The Year I Embraced Minimalism and Completed a Yearlong Shopping Ban

July 6, 2015

shopping-ban-journey

Well, friends, this is it – the final day of my yearlong shopping ban. I’ll be honest and say I feel like I’ve had a touch of writer’s block for the past month, because I’ve been waiting to write this post. Once I hit the 11-month mark, I knew it was going to be smooth sailing to the finish line, and I’ve been so anxious to share everything I’ve done and learned over the past year, as well as some of my plans for the future. Now that the last day is finally here, I think it’s safe to post this… (You may want to grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. At over 6,000 words, this is the longest post I’ve ever published.)

*Note: I’m going to sprinkle in some of my favourite/most relevant quotes from those of you who responded to my survey a couple weeks ago. I hope they inspire you, the way they’ve inspired me.

minimalism-challenge

Flickr: 55Laney69

July 7, 2014

It all started on my 29th birthday. In the weeks leading up to it, I had been stressing about turning 29, because it meant I would be that much closer to 30. For some reason, I was dreading my 30s, because that’s when I thought I would finally need to “settle down” (i.e. I can’t seem to figure out where I want to live long-term or map out any kind of 5-year plan). It’s the last year of my 20s – I should do something fun/impulsive/[insert more synonyms for spontaneous], right? Maybe I should finally go to Europe; live/work from France for a month; or do the same from Hawaii for three. Omg, I’ll probably settle down, get married, buy a place and have kids in my 30s. Ahhh! Must take advantage of freedom and do all the things NOW!

Instead, I decided to embrace minimalism, put myself on a yearlong shopping ban, try to live on 50% of my income and potentially have the most frugal year of my life.

How did I switch my mindset so quickly and come to those decisions? I wish I had a good answer. I wish I could say there was a catalyst moment in my life that forced me to see that minimalism and a shopping ban were the answers to my problems. Instead, it was a lot of little things that I’d been thinking about for months. First, I was mad at myself for never being able to save more than 10-20% of my income, even though I “wanted” to. (Remember that I used to allocate up to 55% of my income for debt repayment.) Second, I finally acknowledged that I’d let lifestyle inflation creep in after becoming debt-free, and realized nothing I’d been spending money on was bringing me joy. And finally, after searching for and not being able to find the most basic item in my kitchen (a can opener), it became clear that my home was full of stuff I never used but was still buying/holding onto for one reason or another.

I was consuming for the sake of consuming; it was mindless spending and it had to stop.

“Your blog inspired me to challenge myself to spend less, and to stop thinking that I could spend up to (or over) my allotted amounts in each line of my budget. You really got me thinking about how much more I could be saving if I tried to buy less crap and spend less on stuff I don’t need. Thanks! Keep it up, Cait!” – Steph, Canada

All the confusion and guilt that came with the first two points (the financial stuff) lingered for a while, until it eventually surfaced and resulted in this decision – which was actually pretty impulsive. I had no idea if I could do it. Even as I was typing up the rules for the shopping ban, I kept thinking: this is crazy! What am I doing!? I can’t do this! But the fear was outweighed by my gut instinct, which told me I had no choice but to accept this challenge and change my spending habits. I didn’t want to keep wasting money on clutter that would fill my home, especially at the expense of my other life and financial goals.

I wanted to become a more conscious consumer, so I could enjoy what I had, only buy what I absolutely needed and let go of the rest. Saving money would be a bonus.

shopping-cart-shoping-ban

Flickr: Brian Talbot

The Rules

The rules for the shopping ban were fairly simple. I was allowed to shop for necessities, such as groceries, toiletries, basic cosmetics (like eyeliner and mascara, but only after I ran out), cleaning supplies, gift for others and a few items I identified before I started. On the approved shopping list, as I called it, was a new bed (to finally replace my 13-year-old bed) and a few items of clothing, which I could see would need to be purchased or replaced while I was decluttering. I was NOT allowed to shop for things like clothes, shoes, accessories, nail polish, books/magazines, notebooks, candles, household items, home decor or electronics.

I also added takeout coffee to the list of things I was not allowed to purchase. I’ve been drinking coffee for 15 years and, by the time I started the ban, I was buying $5 lattes at least 4-5 days/week ($80-100/month). That’s not a lot of money, in the grand scheme of things, but it was still money I could’ve done better things with than drink and piss away (literally). At Catherine’s suggestion, I started a “Shopping Ban” account, so I could save all the money I wasn’t spending on coffee as well as the money I got from any items I sold during my declutter. I started by putting $100/month into the account and assumed I’d have $1,200-$1,500 at the end.

“I started with a one month ban of takeout, my biggest trigger. Now I’ll be continuing on for an entire year! I know I’ll have to give myself a couple takeout treats here and there, but overall, your shopping ban definitely proved to me that it’s possible to be strict!” – Stephanie, USA

cait-clothes-bedroom

Month 1

In July, I started my new minimalist lifestyle off by doing a massive declutter and purge of my belongings. Room-by-room, I opened up every closet, cupboard, drawer and box in my home, emptied them and only put back items that were used often or truly cherished – and I was pretty ruthless. I got rid of 55% of my wardrobe, 35% of my books and 47% of my office supplies, 58% of my home decor/household objects, 41% of my toiletries/linens and 25% of my kitchen supplies, for a grand total of 43% of my belongings. I kept a detailed inventory of everything I kept, then tracked the number of items I got rid of and decided I wanted to aim for 250. By July 28th, I had bagged up and donated 377 of the 904 items that were originally in my home… and I felt so much lighter!

Of course, in contrast to that, there is no denying that the first month of my shopping ban was the toughest. It wasn’t that I missed shopping, per se. I did constantly have to face my book buying addiction and tell the inner voice that told me I should buy whatever I wanted to shush up. (And I almost broke it in week 3 to buy David’s newest book then, but he sent me a copy before I could.) But other than that, I didn’t miss shopping at all. Actually, while it might’ve seemed counterintuitive to get rid of so much stuff at the same time I wasn’t allowed to buy more, the greatest lesson I took from my declutter/purge is that I had wasted so much money on “stuff” before and I didn’t want to do that again. So, no… my greatest challenge in the first month was giving up takeout coffee.

The first week or so was easy, as I tried to build a new morning routine around making coffee in my French press. Then, I started to get hit by some of my triggers and bad habits. I quickly learned that I usually allowed myself to get a triple espresso on mornings when I’d had a bad sleep the night before. I discovered I had a habit of buying a latte before running errands; that alone made me question how difficult this challenge would be – not because I didn’t think I could do it, but because the act of “getting” coffee for certain reasons was so ingrained in my daily life. I was also constantly tempted by the offers from friends, who were so generous, but I couldn’t accept because the point of the challenge wasn’t just to let people spend money on me. Oh, and not being allowed to order a coffee at brunch felt really strange… but I pushed through it.

“What most surprised me is how even a shorter shopping ban (one month) still provided me with such surprising and helpful insights about my spending triggers and mental habits. When you do a shopping ban, you quickly realize it’s about way more than money. True awareness is a powerful thing!” – Devan, USA

One cool thing that happened in the first month was The Minimalists came to Vancouver and held a reading/Q&A session for their readers at the library – for free. It felt serendipitous so I dragged my friend Kasey to it. :)

new-bed-sleep-country

Months 2 and 3

Months 2 and 3 were a bit easier than the first. On the minimalism side of things, I continued to go through my home and got rid of another 42 items, which brought my total number of items removed up to 46%. I then shifted my focus and pushed past the physical objects so I could declutter my life and mind. With that challenge, I mostly cleaned up my digital life, by clearing out all the apps on my iPhone I didn’t use, unfollowing all businesses/stores on social media, wiping out the hundreds of bookmarks I had saved in Chrome, cleaning up my desktop and creating a better folder system in my inbox. I also began to understand the connection between minimalism and relationships; not that we should cut out everyone who doesn’t bring us joy, but that the minute we do cut out toxic relationships it opens us up to be better friends/partners to the other people in our lives.

As for the shopping ban, books continued to be a struggle for me – especially cheap eBooks (you know, those ones people sell for $0.99-$2.99). Every time I thought about giving in and buying one, I would remind myself that I still had stacks upon stacks of unread books on my shelves that I couldn’t find time to get through, so there was no point spending money on more. The real struggle for me during this period, though, was a breakup I went through at the end of September; that’s when I realized I used to buy things to fill a void. I felt so empty for a time there, and wanted nothing more than to buy the new iPhone I was dreaming of, along with anything else that crossed my path and looked good. In the past, I would’ve swiped for it all no problem… but the shopping ban loomed over me, so I carried on.

Throughout those first 3 months, I’d been putting a little bit of money into my Shopping Ban account, along with all the money I’d made selling items throughout my declutter. At the end of September, I had $760 saved up (more than half of what I’d thought I would have at the end!) and got the most incredible offer from Sleep Country Canada, so I finally bought a new bed. (Remember: This item was on the approved shopping list.) I’ve never really thought about this until now, but that was a purchase I’d been pushing off for a couple years… and only after I finally stopped spending money on useless stuff was I finally able to make it a priority.

kobo-aura-ereader

Months 4 and 5

In October and November, I decluttered and got rid of another 68 items, which brought the total number of items removed from my home up to 54%. Three boxes I had actually avoided until closer to the holidays were my Christmas decorations, which I managed to reduce by 70%! Crossing the 50% mark felt incredible, as that was the second goal I’d set for myself, after I surpassed the 250 items I originally thought I would try to get rid of. To reach that goal, I wasn’t emptying my closets or drawers anymore… I would simply walk around and, if something caught my eye and I knew I hadn’t touched it since July 7th, I put it in a bag to donate. Once the bag was full, I dropped it off and was done with it.

