The Minimalist Creative's 12-Month Shopping Ban: Goals And Guidelines

In an effort to put more focus on creativity this year, I’m planning to complete a 12-month shopping ban in 2018. I was inspired by Cait Flanders, a personal finance and minimalism blogger, who has completed her own shopping bans two years in a row! She will soon be publishing a book about her experience.

What is a shopping ban?

A period of time where you refrain from buying non-essential items. Clothes, shoes, bags, makeup, and skincare items are the non-essentials that come to mind for me. For someone else, these items might be related to outdoor sports equipment or furniture for their home.

In all honesty, this shopping ban is happening at the perfect time for me. I’ll be leaving my 9-5 job at the end of 2017 and enrolling in a 10-week full stack web development bootcamp that starts in January.

Basically, I’ll be unemployed for a while.

I’m defining the rules for my shopping ban now so that when January 1, 2018 rolls around, I’ll be ready.

Here are my goals for this 12-month shopping ban: 

  1. Kick the habit of impulse buying
  2. Stop spending money on clothes, skincare, and makeup (items I already have enough of!)
  3. Focusing on creative projects and learning coding, design, and art
  4. Appreciating everything I already have, especially my partner, friends, and family

Allowable items:

  • Essentials such as bills, insurance, groceries, and toiletries. Replacing items I use up (such as makeup and soap) or fixing items that break.
  • Any and all creative projects like screen printing and printing zines.
  • Personal and professional development tools, resources, and courses.
  • Eating out and buying fancy coffee drinks every once in a while. I’ve gotten a much better handle on meal prepping and cooking in recent years, so I already practice mindful spending in this area.
  • Experiences such as movies, live music, and nights out with friends. My goal isn’t to become a hermit during this year. I still want to be able to enjoy my time with friends. Alcohol and Lyft rides are included in my allowable items since those are not a problem area for me. I generally only go out 1 or 2 times per month.
  • Travel is an allowed expense. It is something essential and important to my growth.
  • Race registrations. I’m preparing to run a half marathon in October. I may decide to run a couple 10k races as training.
  • When it comes to gifts for friends and family, I’m allowed to take them to eat, plan an activity together, or buy them something from one of my crafty friends. (I have a friend who makes ceramic mugs and planters. Since I want to support her work I will buy these items as gifts.)
  • Haircuts
  • Donating to causes I care about
  • One pair of running shoes (only if necessary)
  • A wooden trinket shelf (I have wanted one forever and am tired of all my little miniatures sitting in a little pile!)
  • Bath products such as bubble bath or bath bombs. This is pretty much the only thing I’m allowing myself to “shop” for. I really enjoy taking baths as a way to relax and practice self-care.

Banned items:

  • Books and magazines. I’ll be renting from the library or reading the many unread books I already own.
  • Clothes, accessories, bags, shoes, makeup, skincare (unless I'm replacing something I’ve used up), perfume, jewelry.
  • Furniture, candles, towels, sheets, blankets, art or anything else for the home.
  • Technology such as an iPad, new phone (unless mine breaks), etc.
  • Getting my nails done. I haven’t done this in two years but I figured I’d put it on here just in case!
  • I’m going to cancel my Netflix subscription for at least 3 months. At that time I will reevaluate whether or not I want it back.

How I am preparing for this shopping ban:

  1. I’ve started tracking my spending for the entire month of November. I’ll be continuing this for the month of December. This helps to see where my money is currently going so I can be mindful of what changes need to be made in 2018.
  2. Fixing things that are broken. I’ve fixed a pair of shoes with a broken buckle so I can start wearing them again.
  3. Renewing my library card and downloading the OverDrive app, which allows me to borrow books on my Kindle for free!
  4. Decluttering my home and donating things that I no longer use. I recently got rid of my sewing machine, an acoustic guitar, and a New Yorker subscription because they never got used. Already I feel lighter and more excited to focus on screen printing.
  5. Writing this post to outline the rules and keep me accountable.

I plan to give monthly updates on how my shopping ban is going, so stay tuned!

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The Minimalist Creative's 12 Month Shopping Ban: Goals and Guidelines