Habit Shifts: Money Matters, Experiences with a 30 Day Shopping Ban

My weakness: face masks made from all different kinds of ingredients

Around this time last year, I tried to exercise some financial discipline~ I instituted a 30-day shopping ban, where I would try to cut down on unnecessary or impulse shopping. When I first mentioned this challenge to some of my nearest and dearest, I asked them to list out things that I couldn’t buy, and here are some of their responses:

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“Notebooks! Pens, or anything related to stationery… how many notebooks do you have??”

“Any article of clothing that is black, white or grey.”

“NO MORE CARDIGANS”

“Kitchen gadgets and cookbooks.”

“Korean sheet masks…. or any skincare products.”  (Turns out, I still have some left from my trip to Seoul almost 2 years ago!)

“Anything from Muji…. or Daiso.”

After collating their suggestions, I decided that for 30 days, I couldn’t purchase the following:

  • Stationery items (notebooks, pens, anything “cute”)
  • Clothing
  • Homeware items (repeats or purely for decorative purposes)
  • Beauty or cosmetic products (unless I ran out of a specific product)
  • Snacks from convenience stores

However, it wasn’t all gloom and doom, I decided that I was still able to do the following:

  • Buy coffee (either takeaway or dine in)
  • Go out for meals with friends
  • Go to the movies, or purchase tickets to any other fun event that didn’t involve shopping
  • Books (either for pleasure or for work

To be honest, old habits really die hard. I mean, I didn’t realize how much I loved shopping until I couldn’t. I forgot that so many of my fun outings involved browsing or shopping.

I kept a running list on my phone of the things that I wanted to buy, and the thoughts floating in my head (here’s an excerpt):

  • 2/25- wanted to order new skincare products from Cosrx after reading a blog post about someone’s skincare routine. Mentioned to Peter, who said “what about your no spend challenge?” Oops. Empty cart and turn off computer. ($2500)
  • 2/27-Went to run errands at IKEA for mom’s house. Absentmindedly picked up some new wooden hangers, bc you can never have enough hangers right? Wrong. Put them back ($119) Also debated the following: pink plate ($49), glass jar ($69)
  • 2/28 Wanted to buy new soap. Realized I was given a bar as a gift. Will use that instead. ($90)
  • 3/1 realized I was out of paper clips. Took some out of the recycling bin, and borrowed a handful from my assistant’s desk ($40)
  • 3/1 Want snack! No! Apples at home ($50)
  • 3/6 want snacks. Ate a piece of honey cake I already had at home instead. ($60)
  • 3/6 tempted to eat dinner out. Had leftovers at home ($200)
  • 3/9 tempted by DELFONICS pouches and card cases($1850)
  • 3/10 clothing sale! 3 for $2000. Walked by without going in ($2000)
  • 3/14 J.crew free international shipping and additional 20% off!!! I sort of wanted 2 tops, so I put them in my cart, but forgot about them later. ($4068x 2= $8036)
  • 3/20 Ran out of foundation. Will wait for anniversary sales, and did some digging in my stash and found another to use in the meantime. ($1800)
  • 3/31 Not using my Eslite birthday coupon. A first for me! I used to use it to stock up on stationery and books. $1000-$2500
  • 4/4  Muji: Tempted by tote bags made with by print textiles from India ~ would have definitely bought them under normal circumstances, ($414) make up bags ($500)
  • 4/5 Saw new lululun  face masks at Tomods. Shelved for later! ($200) 
  • Snacks from Family Mart after one very long afternoon doing errands. I can’t say I regret the lemon fizzy water OR the Twix Bar.  In retrospect, I should have planned ahead and bought a water bottle and a healthier snack.
  • Clothes from some random discount store.  During the lunch hour of a work meeting, a colleague took us to a discount clothing store nearby.  I was prepared to just sit down in the corner of the store and edit photos from my phone, but clothing “suggestions” kept literally getting thrown in my direction. After being buried in a pile of assorted tops and dresses (no!)    I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t want to explain my spending ban to them, and so I bent to the pressure and bought 2 tops~ which were not expensive (about $500 Taiwan dollars~ $17 US Dollars) but I definitely could have done without them. — By the way,  I never ended up wearing either top, because they didn’t fit! Definitely a total waste of money!

Some tips and tricks that helped me stick to my plan:

  • Keeping a list of the items and keeping a tally of the prices of each item
  • Having a support system.  I think my friends were the ones that helped me stay on course throughout this exercise.  Sometimes I wanted to buy clothes because I thought I “needed” them.  During those moments, I would text a photo of the item and ask for their opinions.  Usually, the answer was “no, you don’t need it, you already have one.”  Or,  “I think you bought something similar the last time we went shopping.”

I’m not going to lie, there were some times that I just wanted to give up, and just buy that one little something, especially after a particularly trying day at work.  Drugstores are usually my weakness- I pass by several on my way home, and it’s easy to pop in for a new lipstick, or box of masks. Now I simply just cross the street and literally avoid walking on the side temptation.

I had to really work hard at re-channeling my thinking and finding something else to do.  Sometimes I met a friend for dinner, sometimes I would just go home and relax.  To my surprise, those alternatives were just as good, and I didn’t have to deal with finding a place to put away the new product, or to recycle the packaging.

I’m happy to report that according to my records, I saved almost $30,000 NTD (about $973 USD)! I recalculated the total a few times, because it just seemed so mind boggling. This was from just being a little bit more disciplined than usual.  Now, I’ve decided to give the ban another go! I’ll set the bar a little higher for 35 days. This time, I’ll make a few modifications (in blue font):

  • Stationery items (notebooks, pens, anything “cute”)
  • Clothing
  • Homeware items (repeats or purely for decorative purposes)
  • Beauty or cosmetic products (unless I ran out of a specific product)
  • Snacks from convenience stores
  • Meals out of “convenience” or sheer laziness. I need to be more disciplined about meal planning! This is for health, as well as wealth. 
  • I will also unsubscribe to all shopping related emails, and unfollow certain sites on Instagram and Facebook.

I can still do the following:

  • Buy coffee (either takeaway or dine in)
  • Go out for meals with friends
  • Go to the movies, or purchase tickets to any other fun event that didn’t involve shopping
  • Books (either for pleasure or for work– I tend to overbuy books, so the modification is, I have to finish a book before I can buy a new one. 

Pleased to report that I’ve read these three… which means I can buy three more!

Also, I’ll  work on enjoying what I already have, without trepidation of using them up, or saving them. There’s definitely more of where they came from, so no more hoarding!

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I love aPeach so much… but I should use and enjoy the products before they go off.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted on how it’s all going. Have you tried a similar financial habit shift? What made the process easier for you?


One comment

  1. Pingback: Ciao Selects: Favorite products I’ve bought during my travels 焦點嚴選:國外帶回來的好物 « Ciao desserts! 「 焦點心 」


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