“I’ve been so much happier with my life since cutting my spending. It helped me realize: the short-term high from buying something was just that – short-term! Real happiness came from chucking every pair of high heels I owned in the trash can. Gleefully.” – Erin, USA

Now, as far as the shopping ban goes, two big things happened in months 4 and 5. In October, David came to visit and we hung out a few times. The first time, we went out for lunch, went for a hike and then I took him to my favourite used/rare bookstore downtown. I walked out without buying anything, so that was a win. The second time we hung out, however, we went for dinner and then he asked if I wanted to have coffee after. We walked up Commercial Drive until we found a place, walked in, ordered, paid and I drank a latte. It wasn’t until he asked me how the shopping ban was going that I realized I had just broken the takeout coffee ban… and you should’ve seen the look on my face: pure shock. After months of declining coffee date requests with friends, and apologizing for saying “no” to everyone’s offers to buy me coffee, I had said “yes” to David and paid for/drank a latte without realizing I wasn’t supposed to. Since I’m a firm believer that much of our spending is based on habits, I chalk this up to the fact that I hadn’t hung out with David before and, therefore, going for coffee with him wasn’t a habit I was used to – or one my brain knew to say “no” to. Anyway, I broke the takeout coffee once…

I almost broke my shopping ban in a big way in November, and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of this entire year. Up until that point, all the triggers I’d felt pull me towards making the decision to spend money were simply around shopping habits I had built up over several years. I had a habit of buying eBooks the minute I decided I wanted them, and I had a habit of buying things to make myself feel better when I was sad/lonely. In November, I discovered a third habit of mine: talking myself into buying things I didn’t need. I learned this on Black Friday when Kobo e-readers went on sale and my thoughts quickly went into a tailspin. I convinced myself a new one would replace my current one that is slightly broken, which would remove a huge daily annoyance from my life. “I have the money, so I’m going to buy it!” And with that, I added one to a shopping cart, entered all my billing and shipping information and submitted the order.

Of course, it took mere seconds for me to realize what I had done, before I talked myself out of it and cancelled the order. But the lesson I took from that wasn’t just that I had a bad habit of talking myself into buying things I didn’t need; I had a bad habit of talking myself into doing things I shouldn’t do – and it’s one of the toughest bad habits to kick. (Oh, and the kicker? I barely touched my e-reader for the month that followed, so it wouldn’t have removed a “daily annoyance” after all!)

Note: I did buy a new set of tires for my car in October, which is a big expense, but is a necessity – and not something I would ever consider as a “break” of the ban.

minimalist-christmas

Flickr: Emma Pointon

Months 6 and 7

In months 6 and 7, I decluttered and got rid of another 86 items, which brought the total number of items removed from my home up to 60%. One of the first things I got rid of was my collection of MoneySense magazines, which I’d been subscribed to for a couple years but barely ever finished a copy from cover-to-cover. When I started this yearlong challenge, I had told myself I would read them all and then recycle them, but 6 months later I hadn’t touched a single one, so I just got rid of them (except for the one I was featured in!). I went through the same process for some clothing items and books: if I hadn’t touched them since July 7th, I wasn’t going to now, so off they went.

In December, the entire Flanders family decided to embrace minimalism and celebrated our first minimalist Christmas together. We each got a stocking that could be filled with a maximum $100 worth of stuff, and it all had to be useful/serve a purpose. We spent the morning at the beach with the dogs, the afternoon relaxing and didn’t even think to open our stockings until just before dinner time. It was one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had (and just happened to also be the cheapest).

Just before I hit the 7-month mark, I began to notice my entire mindset around money and “stuff” shift even further. Beyond just challenging myself to buy and spend less, I wanted to challenge myself to become more resourceful and make/create/fix more of the things I wanted/needed. You could say I was looking at this whole “minimalism” thing from a new “simple/sustainable living” angle. I’d grown up in a house where we grew lots of our own fruits and vegetables, and I had a mom who could sew and a dad who could do/fix anything – yet I had adopted none of those skills. So, I decided to up the ante on my shopping ban and change the rules slightly, making it so I would need to make some of my own cleaning products (including shampoo and conditioner). I was also allowed to buy any gardening supplies I needed, so I could plant my first little patio garden, as well as whatever supplies I needed to make candles (something I had run out of and was missing dearly).

minimalist-desk

Months 8 and 9

During months 8 and 9, I feel like I did the deepest soul-searching of this entire journey. One of the toughest posts I had to write was about how I let go of 60% of my belongings and learned to accept 100% of myself, because I finally realized – months and months after getting rid of so much of my stuff – that I’d purchased most of it to exhibit some level of success I wanted people to believe I had reached. I had bought books simply because I wanted them to be on my bookshelf when people came over, so they thought I was well read. I purchased outfits for the same reason, but didn’t feel good in any of them so they remained hung up and unworn in my closet. And my home was full of brand new, matching furniture, because that felt like success to me, which is how I wanted to be perceived. But it all went on credit. (Not since becoming debt-free in 2013, but leading up to that.)

Over time, and with age I suppose, I have become more comfortable with who I am. So, when it came time to declutter in the summer of 2014, it was easier for me to look at things and say: “You don’t want to read/wear/do that. It’s ok that you bought it and won’t use it. Let it go.” Shortly after I published that post, I got rid of 43 more things, which brought the total number of items removed up to 65%.

As I became even more willing to let things go, I found myself consumed with gratitude for everything that I chose to keep, because all of it made my life better in some way. I began to discover some truths about minimalism, including the fact that it reveals what matters most. Coupled with the shopping ban, minimalism had shown me that I didn’t need to consume and spend money, in order to feel better about myself or my life. It had also helped me become more resourceful, which was proven when I asked the women in my family for a sewing lesson. I then patched holes in 3 pairs of pants, 2 of which I would’ve thrown out but now wear every week. (The third was a pair of jeans that ripped in the inner thigh, and which I eventually had to throw out and replace because it was literally my only pair of jeans.)

I am grateful I got to share the lessons I’d learned in this part of my journey on Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming Minimalist, in a post titled: What We Appreciate Appreciates.

“It was inspiring reading about your experiences and made me evaluate my own life and to take a step back to realize that I don’t need STUFF to make me happy.” – Kim, UK

Flickr: tubb

Months 10 and 11

Once I pushed past the 9-month mark, it almost felt like I could see the finish line… I was certainly done decluttering, by that point. Everywhere I looked, I used or planned to use what was in my home, so I didn’t remove a single item in April or May. It seemed as though getting rid of 65% of my belongings was the sweet spot. The takeout coffee ban also had a huge win, as it was during this time that I finally started to feel like spending $5 on a latte was a huge waste of money. I just stopped valuing the drink and the experience that came with it. It might’ve had something to do with the fact that my friend Marci taught me how to roast coffee beans at home (another useful skill to add to my list of new ones) but I honestly never thought I’d see that day come. I’m sure my future budgets are happy it did, though.

While my new minimalist lifestyle without take coffee was going well, the shopping ban faced one more challenge. In April, the iPhone 4S I’d been wanting to replace since before the shopping ban started, and had planned to replace as soon as it ended, died. It just shut itself off one last time and never turned on again. I was a little sad to “break” the ban for this, but the delay had an interesting effect: I didn’t notice anything different about the iPhone 6 compared to the 4S, other than the size. After months of using an old phone and doing fine “without” a new one, I grew to appreciate it for what it was: a tool that lets me communicate with family and friends. But I don’t need any bells and whistles. I like iPhones but I certainly don’t use them to their full advantage. I couldn’t even tell you what any of the new features are on the 6 compared to the 4S (other than the better camera – I do like that). Anyway, the bonus is that I think my cell phone company felt bad my phone had died, because they offered me $105 worth of loyalty credits. Tacked onto the $90 I’d built up in their rewards program, my new phone cost less than $200 incl. tax – and I had way more than that in the Shopping Ban account to cover the cost.

end-of-trip-toms

The Final Month

At the beginning of June, I decided to do one “final” declutter (I say that loosely because I think it’s good to constantly declutter) and removed another 54 items from my home, which brought my grand total up to 70%. One of the things I had to get rid of was the only pair of TOMS I owned (which had just been given to me at Christmas – wah!) that… well… died on mine and Sarah’s 10-day trip to the east coast. I’m not even sure what happened to them. Each day, they started to fall apart a little more, but then I came home, pulled them out of my suitcase and they looked like this. My automatic reaction was to rush out and replace them. Before I broke the ban for a new pair, however, I remembered it was sandal season and decided to try to live in flip flops for the final few weeks. So far, I haven’t missed having shoes once… and I don’t think I’ll replace them until closer to the fall.

The minute I started telling people I only had one month left in the shopping ban, the #1 question they started asking me was: What are you going to buy when it’s over? Never mind the fact that I still had 30 more days to get through, everyone just wanted to know how I was going to celebrate. Here’s the truth: as of this moment, the answer is nothing. Today is the last day of the ban and I plan on buying nothing tomorrow. My shopping ban wasn’t tempted once this month (other than when I begged Sarah to let me buy a new day planner, lol). I didn’t think about any books or clothes or even takeout coffee – none of it. There is nothing I need right now that could make my life better than it already is; that’s a great feeling to end this yearlong challenge with.

