Six months of low buy – what I learned so far

cup with flowers

Shopping seems so ingrained in our psyche that it seems totally normal to ask myself what six months of shopping ban and low buy have taught me. Which in itself is ridiculous since shopping as some sort of hobby is anything but ‘normal’, let alone ingrained in the human psyche. Competition – yes. The urge to outdo others, advance, be the leader of the pack – yes. Shopping – no. Even if it symbolizes all the beforementioned. But nevertheless, I may philosophize all I want, shopping is a huge part of our society and it can become a problem for some of us. Like me. 

So, let’s take a look at how I got off retail therapy and how I  coped with the sudden transition from buying new things regularly to a more or less total shopping ban.

Shopping ban for beginners

I wrote about some distractions and temptations along the way and boy sometimes this whole not acting (read ‘shopping’) on a whim can be irritating. Overall however it’s much less difficult than I expected it to be. One reason might be that I went into this whole low buy and shopping ban challenge well prepared. YouTubers like Hailey Evans chronicling her Low Buy Year 2019  and Christina (Style Apotheca), who shares her tips on Low Buy rules and how to stop spending money, gave me an insight into what I may have to expect, so hooray for social media!

On the other hand, I was more than ready for a change. I felt and still feel relieved that I don’t have to shop anymore, at least not to the extent I did before. (Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous.) Always looking for the perfect shirt/dress/backpack/bag/shoes is not only a waste of time, but it’s also stressful, costly, and it’s a Sisyphean task as there could always be a better thing around the corner – that’s why we have to be on the lookout all the damn time. And buying tons of stuff that turn out to not be perfect … What a surprise. What a waste of time and energy. And money.

Not worth it

Early on I experienced a growing disinterest in shopping in general. Accompanying a friend to any retail store, I’m glad I don’t have to sift through the racks anymore to find something I don’t actually need. I’m happy I don’t have to waste any more energy on deciding what to buy. I’m a perfectionist, so it could take me hours to finally decide what to take since I don’t want to make a mistake. Not shopping anymore not only saves me money, above all it gives me back my precious time …

Since I still buy books, it’s technically not correct to say I don’t shop at all. I still enjoy going to bookstores, even when I know that I’ve already used up my book budget and have to wait until the next month to buy something new. Bookstores are inspirational and enjoyable, so I don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed when buying books.

I also will eventually get back to shopping a bit more, I guess. I’m keeping a wishlist for 2021, though it still is rather empty. This shows yet again how often we buy on impulse, deciding against waiting just a bit or putting it on a list to find out if we really want or need this item. Not looking at the list, I hardly remember anything I put on it. I may get some of the items next year, but I’m still not sure. I feel content with knowing that I have someplace to note the items I want to have. If I’ll eventually get them, I’m not sure 🙂

Sign life is short

Resisting temptations

Though I just said that not shopping is no problem, it’s not always that easy. I’m human, I’m fallible, and I have eyes. Accompanying friends to shops I like can be challenging. I see something, I like it, I want it. But I know I won’t get it. Of course, there’s always my wishlist. And in the end, it’s always the heat of the moment. 30 minutes later I’m not even thinking about the item anymore, knowing that I already have everything I need right now.

That said, repurposing, sewing, and mending stuff also became more important. I’m trying some DIYs (I made my own hankies to use instead of tissues and I’m also planning on making deodorant myself, but let’s see how this goes 😀 ) and have already sewn some new things or altered some items I already got to give them a second chance. This way I don’t get new things easily and fast, but I get them. And as I stated in one of my first posts regarding my low buy challenge, in sewing things myself, I learn to appreciate all the work it takes to make a garment much more. It tests my patience and I’ll probably never be a great sewist BUT I’m happy that I can alter and make clothes myself 🙂

Another six months to go …

The first half of this year is over and I’m heading into my second half of low buy or no shopping. I don’t worry about the upcoming months, but I’m still not sure how to proceed once this year is over. At times, when frustration runs high, I feel the urge to detach myself from this shit, to distract myself with some retail therapy. And this is rather disappointing. But it is also an exception because most of the time I’m happy that I got my time, energy, and money – my freedom – back when I stopped shopping. So I might still feel the urge, but that is probably normal. And the longer I refuse to give in, the better I will get at handling it. When I quit smoking for good, it took more than a year until I didn’t have any more moments when I felt like I absolutely needed a cigarette RIGHT NOW. But in the end, I did it. 

Quitting something can be difficult – but not impossible. It just may take a bit longer than I thought 🙂

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