we really love at the price we love. Love your blog!

  • Yes, I do want to do this with you, the shopping ban. I’ve had a lot of change in the last year, and I really like the idea of not shopping as a grounding mechanism. Thanks for your blog.

  • I think I posted but not sure where it went or even if it posted, so I’ll try again. So sorry about the loss of your beloved dogs. I have German shepherds, one at a time, and each time one passes it rips my heart out.
    And I bought myself a set of tarot cards, and I love them! My reader even suggested it, and buying them myself, I picked the ones I felt spoke especially to me. I would not get rid of your cards because you bought them…NOT what I’ve been told at all.
    I like the idea of a shopping ban as a sort of mindfulness and grounding exercise. I also need to purge and donate. I’ve had huge changes this past year, and things are finally starting to feel a little settled again and I’m getting a settling in of who the new “me” is. And one of the “new me” things is minimalism. I’ve stayed sober through this whole thing, and I’m most grateful for that.
    Love your blog, Cait.

  • Thankyou for this post. You are so similar to me. Like you my old habits have been creeping back, impulse spending small items and the build up of clutter. It was around the time I felt pressure from work do to overtime for a 3 month period. This week I did my normal hours and started to notice it. I always notice clutter comes with a feeling of being overwhelmed. So my no spending started at the start of the week-along with decluttering.
    I have also lost weight due to ill health, and im really pleased about it but noticed a reluntance to adjust to my new shape and size-keeping and wearing my old baggy.clothes. So I will be looking at an inventory of what I need xx

  • Yes, include me in the shopping ban. This is spot on, I’m feeling a little out of sorts with myself as well…and my house is getting cluttered. Stuff everywhere! I’m getting to leave my home for an extended period of time also. My mom is having surgery, so I’m going to help her and have some much needed quality time with her. So my ban will start today thru Sept 3rd. That will also be my deadline for cleaning and purging my home.

  • I’m a bit behind the times on your shopping ban, but I could do with a month long break from spending and I like your rules. So until 11 September I will only buy the essentials/things I actually need (or pay off something I’ve already committed to spend the money on so can’t contractually withdraw from – and I’ve set cash aside for that already). Will be nicer to do the ban with someone else for motivation – thanks for the kick up the behind and good luck with your month of travels…

  • I totally understand what you are saying about the acquisitiveness that can creep back into an already decorated space. I used to do a 30-60-90 day shopping ban. Foods and replacement for things too broke to fix (refrigerator type of things), plus any car repairs were exempted. It did help curb what came in. I didn’t give in to the trend updates that once were an HGTV staple suggestion. And now it is easier to sort and winnow what I have. Yet it is amazing at what came in under the guise of gifts and passed down items!

  • Oh my, we are living parallel lives! 😬Thank you for the post. I am joining you in a 30 day shopping ban.

  • Well,I made a year shopping ban! And I am absolutely happy with how I feel about it! One more step to minimalism and real values!

  • Count me in! I retired this year and although I have been decluttering the last several months, I still have a ways to go. I have been working on shopping ban but my downfalls are grocery shopping and fabric! I grocery shop like I’m still a family of four – but I’m a single household now! I love fabric especially for quilting and charity projects; I have enough fabric for decades of sewing!!!

  • Your blog is perfect timing for my life. I am going through the same thing – trying to ‘find myself’. Over the last 5 years, I have lost several relationships with people that I loved, and some of whom I desperately wanted to understand, but things abruptly ended between us before I could understand – “what happened”? I have also spent a lot of money. Shopping for clothes and items for my new apartment (in 2015 I moved from my studio apartment to a huge 1 bedroom). I justified the shopping for house items because I moved to a bigger place and needed to fill in the empty spaces that the furniture from my studio apartment had now left vacant. But then I began shopping for myself – buying clothes and shoes; some of which worked and some did not, so I wound up donating some things to charity. But the void was still there. Over the last 5 years, my mother died (unresolved issues), I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years (unresolved and unprogressive – another story), my best friend and I don’t hang out anymore (not sure why), and my only sister has no patience for me (she literally said that). SO I have found some solace in shopping, and as I shopped, the credit card balance went up. Three days ago, I decided to go on a shopping ban and figure out my life, in another way … reading your blog lets me know that I am on the right track – or at least that I am not alone.

