What Is A Shopping Ban?
A shopping ban/freeze is a great experiment, even if you think you don't shop very much. It doesn't have to sound as scary as its name either. It is more of an experience than a straight out ban. You still pay your bills, and buy the necessities: groceries, cosmetics when they run out, clothes if they're worn out, but you really cut back on extra spending. No dining out. No going to the movies. No long walks down the aisles at Target, letting the Target symbol hypnotize you into buying things you don't need.
The point of a shopping ban or freeze is to save money, it also helps you track your spending and notice where your money goes and where you can adjust and save.
Some people can go truly hard core and do a full shopping ban for a year. We know, wow. Well, we can't do that...just the thought is making me feel like I'm going to break out in hives. No shopping for a year? No, thank you. So, instead, with a shopping ban, choose the timeframe that works for you. Try a day, and then a week. Then try an entire month. After the month, you will realistically know what you can handle. Do you think you could do 6 months? Or even a year?
Some people start a shopping ban after they realize they have spent a lot of money recently. This can be especially true for luxury item lovers, frequent travelers or those that realize they dine out every weekend, especially Friday and Saturday.
Well, if you've ever had your money run low in your account or wallet, you may already be well trained. If you didn't have the money, you knew you couldn't spend it and you found ways to have fun or enjoy life without spending a lot of money.
Here are some shopping ban dos and don’ts to help set you up for success.
1. Make a list of approved items
You have to still have items needed to live comfortably. So create a list of approved and necessary items you’re allowed to purchase during your shopping ban. Here are some examples:
Bills and utilities
Toiletries and cleaning supplies (that I’m absolutely out of, or really running low)
Cosmetics, skin care and hair products (that you run out of, not just the newest items)
Items needed for a trip (not clothes, bags, accessories, but travel essentials)
Work expenses (if reimbursed in full)
Be specific. Think about what you spend money on, and write down everything you can think of.
2. Set realistic goals
We already mentioned, know what works for you. If you spend a lot, everyday, then try the first day. Then the first month. Then a 90-day, 6 months, then a year if you can really handle that. Also write down why you are sticking to this ban. Do you want to save up for security? Are you planning to make a luxury purchase? Do you want to take a trip?
3. Watch out for temptation
Think about where you spend your money.
Do you get food out a couple of times a week?
Do you buy the latest toys for your children?
Do you buy video games or the newest iPhone?
Do you love to shop at Target?
Or the biggest temptation of all...Amazon? Bezos, we see you trying to offer that wonderful Prime 2-Day Free Shipping that gets us every time.
4. Unsubscribe from store emails
So, this one is tricky. Some people can unsubscribe completely. I like to still be subscribed to my favorite stores. This lessens the temptation to shop everywhere, even if they offer you a great deal like 50% off. However, I stay subscribed to my favorite stores and then check their cash back offers through Ebates to see if I can save double. Even if I don't buy, I still like to look and add things to my wishlist for a later purchase.
5. Find a new hobby or just something you enjoy
Online shopping can be a hobby for many. Maybe you have wanted to find time to paint, or cook. You may love to bake, or want to perfect a recipe. You used to paint, but haven't in awhile. This is a great time to try something new. One of the best things to do is read, or just listen to music. There are plenty of wonderful things you can do for free, whether it is by yourself or with friends, spouses, or family. Do you live near the beach? Head to beach for the day. Near the snow? Head into the snow and enjoy the beautiful scenery that is only around at this time of year.
Bonus: Don’t overspend when your ban is done
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. After your shopping ban/freeze is over, don’t go buy everything at once.
Try to think of where you cut back and what you had the most difficult time not spending money on. See what you didn't really miss too. That is the point of this experience, knowing where your money is actually going and how you can adjust your spending habits.