No-shopping January

When I read an article in the New York Times in December about a woman who didn’t shop for a year, I sent it to Chase, finding it interesting but not thinking too much about it. At the time, I was too busy Christmas shopping and holiday party prepping. I was busy spending money.

But something hit me after the new year. I’m not sure why or how or when, but I’ve become an absentminded shopper. I should preface this by saying, I don’t wander through stores and spend thousands of dollars on high-end items. In fact, I very rarely go to the mall, and if I do, it’s for a very specific item. I don’t even like shopping.

It’s a crime of opportunity, really. I’m at Nordstrom Rack to get Avery new shoes. I see cute pajamas, and they’re on the clearance rack. Then I’m at Target for toothpaste and see cute home decor. The price points of these items won’t put us in the poorhouse or get us into credit card debt. Most of my mindless purchases are about $20. But if you buy 20 things for $20 in a month, it’s $400 gone. Really quickly.

What can $400 buy me? A plane ticket. A nice hotel room. Tickets to a concert. Experiences. And this is how Chase and I want to spend our money. But instead I was wasting it on tank tops or dish towels.

I could make all the excuses in the world. “I work hard. I deserve it.” But at the end of the day, I didn’t need those things. What I needed was to be more thoughtful about my spending. So on Jan. 1, I started “no-shopping January.” Of course I bought groceries and toothpaste, but I didn’t wander beyond the aisles of the items we truly needed. I stayed away from Nordstrom Rack. I ran into Nordstrom to get a birthday gift and went straight to the jewelry counter and right back out to my car. As Facebook and Instagram taunted me with their adorable outfits and post-Christmas sales, I kept scrolling.

At first, it was hard. I wondered, why am I doing this? We do not have unlimited funds, but my Rodan + Fields income has given us more wiggle room in our budget, so why shouldn’t I buy things when I like them? But that was it. I didn’t necessarily love these things, and I definitely didn’t need them. I bought them because they were in my sightline in a store or just a quick click away online.

Research shows that it takes 21 days to break (or form) a habit. After 31 days, I have to say, I’m much more mindful about my shopping. Chase and the kids were gone this weekend, and I had to return things at Costco and Ulta. I didn’t wander around like I used to, seeing if there was something I wanted. A friend was going to Home Goods, and I almost asked if I could tag along but remembered I didn’t need anything.

So am I going to be like the New York Times writer and not shop all year? No way. In fact, I already bought myself something for Valentine’s Day. But it was something I thought about for more than a hot second, something I really love. For 2018 (and hopefully coming years too), I’m being more thoughtful about my spending.

I can’t wait to see where the extra plane tickets I buy (with the money I save) will take us this year!

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