What I Bought During the Shopping Ban

I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but I obviously feel as though this challenge was a huge success. Aside from the 5 items included on my approved shopping list, I only purchased 3 things in the past year:

  1. Bed
  2. Boots
  3. Dress
  4. Workout capris
  5. Hoodie
  6. Car tires (1)
  7. Jeans (2)
  8. iPhone 6 (3)

That means I stopped myself from making every single impulse purchase I considered (aside from the e-reader, which I technically purchased but then cancelled the order right away). I didn’t buy a single book for my e-reader or magazine at the airport… nothing. (I can almost hardly believe it myself.)

The Numbers

Now, this wouldn’t be a personal finance blog if I didn’t share some numbers with you, right? Well, if you think back to the beginning of this post, remember that I had two financial goals I wanted to achieve this year: to live on 50% of my income and to save at least $100/month in my Shopping Ban account. Thanks to the increasing amount of freelance work I took on, I was able to successfully achieve both goals. Some months were tougher than others but, overall, I lived on an average of 51% of my income, saved 31% and spent 18% on travel. Translated into dollar amounts, I spent $28,000 on “life” expenses (that includes all regular living expenses plus medical costs, gifts, donations, my new tires, etc.), I saved $17,000 and I spent just under $10,000 on travel. (That was a doozy, even for me, but you saw how much I travelled this year so it shouldn’t be too surprising.)

“By being more conscious, I was able to pay off my credit card debt, add a few $K’s to my emergency fund, and build up a planned spending account for two events coming up this fall (which I’m halfway towards my savings goal for). I also learned I can live on WAY less than I thought I could.” – Jessica, Canada

As for that Shopping Ban account, I forgot to mention it more throughout the post, because I didn’t do a great job of tracking how much money I put in it each month, but I was saving more and more as time went on. I started by putting $100/month in the account, which was the amount I figured I was saving on takeout coffee. Eventually, I increased that to $150/month, then $200 and $250. I also deposited any referral bonuses I got from my bank, random amounts leftover on payday and any money I made from selling bigger items during my declutter/purge. As of today, the account has a balance of $2,850 – but I technically saved $3,800, because I spent the first $760 on a bed and $190 on a phone. That’s a far cry from the $1,200-$1,500 I thought I might have at the end!

The Press

The topic of this yearlong shopping ban received a surprising amount of press, over the past 12 months. I did early interviews with Mint.com and the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Gail Vaz-Oxlade had me on The Late Shift, and I did a few interviews for podcasts, including the new Mo’ Money PodcastStacking Benjamins, and The Year of Purpose (yet to be released). I was also interviewed by a newspaper in Germany and a magazine in New Zealand. I had several recorded interviews for a CBC Radio documentary that is expected to come out this fall. And I did an interview with Forbes last week, which includes my 10 tips to complete a successful shopping ban.

The Best Feedback: Your Shopping Bans

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, one of the best parts of this entire experience was receiving all the comments/tweets/emails from those of you who were inspired to start shopping bans of your own. Feeling like I had all of you supporting me throughout my ban was one thing, but knowing others were joining me along the way took it to a new level. I had saved a lot of your comments/tweets and conversations, but at the last minute I got the idea to send out a survey to everyone who was inspired to do a shopping ban with me and turn the results into an infographic.

Not surprisingly, the majority of you who responded were female. Surprisingly, though, you were all over the world. I honestly had no idea I had readers in Brazil or Italy! Some notable stats: the length of your shopping bans varied, and 41% said you didn’t do a ban but mine inspired you to stop making impulse purchases (love it!). Clothes and home decor were at the top of your ban lists, but you were most triggered by clothes and takeout food. Weekend plans and boredom/stress were among the “other” triggers you mentioned. And even though most of you felt the ban was difficult, 80% of you successfully completed your bans – and 34% extended it! Take a look:

shopping-ban-infographic

*Note: I know that more than 129 people were inspired, during the past year, I just didn’t come up with this idea early enough to leave the survey open for a longer period of time. More responses came through in the past few days, but I had already analyzed the data and asked a friend to help me with the infographic. Thank you to everyone who responded!

So, Where Does this Leave Me?

I don’t know how to sum up everything I’ve learned in the past year. I have seriously sat at my screen half a dozen times and tried to write this section, but there are too many possible lessons to list – and many of them were already mentioned in the context of the stories above. Rather than try to come up with something brilliant, I’ll just say it how it is:

I feel like the most honest and real version of myself, right now.

Decluttering was just the beginning. When I started on this journey, I was so focused on the physical objects in my space that I had no idea how my life would change once I’d removed most of them. As I said, altogether, I removed 70% of the belongings from my home – and I don’t even remember what most of it was. Since clearing all of that out, though, my home has become a much brighter and more creative space. There’s no more clutter filling my brain with random ideas for projects or things I should do and topics I should write about. And there’s no guilt about the fact that I own tons of things I once bought to impress people but didn’t actually use/love. I no longer keep track of how many items I own (that idea exhausts me, so I won’t do it) and it doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad all the clutter is out and my home is only full of things I use often or truly cherish.

With the shopping ban tacked onto this plan to embrace minimalism, I was either setting myself up for failure or for the most successful year of my life – and I’m happy to say it was the latter. This entire journey forced me to give up all the things we are taught to want in life: the newest and greatest of this, that or the other. I exchanged them for basic necessities and, after a year of not being able to buy anything new, I’ve realized I have all I could ever need. I don’t value material objects anymore. I value people, places and experiences. This new mindset has not only saved me money, it’s expanded my capacity to care for others and to find gratitude in the simplest things. And perhaps the best outcome of all is that I will never again purchase something because I want it to portray a certain level of success or character quality I wish I had. When I can shop again, I will only be buying things that I like.

So, the final year of my twenties wasn’t everything I thought it would be, when I was freaking out before my 29th birthday. I didn’t go to Europe or Hawaii and work remotely for 3 months, or do anything else equally spontaneous. I did travel a lot, but otherwise I was a homebody who lived her most frugal year yet. It is interesting, actually: the fact that I made more in the last year than I ever have and yet I spent less than I ever used to. Oh, but that freedom I was worried about having to leave behind in my 20s, in place of settling down*? As it turns out, I now have more freedom than ever, since I quit my job and decided to work for myself. In all honesty, I don’t know that I could’ve done that this early in life, had I not challenged myself to spend less for a year. Knowing how little I need to live off of and be happy is part of the reason I was comfortable taking the leap. Now that I’ve leapt, the world is mine.

(*Although, if I do “settle down” anytime soon, I have some ideas now for what that would look like… and it would be “tiny”. We can talk about that more later this summer.)

What’s Next?

That’s the million dollar question, right now. As the end of this journey crept up, I honestly started to feel a little sad, as I didn’t get to accomplish everything I wanted to. For starters, I travelled so much this spring that I still haven’t run out of cleaning supplies and needed to make any of my own yet. I did plant a little garden, but I feel like I missed out on that project. I also still have stacks of unread books on my shelves, and I had a bunch more on hold at the library, but decided to remove them all and just focus on reading what I currently own. Overall, the last few months of the shopping ban felt a little too easy…

…so I’ve decided to do it again.

I’m going to change the rules slightly, but it’ll be another yearlong shopping ban – so a two-year shopping ban is what we can start calling it now, I guess! Tomorrow is my 30th birthday, so I’m going to take the day off (not from the ban, just from the blog) and share the rules for my next ban on Wednesday.

You weren’t ready for that announcement, were you? :)

196 Comments

  • Reply Manda | musicalpoem July 6, 2015 at 5:07 am

    WOO! Go Cait! Not surprised you’re extending your shopping ban for another year ;D Because a challenge should be challenging, right? So excited to see what the next year has in store for you, and to hear about what new ways you’re going to challenge yourself!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Yep, it should! I don’t think the act of not buying things will be that much more difficult, but I want to add one task to the challenge that I’ll need to do all year… and it will not be easy! Eye-opening, hopefully for everyone, but not easy, haha.

  • Reply Kristen July 6, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Happy, Happy Birthday!

    I am not surprised at all that you are doing another year! I do hope you put new shoes on the approved list or you will have cold feet in the fall! Teehee!

    When I was reading your post, I was struck by the fact you didn’t feel you accomplished enough in a year. Do you think we just either put too many expectations on ourselves or that we don’t do enough to celebrate what we do accomplish or both? I spend my life (work and personal) analyzing problems to help others with behaviour change. I know I often don’t celebrate the successes enough, I dwell on what I didn’t do.

    I think you made substantial life changes and your life changed. You inspired others to re-evaluate their own lives and make changes. I am on day 6 of the ban and my husband who thinks this is all a bit much actually took a second tea to work today to heat up and save $3. The impact you have had is greater than you could imagine.

    I hope you spend your birthday celebrating what you have accomplished!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you, Kristen! And yes, I will absolutely get a pair of shoes for fall (my sister actually said she might buy some for me from her work – win!). And I do feel accomplished – I really do – it just wasn’t very challenging at the end. In some ways, that’s a good thing; it means I’ve created a lifestyle out of this, which I’ll likely maintain for many years to come. But you grow when you are challenged, so I want to try something more! Thank you for all of the kind words. I sincerely appreciate it. :)

  • Reply Meg July 6, 2015 at 5:32 am

    That’s very exciting news! Well done on this first year of your now two year shopping ban! It’s been very useful and inspiring reading your posts – I’ve slipped recently with my snack-at-work buying. :( Time to start bringing in veggie snacks from home again.

    Can’t wait to see what your next year’s rules and challenges will be.

