Friday, February 06, 2015

What I Learned From My Month On A Spending Ban



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. 

10 comments:

  1. I've decided to go on a spending ban for the whole of 2015. I'm such a consumer that I was really worried it was going to be super tough, and I guess it might be, but so far it's not been too bad. Like you, I'm finding that avoiding the shops, both in person and online makes things easier, and leaves me with spare time to do some of the other things I should be using my time for. One of my weaknesses is fabric shopping, so that is banned too, until I've used what I have in my sewing room.

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    1. Ah it sounds like we were in a pretty similar situation! I'm not staying on a spending ban, but I will be trying to keep my spending to an absolute minimum. And yes, I'm definitely on a fabric ban too! I have so much already, I really don't need more!

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  2. I've forced myself to think much more about what I'm buying, and it's amazing how quickly I get over the, 'Oh but I really want this' reaction to stuff. I'm the same as you - a wardrobe busting full of clothes and no need for more! I've even got brand new jewellery, never worn, which has now gone into the present box for birthday's and Christmas! It's crazy what we get tuned into buying, without really thinking!

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    1. Yes it's strange how quickly your mindset shifts! I'm really appreciating what I already have a lot more, and thinking up more combinations for existing clothes and jewellery. Also being forced to craft with what I already have and not just keep buying more beads or fabric etc is making me think of ideas I wouldn't have had otherwise!

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  3. Ah lovely money box and brilliant will power. I'm pretty much on a constant spending ban because I'm so poor all the time!

    sheepishlyshameful.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Haha yes that was also one of my motivations, I'm not on a very big budget to begin with so anything I can save is good! Thanks for the compliment :D

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  4. As I have previously mentioned, I am a charity shop addict so would find it very difficult to completely avoid them. However I rarely buy new clothes for myself so save money that way. I need more warmer clothes for wearing in this cold snap so will probably be searching through the rails again next week - but at least it will give me extra material for a few more blog posts.

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    1. I had a look at your charity shop blog posts, it's really interesting seeing what you've found. I don't think everyone needs to go on a spending ban, especially if you're not spending masses to begin with, but this was almost like pressing the reset button for me. To be honest I also need some warmer clothes so I might be back in the charity shops too, but now I know what I don't need and what to avoid!

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  5. Your article made me want to do that. I have been trying to prevent myself from spending useless money, but I love food too much... I will try in March though! Hoepfully, I will find the same joy in saving money than you do!
    Fangsofthewoods.

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    1. Hehe well I definitely count food as essential spending...but I did have to be good with not buying snacks and things when I was out. I hope you find it a good experience!

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