Stopping shopping #3

I’m 3 months into my non-shopping adventure and wanted to reflect on what I’ve noticed about this experience. For those of you who didn’t read my first and second posts about not shopping, I decided to not buy unneeded stuff (including new clothes, books, cards) and only spend on either things I really need – food, train ticket to get to work, birthday presents – or memories (like a meal out with Gregg, paying to go camping with friends). My intention was to live like this for three months (until today!) but feel already that this is more of a forever lifestyle than a short-term experiment.

When I started on 17 June, I feared that not shopping or buying would feel restrictive and uncomfortable but instead it has felt liberating. With spending off the table, I feel more present. Just like I do when I switch off my phone and decide to just be in the moment.

I have also noticed that I appreciate what I already have so much more than before. Not buying needlessly has made my possessions – my sunglasses, clothes, shoes, bags, books – have more worth to me than when I could replace them without much thought.

It also feels really good to be doing something so practical and proactive to support the environment. It’s lovely to know I’m playing my part in stopping the needless churn of stuff being produced.

I have bought a few things that I could have done without – ben and jerry’s vegan ice cream (it is bloody amazing!) and a new face wash (I’ve got enough micellar water to last me until Easter so didn’t need a new one but was starting to get spots so wanted to get something that would be more targeted towards my skin type).

I’ve also decided that I’m going to slightly relax on not buying coffees at work. I had committed to not buying any during my three months but have found it uncomfortable. It’s often a way that people get stuff done at work in a collegiate way – going to a nearby cafe, buying each other a drink and talking about shared issues and work. I want to be part of this community ritual and if that means spending £20 a month on coffee, that’s ok by me.

On the whole, I’ve now stopped spending and it feels good.

It feels like this is impacting others too. I’ve really appreciated talking to my mum and what this way of being might mean for Christmas – perhaps less stuff being bought, a focus on what people need instead of buying something that I’m not sure the other person will like just to give ‘enough’… It feels nice to consider Christmas in a simpler way – focusing on spending time with the people I love instead of worrying that I haven’t bought enough for people.

I also really appreciated the few days I spent with my auntie last week who made her way down to Brighton to meet Jenson. Agreeing that this time together would be our Christmas and birthday presents this year has taken the pressure off her buying stuff that she’s not sure we’ll like and I’ve valued the time together over any presents we might have bought each other.

So here I am, three months after I stopped shopping, committing to keep living this way of life. It feels good to have a goal, like a little challenge, and so I’m going to try living this way for a year – yes, a year! – until 17 June 2019.

I’m sure I’ll have moments of difficulty, when I want to buy stuff, but I know that I can make this work and I know that it’ll make a difference with savings, with appreciating what I have, with connecting more with people as I ask to borrow things like books instead of buying them myself.

I love the simplicity, how it allows me to have greater presence in the ‘now’ and I love the positive impact I’m having on the planet as I buy less stuff.

Long may it continue!

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Stopping shopping

I’ve been reading a lot about living a minimal life recently. A life where you scale back what you have, are intentional about what you buy and simplify all areas of life (from how much you pack when going on holiday to reducing the amount of stuff you do just because you do it, not because you necessarily want to do it). It’s been really eye opening.

If you’re interested, some of the people I’ve been learning from are:

I mentioned in a recent post that I’m considering doing a shopping freeze. Where I don’t spend unintentionally for a period of time. I’m thinking of doing a month with the view to maybe extending it for longer.

Sure, since Jenson has come on the scene I’ve bought less for myself (it comes with the territory of having a baby who wants to be constantly on the go and doesn’t like wandering around in shops) but I’ve often ordered things on amazon on a whim, mindlessly bought stuff I don’t really need in the supermarket, made impulse buys in the few moments I’ve had in shops. And I’m starting to yearn to live a different life where I’m more intentional about what I spend my hard-earned money on.

There are several reasons why this idea has been brewing within me in recent times.