    And of course, slightly in advance – HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :D What a wonderful start to your 30s!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Meg! And don’t beat yourself up – just go to the store and grab those veggies! I’m bad for falling off the wagon with what I eat, but there’s no point dwelling. Just do better the next day – it’s all we can do! :)

      • Reply Meg July 7, 2015 at 4:55 am

        Indeed! The shop at work is the student union shop – veggies do not feature highly there (especially during the summer, when the student population is low!) but my ‘snack’ spending has been creeping up again, so time to go back to Not Buying Snacks. It is my version of the money spent on takeout coffee trap. Tasty yet ultimately, not ideal.

  • Reply Melissa July 6, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Cait, congratulations! This is a huge accomplishment, and I look forward to more updates as you enter year 2. Your journey has been incredibly inspiring to many people. With your next ban, while making it challenging, I do hope you allow for some items you really, really want, like that planner, and a new pair of comfy shoes.

    I hope you have a happy birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      The planner will absolutely be on the list, Melissa! It’s not sustainable for me to keep my desk covered in sticky notes, haha. Thanks for looking out ;)

      • Reply Clare K. R. Miller July 7, 2015 at 6:33 am

        Do you really need a planner? I saw 8 notebooks on that office supplies list, and I bet you haven’t used all of them yet! Check out the bullet journal method. Maybe this will inspire you to buy even less ;)

        • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:05 am

          Oh, I used those babies up fast! (Take so many notes during meetings, use them as journals, etc.) I’m down to 1 and it’s half-full. But yes, that is a fantastic idea, Clare! Thanks for the link :)

        • Reply Melissa July 7, 2015 at 7:27 am

          Oooooohhhh, thanks for this tip! I have like, 7 notebooks, all around my apartment and office with different To Do lists and deadlines and stuff. I keep appointments and major deadlines in GCal, but for day to day tasks, I still like good ‘ole fashioned pen and paper.

          • Lisa July 7, 2015 at 4:56 pm

            Someone recently recommend trello to me for making lists as well: https://trello.com/

  • Reply Alyssa @ Generation YRA July 6, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Oh my goodness!!! What a twist! I absolutely love it Cait, another year-long shopping ban. I can only imagine all the other great habits & people you will inspire as you embark on another year-long journey. I have to say this came at a great time! Since all of this frenzy of having to move out of our rental house, my fiance & I have decided to downsize from where we are currently living in now, move in to an apartment to rent, and accelerate our savings even more. In the next month we will be re-evaluating all of what we own, determining what to sell, and donating. We have done the following in the past when we haven’t been in a pressure situation, but this time it will be full-on “let’s do this” status. Thanks for being such an incredible inspiration Cait, your words have always given me that motivation to continuously make intentional purchases. Freeing yourself from the clutter of objects allows for so much more peace & space for our minds to become more active. Can’t wait to keep following your fantastic journeys!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      Can I just say… you leave the most thoughtful comments, Alyssa. I always read them and am lost for words in my reply, because all I really want to say is: I’m so glad we’ve connected online! Downsizing can’t be easy, I’m sure, but my guess is the experience will be more therapeutic than you could even imagine. Please share how it’s going! xo

  • Reply Stephanie July 6, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Happy Birthday!! (almost) Great post. And my quote is on it, yay! I’ve been doing really well with the no take out so I’m definitely starting a year long shopping ban. Okay… well, for sure until the end of next April, starting some time this month, once I make my own rules. I’d like to do a full year but we’ll be buying a house by the end of April, which I’ve never done so I don’t know what kinds of new homeowner costs will come up! But your posts make me excited to try the full ban myself. Good luck with year 2! I wasn’t expecting that at all, cannot wait for Wednesday’s post.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks, Stephanie – and yes, I had to include it! As for your future home, I’m sure some costs will come up, but I would almost force yourself to live in the space for a few months before you fill it with new furniture/decor… you know? We always *think* we need so much stuff, but then it just sits and collects dust. Anyway, look forward to those updates, when you get there! :)

      • Reply Stephanie July 7, 2015 at 8:48 am

        I’m actually totally on board with the minimalism, I have no stuff! I generally hate furniture and clutter and my decor is 2 picture frames and a candle (in my entire 2 bedroom apartment!) I’m just freaking out over how many little things can add up when we move in – will we need to fence right away for the dog? Will we need blinds/curtains? Will we need paint? How much will it cost to install internet and start the gas up? We’ve been renters all our lives, so now we have to buy grass cutting and snow removal gadgets? Or hire a service? ahhh it’s all overwhelming! Maybe all my shopping ban savings will go into an account for all those things!

  • Reply susie July 6, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Wonderful post, Cait! Congratulations x 365! I’m excited to read your rules for your next shopping ban :) Today I started a no takeout coffee for the week. I love Americanos and have made a terrible habit of grabbing one (plus a muffin) daily on my way to work. Which is a huge waste of money, considering the coffee is free at my office. (albeit, not as good) Anyhow, I’m on day 34 of the shopping ban and Day one of take out coffee ban. Thanks for all your thoughtful and inspiring posts throughout your journey :) Happy (early) Birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Day 34 of the shopping ban – that’s so exciting, Susie! And even if it’s tough, definitely push yourself to get through that week of no takeout coffee. If/when you can, find ways to make delicious coffee at home and bring it with you. Alternatively, you could nix the muffin but keep the coffee… there are always sacrifices to make! Good luck! And thanks for the birthday wishes. :)

  • Reply Sara Oss July 6, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Happy birthday! My husband and I are pretty conscious consumers when it comes to material items but we’ve decided to be much more conscious of how we purchase food and other necessities this year. Except for our blizzard box, which we stock from October-April/May, we’re going to try to buy only enough food for one week at a time. We want to have meal plans and coordinating shopping lists (down to spice quantities) and make sure to plan accordingly for eating out so that food doesn’t go to waste.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you! And wow, that’s amazing, Sara! Something for me to aspire to. I don’t waste food – typically only buy what I need for 4-5 days at a time – but that’s seriously impressive. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Our Next Life July 6, 2015 at 8:22 am

    So much to love in this post. First, congrats. And early Happy Birthday! Excited to see the terms of the Ban Part 2. Great lessons in here for all of us, and love the infographic. The habit stuff is crazy — how you broke the ban with coffee without realizing it. Maybe next go-round, coffee with people is okay? That’s our rule, since that’s social time, not morning laziness. 😊

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks and thanks! Yes, Part 2 should be interesting. ;) Oh, I totally forgot to mention that I made “coffee with friends ok” around month 10; it just became too ridiculous! I think I only had coffee with friends 4 times after that, but it was nice to be able to do that. So that will continue – within reason!

  • Reply charlottaway July 6, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Congrats on this huge accomplishment, Cait! So proud of how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve learned about yourself along the way. I think it’s obvious the rewards from this journey go far beyond financial value. So excited to see where the ban takes you next. And I continue to be inspired by you as we purge even more during our big move this summer. xoxox

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      So far beyond financial value – you are absolutely right about that, girl. And yes, I expect some pics next time! ;)

  • Reply Kim July 6, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Congratualtions Cait on all you have acheived this past year!
    Many happy returns for tomorrow. I hope you have an amazing birthday.
    Being in your 30’s will not be as daunting as you once thought. I actually quite enjoy it myself!
    If you don’t mind a passenger jumping on your bandwagon I may also try a shopping ban again this year, although I am unsure if I can last a year but I will give it a good go!
    Sending you best wishes from across the pond in the UK :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Of course you can join me, Kim! Just set some rules that make sense for you, including the length of time (1 month, 3 months, etc.) and make it a little game out of it. Thanks for all the congrats and birthday wishes! :)

  • Reply Catherine July 6, 2015 at 8:55 am

    I love this post. Congrats doesn’t seem appropriate seeing as how the goal was beyond such a word…you’re amazing, you’ve certainly inspired me in MANY ways and I can’t wait to see how you do.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks, Catherine! <3

  • Reply Sharon July 6, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I do believe that with the extension into another year you can safely call it a lifestyle rather than a ban. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished this year! Thank you for the insightful wrap up of an interesting process. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings in your adventure and my own. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

      I would almost agree except that there are a couple challenges I’m creating for myself in this second year that I really don’t want to do for life, haha. Thanks, Sharon! :)

  • Reply Ali July 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Cait,

    Well done! I’ve been reading your blog for only a few weeks (and I, er, read all of it in a couple of days..) but you have inspired me so much to do this myself. What you have achieved is amazing and good luck for year two!

    Ali

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:08 am

      Thank you so much, Ali!

  • Reply Nick July 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Congratulations! I am excited to follow with you in your second year and hopefully get a little inspiration as well. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Thanks, Nick! :)

  • Reply Michelle July 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Love this post Cait and congrats! Awesome job! You were the inspiration to start my own no spend year. That and the fact that I was out of control with my clothing spend for 2014.
    Can’t wait to see what The Shopping Ban Part Deux holds for you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Thanks, Michelle!

  • Reply Simple Is The New Green July 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Good for you on not just doing this ban, but in getting the word out with all the press publicity. I liked seeing that the number one reason for most people doing this ban was conscious consumerism over just pure financial reasons.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Same! I loved loved loved seeing that come out on top – and also that not many people said it was to break a bad spending habit. I’m certain that no matter the length of time anyone does a ban for it would help them become a more conscious consumer. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply L July 6, 2015 at 9:43 am

    What a great and inspirational post!!