  • I have been going through some rough times too. I’m going to be sixty shortly and up until 4 years ago I had never owned a credit card. I now have 4 and 6,500.oo of debt. I have never owed, borrowed or struggled financially until I got them . I never realized what an emotional buyer I was until now. I have to put a stop to these impulse, instant gratification and get my whole life back in check. I don’t know if I can ever be debt free but I can’t lose anything by trying something new ! I’m IN!!!!!

  • I have such a problem with impulsive spending, but often it isn’t stuff I buy for myself. I buy things for my family, my significant other, even my pets. I feel like I am wasting money, and I want to try and be more thoughtful about what I spend my money on.

  • I found your blog very interesting. It is so true that your home environment echoes your inner self. Sorry to hear that you have suffered loss, particularly pets. They are true friends. I was interested in how you have gone for counselling. Very interesting how you have found yourself. Is counselling reflecting your thoughts back to you or does the counsellor help to free you of what is holding you back?
    I have recently left behind an increasingly abusive relationship and having achieved actually leaving and getting a new flat I like I should be happy but I am overwhelmed with things that my ex keeps bringing over. Thank goodness he is going into assisted accommodation but I have got everything in my small getting smaller flat.
    Your blog has given my a way forward with hope that I will have the good feeling of being in my own space and able to self assess. At the moment I feel I am sinking but you have helped me to do something about it and plan my eventual surfing on the wave of fulfilment and contentment. The future. Thank you for your blog.

  • I just happened upon your site & still perusing it…. researching how to get control of excess spending & some new budgeting ideas… accrued lots of piled up debt like we’ve never had in our entire lives in the 15 months my husband was laid off from 20yr career. I’m gonna jump in on the spending ban (a wee bit late) … and gonna work in a sugar ban (I’ve also gained 20 MORE pounds in this past 15months (mostly stress/emotional eating & working so much/neglecting my body/not exercised, at all. As I’m sure y’all all already know how deeply all these things are connected and can affect so many different areas of life. I feel it helps to do this with others.
    Good luck 🍀 to everyone!

  • Wow, reading your story was an eye opener for me. Lately I had been wondering why I was ordering/buying so many things on line from Hsn/qvc, but you have made it clear to me. I just lost my grandmother who raised me as a child, the one and only person I could talk to about anything going on in my life/anything, and now she’s gone. I guess I am out of whack and trying to fill that void. But I am getting a hold of myself, I have returned most of the items because truly I didn’t need them, they where still in original boxes. I will try this shopping ban, wish me luck, and thank you your story, it hit home and made me open my eyes.

  • Great idea. Perfect timing. I too after a year of minimalism and smart choices find myself slipping into unnecessary purchases. Just a week behind you.

  • I was very intrigued when I read your intro about a shopping ban. It’s interesting when things and people come into your life when you need them. I have an impulsive spending habit too. Rather than dealing with my feelings I make myself feel better buying myself something pretty. I know I have been out of control lately and I tell myself I must stop. So I will join your 30 day spending ban. Oddly, I spent yesterday purging my clothes closet. I am not finished, but it will be completed today and tomorrow. I am excited to see where this goes.

  • I’m in. I was slowly coming to the realization that my mood/spending/clutter were all tied together, but didn’t seem to be making any progress. Think this will be a great kick-start. Everyone here sounds so nice, that I feel comfortable with the thought of posting progress and other thoughts along the way.
    Ok…deep breath… Here are my goals
    No spending unless I truly need it — same rules as everyone else.
    Take at least 4 bags of clothes (yep, this, sadly will be quite doable) to donation site(s).
    Meditate at 3 times a week for 10 minutes.
    Clear kitchen table.
    I think that those will help me with feeling like I’m making progress without overloading myself and then feeling stressed. Am I the only one who makes obscene goals like “completely rid of all unnecessary clothes/clutter”, “re-organize kitchen cabinets” and “clean out filing cabinet” by end of month and then wonder why they’re stressed? *sigh* I hope not.
    Looking forward to reading everyone’s steps.

  • I have been thinking a lot about this same thing. I have a few major purchases coming up {paint the outside of the house, buy a new couch as ours is falling apart, re-carpet the house} but I feel like I need to really cut back on all of those little impulse buys. Great article!! Good luck but it sounds like you know the way to be strong already!

