Over the last few years, many of us relied on online shopping and curbside pickups to stay safe. There are lots of positives, but some of us (like me) use shopping as a way to cope with stress. And according to a recent IG poll, it seems a lot of you use it as a way to escape or cope, too. It didn’t take an end-of-year look at our finances to realize we spent a lot of money last year. There was our new home, renovations, travel to CA and Italy, and I decided to hire a designer and developer to redo my site. Add in childcare, school, furniture and decor…and it all adds up. So I decided to start the year with a reset for the month of January and want to talk about how and why I decided challenge myself to no shopping this month. 


How and Why I’m Doing A No Shopping Challenge


I hesitate to use the word “challenge” because almost two weeks in, this doesn’t feel hard. It actually feels really good. If you’re interested in taking some time off from shopping and mindfully spending, your goals or reasons might look different than mine. My way isn’t the “right” way. In fact, I’m sure there are some of you who will think I’m doing it “all wrong” but you do you and I’ll do me. This is not THE way to hit pause and take a look at spending, habits, and coping mechanisms. This is what I’m doing. 

I pay my credit card off in full every month, but really wanted to take control of my spending and habits around spending.

So that’s where my no shopping “challenge” comes in. 

Some of the more significant reasons for a month of no shopping. 

I really wanted to pause on shopping while I work through some of the trauma and grief I’ve gone through. To not use it as a coping mechanism, and to be mindful about the purchases I make. It is my hope that I will carry that with me, and develop some more control before placing an order. It all stems back to my childhood. This is the one way I was shown “love” as a child, and that cycle stops here. There are so many ways I show my children love and affection, so I’m not “worried” but I don’t want the stuff to take over, either. 

So today, I’d like to share what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how it’s going just over one week in. I’ll be sure to follow up at the end of the month, too. There are few ways to do a no-buy January and it’s really about your needs, and what works for you. My family isn’t not spending any money. It’s a pause from shopping and purchases that I don’t “have” to make.  I’ll buy something and it will absolutely not make me feel better long-term, but I’ll order it anyway. And it all adds up.

And yes, I realize that there is privilege in being able to buy anything at all, but that is not the point of this post. So for those who like to point that out, yes, I recognize the privilege in that.

To be clear, this isn’t about spending nothing.

With two kids, childcare, and other essentials, that isn’t something I am interested in doing. But – I found that I was placing too many orders, impulse purchases, and buying little things without really thinking it through. And it was only heightened during the holiday season. So for me, this is a chance to spend less. But it is also a lesson in mindfulness, and I hope I will take it with me. This is forcing me to look at what is essential and to spend less than I would normally. 

My Ground Rules

No Amazon outside of one work purchase. I have a sponsored reel with a brand that has to get done this month. This was planned months and months ago, and I couldn’t have done it without ordering a few things. 

No clothes. Period. 

No purchases that were not thought out. There will be no more I want X, click, and purchase. Think about each purchase and whether or not it’s an essential. Give it a few days if you’re not sure. 

Some self-care is ok (for me). I don’t actually enjoy manicures, but I feel better when my nails don’t look terrible. And with what I do, I often need my nails to look nice. Doing my own nails is something I am exceptionally horrible at, so this one is ok for me.

Daily essentials are ok. I’m talking about groceries, gas, vitamins, shampoo, and even the makeup I use every single day. I feel better when my skin tone is even but will not be trying any beauty products. Necessary toiletries and products to keep your home clean are fine. 

Nothing for the kids that isn’t an essential. No toys. No clothes unless they are needed. For example, if your child grows out of new snow boots and you live somewhere where it snows, snow boots seem like a fair purchase. 

I am ok with occasionally dining out. This is not something we do often enough that it feels concerning to me. If we were ordering food multiple times a week I’d feel differently, but we’re not. We take the girls to breakfast on the some weekends and have one dinner with friends later this month. If dining out is something you don’t feel great about and you’d like to curb your spending, I would recommend adding this to your list or setting some ground rules. 

How and Why I’m Doing No Buy January


Buying things we “need” 

I wanted to really challenge myself so I went to Target. Ok, not really. But I had to do 2 returns and ran out of nail polish remover and disinfecting wipes. Had I not been practicing this “no buy” or “no shopping” January, I would have definitely walked out with a new ($10) mini Valentine’s waffle maker and a few other things. But I didn’t, and that felt really good. It was a lesson in being more mindful, and that is what I hope to carry with me.

So we left with nail polish remover which I had run out of, seventh generation wipes, and two Valentine’s activities that I can do with the girls on a day that we don’t have our nanny. They were under $10, and we only have part-time help right now, and I had planned on getting them. Some might call that a justification. I call it a budget-friendly seasonal activity for my kids. And painting a $5 wooden Valentine unicorn set is a lot less expensive than an outing to Color Me Mind. There’s so much more I could have purchased because…Target. But I didn’t. It felt like a win. 

These Target purchases, groceries, and a hair straightening have been my only purchases this month. They were all thought out in advance and were a necessity (like being able to see out of my rear window). Not having frizzy hair is as essential (for me) as showering. There is no way around that one. IYKYK. 

No “shopping”

I am on a complete spending freeze when it comes to shopping. And it’s really the act of online shopping that I am trying to avoid in its entirety. So no, nothing is being added to my cart for later. If I happen to see something now and remember to buy it in a month, ok. But I have enough to get by (remember that since I am pregnant, the majority of my clothes do not fit right now). Just the other day I was thinking about how nice it would be to have one more pair of maternity leggings. Had that thought crossed my mind a month ago, I would have ordered them. But it happened last week so I held back. And I’m ok without them. 

Only “essentials” for the kids

Our girls will not be getting any toys until both of their birthdays this summer. They need nothing. Margot will need some spring and summer clothes since we don’t have anything in a 5T but Kate should be ok since we saved a lot from Margot. I’m keeping things really simple for the baby and have enough outfits to start. If and when we truly need something I’ll buy it, but I am sticking with the less is more and use what I can from my first babies policy. 

House Purchases

The sofas we ordered months ago should arrive later this month. I am having curtains made, but that doesn’t feel like a “fix” if that makes sense. This was a planned project that I’ve been working on for months. I’m not sure if that makes sense to you but it does to me. I’m not “shopping” and we’re not starting any new house projects this month. These are ongoing projects that we are trying to finish. And planned purchases feel ok. I’m going to get the baby’s room done soonish. 

What I hope to get out of this

I can be a little impulsive, and was in a heightened anxious state for years given what we went through. Some of the purchases were for PT for my daughter to help pass the time when we couldn’t leave the house. Some were to organize the house or to control what I could. So I’m ok with buying new bins, but want to make sure I’m not buying them to fix something that’s broken.

This is an issue that I talked about at-length with my therapist. It was something I did to cope, and it did not get us into any financial trouble. it’s just that all those little purchases add up, and I already know that there’s so much we do not need. It is my hope that I’ll continue some version of this next month, and that in the months to come, I’ll be a lot more mindful with my spending and purchases.