    Happy early birthday and I am looking forward to seeing how the second year of your ban goes.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Thanks, L!

  • Reply Sylvia @Professional Girl July 6, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I totally did not see you extending the ban for another year. I am so happy for you and can’t wait to read the updates for year two.
    P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Hope you have a great day!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:11 am

      Thanks, Sylvia! :)

  • Reply Nicola July 6, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Happy birthday, and what an awesome post :) I think you did so well, and what an inspiring message. We’re working more on not having lots of possessions or feeling the pressure to own the latest gadget, and it really is freeing in a way. Looking forward to your post about year 2!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:41 am

      It’s a tough twitch to break, as my friend Anthony would say. But worth trying to kick. Thanks, Nicola!

  • Reply Casey @Waffling July 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

    You are so inspiring! I have been working for years on paring down on all the crap in my home. Moving a few months ago really helped!

    I dont even know if you can call it a shopping ban for next year- it seems like you are just being frugal and doing planned spending now :). As it should be!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Oh, moving is so helpful… you’re right about that, Casey! It makes the job a bit bigger, but who wants to move things they don’t even use!? Not me! Or you :) and yea, you’re right about that… except I plan on doing one thing for the next year that I think will be eye-opening for us all!

  • Reply Maggie July 6, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Cait,
    Happy birthday, and congratulations on the incredible success of the shopping ban. You did it!!!! I am in awe of how deeply you committed yourself to the process and how well you have reflected on what you learned.
    I am thrilled about the announcement of year 2 and will be playing along this year. Loved the idea the first time around but so much was changing in my life that I didn’t feel I could take it on. This year, however, is a whole different story. I look forward to Wednesday’s post and to a life-changing challenge!
    Maggie

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Thank you so much, Maggie! I do believe this next year’s challenge will be big, but life-changing for me personally and hopefully eye-opening for us all. Now I just need to finish that post ;) hehe

  • Reply Carly D July 6, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Amazing! I have loved following your story! I am trying to be a more conscious consumer because of you, but I won’t lie this summer has not been good to me (I suppose in actuality I have not been good to me) and I have made too many impulse purchases. I feel guilt about them, and in reality have only used one of the products I bought. I have gotten rid of so many items in my home and hope to continue that trend. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Re-read this comment a few times, Carly. You’re so self-aware. Trust the gut instinct that made you re-write the sentence about how you have not been good to yourself. I think you’ll be better to yourself this summer, when you do. <3

  • Reply Joana July 6, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Congrats Cait, thanks for being such an inspiration! Just a question, what would you suggest if you liked doing work at coffee shops?

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

      That’s a really great question, Joana, as I just started working for myself full-time last week and have been wondering that exact thing! I would say: set a limit. It’s not really fair to coffee shop owners to go in, use their WiFi and give them $0, haha. So maybe only go 1-2 times/week, if that fits into your budget?

  • Reply David Cain July 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Congrats Cait. You have me thinking about doing this, or some version of it. My next experiment is an intensive decluttering one, and I may combine that with some kind of shopping ban. I will have to sit down and decide exactly what.

    I’m impressed with how well you stuck to this, and also that I was directly responsible for one of your lapses.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Sooo excited to read about your decluttering experiment! I would say map out the ban as you’re decluttering. You’ll discover that you probably own more than you think, or it’ll become clear what you could need to buy within the timeframe of your ban.
      And yes, let the world know that the coffee incident was all your fault. :P

  • Reply Mrs. Frugalwoods July 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Love, love, love it! I am continually impressed by your minimalism and how much stuff you’ve gotten rid of. I want to become more of a minimalist–I’m fine with not buying stuff, it’s the getting rid of aspect that I struggle with.

    I felt the same way after my clothes buying ban ended–I just decided to keep right on doing it. I found that once I integrated the tenets of the ban into my life, there was no reason to stop. And once you do it for a year, it feels entirely possible to just continue on. I feel like I removed a lot of unnecessary stuff from my life by not shopping–stress, spending, wasted time.

    It’s liberating not to shop and it’s freeing not to spend time worrying about what you’re going to buy next (or how much it’ll cost). I also agree with you in that I too discovered quite a bit of my self-worth was wrapped up in what I was wearing/buying. It was a healthy exercise for me to realize that and move away from that outlook. So excited for you as you start year 2 of this lifestyle change!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:02 am

      The clothes thing is actually interesting! I’m a little torn on that, right now. I literally only own I think 38-40 items of clothing, but I probably wear 10 of them every week and they are getting seriously worn out. I received a few gift cards for my birthday this weekend (think my family is telling me something? haha) and was thinking I’d be allowed to buy clothes but only if it was to replace something: so 1 in, 1 out. I hate going to malls anyway, so I don’t think I’ll ever be one to go on a shopping spree again. But yea… ok… that was basically just me rambling, haha. Basically, I’m still thinking about that one! Will have to make a decision tonight.

      • Reply Mrs. Frugalwoods July 9, 2015 at 4:49 am

        I like the 1 in, 1 out idea! I have A LOT more clothing than you, so I have to ban myself ;). But, I’m with you on hating malls. My problem stemmed from the fact that I love thrift stores…

        I’ll be interested to hear what you decide!

  • Reply psychsarah July 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Wow! Happy birthday and congrats on an amazingly successful year (first year of two I see!) Amazing insights and growth in the course of one year. Can’t wait to hear how things go from here :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Thanks, Sarah! :)

  • Reply Melanie @ Dear Debt July 6, 2015 at 11:42 am

    You did it! So happy for you, Cait! I think it’s great when we can really reflect on our spending habits and what we can cut out. Nice work, friend! Can’t wait to hear more about your next steps.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Ahhh, yes! Thank you, friend!

  • Reply Adam @ AdamChudy.com July 6, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Great post. I haven’t done a shopping ban near anything like that, but it’s definitely inspiring for us struggling minimalists.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Thanks, Adam! Might I suggest you try one? ;)

  • Reply Giulia July 6, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Congrats for your success in the year-long shopping ban, I am thinking to have a sort of since this autumn…. Enjoy your birthday celebrarono yourself:-D

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Thanks, Giulia! Have you noticed if your spending has changed at all, since you started thinking about it? :)

  • Reply Michelle July 6, 2015 at 11:49 am

    This is so awesome! Congratulations on completing this and Happy Birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Thanks, Michelle!

  • Reply Alison S July 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Count me thoroughly impressed. My husband and I have decided to stop spending on random crap, and focus on using what we already have. Your post is probably the most comprehensive and informative I’ve read, and I really like that you tracked the number of items disposed of. 4 years ago, I downsized from 3100 sf to 1450 sf, and got rid of at least 50% of my stuff before the move. Since then, piles more have gone away. After each purge of belongings, life gets easier. Maybe it’s time for an actual ban.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Sounds like you guys have been on quite a journey, Alison! Was the downsize something you opted to do? You might not need a ban! All depends on what your goals are. :)

  • Reply C@thesingledollar July 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Well done! I have loved following you through this year. You seem so much happier and more at peace with your life, and I am so glad to see how far you’ve come. I’m totally psyched that you’re going to do it again, too! From a 36-year-old, I will say some of that feeling of “I must do this this year or it will never be done!” fades, which overall I think is a good thing. I’ve started to think in terms of a 30-year career for the first time ever, and it’s nice to make longer-range plans like that, instead of ticking stuff off constantly. Anyway, congratulations again, and happy birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

      I love that you can read that in my writing, C, because it’s certainly true – I am much more at peace now than I was a year ago. And thanks for shedding some insight on what to expect in my 30s. I think this first year will be pretty good. :)

  • Reply Bri July 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Cait, I just read your interview on Forbes and was like where do I know her from?? I live in Vic and have been following you on Instagram of all places for awhile, but haven’t seen your blog until now! I am where you were two years ago, but just turned 30. I currently have the same amount of debt you did and have been considering moving back in with my parents to pay it down. You’ve convinced me (even though I feel totally demoralized doing it since I’m 30 and all my friends are now married except me) that I may need to take that step. I know I live beyond my means even though I earn around $47,000 from a government job plus around $3,000 per year freelancing and personal training. All I want to do is travel and I know I can’t afford to unless I tackle my debt. Can you point me in the direction of some of your posts that helps someone in the same boat get started?

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

      I am just going to shoot you an email, Bri! So glad we’ve been able to connect, though!

  • Reply Nadia July 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Way to go Cait! You’re doing such an amazing job! You’re going to rock year 2 I can tell! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I didn’t really freak out about entering my thirties but my forties, well I’m dwelling on it a tad more and that won’t be for another 5 years!

    My next expenditure will be the root canal.It’s official now. Not happy about it but it has to get done. Hoping insurance will cover most of it *crosses fingers*

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Thanks, Nadia! So sorry to hear about the root canal, though. I’ll cross my fingers, too!

  • Reply ARBM July 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Happy Birthday!
    Welcome to your 30s! And congratulations on a successful year-long shopping ban. It has been very fun to follow along with it, and I am excited to see what will come from another year of it. I have not done a shopping ban with you, but I have definitely been one of the ones to notice that I am thinking more about my purchases. Prime example, today I went to IKEA and for the first time in memory, I came out with nothing! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:21 am

      WOWWW! That is a feat! I did the same thing a couple times throughout the year I was doing this first ban… went in to get something for my mom or a friend, bought nothing for myself. That is a huge achievement, haha. Thanks for the bday wishes!

  • Reply The financial tech July 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Wow that’s really awesome and inspiring. I do know if I would be able to do something like that for a year.

