So, I just recently wrapped up a 21-week shopping ban with the new year. During this ban, I was allowed $15 per week to be spent on second-hand, hand-made or vintage items. I was allowed $50 of additional free money per month that could be spent however I wanted, no restrictions. I also had a separate shoe budget, allowing three specific pairs of shoes (ballet flats, black knee-high boots, brown pumps), up to $100 per pair.
I only cheated a couple of times on my ban, most notably when I bought my Fluevog Heathers. I think there are several reasons for this. One) my shopping ban had enough flexibility (and at times, ambiguity) to allow me enough room so as not to feel too constricted. Whenever I feel like I’m being forced into a particular set of rules, I tend to rebel. Having that $50 of money per month that could be spent any way I wanted helped me to feel like I was completely depriving myself. Two) During most of this period, I was barely making enough money to pay my essential bills. It’s a lot easier to stick to a budget when you have no money to spend. Many weeks I would have liked to have bought more, but I was waiting on my next paycheck so that I could actually make rent. Three) The accountability that came from posting what I bought each week helped. Sometimes, I would consider buying something that was outside the parameters of my ban. But when I realized that I would have to admit it the following Saturday, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it.
I think this ban was a good learning experience. It really helped me to curtail overspending. It made me think much harder about what I buy. When you have a limited amount that you can spend each month, you debate purchases more. Overall, I’m a lot happier with the things I bought during this ban than most of the things I bought when I was overspending on clothes in the previous months. Satisfaction and enjoyment of the things I buy matter much more to me now. I’m learning to buy things that I love, and it’s really changing how I look at my wardrobe.
I’ve decided to take the month of January off from my ban. I felt like I needed a little time where I can buy whatever I want without restrictions, within reason of course. I haven’t decided yet if I will continue the ban after January. Here’s why: One) I’m really hoping that I get a full-time, permanent job in the next few months. That will mean making more money, and it will also mean that I will need to develop my work wardrobe. Part of my reasoning for the shopping ban was that I’m not making that much money right out of grad school. If I can get a job that actually uses my degree, I will want to spend more than this ban allows on clothes, and I will have the resources to do so. Two) I’ve realized that my wardrobe is lacking some staple investment pieces. Many of these pieces are over $50 new, and I would prefer to buy the best quality that I can, even if it means buying hardly anything else in that month. It would be difficult to fit in these investment pieces into the current ban parameters.
For now, I’m taking a wait and see approach. I will certainly have a clothes budget restriction, but I’m not sure if there will be a full-on ban again. Still, I feel that the experience has been very valuable, and I’m glad I did it. I learned a lot from it, and I feel like I have a much more thought-ful approach to shopping now.