(Image from imdb.com)
More bloggers and shopaholics seem to be contemplating a shopping sabbatical or even an outright ban these days. The Clothes Horse and Emily of Vulgar Moon tried shopping bans as a means of motivating them to read some heavy literary works. Most recently, Arielle of Hautest Style asked her readers what they thought of her giving up shopping to save for a car. People have their own reasons for starting shopping bans, whether it's because they want to save for a big-ticket purchase or a trip, motivate themselves to achieve a goal, or are trying to curb some bad consumption habits. Indeed, with today's worsening economy, we may see more belt-tightening and less shopping in the very near future.
I myself am now in month #4 of my own shopping sabbatical. If you're contemplating a ban/sabbatical, here are some things to consider beforehand and some tips to help you make it through. This is just based on my experience and what worked for me.
- Be realistic and specific when you set goals for yourself. I said to myself right from the beginning that my shopping sabbatical would include clothes, shoes, and accessories, and it would last 5 months. However, I didn't include toiletries and cosmetics, and this turned out to be a sneaky little loophole that has kept me sane. In the last 13 weeks, I've bought a new makeup case, makeup brushes, a pumice stone, nail polish, perfume, etc. When I add up the numbers in my head, what I've spent on makeup-y stuff is pretty high all things considered, but what I've spent in the last 3.5 months is still only half of what I'd typically spend on clothes and accessories in a single month.
- Substitute shopping habits with new ones. Is shopping a way of passing time when you're bored? A bonding activity with friends? An indoors pasttime for rainy weekends? Look at when and how you shop, and develop new habits as substitutes. If you shop when you're bored, find a hobby or apply for a volunteer position to occupy your time. If you shop to bond with friends, make plans to try a new restaurant or see a movie instead. Go to the library and look for a book to read on a rainy afternoon.
- Avoid going into stores. Stores and shopping districts are a major source of temptation. Just stay away. Why torture yourself looking at things you know you can't buy?
- Make a mental list of things you would like to buy when your sabbatical's over. It seems counter-intuitive, but I've been doing this for a while now and it does help. If after 5 months, you still want the item you initially craved, it's going to be a well thought-out purchase rather than an impulsive one. Also, waiting to shop forces you to do research. For example, one of the items on my list is a couple of good-quality investment cashmere sweaters, so I've been looking up cashmere-buying and garment care tips online.
- Having strict, non-enabler friends helps. If I'm with a girlfriend who's shopping and I'm a bit too interested in an item, she'll bring me down to earth quickly with a major guilt trip.