Bye bye, shopping: How I plan to cut monthly spending by $225

Krista Thurrott
Getty Images
Getty Images

You can blame it on living in a new, bigger city, but looking at my bank account and doing the math provided a very harrowing reflection of my needless spending over the last three months. One night my sister and mother FaceTimed me as they went “shopping” in my closet at home, rummaging through the things that didn’t make the move with me. Their amazement at the amount of clothing still with tags on, and makeup products left unopened, forced me to realize my shopping addiction had gotten out of hand last year.

As I sifted through my bank accounts, my heart was heavy as the number grew. Averaging at about $227 a month on excessive lifestyle items like clothing and makeup, my previous spending made me dream of credit card payments I could have made, trips I could have been saving for and other more productive ways I could have been building my savings account. I decided it was time to make my biggest resolution yet: to become more financially responsible. I am kicking this resolution off with a three-month shopping ban.

I would be lying if I said I got off to a smooth start. Knowing this challenge was set to begin on January 1, I found myself panicking at 10 minutes to midnight on New Years Eve, making one final purchase. The next morning, I woke up realizing just how badly I needed this ban, a self-imposed intervention to get my spending under control. Treating this new practice in budgeting with the same zest I would apply to any other resolution, I plan to save roughly $227 every month for the next three months through limiting my contribution to J.Crew’s annual financials.

With more blush than a makeup artist and enough sweaters to open my own store, I look forward to getting more familiar with items I already own. They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so hopefully once the first three weeks pass, the remaining two months will be easy. For the first few weeks I will be avoiding shopping malls, online shops and my greatest weakness: beauty counters.

The following rules will be implemented throughout the next three months:

  1. I can’t purchase anything I don’t absolutely need to live. If it’s not food, sanitary products or life-or-death items, I can’t buy it. (And no, drugstore mascara and that Aritzia sweater I’ve been eying for weeks don’t count as life-or-death).

  2. If I run out of a makeup “essential,” get creative. This is basically what YouTube was made for, search what other people use to replace the beauty item – besides, after my three months of beauty binging, chances of running out are slim.

  3. Just because I have visitors doesn’t mean I need to shop. I can still host and show my favourite places/shops without buying anything. And no, I don’t need that cute handbag my favourite blogger just bought – it will, in no way, change or improve my life. I expect window shopping to be a new pastime and a great exercise in restraint.

  4. Shampoo, conditioner and toiletries are not part of the shopping ban. While these items are, arguably not a mandatory lifeline, they are key to proper hygiene. There is one rule: toiletries can’t be purchased until they are close to running out. No one needs three different kinds of shampoo.

  5. Despite popular opinion, take-out coffee is not life-or-death. As a freelance writer, I often find myself working out of coffee shops on the regular. As part of this shopping ban, I am going to limit my coffee purchases to once every two weeks. While it isn’t being cut completely from my spending, it should impact my budget positively, forcing me to make my favourite hot beverage from home more often.

I’m already one week into the ban and going strong. I’ve even started to think more about why I am inclined to purchase what I do. As an avid blog reader, I find following fashion blogs to be a major instigator, tricking my mind into thinking I need something I really don’t. Because of this inclination, I predict my biggest areas of saving will be in the clothing and make up departments.

While this ban will most definitely be a challenge, I am looking forward to becoming a better budgeter, with hope that this practice will go beyond the three months, influencing my purchases for the rest of the year. If 2016 was the year of shopping to combat negative events, 2017 is the year I learn to cope responsibly, without swiping my credit card.

How do you plan to save money in 2017? Let us know by tweeting @YahooStyleCA.