The No Shopping Challenge

A few weeks ago, I told my husband that I didn’t want him to get me anything for Christmas. He said no.

I told him I’d return whatever he got me. He called me bah humbug.

Then I said that in January, we’d be taking on a no shopping challenge. He rolled his eyes.

In the end, I got some lipstick ($18, I kept it) and a pair of Beats wireless headphones that he had won at a work event (I love them).

And he agreed to the no shopping challenge.

Spend less, own less

Earlier this week, I wrote about my quest to add more discipline into my life. This month is about being disciplined about the things that I buy, and in a sense, the things that I own.

This challenge stemmed from a growing fascination I have with the idea of minimalism. I yearn for less, and this urge to reduce has grown stronger these past few months. Here’s the problem: I purge constantly and fantasize about minimalism, but at the same time I buy a lot and can’t seem to manage the clutter.

I shopped like crazy over the holidays, I spent lots of money, and gave and received lots of stuff. Too much stuff. It didn’t feel right.

I wondered, if I scaled the spending back to the bare minimum – what would I miss? How much would I save? Would it inspire me to reduce more?

January 1 seemed like the perfect time to find out.

Challenge rules

The rules are as follows: no buying anything other than groceries or necessities . And by necessities I mean must haves (like medication or diapers), not nice to have. No impulse purchases or mindless buys. No doorbusters. No Amazon deals of the day, no Amazon at all. No presents, movies or restaurants.

The fine print: This isn’t a zero spending challenge. We have fixed costs (phone, Internet, utilities, school/nanny etc.) that won’t change, and I’m keeping two of the kids’ activities that charge monthly. I’ve suspended all other monthly subscriptions.

Getting the family on board

The kids want to eat lunch at Subway. My husband wants to take them swimming at the local indoor pool because it’s been raining nonstop. And they all want to rent a movie.

I do feel like Scrooge for my never-ending string of nos. But we at least have to try to be creative. There are many dozens of things we can do as a family that do not involve spending money.

That said, as a compromise, I am agreeing to spending on family activities (not things) on the condition that they either sell something that we no longer use, or put a garbage bag or box to donate or toss.

I’ll let you know at the end of the month how we net out. In the mean time, I’d love to know – what do you think of the rules?