  • Give yourself ALL the credit for catching yourself in the act. It’s so easy to get back into old habits once you’ve “broken the seal.” And it’s very important to understand that shame and guilt serve absolutely no purpose but to slow us down or even block us making progress, so it’s wonderful that you feel neither. It shows responsibility and resilience. I wish I had that kind of discipline. I wish you the best on your latest ban!

  • I will try this for 30 days starting today. I have a conference coming up next week and there’s nothing I should come home with. Usually if I see something I like but really don’t need it I buy it. I have retired recently so the money is tight. I need to learn how to just walk away unless I really need it.
    I also need to go through my closet and get rid of things I no longer wear. My closet is full but I always wear the same things over and over so I need to do this.
    I am a card maker and sometimes scrapbook. This is where my real problem is. I am constantly on the internet or emails and see things that other people make and think it’s beautiful. So I buy the stuff to make it later. Later never comes. I have so much stuff I will never use because now so much is “old stuff”. I keep saying I’m going to go through it and have a craft sale once it is cooler outside. Maybe this will help me do it instead of just talking about it. I have tried for almost 2 years to clean/organize my craft room. Since it hasn’t been done to my satisfaction maybe this will give me the drive to do it once and for all.
    Thanks for listening.

  • My problem is an overstuffed pantry with too many cans, too many packages of noodles, boxes of teas, multiple choices for vinegars…too much stuff, My plan is to not shop for 30 days and try to use up this stuff. Thanks for the motivation.

  • I’m in… my weakness is online shopping, with my inbox being bombarded with deals upon deals upon deals I’m having to force myself to back away from the computer screen. I have a new machine I’d like to purchase but would like to streamline and declutter before I purchase anything not necessary for daily maintenance.

  • I totally hear you on this! I took some time to sort through my books and ended up selling a bunch at my local bookstore – Powell’s. I’m not sure where you’re based, but I’ve done this virtually before as well using Bookscouter (if that helps!). For clothing, I sold a bunch at local exchanges likes Buffalo Exchance and Crossroads. I do find that doing a big purge first helps clear my head and then I can intentionally add things to my space. I can totally see how a shopping ban could be useful.

    In terms of letting things pile up – I do the same and it’s not a lack or organization skills that are holding me back, but I find it’s my need for perfection that causes my procrastination from starting. Usually that’s when things start to spiral out of control and things start piling up.

    Look forward to hearing more about how your shopping ban goes!

  • It’s so cool that you are so real about what is going on with you and even as like, the poster girl of this stuff you are still growing and learning. Rock on, I always feel so uplifted after reading your blog :) :) :)

  • I’m learning that old habits die hard. I am in the middle of a cross-country move from Montana to Wisconsin. (Going home after 30 years of roaming the country!) I live with my Mom…I had purged much of my stuff already and helped her do a huge purge before the moving van came. We are waiting for our stuff to arrive here in Wisconsin and we’ve already been running around thinking we need this for the new place…or this…or that. I’ve been anxious and stressed for the last few days; upon reading this post, though, I realize it is because I am giving in to impulse rather than waiting until our stuff gets here to see what we really do need. I am also seeing that Mom and I can easily fall back into those old patterns from my growing up years when we used to go out together and “shop ’til we dropped.” Like I said…”old habits die hard!” Thanks for the reminder to stop and hit reset once in a while. :-)

  • As a longtime – reader and never – commenter I just want to say how much I love coming to your place here. For the great, though – provoking content, your openness and honesty and the inspiration to dig deeper I get here. Thank you so much, and please continue your great job!

  • Your reference to instant-gratification got me thinking, how do you treat yourself or what steps do you take to fix a bad day? I try to just talk a walk or listen to a good song but sometimes I really just need to buy a cookie and a coffee, or spring for a magazine in the check-out line which I know are bad financial (and health) habits. Apologies if I’ve missed this (I’m new to the site) how do you do positive things for yourself without money being spent?

  • I find that I often have to circle back to lessons I’ve been learning all of my life. Each time I see it in a different way and the new angle helps me understand myself. Each iteration of the lesson gets me closer to whole. I hope that your ban created the space you needed.

  • Hey I found your blog through minimalist moms podcast, and I just have to say I can relate so much to this journey you described. I can’t wait to read more of your blog and book! Good job

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