After feeling unhappy with my spending habits and the amount of stuff I was accumulating for months, I decided to go on a spending ban for January. It wasn't even that I was buying expensive things, I was spending relatively small amounts on cheap items, but I just felt like I was impulse buying a lot, and not appreciating what I had. I felt like I needed a complete shut down on my spending, so that I could re-assess and see what it was that was making me feel uneasy. I stopped myself from all non-essential spending, and I actually did pretty well-I only slipped up once, and even then I only spent £3, so I think overall it was a win!
My stumbling blocks with spending were always charity (thrift) shops, fabric and craft shops, and online shopping. I felt like the only way to ensure I stuck to my spending ban was just to completely avoid these places, and of course online shopping was the hardest to avoid! But I managed to do it, somehow, and I learned a lot from the experience! I thought I'd share what I'm taking away from my spending-free month.
I used to waste hours on online window shopping.
I've been complaining to anyone who'd listen for MONTHS about how I never had time to do the things I wanted to do-craft projects, watching films, reading blogs... I've now realised that if I'm not browsing online shops for hours in pursuit of things I'm never going to actually buy, I magically have time to do these things! Suddenly I have a stack of finished craft projects, a much tidier room, I've caught up on blog posts and watched some interesting tv programmes. I feel so much better, and it's a habit I'm hoping to stay in.
There is actually very little I need.
As I mentioned above, my downfalls with spending have always been charity shops, fabric and craft shops, and shopping for clothes and craft supplies online. But I've realised that after years of having the same creative hobbies and the same personal style, I've already built up a hefty stash of sewing and craft supplies, and a wardrobe of pretty, interesting clothes. I have more than enough fabric, plenty of jewellery making materials, enough art supplies to stock a small school, and there are things in my wardrobe which I haven't even worn yet. I don't *need* to constantly buy more. And if I get bored with my clothes, well, maybe I could finally get round to making some new ones with ALL THAT FABRIC I HAVE.
I miss the feeling of new experiences more than the feeling of new things.
I've realised that I'd much rather spend money on some adventures than on more objects. I think I need them much more than another pair of boots or more fabric. I'm going to prioritise going for coffee in nice cafes, visiting museums, and maybe saving for train tickets to places further afield, over buying more stuff.
I think I want things...but I don't really want them.
At the beginning of January there were a lot of things I thought I wanted. I thought I really wanted them. I thought it would be very hard to get through a month without buying them. After a few days, I stopped thinking about them, and now I don't even remember what they were.
A month on a spending ban has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. It's given me a chance to really examine my spending habits, and to realise that even though I wasn't spending a lot, the online window shopping had got to a pretty obsessive level. I actually love spending less money and not shopping, which I was not expecting at all.
I don't think there is anything wrong with having possessions you enjoy-it's one of life's great pleasures. I just wanted to make sure that if I buy things, they are things I really want and will enjoy for a long time. Also, I'm lucky to be able to make most of the things I want, and I'm going to be taking a lot more advantage of that.
I'm now off my spending ban, but I will still be being careful with money and thinking about whether I really want things. When I do buy things, I'm going to try to go for quality over quantity, and new experiences are definitely at the top of my list of things to spend money on!
I don't think a spending ban would be a pleasant experience for everyone, and it's not something I'd recommend for everyone. But for me, it was probably one of the best things I could have done.