Well, one week down and only 5 more to go! ;) Quite honestly, it’s easier than I thought – although the other day I was in Target picking up some essentials for a women’s event I was hosting at my loft for my photography business – on the phone, and mindlessly caught myself sifting through the women’s clothing section. The moment I hung up and placed my cell in my bag, I was like “Gah! get out of here!” The look of terror on my face probably had other consumers fairly confused, but the moral of the story? Don’t go into Target on your cell phone. Ever.
Just to back up a little – if you tuned into the blog last week, you probably saw the reveal of the Six Week No Shop Challenge that I started (which I’m so pumped about and am going to dive into more of my experience as it goes on), but I didn’t anticipate that many of you would want in (so awesome!) My Instagram messages had many of you amped to try it out for yourselves, and I was being tagged in images of your receipts showcasing that you only bought essential items during your shopping trips. So. Freakin’. Cool. It got me thinking that I didn’t really give much in way of guidelines, both for any of you who want to follow along, but also for myself. I’m such a visual person, so a list goes a long way for me to help keep me organized and accountable. Below you can find a graphic should you ant to Pin or print it out for safe keeping and constant check ins, and I’ve also created a TCC Six Week No Shop Challenge Worksheet that I’m using to fill in my purchases, what they cost, and when I bought it so that at the end of the six weeks, I can see where most of my money is going, and how much I saved (as opposed to the six weeks prior) I thought it would be interesting to compare, and throw that access money that I saved into my retirement fund. So, if you care to get even more nerdy with me ;) go ahead and give it a download! It’s yours to use for free.
Now, onto the CAN and CAN’T buy list. I know, reading this may sting a little and for some – you may have thought I was only doing clothing because that’s kind of how it sounded in the original post. BUT, I realized something. Shopping is shopping, and it triggers something in us all that allows us to give ourselves excuses. Target for instance (they’re literally the devil but also I love you) – you walk in for some shampoo and end up leaving with 10 candles and a throw blanket that you’ll maybe, maybe, use one time before your dog claims it for his own. It’s a vicious rabbit hole, so boundaries outside of clothing need to be set.
You’ll see some of the items have a * next to them – this means there are some exceptions, so allow me to go through each item and fill you in on where my head is at with it.
what you can buy
Groceries | This is obvious as we all need food to survive, BUT, there are some tips and tricks for not spending more than your weekly, bi-weekly (however you shop) amount. For me, I try to spend $100 a week on food (sometimes less if I know I’m traveling) I can get in the habit of shopping hungry, and end up coming home with SO much stuff that I know I won’t get through, and hello! I live alone! Like, who do I think I’m feeding anyway? A 300 pound man?
Tips | Never shop hungry and list out the things that you *always* eat each week (for me this would include coffee, La Croix, so many sweet potatoes, avocados, kale, spinach, frozen fruit, almond milk, chicken, eggs, Brussel sprouts, ground turkey and chips + salsa) These are the things I know I eat/drink every single week so I know they’ll be consumed and I’m not wasting any money on them. If I want to get frisky and try something new – say, homemade pizza? I plan ahead for that so I only buy the necessary ingredients and don’t go haywire in the store.
Basic Cosmetics | This one is a little tough for me since I love, love, love trying new beauty products – so I’ve actually gone ahead and unsubscribed to any and all beauty blogs that I was following to lessen the temptation. It sort of sucks, I won’t lie. But it’s worth it in the long run ;) This has a little star* next to it because if you run out of powder or concealer or what have you, you’ve got to replace it. Sure, you could take it one step further and decide that you’re not going to wear makeup for six weeks, buuuut I’m not about that ;) I’m almost out of my favorite blemish concealer and under-eye concealer, so soon enough I’m going to have to hop on to Sephora and get some re-fills. So, you get the idea. Get what you need here.
Tips | Lets practice not buying anything until it’s 100% gone, shall we? I’m the queen of having something half gone and being like “uh oh! I need another!” and guess what? My cabinet in my bathroom ends up overflowing with like six of the same things and my eyes can’t take it because I. Loathe. Clutter. So this is something I’m working on. Use it till the last drop is gone. If you’re buying something online, I get it – you may need to buy it a few days in advance to ensure you’ve got it in your hands. I’ll allow it ;) and I actually just did this yesterday with my favorite face wash. So long as we aren’t hoarding, we’re good.
Toiletries | Same, same. ^^^
Althoughhh – once I get through the tube I have now, I’m going to try to make my own toothpaste! My friend Blair tried this using coconut oil and baking soda and loved it. You use such a small amount of the two so the $5 jar of toothpaste and what… $2 box of baking soda? will last you a long time and allow you to make a lot. Whereas a tube of toothpaste is not only toxic (most of them anyway), but can cost around $6 each and last you maybe a month and a half. Silly.
Health + Wellness | Whether it’s your gym membership or getting massages each week, I completely and 100% value this sort of spending. Just be smart about it and look for the best deals. A couple of examples that pertain to my life: I belong to Pilates ProWorks and usually do a month to month unlimited package. However, for the month of August, I know I’m traveling a lot and won’t be in Chicago majority of the month. Therefore, I’m opting to do a 10 class pass rather than paying for the unlimited membership. Or massages – this is not only my favorite way to treat myself, but pretty essential to take care of my body with my line of work in photography (back and hands get SO sore) Instead of paying $75-$100+ per massage each week, I get Thai massages which are $25 each for one hour, and they are SO amazing and effective (and yes, relaxing!) I go to this place in the West Loop.
