A year? No. But quite a few years ago I put myself on a no-buy and was successful for 6 months so I could pay off school loans faster. A lot of my shopping came from using it as a reward. A lot of it was just overindulgence after finally having a steady income and getting bill collectors off my back. Then it got worse because I think I was using shopping as a coping mechanism for grief after someone very close to me died. I’ll still periodically put myself on a one to three month no-buy.
I’m think of starting up again from now to June. I tend to go in streaks with my shopping and I’ve been too indulgent lately (my vices tend to be make-up, perfume, and jewelry – sometimes clothes).
A few key things for me:
1. Shop your stash. When you get the urge for something new, I almost guarantee there is something in your closet not getting enough love or that you forgot about and it will feel brand new all over again.
2. Organize the stuff you do have to make it more accessible, to remind you of what’s there, and make it obvious just how much you have.
3. Have specific limits and rules. For example: I’m allowed to buy more of X if I run out, but not Y and Z. Or shopping can consist of restocking essentials, grocery shopping for meals I plan and I’m allowed one meal out and one treat per week, but no buying more than what we need to get through the week.
4. Remind yourself that sales happen constantly. Really. If it is on sale now, it’ll be on sale again. I promise you. Stores love enticing people to come spend their money. They will have another sale.
5. If you get suckered in by limited editions, remind yourself that you will eventually find something else you like just as much. Really. I promise you. Yes, it might be the last of that specific color or that style or that scent or whatever. But everything tends to cycle. It will come in fashion again or someone else will have something similar enough or you’ll discover something that’s even better later. There is almost nothing so completely unique that you can’t find an acceptable substitute for it later at a more appropriate time to be spending that money.
6. Get off the internet. Really. I used frequent a few forums and blogs where people were also really into these things and we’d share the latest and greatest and read reviews, etc. Not to mention social media bombards us with advertising all the time or even just people talking about their stuff. Spending less time online decreased my exposure to a lot of the stuff I was buying and pretty soon I stopped feeling like I NEEDED to have all these things. Also unsubscribe to mailing lists that email sale information or new products. You can’t shop sales or crave the latest and greatest if you aren’t aware of them.
7. To that end, stop spending time at stores (in person or online). If you do your grocery shopping at a multipurpose store like a SuperTarget or SuperWalmart, start going to your local neighborhood grocery instead. Or find an online grocery that offers delivery or pickup where you just drive up and they bring your order to you. It curbs a lot of impulse buys.
8. Find rewards that work for you and build in some treats along the way to mitigate risk of cheating. Also find more active things to do to replace shopping. Sign up for a yoga or art class. Start hanging out at your local library. Use the shopping money for a date night or an activity like seeing a local play – almost guaranteed to be cheaper than shopping and no clutter.