Note: as part of my Year of Saving, I’m on a shopping ban for the month of June. Basically, I can’t buy anymore stuff. Today marks the halfway point for this month, so let’s check in to see how I’m doing…
When you can’t buy things, you learn to sort the wants from needs.
You quickly determine that things like rent and groceries are needs and exempt from any shopping ban. Clothes and makeup are very much wants, if the state of your overflowing closet and vanity is anything to go by. But what about something like treating a friend to dinner? You begin to realize that while “wants” and “needs” are easily separated, there are some things that sort of fall in the middle, and that’s the sweet spot you want to find yourself in. Shopping ban or not, you want to be in a place where you can easily afford the intangible things you want. Wants aren’t always about shoes and purses, after all.
When you can’t buy things, you give yourself the gift of time.
Time that would’ve been spent browsing over things to buy, trying to justify whether or not a purchase is a want or a need. Mentally calculating the hit your bank account would take, aware that “it’ll all work out in the end, money always does” is not the most financially sound mindset to have. Knowing you should walk away, that the true test is if you regret not buying it, but then also knowing you’d be mad at yourself if you came back and the item was gone. Having to decide whether or not to toss/donate/regift said item weeks, months, or years later in an inevitable decluttering/spring cleaning session.
When you can’t buy things, you regain control over your email inbox (and maybe even mailbox).
Unsolicited or not, email inboxes (and mailboxes, too!) are in a constant state of overflow from promotional emails and newsletters and discount codes and flash sale notices. It’s exhausting. Even if you don’t read them, or only skim the subject lines, they never seem to stop coming. But now, you delete them all without even a cursory glance. Why bother knowing what sales are out there if you can’t buy anything anyway? No one needs that excess clutter in life, digital or otherwise.
When you can’t buy things, you learn more about the sources of joy in your life.
A shopper’s high may or may not actually exist, but there’s no denying that pleasure can be derived from shopping. But it doesn’t last, and it becomes more elusive the more accustomed you are to shopping. Now that shopping’s out of the equation, you realize how many other things in life can give you joy, a joy far greater than ordering stuff online or shopping at the mall. You don’t need things to make you happy. You never did.
When you can’t buy things, you let yourself focus more on the things that matter.
Because at the end of the day, does it really matter how much stuff you have or how fast you are able to acquire it? No, it absolutely does not. The things that matter in life aren’t material things; what matters is intention and values and friendships and relationships and everything in between. You’ve always known that, but buying things sometimes proved to be too big of a distraction and sometimes made you lose sight of the bigger picture. You know you’ll eventually buy another pair of shoes, or another cute purse, or another lipstick that might be that elusive perfect red, at some point in the future. But what matters is that they’ll be intentional buys with a purpose, like replacing something you once owned, rather than buys made simply because you can, which inevitably add to the clutter in your life.
Interested in more lessons I learned from the shopping ban? Check out my post on working with what I have!