2018 Balanced frugal shopping ban, all the rules, lists, and things defined

Our Balanced Frugal Shopping Ban

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I didn’t think a shopping ban was for me. Initially I focused on the fact that we have our frugal lifestyle on lock down.

A mindful shopping ban year for the frugal pack
Our things we are getting rid of that don’t count in the decluttering ban.
  • A spendy month, really isn’t all that extravagent.
  • When I’m given a gift card that isn’t to the grocery store I have a hard time spending them.
  • I rarely bring new items into our home.

However, I started looking around our home and realizing how much of the space we have filled. The Ikea shelves in my office are brimming with craft supplies. Our basement and garage shelves are also filled with things we don’t regularly use.

While I may think we don’t consume all that much stuff, apparently we do, or we did. It doesn’t really matter, our home is filled with things. And as someone with allergies and two large dogs, this can’t be all that great for my health.

So, today is day one of my 40 days 40 items frugal lent challenge. I plan to get rid of one item during each day of lent and my partner plans to join me (80 things in total). You can read all about the challenge here. We plan to document the journey and report back!

Our Mindful Shopping Ban

In The Year of Less, Cait Flanders embarks on her shopping ban journey by taking an inventory of all the items in her home. I can’t even imagine starting there, but I loved her suggestion of counting the top five items in every room. Throughout the 40 days I will take a simplified inventory.

I also came up with our own personalized rules for our shopping ban, since her rules aren’t ours. Much like the fact that personal finance is personal, consuming is also personal.

The Frugal Pack Shopping Ban Rules

Things we are allowed to buy:

A mindful shopping ban year for the frugal pack
The full craft room
  1. Groceries, household items like laundry detergent, and other toiletries
  2. Master bathroom and bedroom renovation supplies, up to $1,000
  3. Kitchen renovation supplies and used appliances, up to $6,500
  4. Gifts for friends and family, but we will create most of these
  5. Crafting and woodworking supplies for specifically planned projects
  6. Fencing for the garden
  7. Garden supplies up to $100 (other than fencing)
  8. Replacement items for things that wear out (must get rid of the initial item)
  9. New bike lock (we currently only have one nice lock)
  10. Chromebook to replace second old laptop
  11. Couch (ours is clearly broken, so we are watching Craigslist for a better one. Must get rid of our current couch.)
  12. Dining chairs
  13. Saddle bags, fenders, and lights for the e-bike

Things we are not allowed to buy:

  1. Books, movies, music, etc.
  2. Paper towel, saran wrap, etc.
  3. Dog treats (sorry puppies, only homemade this year)
  4. New electronics (other than planned chromebook)
  5. Clothing, accessories, and shoes

Things we will not stress about:

  1. Experience spending, we have spent the last few years getting our spending down, and we are ready to loosen the purse strings a little bit on experiences and travel spending.

Some Notes

Before making this public proclamation I sat down with Mr. Kiwi to ask if he was interested in joining me in this venture. We share money, a home, and our lives, but that doesn’t mean I may assume that he will be as interested in taking on a shopping ban as me.

Fortunately, he gladly agreed to join me! So we are embarking on this shopping ban together! We already track our monthly spending, and we’ll be able to hold each other accountable. Plus, neither of us will be bringing a bunch of new stuff into our home, which is the end goal.

The Shopping Ban Results (So Far)

I finished the book a couple weeks ago,and have already noticed results.

This shopping ban has already helped me resist buying two new pairs of shoes. The two new pairs of $100+ running shoes in my size  were listed on Craigslist for $25. Initially I was tempted to get those shoes, since I will need a new pair eventually. But then I remembered that I already have a next pair of shoes waiting for me, so I don’t need three next pairs of shoes now. Someone else in my community surely picked those up and will put them to good use, much sooner than me.

There is a cost to storing items, and I hope to be more intentional with the things I choose to store.

Join In with Your Own Shopping Ban

I am pretty passionate about conscientious consuming. Everything that we add to our lives comes at some financial and environmental cost, and we are fortunate to have so much already.

A mindful shopping ban year for the frugal pack
We have plenty of books and other things to donate

And, it’s never too late to commit to your own shopping ban. I enjoyed starting by reading Cait’s book to get inspiration. Cait has also created a community surrounding The Year of Less, which I have joined. Where readers come together for support and to share their journeys.

Some other bloggers have committed to a more mindful spending year:

If you are interested in taking on your own mindful shopping ban or reducing your spending, take some time to reflect and define your own values and rules. Let me know, and I’ll add you to the list!

During this year I’m sure we will struggle. But when things are easy or not scary we don’t get much accomplished or grow. This is my year of risk, and committing to consuming less is a risk I’m happy to tackle.

Have you committed to a shopping ban? Are you ready to start your own shopping ban?

10 comments on “Our Balanced Frugal Shopping Ban”

  1. What a great list. I especially like that you’ve given yourself “caveats” for things you still want to to spend on. Mindful spending is where it is at!

    I’ve been considering doing one of these buy-nothing or decluttering challenges. But the problem is… we don’t really buy that much aside from groceries and household consumables. I bought a new (used) phone last year, but that was because my old one had a whopping 5 minute battery life, and my friends were complaining!

    1. Reply

      Haha, yeah, at first I thought a shopping ban wouldn’t work. We really don’t buy that much extra. But we have a bunch of household projects in the works and have been building up our monthly spending from our FIRE baseline. So, this is a great way for us to remember our lifetime goals.

  2. Reply

    It’s just been a month and a half, and I see a lot of changes in my behavior that I didn’t even think of.
    I always liked going into shops. Most of the time, I don’t buy anything. I only like looking, not very crazy about the buying part. However, now knowing that I can’t buy it even if I like it very much, took all the joy out of looking at them. This thing is going to save me more money than I anticipated, I think.
    This is my way of dipping my toes into minimalism. Not buying anything and losing some of my stuff (I left a comment on your last post). If I keep doing it even after lent, we will be in a good place by the time the year ends!

    1. Reply

      That is great to hear! We are nervous/excited for this shopping ban, and that we’ve already planned out a lot of the year by thinking through what we need. (Okay, may I am excited about the whole planning thing, Mr. Kiwi is not so keen on setting a yearly plan.)

  3. oooh, I’m excited to hear about how your shopping ban goes… good luck!

    1. Reply

      Thanks! We’re excited and nervous at the same time! But big changes ahead, so this is a great way to go for us!

  4. This is a cool idea! I think many shopping bans seem too extreme, and I never entertain the idea of doing them.

    We did a version of a shopping ban this month, albeit a flimsy one. We’re guilty of “treat yo’self” shopping, so we instituted a $100 limit for both of us to buy fun stuff. It’s been a nice way to control our treats without feeling deprived.

    1. Reply

      Yes, a full shopping ban wouldn’t fit our life. But I want to think more about what we do bring into our home. I love the budgeting “treat yo’ self” shopping to set a reasonable goal and not be deprived!

  5. Reply

    Glad to have found your blog! I wish I had made a list of caveats when I started my buy nothing challenge. I set my guidelines pretty loosely so I still have some wiggle room, but it would be easier to have caveats set up ahead of time rather than guiltily justify purchases as I go. So far I’ve only bought a few questionable items and have been breezing through otherwise — and we’re already more than 10% through the year.

  6. Hmmm…. totally thought I’d commented on this post already. Maybe not? Either way, I think I really need to read that book.

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