Shopping Ban During Christmas

It has been two days since I decided to start a shopping ban and I have already slipped. Or have I?

Since opting for a shopping ban, I have unsubscribed from all stores’ emails and apps on my phone. I paid my bills early from two stores just in case their email payment reminders didn’t reach my inbox. I have also managed to separate a full bag of clothes for sale/donation and my part of the closet is now within its limited space (and not overflowing to my boyfriend’s side as it used to). I am proud of my decisions so far and I know there is still a lot I can do. So why is it that I may have slipped?

Well, Christmas is here. This year has been a crazy rollercoaster for all of us. It is 2020 and I believe everyone has unfortunately gone through challenges of their own. My year started with the loss of my mother’s fiancé. That shook our grounds. Although he had his own perks, he loved my mother and me. That was the first time I experienced the loss of someone close to me and it was devastating. He left four beautiful daughters who showed strength and unity in a way that was really inspiring to me, but he also left his own fiancée, my mother. Slowly, things fell into place during the year with my mother moving to her own place and getting used to a new routine (in Covid times, nonetheless). She is doing much better now, but I knew the end of the year holidays would be tough. So I decided to host dinner for us in my house. We have to wear masks and my mother insists on sitting on the bistro table instead of the dining table with my boyfriend and I, but we managed to have a decent Thanksgiving Vegetarian Dinner (more on that later).

I am not a religious person at all. In fact, I consider myself an atheist, but Christmas has a whole special meaning. It is the time for families to get together and celebrate. For me, it is also only the first day of celebration since my grandmother’s birthday is on the 26th and mine is on the 27th. It brings me so many good memories of being with my family, something that hasn’t happened in years since we are all in different parts of the continent now. Most recently, it was also the day I used to go to my mother’s place and spend Christmas with my mother, her fiancé and his daughters. This year, I wanted to start new traditions for the holidays, which brings me to the topic of today’s post.

For Thanksgiving, I made an invitation to send to my mother and worked hard on a vegetarian menu that included two different salads, spinach and artichoke dip, plus a delicious cauliflower casserole. For Christmas, I decided to go with what we always had in my stepfather’s place, pizza. The modification is that it will be homemade and from scratch. Hence, I needed a few kitchen utensils, a pizza cutter and a pizza pan ($20 for both). I did not spend this from my own money, it was rather from an Amazon gift card. So, did I slip so soon? I am going to say no. For one, I could order pizza, right? No, that’s on the shopping ban prohibitions. Two, I love to cook and it is even more special for me to be able to make dinner for a special holiday with my family. Three, isn’t it better to just cook/bake at home? Learn new recipes and be more self-sufficient? This shopping ban is not supposed to be a punishment, but a learning experience (Cait said so herself). The difference from a few-weeks-ago me and the me who made these purchases yesterday is that I put so much thought into it. I questioned the need for these purchases, I looked for the cheapest/most functional options, and I knew these are utensils I’ll be using in the future too.

I don’t regret my purchases, I know they will be useful, but I wanted to be transparent with whoever reads this and with myself.

On a side note, gifts for others are allowed on my shopping ban list, so Christmas gifting is still happening, just on a much smaller scale.

This is the invitation I sent my mother (I used Canva to create it). Happy Holidays!

Shopping Ban for One Year

This is the first post on this blog and the most challenging plan I have for the next year, stop shopping! This is about my planning and what I am allowed or not to buy.

What Inspired Me

I’m reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders and even though this is an idea I’ve had for a while, reading about her journey inspired me to actually put the plan into practice. The way I had originally envisioned it was to hold myself accountable by using my own paper journal. After reading her story though, I decided to give the online community a try. There are also other topics I would like to write about, such as my vegetarian choices and less waste (or zero waste) lifestyle. So here I am.

Reading The Year of Less during a snowstorm

Student Life Changes

I live on a very constrict student budget and I spend way more money than I should. School supplies, textbooks, printer and ink, notebooks, highlighters, and so on. Although a huge chunk of my budget goes to my student life, I would be a hypocrite if I said that is all I spend money on. There is an occasional Vanilla Chai from Starbucks because I’m having such a hard day and a visit to the local bookstore to buy books that I won’t have any time to read. So yeah, there is a lot of unnecessary spending there.

Luckily, I have been working on this project for longer than I imagined it. Last year, I purchased an iPad and an Apple pencil. I also purchased the GoodNotes App and that’s basically all I’ve used last semester. No paper, no pencil, less printing. It takes a bit getting used to, but I find no issue in using digital notebooks now. Also, for textbooks, I decided to rent this semester. From now on, all of my courses will last one semester, not two, so there is no need to spend so much money on purchasing new books.

As to highlighters and pens, well, I can’t really highlight or write on rented books, so no need for those either.

Student supplies? Done.

Clothes, Shoes, Accessories

These are Covid times. I opted for online classes last semester and I will probably continue taking online classes for as long as they are available. So, there is no need for me to actually leave the house, and even if there was, I am sure I have plenty of clothes to dress appropriately for work. There is a chance I may have to work in person for a summer internship, but I will deal with that when the time comes.

The current project is to sell or donate everything I don’t wear or won’t wear for any foreseeable future. I’ve done a cleaning a while back, but I think it’s time to do another one, so this will be a separate post, which I will link here.

I’ve also decided that if there is something I absolutely need, I will thrift. Fashion has a huge negative impact on the environment and there are so many good clothes for sale on sites like eBay and ThredUp.

Cosmetics and Toiletries

This is a category on Cait’s approved list. She only buys what she needs and when it runs out. So here is my take on that one.

I use Pro-Active for my acne treatment and I already have all the makeup I need. This week I will go through everything else I have and don’t use, and either donate or throw it out.

Eventually, I want to cover my hair caramel highlights, so my list will have dark dye at some point. I will do it myself, same as my nails.

Subscriptions

This a tough one! I subscribe to:

  • Spotify (Student Plan, so I get Hulu and ShowTime)
  • HPInstant Ink (changed it to the basic plan since my iPad and Apple Pencil conversion)
  • The New York Times (also StudentPlan, I get the digital version plus Sunday Paper for $20 a month)
  • Netflix and HBO (but I don’t pay for these ones :))
  • Vanity Fair (already cancelled it)
  • Sweat (Fitness App-yearly subscription)
  • Apple Storage (around $3)

I will probably maintain The New York Times as it is. I get a good deal and my boyfriend also gets access through this plan.

The Sweat app is my way of exercising and will be good for a year. I will study other options when that subscription ends.

And I already made changes to the other subscriptions. So yeah, these are my guilty pleasures that I will keep for now.

Books

No more! I promised myself not to buy more books or magazines. I will donate/sell the ones I still have and won’t read. And if there are any books I would like to read, I will borrow in the library.

Pets

Pet food and treats are included on groceries. I won’t (for the foreseeable future) buy any new pet toys. My cats have so many little toy mice to play that when one is completely destroyed I can just replace with the ones I already have. My dog has quite a few toys laying around the house too, so she’s also good for a while. If we somehow manage to lose all of the pet toys in this house, then I’ll get new ones. My pets’ entertainment and well-being comes before any shopping bans. The point of this project is only to cut unnecessary shopping.

The Final List

That leaves me with the following list (largely based on Cait’s list):