No. 5 – Inspired by Cait Flanders to Try A Shopping Ban

These words are some parts from the end of her book, “The Year Of Less,” as advice to people who want to try the experiment of doing a shopping ban. You can get the book on Kindle (for $1.99) or as an Audible book. I will not earn any money if you buy this book, this isn’t an affiliate link. I just really love the book & wanted to share it with you incase it sounds like something you would enjoy to. I’ve read this book many times over the years, have always inspired by it a great deal & am really inspired to try my own shopping ban, particularly now that I am in debt – you’ll be hearing about my own shopping ban plans soon.

“A challenge like this isn’t easy but I know it’s possible to get to the end feeling like you’ve changed your spending habits & figured out what you value most in life. In saying that, I want to say that I know starting a challenge like this & completing it are two different things.

During the experiment you may realize things about yourself that were always present but hid behind your spending power. If you do it for long enough, my guess is that you’ll become more resourceful than you knew you could be. I want you to get to that point. I don’t want any of the “what if” situations to hold you back, cause you to relapse or even give up on the experiment altogether. I want you to push through each & every one so you can discover more about yourself & discover more creative ways to get through this world without opening your wallet.

My goal with this guide is to help you get organized & push through to the end. So you can reach your goal, whatever it may be. Before you get started, I’d like you to think about why you want to take on this challenge in the first place. Some people call this their “why.” Throughout this challenge I would ask you to consider keeping up a list of your values. Your values should not be aspirations. Confusing the two is just one of the reasons I used to buy things for the “ideal” version of myself & not for who I actually am.

  • Declutter Your Home – Before you begin a shopping ban I would recommend going through your home & getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose in your life. Don’t just organize your stuff – analyze it, ask yourself what you want to keep & let go of all the rest. Decluttering first can open your eyes to how much stuff you’ve wasted money on in the past. Which can serve as more motivation to not waste more money during your shopping ban.
  • Write An Essentials List – This is a list of things you’re allowed to buy whenever you run out of them. 
  • Unsubscribe from all store & coupon lists in your inbox.
  • Tell People – Tell those you spend the most time with about your shopping ban because you will feel the need not only to stay accountable to yourself but also to them. And I would suggest you have at least one accountability partner you can call or text whenever you get the urge to shop so they can stop you.
  • Replace costly habits with free or cheap alternatives – If someone you want to spend time with wants to do something costly, I think you’ll surprised how many people are willing to do something free or more affordable because it will also save them dollars. 
  • Pay attention to your triggers & change your reactions – This is where mindfulness comes into play. When you feel the urge to shop, sometimes texting a friend & asking them to stop you isn’t enough. You need to pause & consider everything that is happening in your current environment. How do you feel? What triggered you to want to shop? And what justifications are you telling yourself? Spotting your triggers to buy something is extremely important so you can ultimately change your reaction. If you don’t replace bad habits with good habits, you’re more likely to relapse & go back to your old ways. When something triggers you, figure out what else you can do besides spending money. Do it repeatedly until it eventually becomes second nature.
  • Appreciate what you have – As time goes on, you’ll start to feel grateful for everything you have – from the clothes in your closet to the appliances in your kitchen. Using what you keep will serve as a reminder that money has already bought you everything you need. A walk outside can go a long way to brighten your day. One important thing I’ve realized is that the success of your shopping ban will depend on the stories you tell if you think “this sucks” then you will probably end up going on a binge but if you say “this item is great… but I don’t need it” and choose to appreciate what you already have – my guess is you’ll never go back for the items you pass up on.

Again, at the end of the day remember that your shopping ban will depend on the stories you tell yourself about it. If you think “this Is hard” you run a higher risk of quitting & even binge shopping after. But if you appreciate what you have & actually use what you buy, the results could be lifechanging. 

My shopping ban, coupled with my massive declutter & purge of stuff, taught me what I value most in life – and none of it can be bought from a store. I hope you finish your own shopping ban with the same understanding & revelations.

So that is Cait Flander’s advice about starting your own shopping ban experiment. I am planning on writing my own “essentials” list soon & sharing it with you here soon.



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