Shopping rocks: you can trust us when we say that no one knows that better than us. But as much as we love to shop, sometimes there comes a time when shopping for fashion has to take a back seat to some of the other, arguably more important things in life. Whether you’re putting yourself through college, starting a family, or saving up for that house, holiday or pension fund, every now and then there comes a time when a shopping ban starts to seem like a good idea.
But how on earth do you survive one?
How does a fashion-obsessed shopping addict get through a shopping ban without breaking down and hitting the shops hard? Well, we can’t promise you wont ever be tempted, but here are some things to try…
When it comes to surviving a shopping ban, you COULD go for a “look, but don’t touch,” approach. But the fact is, you’ll only end up making yourself feel bad about all those pretty, shiny things you just can’t have, so if it’s at all possible, we’d recommend simply staying out of temptation’s reach. You don’t necessarily have to freeze your credit card inside a giant ice-cube, Becky Bloomwood style, but take a couple of hours to unsubscribe from all of those sales alerts and shopping related emails (20% off at your favourite store? Will you REALLY be able to resist?), stay away from the mall, and avoid reading fashion blogs. (Except this one, obviously. Unsubscribe from this one and sorry, but we WILL have to shoot you, shopping ban or not…)
Clear-out the closet
If you’re anything like us, you probably have more clothes than you really need, and just THINK you have nothing to wear. Just to be sure, pull everything out – and yes, we do mean EVERYTHING – sort through it, and decide what to keep and what donate/bin/whatever. Not only will you discover items you’d forgotten you had (which feels a bit like shopping for free…), paradoxically, less can start to feel like more once you’ve had the chance to organise things properly, and in such a way that you can actually see what you have. Be ruthless, and get organised. Before you head to the charity store or rubbish dump with the clothes you’re getting rid of however…
Organise a clothing swap
Think you’re the only one with lots of clothes you no longer have a use for? You’re not. And one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, so before you dismiss those old clothes entirely, call some of your friends and organise a swap. Not only will your unwanted clothes go to a loving home, you’ll be essentially shopping without spending: what’s not to love?
Keep your eyes on the prize
Whatever the reason for your shopping ban, it can really help to make it tangible, so it can serve as inspiration. Pin a photo of that new house or fabulous holiday destination somewhere you’ll see it every day, and be motivated by it. If your shopping ban is motivated by the need to pay off debt, or put money into a savings plan, imagine how you’ll reward yourself when you reach your goal (Make sure it isn’t something so huge it’ll land you right back where you started…) and use that as your motivation instead. Every time you feel tempted to make a purchase, go back to your photo and remind yourself of your goal.
Allow yourself small rewards
On the subject of rewards, although it seems sensible to simply go cold turkey and declare that you’ll never shop again, it’s important to be realistic. Denying yourself absolutely EVERYTHING you love can be demotivating enough to make it much easier to quit, so make sure there’s some room in your budget for the occasional small treat, to be doled out once you reach specific targets: a certain amount saved, say, or a number of weeks without shopping. Again, just don’t go crazy, and “reward” yourself with a shopping spree at Net-a-Porter.
Make yourself accountable
Not everyone wants to share their personal business with everyone they know, and personal finances are exactly that: personal. By declaring your intention to stop shopping for a certain amount of time, though, you’ll make yourself accountable, and be less likely to cheat. You don’t have to take out a billboard in Times Square for this purpose, either: even telling a friend about your shopping ban, or simply writing it down somewhere could be enough to make you feel like you’re answerable to someone (even if that “someone” is yourself…)
Take your mind off it
Still feeling the lure of the mall? Mouse finger itching to feel the click of the “add to basket” button? It’s time to employ some distraction techniques by acquiring a new hobby: ideally a free one, which doesn’t take you anywhere near the mall. Whether it’s taking up running, joining a team or club, either make the time to re-discover an old hobby or start a new one. Then keep on doing it for as long as it takes for the shopping itch to subside…