I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, and wanted to write something, but I’ve always been a tad bit worried I might offend some people out there, especially bloggers I consider friends. It wasn’t until I read this article about a woman who was doing a shopping ban, that I finally had to bring up the question: are people really doing a shopping ban, or is it just mindful spending?
Shopping bans seem to be quite the rage lately, and can range anywhere from one month, to a year or longer. I do love reading about them, so when I saw her article I clicked on over. Usually shopping ban stories start with why someone decided to do it. The stories may include someone who had too much clutter, to someone having gone into debt shopping, or someone just wanting to make some positive changes in their life. They also talk about perhaps how a shopping ban will change their life, or how it has already changed.
Then…I read the “exceptions” or “the rules.” This is where I see the gray area and wonder if it’s truly a shopping ban, or what exactly defines a ban.
In the article I read the other day, she says, “my exceptions include personal care items, bras, underwear, books written by friends, and harmonicas. Yes, harmonicas . . . think about it.” Oh, I’m thinking about it!
I’m seriously not here to judge what people buy. A harmonica is probably very important to her or her family, and therefore, it’s included. But how is this a shopping ban?
It’s tricky, right? Because unless we live completely off the grid, we have to buy some things sometimes. I mean, the obvious things are food, but let’s look at random areas of life. Let’s say I’m doing a video shoot, but the batteries in my microphone have died and I need new ones. Is buying batteries on “the list” of exceptions? What if I had forgotten that batteries were something I might need when I made my exceptions list.
Other exceptions I’ve seen on various people’s lists: new pants for work, a wedding gift for my brother, my vacation in September, school supplies for my kid, etc. It’s all over the board really!
Again, absolutely nothing wrong with buying things, but why are we calling it a shopping ban? Is a vacation a need (I’m sure some would argue yes)? It seems to me what people are really doing is mindful spending…and I think that’s great!
I always thought to myself that I was never interested in a shopping ban because I know myself well enough that banning of most anything in my life, is an open invitation to wanting it more! “What you resist, persists.” So, I’ve slowly changed my life into becoming way more mindful of what I spend money on.
I used to pick up a magazine or two when I did laundry at the laundromat. Not anymore. I used to buy random thingamajigs at Target when I only needed to go in there for one specific item. I used to just buy the new thing to replace the old thing when it broke. Now I wait… and see how I can get around not paying for something new, or maybe someone will donate something to me.
For instance, I had an old vacuum cleaner that my ex boyfriend accidentally left with me. Hurray! Well that sucker (pun intended) was old to begin with, and one day smoke started coming out of the bottom like crazy. Some part was broke and making the rubber thingy burn. It was toast. Booooo! I hated the idea of buying a new, or even used one, so my generous friend Dave decided to let me co-parent his vacuum, because he knows I’m way more into a vacuumed floor than he is. (I have custody but he gets to see the vacuum on weekends). 🙂
Other people might not have an opportunity to co-parent a vacuum, so therefore unless they want a floor full of cat or dog hair, would probably need to buy a new or used one. But what if they were on a shopping ban?
To me, mindful spending is really focusing on what is most important to you and your family. To really think hard before making purchases and asking yourself if that particular item will bring a lot of value to your life. Also, can you buy it used? Or wait until someone is giving something away? Just being present with every purchase.
So I’m curious, especially to those doing a shopping ban…are you really doing a ban, or is it really just mindful spending? I really would like to understand the difference! 🙂
PS, I think if you are saving money doing either, you can call it whatever you like. 🙂