    Congrats for this :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply Kristen July 6, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    congrats on such a successful year! i have done a month (twice, separately) and I just started a 6 month ban.. I’m 6 days in, lol. If it goes well, I might go a year, we’ll see. can’t wait to read more about your upcoming ban. happy birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:22 am

      You’re 7 days in now! Can’t wait to hear more about it, for the next 6 months – and perhaps beyond. Thanks, Kristen. :)

  • Reply Brandon July 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Cait, it’s been so awesome to hear about your experiences with this shopping ban! I’m looking forward to starting a shopping ban of my own this week (as part of a minimalism thing — planning to carry it for a full year), and it’s been really helpful to learn from your journey. Happy birthday, and good luck with whatever’s next! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Woo hoo! What day are you starting it, Brandon? Are you blogging about it? Just curious if I can follow along somehow. If not, please come back here and let us know in the comments, or shoot me an email sometime! Good luck! And thanks :)

  • Reply Jen Ferris July 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Happy Birthday, Kait!!
    There are a tremendous many great things to come from being a minimalist, isn’t there? And I think you have well learned and lived all the life, personal and financial lessons.

    While you are planning and dreading the future, remember to take stock of where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished and all that you have done, seen and learned.

    You are a huge success and a great inspiration for anyone. Thanks for being you.
    I know you are going to rock your thirties! I’m pumped to learn of what you have planned for the next phase of your journey.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Jen. :)

  • Reply Rob July 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    “You weren’t ready for that announcement, were you?”

    Ah, but in fact I was expecting it and, taking it further, I expect that it will extend past the next year and become your ongoing steady lifestyle. That said, I’m sure that you will also refine the “rules” as time passes (to suit your changing tastes).

    I would make one point, however Cait: should you some day “settle down” and meet your life partner, you must be prepared to be flexible with their particular lifestyle choices as they in turn will have to be flexible with yours. Give and take, flexibility, will be required then as you two build a life together and start your family. That is for the future. For now you are in a good spot to deeply know yourself.

    Have a happy big 3-0 my friend and may all your b/day wishes come true.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

      It’s funny you mention that because I’m already starting to wonder who the heck is going to want to date a minimalist who has no stuff and hates spending money. But I’m sure he’s out there! :P Thanks for the bday wishes, friend!

  • Reply Isabelle July 6, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Congratulations! You did an awesome job with this shopping ban! I can’t wait to see how the rules will change for year 2. You are definitely an inspiration. I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering lately and I think about you often! It’s so nice to have more room, better air, you just feel more at peace with yourself. I can’t wait to bring all that stuff to the second-hand shop!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Ahhh, sounds like you’ve hit the sweet spot, Isabelle. Home feels so much better when you get to that point. :)

  • Reply Valerie July 6, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Happy 30th birthday Cait!

    You have inspired me to take on this challenge. I have too much stuff and need to let go of all this extra baggage. I hope I will email you a comment or two at least in this year so we both can see my progress.

    Thanks for your inspiration! Why don’t you consider writing a how-to book with steps and instructions? I hope you do. I would most definitely add that to my approved list.

    Valerie
    Dubuque, IA

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:28 am

      Yes, please do email me anytime, Valerie! I’d love to hear from you. As for the book… yea, I could probably put together a little something for the site, sometime! Thanks for the bday wishes. :)

  • Reply Katrina Veenstra July 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I am so glad you are doing this for another year- because this is the first I have heard of your blog! I love this so much! Now I will have to go back through and catch up on all of this past years posts. :) happy 30th!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Oh boy, sorry if there are lots to catch up on, Katrina! Thanks for the bday wishes. :)

  • Reply Dan Recio July 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Wow, your store really inspires me! I was never aware of a shopping ban movement that was in action around the world. I’m definitely going to give it a try.

    Also, I really liked how you mentioned “decluttering was just the beginning.” I sometimes feel that’s what most people think about minimalism. You’ve showed how fulfilling and inspiring a minimalist lifestyle can be!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Oh, it is definitely just the beginning… a great first step! But so much changes, once that part is done. Thanks, Dan!

  • Reply Kimberly A. July 6, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Congratulations, and more so, happy birthday from Redwood City, CA! I very much admire what you’ve accomplished here — thank you for the inspiration! Cheers to minimalism, and a life well-worth (more than materialism) living!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Ahhh, I love hearing where people are writing from! Thanks, Kimberly! Cheers to it all – and to you. Thanks for the bday wishes. :)

  • Reply Jenny from Germany July 7, 2015 at 4:48 am

    First of all: Happy birthday from Germany! I hope you have a fantastic day!
    I so did not see another shopping ban coming! Totally a suprise for me! It was like one of those moments when you watch TV and suddenly there is a plot twist and one is like “whaaaaaaaaaat?” Of course I am excited what the new rules for this shopping ban will be. I have done two shopping bans (one month each) to save more money and become debt-free faster. In a way they were fun to do but I don’t really seeing myself doing a year-long shopping ban. I love your minimalist approach! Your posts have gotten me motivated to declutter more and keep tabs on how much stuff I throw away so I track my progress. My biggest issue is my scrapbooking stuff and sentimental items. In that perspective I am a horrible hoarder. I have kind of come to peace that I won’t be throwing away (or donating) my supplies so I have set a goal to actually use most of it until the end of 2015 and of course not buying new stuff (which I actually haven’t for the last 12 months, except once). I hope I can do it ;)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Haha, I laughed at the “whaaaaaaat?” because I’ve had those moments when I’ve read a few blog posts before too, Jenny (from Germany!). Pretty cool that this post gave you one of those feelings! Also, you can be a minimalist and still have lots of stuff! I think one of the most common misconceptions is that to be a minimalist you need to live with 100 things or something like that, and that is certainly not the case. As long as you use what you have and it brings you value, you should absolutely have it in your home. Sentimental stuff can be tricky… but don’t feel bad about the scrapbooking stuff. Trying to use up what you already have before buying more is a great idea! And thanks for the bday wishes!

  • Reply Amanda @ My Life, I Guess July 7, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Cait, this is amazing. Honestly.

    I’ll admit it… when I first read your interview in Forbes yesterday, I was mad. Mad because I’ve been un(der)employed for over a year now, and thought to myself “Big deal, I’ve been on a shopping ban too. For longer than you!” I was jealous, and maybe even a little spiteful.

    But I quickly realized that I was being stupid. This isn’t a competition. Our situations are completely different!

    Obviously I’m unhappy with my current situation, so it was easy to immediately go to a negative place. I was laid off 15 months ago, and although some of it is out of my control, I’ve done very little to make my situation (and my life) better. But what you’ve done is amazing! You took control. You did this shopping ban to grow, to learn, and to better yourself – not because you couldn’t afford to shop (like me).

    It’s high time I become more proactive in my own life. I can change my situation – even if it’s only small changes now. But there’s no reason that I should be mad or jealous a year from now when I read about how Year 2 of your shopping ban went. I should be celebrating my own accomplishments with you! Hopefully I can get out of this funk, stop feeling sorry for myself, and start moving in the right directions once again.



    P.S. Happy birthday :) It’s my sister’s birthday today, too.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

      If I’ve learned anything since I started this blog, Amanda, it is that we are in control of our lives. Thank you for being so honest in this comment. Someone else sent me a nasty note about how this was “no big deal because you made $73K”. I also worked a minimum of 60 hours/week to make that money <- which is another decision I made and took control of, because I wanted to change my financial situation. I would LOVE to read a comment in next year's recap about everything you've changed in your life - money-related or not. Here's to the next year for us both :)

  • Reply Kurt July 7, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I’m engaged in a lifelong shopping ban. No rules–I just don’t like stuff, and I don’t like shopping for stuff! :) I guess I’m just lucky that way. I do spend on experiences though, so I’m not a frugal freak. Glad the experience was positive for you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Love it, Kurt! (And I spent a TON of cash on experiences this year, too… so I’m right there with you.)

  • Reply Jeffrey A July 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Great post, Cait, and congrats on such a successful year! Happy birthday and best of luck with Year Two!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Thanks so much, Jeffrey! :)

  • Reply Jodie July 7, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Happy Birthday! But more importantly, congratulations on completing the shopping ban, and extending it! I think most people, me included, underestimate what we are capable of. It has been inspiring following your journey of self improvement. I started following your blog a little over a year ago and it has had a big impact on the choices I make daily. I have not embraced a shopping ban but have identified some triggers. On a bad day instead of buying something new I now find relief in filling a bag with stuff to remove from the house, and most days I find it more satisfying than when I used to buy things on those days. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 7, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Jodie, this comment made my whole morning. I never imagined my experiences would have an impact on others, but what you’ve experienced is something I would wish for everyone! Identify a few triggers, try to change some habits and embrace a life with (even a little bit) less. Perfect. Thanks for the bday wishes. :)

  • Reply Jahyd July 7, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Happy Birthday Cait! Loved this post, love following your shopping ban, and I’m so excited to see the rules for the next year tomorrow! I’m thinking about trying a ban myself… maybe not a whole year but I definitely have a problem with shopping when I’m feeling stressed or lonely that I would like to kick to the curb. I moved recently and followed your advice about getting rid things I didn’t love. That really helped cut down on the amount of stuff I had to move and the amount of clutter in our new and smaller apartment. I love the freeing feeling of getting rid of stuff I don’t need but do find it difficult to get rid of anything with sentimental value. Another thing I would like to do is become more self sustained and I’m definitely hoping that this will be a bigger part of your new ban. I would love to grow a small garden of my own. Our climate isn’t great for outdoor gardening here in Newfoundland though and the growing season is very short so I’ve been trying to educate myself on plants that grow well inside. My cats seem to fighting me on that front though! Ha! Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey and best of luck with year two! I look forward to following along! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you managed to do some decluttering before you moved, Jahyd. I’m guessing it made the moving experience – which is often stressful – a little more manageable! Look forward to hearing what you decide to do re: a shopping ban. :)

  • Reply Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore July 7, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Ok Cait – I totally and completely failed at my attempt of a “shopping ban”. But with the changes in my life right now (I quit my job!), I need to have another go at it. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      WOO HOO! Sounds like a great time to start a ban, Kayla. You can do it in whatever capacity seems appropriate… but I know I’m certainly grateful to be saving money in my first month of self-employment! Congrats :D

  • Reply Chelsea July 7, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Way to go Cait! Very inspiring. Happy early Birthday to you – enjoy the day off :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks, Chelsea!