  • Now that Jenson is on the scene, the income we’ve got this year has been reduced by about a third. We’ve decided to give ourselves £200 spending money a month (£50 being dedicated to coaching sessions I’m having each month). This money is to pay for dinner out with friends, any necessities I need for myself, the cost of running this website, vegan treats, to pay for upcoming hen parties and weekends away etc. I know this is a lot more than some have but it’s a reduction in what I used to spend before.
  • When I go back to work, Jenson’s childcare will cost close to £1000 per month. That’s what Gregg and I used to save every month so if we are going to still be able to still put money aside towards future holidays and future dreams, I’ll need to spend less in my daily life. On this trip we’ve hatched another travel dream of spending 3+ weeks in India in late 2019 (just before we’d need to pay for a full priced plane ticket for Jenson). If this is to happen, my daily spend will need to decrease.
  • I’ve become aware of just how much I’m being manipulated by companies into believing that I absolutely need something to just find out that I don’t need it at all. There have only been a few things I’ve bought and still love from over the years – my computer which I use to write my blogs and coach people via Skype, my chakra necklaces that I wore regularly until having Jenson and intend to put back on when I return to work, my cornflower blue accessorize bag which I bought myself as a treat for passing my HR studies, makes me feel so pretty and which comes out every summer, my magimix food processor which gets used weekly if not daily. I want my life to be filled with things I love, not things I feel luke-warm about.
  • I find myself getting rid of things and replacing them with stuff that I then get rid of. Shoes that are uncomfortable, clothes that are pretty but not practical for daily use, charity shop purchases I make because they seem like a bargain or they are a good make (regardless of whether I really love how the clothes look on me). I’m no longer happy doing that.
  • My life is going to become more complicated juggling work and motherhood and my rich social life. I want to simplify every other area in my life so I have as much brain space to focus on what really matters to me. A tidy, minimalist house and wardrobe will help me to have a tidy, stress free mind.
  • I want my life to be rich in experiences, not in possessions but for the former to be the case, something needs to change.
  • I know that sometimes I push down my feelings with shopping. It’s not my poison of choice – food will always be my number one vice – but I get a thrill from shopping which feels like an endorphin high and I’m curious of why this is and what life would be like without the rush. Would I deal with emotions underneath more?
  • I want to tread lightly on this earth and so buying less seems to be exactly the right thing to do.
  • I want to enjoy and appreciate what I have instead of always wanting more.

So there you are and well done if you’ve made it through my massive list of why I want to do this ‘stopping shopping’ challenge. Why it is the right call for me at this point in my life.

So what do I need to do in order to bring this challenge to life?

I need to de-clutter my life – sort out and get rid of the clothes, shoes and possessions which are dead weight to me. This will partly have to wait until I’ve finished breastfeeding and no longer need the tops that allow me to feed Jenson/express milk but it can start now.

It would also be good, like Cait Flanders who did a two year shopping ban to draw up the rules of engagement.

Here are her rules:

What I’m allowed to shop for:

▪ groceries and basic kitchen supplies (plastic wrap, tin foil, etc.)

▪ basic cosmetics (like eyeliner and mascara, but only after I run out)

▪ toiletries (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.)

▪ cleaning products (namely laundry detergent)

▪ a few essential clothing items identified at the beginning of this challenge

▪ gifts for others

What I’m NOT allowed to shop for:

▪ “fun” cosmetics (namely nail polish)

▪ clothes (except for a few essentials, or if I lose weight and nothing fits)

▪ shoes (this will be easy, as I hate buying shoes anyway)

▪ books, magazines and notebooks (this will be tough)

▪ household items (candles, decor, furniture, etc.)

▪ electronics and appliances

While Cait writes about physical purchases she makes, I want my list to include all the things I spend money on. Here’s what I’m contemplating as rules for myself:

What I’m allowed to spend my money on:

  • Groceries on my pre-written shopping list (removing the impulse buys I so often make)
  • Basic home supplies when I run out (cling film, cleaning products, etc.)
  • Toiletries for myself, Gregg and Jenson (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, nappies etc.) but only when I have used up everything I already have.
  • Essential clothing – a new pair of work trousers, a pair of flat work shoes that are comfortable, can be worn with every work outfit I own and are good for my back (I suffer from lower back pain but never usually bear this in mind when I buy shoes).
  • Replacing clothes that break over my time stopping shopping (i.e. my jeans that are on their way out)
  • Transport to work
  • The cost of house up-keep (basic paint, repairing our broken gate)
  • Resoling my old Birkenstock sandals so I can continue to wear them in the future and avoid buying another pair.
  • Gifts for others
  • My ‘vegan living’ magazine subscription which inspires me and helps me to stick to my plant-based lifestyle
  • Printing out photos to put up at home of recent adventures
  • My annual website subscription
  • My coaching sessions
  • Occasional meals and coffees out with friends
  • Experiences I want to have – trips to the cinema, massages, weekends to see friends, holidays

What I’m NOT allowed to spend my money on:

  • Clothes and shoes (except for a few essentials listed above)
  • Books, notebooks and cards
  • DVDs, music etc
  • Cosmetics
  • Household decor
  • Coffee out at work
  • Electronics and appliances
  • Trinkets and momentos on holiday

Some of these things make me feel uncomfortable – stopping the impulse buys at the supermarket, not spending money on pretty notebooks, not buying very many clothes. But I also see that there is a lot that I am allowing myself to buy. I’m hardly depriving myself!

And immediately I feel like I need to do this for longer than a month in order for me to see how this goes. What about three months? Six months seems too long so there it is! Until 19 September 2018 I’m going to have a go at stopping shopping. It feels scary, exciting, liberating and right all at the same time.

I’ll let you know how it goes, dear friend!