*Sidenote: I don’t do the ones where they walk all over your body, haha
Cleaning Products | So this one could also maybe fall in line with groceries, but I wanted to give it it’s own space here because I’m going to start buying less and less cleaning products and make more of my own. I sound like a hippy DIY’er now, don’t I? I’m not, but here’s the thing — cleaning products freak me out anyway. Aside from Seventh Generation and Mrs Meyer (which are stupid expensive), the rest are jam-packed with harmful chemicals that I’m using all up in my bathroom and kitchen counters — two of the places I touch the most throughout my day. It really only takes a spray bottle, water, a little vinegar (literally $2 for a liter) and whatever essential oils you have (I have a huge bag of like 20 different kinds for my diffuser) Less money spent on harmful products.
Required Clothing Items | This basically boils down to undergarments (which need replacing here and there) and anything that gets ruined or lost – like your favorite white tee that you wear once a week, or socks that your toes are now poking through) It’s pretty straight forward.
Gifts for others | Another tricky one for me since one of the main ways I show love to my friends & family is through buying them gifts. I’ve actually gotten quite good at this over the past year and have lessened it by at least 75%, but I could still drop it down to about 95% and only buy gifts for people when it makes sense to (i.e. birthdays, house warming, weddings, etc) So that’s why this one is on the “Can Buy” list, but the circumstances have changed. Only when there is an occasion to do so. Not just to say, “love you” or “thinking of you” – that’s what a text or phone call is for. Or hey, maybe even some snail mail (imagine that!)
Dinner and Drinks | Yes it’s on the “Can Buy” list, however, more ground rules. Since a lot of my interaction with clients can result in them wanting to meet in person, dinner and drinks or coffee at times needs to happen. I’m limiting this to once a week, whether that’s a meal out with a friend or meeting a client for coffee. This doesn’t mean you can’t see your friends more than once a week – you totally can! Suggest you do a little pot-luck and cook something up before you head over – bring wine that you haven’t gotten into yet. Or if you really don’t want to miss out on meeting up with friends for dinner, eat before you go! Be flexible with yourself here as nourishing relationships are so important, just remember that you don’t have to go balls to the wall with ordering everything on the menu. Have some chill :)
what you can’t buy (quick version)
The above was a hefty read, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
“Fun Cosmetics” | Nail polish, a fun lipstick just because, another blush to add to your collection, something your friend told you that you just had to try, etc. If you’re in the market for something new, simply go to a makeup counter where they sell it, have them try it on you, and if it’s your new “thing” and you absolutely love it – buy it ONLY after what you currently have is gone. That can be your “basic cosmetic purchase”
Clothes | No clothes for the sake of buying clothes. I have ten weddings this summer. TEN! The first one I wore a dress I wore to a bridal shower about a year ago, and my next one coming up? I’m borrowing a dress from a friend. There are ways to get around having to buy a dress or a shirt or what have you for an occasion, and there’s certainly a way around buying clothes just for the sake of having more crap hanging in your closet :) Let’s stop the vicious cycle of more stuff in our closets, and concentrate instead on having more money in our wallets.
Shoes | Same, same ^^^^
Accessories | A tough one for me since I love statement earrings (I have a pretty basic wardrobe so this helps jazz it up) BUT, I already have so many fun pairs and pieces of jewelry that I have yet to get through. I’m going to be just fine ;) Again, if you need something for an event or what have you, ask some friends to shop around in their jewelry drawer or purse collection. Borrow something! My mom and I do “purse trades” – so instead of my going out and buying a new bag (which I don’t appreciate all that much anyway), I’ll borrow one of hers for a few months.
Books + Magazines | Unless it’s a book you need for school or work, avoid buying things like this unless you’ve gotten through ALL of your unread books. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading because it’s crucial to our minds (duh), but SO many of us are guilty for hoarding books and magazines that have been collecting dust for years. So, lets get to it. First, read what you have.
Home Decor Items | Candles (ouch – this one hurts for me), furniture, throw pillows, blankets, etc. Don’t do it. You don’t need it. Your home is perfect just the way it is. Unless your dog ate all of your throw pillows and shredded your comforter, you’re good. Or if you have a 20 year old mattress (yuck, please replace it) and maybe your roof leaked and ruined your couch – avoid filling your home with more, and focus on loving what you already have.
Electronics + Other Gadgets | I’m a photographer, so sometimes I need to replace my gear so I’m giving myself a little bit of wiggle room here.. but not much, because it’s rare when this happens. I’m mainly referring to anything that’s for pleasure (like a new phone, bigger TV, etc) Much like home decor items, learn to love what you already have, and don’t buy into the latest trends or what “everyone else is using.” You’ve made it this far without it, right?
So there it is! The breakdown of the CAN and CAN’T buy list. It was a doozy of a post, and I hope you made it through without falling asleep. More than that, I hope it helps clarify this journey a bit more, and that you’re all feeling excited and inspired to live with less, but be open to more. (my favorite quote)
I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to embrace my financial freedom, to only spend money on things I truly, truly value (travel, health and wellness, healthy food, and time with friends), to have less clutter in my home and life, and more money in my wallet. Lets do this :)