Shopping Abstinence

Today is the first day of my next three-month challenge: Shopping Abstinence!  From November 1st through January 31st I will not buy STUFF for myself.

Okay, so what does that actually mean? I’ll  shop for things I need – but not things that I want.

Things I can purchase:

  • Gifts for others (holiday season, and all)
  • Groceries
  • Toiletries
  • Replacement clothing necessities (ie, if gym shoes blow out I can replace them)
  • Home supplies

Things I cannot purchase:

  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Shirts/sweaters
  • Coats
  • Fashion shoes/boots
  • Scarves
  • Jewelry

What am I trying to accomplish here? A lot of things, I suppose. I’ve been examining my own consumerist habits and analyzing them in a variety of different ways. I’ve also tried altering my shopping behavior so that I make more conscientious decisions. But I haven’t tried cutting myself off, cold turkey.


Save Money

I’ve never been particularly good at budgeting or saving. Actually, I’m terrible at it. Hopefully this experiment will help me improve a little.

Less Stuff

Every time I make a purchase, I get rid of stuff. I hate clutter and junk, but it seems like I can never escape it. If I don’t bring more stuff in the house, I don’t have to do the dance of getting rid of shit to make room for the new.  I can just pare down to the essentials.

Use What I Have

I have no shortage of clothes I like to wear – I want to just wear them and enjoy them.


This is the big one.

In the last few years, I’ve changed the way I dress dramatically. I used to be a jeans and t-shirt girl. Comfy shoes only and little to no make-up.  I used to think I did it out of being practical. I didn’t NEED to look nice, and I had no desire to spend my time doing my hair.

But that was just a story I told myself and others – not actually how I felt about it. The real reason I put no effort into my appearance was driven entirely by insecurity.  I thought there was no point putting any effort in because I didn’t matter. On the rare occasion I tried to look nice, I felt like a little girl playing dress up in mommy’s clothing.  (I suppose it’s the opposite of what some ladies do. I’ve met some women who spend hours and hours “getting ready” because they don’t like their bodies or want to show their real face. Just a different way of handling the same insecurities.)

Compound that with being young and broke and there was just no opportunity for me to experiment or find what I actually enjoyed wearing or how I wanted to present myself.

But things have changed. I’m older, insecurities are fading, I want to invest in myself – and I have a tiny bit more expendable income than before.  I think I do a decent job of purchasing things because I want to care for myself and not because I’m trying to make myself feel more secure – but I’m not entirely sure.  If I can successfully abstain from shopping and still feel good and confident, I’ll know I’ve won.

3 Replies to “Shopping Abstinence”

  1. Hello,

    I am curious as to how your no shopping is going. Two years ago I took a year off from shopping. It wasn’t monetary driven. I just wanted to try. At the end of the time, I took all that money and divided it up between four charities (all of which had ties to close friends of mine). I even cleaned out closets to rid myself of more stuff. It felt great and I have more space.
    The best way to do it is take yourself off of mail lists (snail mail and emails). That’s how they suck you in!
    I hope you are doing well with your challenge, maybe even make it go longer! Good luck to you.

    1. Meg Chaney says:

      Hi Kelly!

      Thanks for checking in! I was going strong through all of November and most of December…then the holidays and the cold front hit at the same time! My downfall was purchasing cozy pajamas – which I totally didn’t need but the cold weather and after Christmas prices convinced me I did! I also bought a distressed wood frame with chicken wire to serve as a vision board, though that may count as a productivity tool. But I’m back to being strict again after my lapse!

      What parameters did you use when you took a break from shopping? What was on the OK list and the Not OK list? What did you do if you we given a gift card?

  2. Hello Meg,

    The only OK item was anything that had to do with work clothes. That’s it. I wear a uniform most days so all I could purchase were pants (I go through them quickly). Underthings were also not permitted since I have many, many of them. No makeup either (I don’t usually wear that much anyway). Special shampoos, conditioners, soaps – nope. I did give myself permission for haircuts and color but I spaced them out longer than normal. I had pretty short hair then so it wasn’t too hard. A bottle of shampoo can last me a year. I did receive gift cards and either kept them for a full year or gave them to friends. Anything that had to do with only me – my needs, my wants or my creativity was not allowed. A pillow for the house – not necessary. A book – not necessary…go to the library. It was hard but I felt great after a year. This also includes food that is not of the norm. I work for a grocery store that sells everything and anything you can imagine. It is a food lover’s paradise and you can get caught up in the overspending of food if you don’t pay attention.
    Most of my friends found it hilarious. Some were uncomfortable receiving a gift but not being able to give one to me. I forgot to mention that I also was not allowed to receive any gifts. I could give them but not receive. My Mom really struggled with that. I don’t know why. We aren’t a very material family. Gifts are fun to get and give. She just couldn’t wrap her head around the concept of not buying me anything. I think it’s because she would receive and not have anything to give.. I have never struggled with that. I never feel like I have to reciprocate if someone buys me a gift. I say thank you, it’s nice, I use it but I never feel like I have to spend the same amount of money or give someone a gift I wasn’t expecting to get one from. I think the true spirit of giving is not to expect something in return. You purchase/select an item because it will make that person happy. It’s not about how much money you spend. Sadly, most of the time it seems to be that way. My husband and I have a $20 limit on most gifts and some of the best ones I receive from him have been under $10.
    Spring, Summer and Winter were the easiest times because I don’t generally buy too many clothes. But I love the Fall and the clothes that go along with the season. I didn’t struggle with buying anything for our house. I don’t like clutter or unnecessary things sitting around my house. My Dad did get around the gift giving by purchasing a fishing pole and stating that it wasn’t specifically for me and anyone could use it. We are the only two that fish.
    After the year of no spending was over, I then kept track the following year or what I did spend. I noticed that the previous year’s experiment stayed with me to a certain degree. My husband and I are now on track to pay off our mortgage in a nine year period and have no debt (a car payment of $200 only for 2 more years). He’s your typical “I don’t need anything” guy. He was pretty ecstatic with my results and found some of my grumblings amusing.
    If you feel that you can’t stick with it try something on a smaller scale. Maybe give yourself a set amount or only use cash. You got this!

Leave a Reply

Close Bitnami banner