This guest post from Kamie is part of the “money stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all stages of financial maturity. Today, Kamie shares an update on her resolution to break her shopping habit in 2018.
Hello again, everyone. It's been a few weeks since I started my no-shopping experiment, and it's time to give you an update on my progress.
The first week of not shopping was very interesting for me. I found myself wandering around, trying to figure out things to do when I wasn’t working. Shopping used to be a hobby for me, an escape, a way to fill the time. Eventually, I found productive ways to use my free time.
Productive Use of Free Time
One of the things I did was clean out our cupboards and drawers. As I did this, I realized just how much stuff we obtain over time. By the third day, I had three garbage bags full of junk and garbage. I also found items that were brand new that had never been used. I realize that is not okay, but that's how it is.
For some of these things, I created a “present box”. This is a box with all of these things I have never used but are actually pretty cool. I can give them as gifts in the future. (I guess this sounds like re-gifting, but I actually purchased these items a while back for myself.) This helps me in a couple of ways:
- First, I'm getting rid of unused clutter.
- Second, I won't have to violate my “no shopping” goal by buying gifts.
I hope to have every drawer cleaned out by spring or earlier!
Next, I had to figure out what to do when I was out of the house. As I said, normally I would go shopping. Instead, I've been substituting the gym.
I'll admit, the gym is an added expense, but I already have an existing membership, so why not use it? If you were doing a no-shopping experiment, this might violate your definition “shopping”. For myself, I've decided this is within my rules. Going to the gym has proven to be a very logical and healthy decision. It gives me somewhere to put my extra energy and get out of the house at the same time. I'm loving the exercise. It’s a great way to stay focused!
But here's the big question: Have I purchased anything?
Unfortunately, people make mistakes. Yes, I goofed up. I bought a song off iTunes. No big deal, right? Wrong! I realized right after I had done it that it wasn't a necessity. It was a habit! You don’t realize just how many little habits you have when you are trying to be achieve something. [J.D.'s note: I have an iTunes habit too. It's something I'm working on.]
I was really bummed when I realized that buying songs from iTunes would violate my “no shopping” rule. I love to get new music! To fight this, I took time to make some new playlists out of the music I already have. This way, it sounds new to me! (Secretly, I’m crossing my fingers that my husband will buy music and I can steal it because we have a joint account! Is that cheating?)
As I mentioned in my first installment, one big issue I'll have this year is Starbucks. Normally, I spend a lot at Starbucks. And I'll confess that I've bought coffee there a couple of times this year. I have cut down a lot, no doubt, and I'm trying to steer clear…but it's difficult.
To fight my Starbucks habit, I've started taking coffee with me from home in the morning. I've also made sure that I have everything I need to make coffee and tea at work.
These changes have had some unexpected side effects. Not only am I saving money, but I'm also saving time, especially since I'm no longer driving to Starbucks on my breaks. Plus, I've started bring my lunch to work too. I'm saving time and money two ways with this plan.
I don't think I've licked my Starbucks habit yet, but I'm making progress.
Revising My Rules
Next, I decided to update my list of what I can purchase. When doing something like this, you have to decide what's important and a necessity for you. Everyone is different. Something that's necessary to me might not be necessary for you. Over the past month, I've had to re-evaluate my own definitions.
For example, I added hair products and face creams to my list of acceptable items — but only when I run out completely. (No shopping for the sake of shopping!) Healthy hair and skin are important to me, a part of basic hygiene. I don't think buying personal care products counts as “shopping” as long as you're not over-indulging.
This is a fine line, right? I really had to think about this one and break it down in my mind. But I've found that setting limits on when and how often I can purchase items has helped immensely.
When Free Isn't Free
I had my next realization while watching TV one night.
A commercial came on with two women who were talking about earning cash back from shopping. “That makes sense,” I thought. “It's like getting a gift with your purchase. You're getting something for free.”
Then it hit me. It's like my husband is always trying to tell me: “If you're spending more money in order to get something for free, then it's not free. You've just spent another $50.”
The same thing was happening in the commercial. The women were spending more money to get more money back…but it was only like two percent. “Why would they do that?” I thought. “It makes no sense.”
But the most exciting thing that's happened since I started this no-shopping experiment is the support I've received from my family and friends. (Full disclosure: J.D. is my brother-in-law.)
In fact, my mom is now doing this challenge with me! Having somebody to do this with actually makes it fun. I don't feel like I'm on my own, struggling with the ups and downs.
The first few weeks of this have been interesting. Despite a couple of slips, I'm determined to keep going. I'm learning to be logical about how to accomplish my goals. Plus, I'm saving money and time too! But the best thing is having my mom and husband on board. We'll see how it goes from here…
Reminder: This is a story from one of your fellow readers. Please be nice. After twenty years of blogging, I have a thick skin, but it can be scary to put your story out in public for the first time. Remember that this guest author isn't a professional writer, and is just learning about money like you are. Unduly nasty comments on reader stories will be removed or edited.