Here's What I Learned from a Month-Long Ban on Online Shopping

I recently challenged myself to go a full month without online shopping. While this might seem like a no-brainer to some, online shopping was getting to be kind of an issue for me. It wasn't that I was blowing thousands on Yankee Candle every month or putting myself into debt over a Sephora addiction, but I had adopted a very "7 Rings" attitude about scrolling through the world wide web, and found myself seeing, liking, wanting, and buying things quite often.

This habit was directly contradicting my hopes of becoming a more "mindful" shopper - think curated and put-together rather than stark minimalism, I do enjoy a throw pillow here and there - and I wanted to put an end to that. So from there, the month long online spending ban was born.

Although giving up online shopping for good is completely unrealistic for me, this reset really did help me put things into perspective. Moving forward, I am setting up guidelines for myself when it comes to the "add to cart" impulse. Keep reading for those guidelines below!

Assign a Priority to Every Dollar
Knowing what you actually need to spend each month is crucial to your finanical wellbeing. Adding up rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation, and etc. will help you realize what you need to have around when those bills come. Then, with whatever's left over, save as much as you can, maybe donate if you're in the position to, and reserve the rest for "mad money" (aka shopping) Setting up a budget can be overwhelming and time consuming, but the rewards far outweigh the original hassle.

Create a Waiting List
When I see something I want online, my instinct is to pop it in my cart and check out immediately, however chances are, even if it is on sale, it will likely be there for a while. That's why I have given myself a "waiting period" for things I'd like to buy. If I still want it within 10 days time, the green light is on to buy it. If I forget about it within those 10 days, that's great too. You can change this waiting period depending on your own rules - I've heard some people wait 24 hours, and others 30 days. I assume there can be exceptions for this rule: for instance I recently got a pair of $120 Castaner espadrilles for $40 on a flash sale. Some things are just too good to pass up - provided you don't go into debt for them.

Consider the Source
Although everyone has their own moral compass when it comes to the items they buy, there are a few things to consider when making a purchase:

Importance of materials will vary greatly depending on the person. A preference for leather bags might not be shared by a friend that is vegan or vegetarian. I try not to buy a ton of synthetic fabrics whenever possible, and avoid jersey since it usually shrinks, but others might not mind as much.

Cost Per Use
Think of how often you'll use an item and weigh it against the purchase price. A dress you'll only wear once? Probably not the best purchase (but sometimes a bridesmaid's gotta do what a bridesmaid's gotta do!) If you know you'll get years of use out of it, pull the trigger, but if it's a sometimes piece, you can probably pass it up.

Quality/Durability/Life of Trend
This goes along with the other categories above. If something is already wrinkled and frayed on the rack, maybe step out of the Forever21 and find something that will last a little longer.

A lot of people nowadays are really focusing on the impact their purchases will make past the point of looking cute or serving a simple purpose. There are a ton of movements in upswing, and hitching a ride on any of them seem to be a decent idea. Cruelty-free, fair trade, slow fashion, zero waste, eco-friendly, chemical-free, recycled, and the like. Find out what's important to you and support that cause!

Avoid Memberships
One way end up spending more money over time is to join a "member's only" club in order to get a discount. Sure, Amazon Prime has a lot of benefits, but will it actually save you money in the long run? (For me, yes. Not everyone will feel this way however)  Be especially weary of monthly fees - gyms, subscription boxes, spa packages, food delivery, and the like can be a huge money suck if they just sit without being put to work - or if you end up subscribing to a service that sends products you won't even use!

If you won't pay for shipping, do you really even want it?
Over the holidays, and before my shopping ban, I wanted to buy a set of coasters from my beloved Anthropologie. They were maybe $8-$10, so not a huge spend in the long run - so I could justify the purchase. Lo and behold, shipping would be $6.99 for the damned coasters. "That's basically double the price!" I exclaimed, frantically searching for free shipping codes, and ultimately settling on adding the additional $140 of merchandise to my cart in order to get complimentary delivery. Long story short, I ended up being so busy over the holiday season that I was unable to return the few items that I'd added to my cart in haste to make free shipping. Thankfully, I had padded the packages with things I actually would use, but I still have a few things sitting around that I really wouldn't have purchased otherwise. If only I'd bitten that $6.99 shipping charge!

Shop Your Stash
Before heading to the store for a new shampoo, check under your sink to make sure you don't have an extra one hiding. Before grabbing a new lipstick, take a photo of all the ones you already have swatched on your arm. Chances are, a lot of the things you're looking to buy are already sitting around in your house, and if you make sure you're not purchasing duplicates, you'll save a ton of cash in the long run.

Challenge Yourself
Be it an entire month of no online purchases, a ban on anything but groceries and rent, or a new theme every quarter, it's nice to shake things up every once in a while. If saving money is your goal, set a spending limit for a few weeks and see how far you can stretch a dollar. If you have the expendable income, why not take a month to only buy handmade, support women and/or POC owned businesses, or donate the price of your Starbucks drink for a week every time you make coffee at home? Our dollars have influence, and what we do with them says a lot about who we are as people and how we want the world to be.

What bad money habit are you wanting to kick to the curb? Let me know in the comments!

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