  • Reply amanda July 7, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Great post! Congratulations and good for you, doing another year!
    First time reader, here, and I’m inspired to do a shopping ban of my own. Going to lay out the ground rules tonight! :D

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Awesome! Can’t wait to hear what you decide on, Amanda.

  • Reply Done by Forty July 7, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    What a great personal experiment, and well written, to boot.

    Welcome to the blog roll!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Aww, thanks! :)

  • Reply Kali July 8, 2015 at 5:11 am

    As always, you’re leaving me inspired and motivated to improve some important areas of my life. This is a fabulous recap post, and I get excited all over again thinking about all you’ve accomplished — and learned about yourself! Hope you had a wonderful birthday, lady. Glad to call you a friend :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      Aww, right back at you, girl. So glad we’ve been able to connect more this past year. Can’t wait to see you at our next meeting… and in NC! :D

  • Reply Erin July 8, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Wow, what an article. As someone who has little $$ and debt and WAY TOO MUCH stuff and doesn’t get to travel often this really makes me think a LOT.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Well, I’m glad to know my experiment/experiences are giving you something to think about, Erin. :)

  • Reply Jeannette July 8, 2015 at 5:53 am

    OK, that’s it, I am starting a real shopping ban today. I was doing a “try not to buy unnecessary stuff shopping ban”, but with no rules, it’s easy to slip up. You’ve motivated me to get rid of the pile of clothes and household items I’ve eliminated (they’re being picked up by a charity on Friday), and to make a list of rules and do a full-out ban. It will be tricky because I have kids who sometimes actually need stuff (feet grow, school starts, birthdays happen etc.) but I am applying this 100% to myself. Have a lovely 30th birthday Cait, and thanks for the inspiration :) I wish I had been smarter about this stuff when I was your age…

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      YES YES YES! I’m so excited for you, Jeannette! It’s totally ok to buy things your kids need. Needs are exactly that – needed. But my guess is it won’t take long for you to see the incredible benefits of just doing this ban for yourself personally. Can’t wait to hear how it goes. :)

  • Reply Katy July 8, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Joining you for year 2!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Woo hoo! That’s awesome, Katy!

  • Reply Katherine July 8, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Congratulations, this is a huge accomplishment! I think the most inspiring thing is not how much you saved or how much you got rid of (though that’s nothing to sneeze at :) ) but how you became a more fulfilled person. Can’t wait to see what year 2 brings.

    PS – Happy birthday!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks, Katherine! And that couldn’t ring more true. The first-hand benefits were obvious… but the second set of realizations were even better. Onto the next year. :)

  • Reply middle class July 8, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Hmm…I have to say that I don’t think another shopping ban is the best way to enter your 30s. You’re out of debt and very financially responsible. Your year-long ban should hopefully result in a permanent change in consumer habits. I’m not saying spend like crazy or that you need any more STUFF, but as someone much older than you, I have to say that you should focus on enjoying next year.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm

      I can appreciate that, but the ban honestly doesn’t feel like something negative. Like you said, it’s mostly been a lifestyle change… but I still get the odd pang here and there to spend money on things I don’t need, and I want to continue to stop myself from doing so. Buying stuff won’t make me happy. Spending time with the people I love most will and that’s what I want to do this year. (I’ll also be travelling a lot less, as a result.) Appreciate your feedback!

  • Reply Wendy July 8, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this post! Is it possible for you to email me it as some folks I’d like to share it with aren’t on FB. I have been thinking about trying to live “simpler” for a while now and have made some small changes…..reading about your challenge is hugely inspiring and I want to set myself a similar goal but on a smaller scale to begin with!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Of course! You just have to copy/paste the URL at the top. I hope others enjoy it as much as you did – or could at least take away something from it. And a smaller challenge sounds great, Wendy! Can’t wait to hear what you decide to do. :)

  • Reply liu July 8, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Happy Birthday Cait! Congratulations on all your new adventures, I’m sure you can handle just about anything. Your 30 ‘ s isn’t so serious (unfree, boring, committed) people would have you believe, on the contrary! You can enjoy being young AND a responsible adult at the same time. Looking forward to reading your upcoming posts.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks, Liu! Yes, so far, 30 has been ok… I’ll have to take your word that it continues to be good. ;)

  • Reply noemi July 8, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    I just wanted to say congratulations. I’ve very impressed with your drive and determination. Reading you and some other minimalist bloggers has inspired me to do a summer shopping ban–only consumables until I go back to school (I’m a teacher). I hope to extend it to a no clothes/books/toys (for me or my kids ;) until 2016, but I’m not quite sure how to manage that with my kids because they grow out of things and my daughter needs a uniform for Kindergarten next year. Anyway, right now I’m sticking with this summer and seeing how it goes. It’s only been 3 weeks so it hasn’t gotten too hard yet. Books are my biggest temptation too–thank goodness for the library and Overdrive! I’ve been purging stuff for months now but I still have a ways to go. It’s harder when it’s not all yours–my husband isn’t as keen on pitching his CD collection as I am and my kids sometimes ask for toys I’ve given away. But I’m trying hard to keep throwing things out and to stop bringing things in. It’s a work in progress. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      I think anything your kids need – like a new uniform – is totally valid! You can still be on a ban and purchase that; it’s a necessity, so don’t think twice about it. Good luck with the challenge this summer, and I look forward to hearing how you’re able to extend it – even if it’s just for yourself, not your kids. (Also, isn’t Overdrive amazing!? I’d be lost without it.)

  • Reply Trena July 9, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Happy Birthday, belated. A very interesting article. It was fascinating to read. Congratulations on your success!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Thanks, Trena!

  • Reply Judy July 9, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Cait:

    Way to go on the year-long ban. I’m also a shopaholic for clothes, shoes, and household items. I recently downsized from a 3-BR house into a 3-BR apartment and I really need to de-clutter my life. I’m going to attempt the ban for 30 days, starting with general household items, then move to my clothing/shoes.

    I will keep you posted.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      Yes, please do keep me posted, Judy! A 30-day ban is perfect; it’s enough time to identify at least one of your bad habits/triggers and try to change it. Good luck with the declutter!

  • Reply Milania July 9, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Way to go! good luck in year 2! Suggestion for year 3: Tiny House!! Lol!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Milania – I want to move into one SO BADLY, you have no idea! Laugh now… but you may have predicted the future. ;)

  • Reply Sandy July 9, 2015 at 9:13 am

    This is an amazing post! I raised 4 daughters on my own and have downsized, being they are all moved out except one, but there is much to do. Living now in a 2 bedroom apartment, I find I have a lot of things in storage. Some I would use if I had space, but there is plenty that I could get rid of and not miss at all. As my birthday approaches, I think this may just be the challenge I need to incorporate into my life right now. Thank you for your journey, and your willingness to share. I can’t wait to get started!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      Ahhh yes, that sounds like a wonderful project to take on leading up to your birthday, Sandy! I know I was quite happy to begin a new year with less stuff, and more time and more joy to appreciate all that I do have. I can’t wait to hear what you do first. :)

  • Reply Hilary Anderle July 9, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Cait,

    Hope you enjoyed your birthday! Consider yourself wise to have learned this lesson at such a young age. Just came across your blog recently and it resonated with me as I have been doing a similar thing. I document each penny I spend and have a list of things I am saving for.

