Around nine months ago to save money and pay off debt I decided to begin a shopping ban for twelve months. If you haven’t heard of this before or read any of the earlier blog posts, this essentially means that for twelve months, I was banned from buying any new clothes, books, magazines, DVDs, Blu-rays, electronics and household items. I could, however, purchase anything that got broken along the way or was on the approved item list. I was inspired to do this after reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, her book made me take a long hard look at my financial life and it’s the sole reason this blog is even here.
So, nine months on now how’s it been going? Really quite well! It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be this far along, I did think it would be much more difficult than it has been but time has flown by so far and I feel happy. I can’t think I’ve missed anything at all, I realised quite quickly in I was already surrounded by everything I would need for the duration of the ban.
I’ve made good progress through all my book collection and there are still plenty to get through that will take me well past the twelve-month mark. It was mad to see how many books I’d purchased that I hadn’t even looked at, nine months of reading and I’m about halfway through. The same goes for my DVD, Blu-ray and game collection.
LEGO is my main hobby, I love to create my own pieces for shows, it’s something I find incredibly relaxing and I always need supplies. It’s something I was never going to give up but I did limit my spend to £50 per month or £600 per year, I’ve only spent £350 so far, so I’m even down on that too.
I started studying with the Open University after the ban started, because of this I did need to make an addition to the rules of the shopping ban, I would allow purchases for any set books or anything else required for the course. As I’m studying English literature a lot of the set books are classics and available for free on Kindle, so I haven’t had to purchase anything just yet.
Of course, no longer being quite the consumer I once was, meant that everything I did used to spend on stuff I was now able to save instead. This is the part I’m most pleased about, we’ve managed to save over £4500 so far! How incredible is that? Achieving this has made the ban totally worthwhile, we’ve nearly reached our emergency fund target.
All in all the shopping ban over the past nine months has fundamentally changed me as a person, I’m no longer materialistic, I have no need for stuff in my life and I will certainly never go back to the spending in the way that I used to. When I’ve needed to purchase something from the approved shopping list, I deliberate a lot more over whatever I’m buying, whether I really need it or if I’m buying the best quality possible so it will last?
There have been many positives that have resulted from the ban, what about any negative points? I can only really think of one and that’s the guilty feeling I get when I do spend to buy some of the approved list items. Something nags at me a little for spending and I don’t like it too much, I shouldn’t feel bad spending money I work hard for. For this reason, I’m pretty certain I won’t continue the shopping ban after the twelve months is up, I can only imagine extending it will exacerbate these feelings of guilt.
I look forward to the last three months of the shopping ban, completing it will be a real achievement for me that will have made a dramatic difference to our finances and that will always be something I’ll be really proud of.