    Now, I face a new challenge – DE cluttering. My home backs onto a steep mountain slope and I want to be ready to leave at a moments notice – and be able to find what I need to take with me. So, out with half of it – closets, papers and books! Facing the idea of a forest fire makes one realize just how temporary and transient our efforts at holding on really are.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      Oh my gosh, Hilary, I can only imagine the concerns you would have living with the fear that a forest fire could reach your home. Our skies were an orange haze of smoke for a few days, earlier this month, and it wasn’t even close to us… but so sad to think of how many people’s homes it was destroying. I will say, something I’ve learned while travelling so much this past year is that we truly can fit everything we need into one suitcase. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to downsize until you’re left with what you truly need and love. <3

  • Reply Julia Britnell July 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    This post has inspired me so much! I am feeling a longing to de-clutter my home like woah and stumbling upon this post has helped me decide how to do it! It’s also helped me see that I have horrible spending habits (something my husband has been trying to show me since we got married in October) and that I want to break free of them! I have a logistical question about doing a spending ban though- I am very into crocheting as a hobby, it is a huge stress reliever and I love being able to create something. Would I need to give up doing that to do a shopping ban?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Melissa July 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      I can’t speak for Cait, but I would consider that an acceptable expense during a shopping ban, assuming you don’t stock up and never use skeins of yarn. Perhaps just buy the yarn you need for a project at a time, and don’t start another until you finish that one. Then you aren’t mindlessly purchasing unnecessary amounts of yarn, along with figuring out where to put it. Or, perhaps, only purchase what you need to make gifts!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Hey Julia. I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner! I was away on a trip and have only just sat down to catch up on things. To answer your question, no, I don’t think you would need to give that up! But I guess my follow-up question would just be: do you have lots of stuff already that you could use up first? Or do you run out of what you have before you buy more? Either way, the decision on what to include/exclude from the shopping ban is totally up to you! But if you have a hobby that you ACTUALLY do all the time (unlike read/buy books, like I used to do but then barely found the time for) then you should be able to include that in your budget. Hope that helps :)

  • Reply Said Wahid July 9, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    I am surprised at your efforts and impressed by your changing life style. You did a great job :). I did the same four years back when I took student loan of CAD 28,000 from Ontario Student Assistance Program. It took me two years to pay back the money. I had to adapt to style which i was not used to it but i learnt a lesson that nothing is possible in life if you’r dedicted to your cause. Congragulations and have a debt free future.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      “Nothing is impossible if you’re dedicated to your cause.” I love that – thank you for sharing it with me. Congrats to you, as well! :)

  • Reply gee July 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    That article is actually in an Austrian newspaper, not a German one. =) Minimalism ftw!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      Oh, thank you for the clarification! I think Google just tried to translate it from German, so I assumed that’s where it was linked. Either way, so cool to know it’s been shared and more of us can connect, as a result. :)

  • Reply Coco Lucas July 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I came across your blog through this post and WOW! We are a family of almost 7 and working on paying off our debt and achieving a minimalist lifestyle. It will take us a few years to become debt free, but we are really striving for a simple life (I mean with 5 kids it isn’t all that simple). Your post gave me lots of ideas and motivation. Thank you for sharing your journey. I look forward to devouring your blog over the next few weeks.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 16, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      5 kids! At first, that made me feel like it might be overwhelming for you… but then I thought, what a cool challenge for a family to take on together! I hope you’ll share some of your ideas/your process, over the next while. :)

  • Reply Marjolaine July 18, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Hi Cait!
    I just found your blog through a post from Joshua Becker and I am so happy I did.
    I don’t think I’ll start a ban right now as I have a boyfriend to add into the equation and we’ll need to talk things through but this post has really showed me that it would be totally possible for me to do this and it would help in a lot of areas of our lives :
    – We have debts to pay off
    – My boyfriend and I are compulsive shoppers (we’re getting better but still)
    – We would love to have money to travel
    – We are on a minimalist journey ourselves but are struggling with not bringing things into our home that we don’t absolutely need.

    So thank you for starting this blog and I’m real happy to have found you.
    Now to have a talk with the boyfriend and lay the rules of our shopping ban! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Sounds like you have a pretty clear picture of where you’re at and what you want, Marjolaine. Good luck with that talk with your boyfriend :)

  • Reply Nancy July 18, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Your blog has given me the courage to start on a year long ban again. I have started several times before and fallen off. Until now had not read a story like yours. Thanks so much.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      That’s exciting, Nancy! A year is a big undertaking. What’s at the top of your list that you’re not allowed to buy?

  • Reply Kathryn July 18, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you so much for your inspiring words and, most of all, your integrity in keeping your commitment to yourself. I am so impressed. I found your blog through Becoming Minimalist’s Inspiring Weekend Reads. I’m looking forward to getting your work in my inbox!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks, Kathryn! I appreciate your kind words. :)

  • Reply Yemi Adeyemo July 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    WOO! What a year for you.
    I came to see your blog through Joshua Becker’s writing which I also just read this evening. I was not surprised nobody from Africa took to the shopping ban challenge. Apart from the fact that life here is very unpredictable thus making such challenge very challenging, materialism is also a big problem leading to corruption and underdevelopment on the continent.
    I have tried what could be called shopping ban before but never very organized as seen from your experience. Most times I just take a break from some purchases like books, dress and some monthly subscriptions.
    I hope to use ideas from this writing especially when I create time to read other blogs that you referred to in the writing to plan a more organized short time shopping ban. Minimalist lifestyle fits into my view of life especially here in Africa where there are so many people that will live off any amount I can save through conscious consumption.
    I plan to share this blog on my Facebook page for more publicity here.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Where are you from exactly, Yemi? My goal is to have 1,000 people to respond to my next survey (summer 2016). Maybe you’ll be one of them and add a new place to the map? :) Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment.

      • Reply Yemi Adeyemo July 23, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        I didn’t realize my location was not part of my comment.
        I live in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

  • Reply Jo@The Quiet Wisdom July 19, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Cait, I came over here through Josh Becker’s site. I have unconsciously been on a shopping ban myself without knowing I was doing it. Reading what you publicly record what you stop your shopping urges is quite helpful. It’s great to be conscious about what I declare and continue to do it :) Look forward to hear more about your 2 years challenge!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks, Jo! Happy to have you over here, and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  • Reply Dagmar Atladóttir July 20, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I just found this blog and love it
    i have been using this year to clear my house of clutter
    and i know what i want to to next
    2016 will be my no shopping year
    thank you so much
    greetings from Iceland
    Dagmar

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      No shopping in 2016 – I love it, Dagmar! What do you think will be the toughest thing to give up?

  • Reply Bree @ HalfPennyBlog July 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Holy smokes! That is absolutely incredible and awe inspiring! I wish desperately I could convince my husband to do a no shopping challenge! He’s the one always making impulse purchases so it would definitely be mostly him that would need to be on board. However, I find it incredibly that you managed an entire year and managed to stop yourself from spending so many times! You should be proud of yourself because that is remarkable!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks, Bree! I can’t say that it feels “remarkable” per se, but I suppose it’s quite a feat. I think Year 2 will be even better. :)

  • Reply weenie July 22, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Congratulations and well done on this fantastic achievement – you have willpower of steel! :-)

    It’s been great following your progress and it has certainly made me think about my own situation and the ‘things’ that I own. I did start de-cluttering myself but it fell by the wayside so I’m going to pick it up again. While I don’t shop half as much as I used to, I do occasionally have a “blip” and just reading your post has stopped me from going on Amazon and buying something that I didn’t need! Thank you!

    Happy belated 30th birthday and good luck with your next shopping ban year!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 22, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Thank YOU for telling me this post stopped you from buying something you didn’t need! Notes like this inspire me to keep going, Weenie. :)

  • Reply Carolyn B July 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Hi, Cait. I too am coming over from Joshua’s Becoming Minimalist. I want to say thanks for taking the time to reply to all of your commenters. That is an amazing feat and a lovely courtesy. I hope to continue to follow your blog; I tend to begin with Facebook pages then expand out from there for reading material online. Can’t wait to hear about Yr 2.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 23, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      My philosophy has always been that if someone takes the time to comment, I will take the time to reply. I like to think we’re all here to build a community with like-minded people – not just see what I’m up to! So I love keeping the conversation going. :)

  • Reply Timmyt July 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Congrats on your mind shift. You post that 3% of men take the shopping ban, however many men, including myself don’t shop much. Many of us value experiences of stuff so it while many of us could cut back a little, in my case there would be insignificant savings from a shopping ban, as buying stuff doesn’t give me pleasure.

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Timmy! My other experience re: guys is that they are often “collectors” – so might find value in collecting an item that really interests you – whereas women are typically hunter/gatherers and just buy things to make their homes better. So I do know some guys with expensive hobbies! But, as you said, it’s more of an experience (like a project) versus shopping just for the sake of shopping.

  • Reply Faye July 24, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    So AMAZING to run into this post! I also came from Joshua’s site…love him so much! Would take to long time to fully explain why this post was a Godsend but I will explain two things. Just tried to beat a discount deadline on devotional ebooks (which I love) which were on sale for less than $7 ea. Put 3 in the shopping cart and read “free shipping if $25 or more”. Went & got one more went to the shopping cart and the time was 12:03 and all ebooks went back to regular price….so I cancelled them. Secondly, only thing I need is a new bed and mattress. Was gonna move to a new apartment (more expensive/updated) but after reading your post I decided I will stay where I’m at and do a one year shopping ban. Then, I will decide if I will move. Yesterday, I returned nearly $700 worth of things I bought in the past year and didn’t use. Some stores only gave store credit but the little space it freed up was motivating. Also, gonna do minimalism (been trying for years..thanks to Joshua). Will continue to make small improvements. Had lots of tragedies & inherited so much stuff it was overwhelming. Held on to memories and bought to try and fill voids. But, now I’m finally letting go. It is already so VERY FREEING!! Thanks to you & Joshua for the inspiration!! I look forward to reading about your second year as I work through my first. Happy Belated Birthday & God Bless!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 26, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Your comment brought a huge smile to my face, Faye! I’m so glad you’ve found some inspiration through my post and Joshua’s blog. Look forward to hearing how your own challenges go this year :)

  • Reply Jóhanna July 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Hello ;)

    Your post is so inspiring. I am thinking of doing a ban like this and it is very helpful to se how you prepared and did a list. My mind is set on september.
    Best regards

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Fall would be a great time to start! Good luck, Johanna!

  • Reply Maressa July 26, 2015 at 12:10 am

    I love your story Cait, I’m in my 7th month of shopping ban, this whole process is so liberating! My birthday is coming up and I feel like I just want to spend good times with my husband and family because in reality I don’t need anything else. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders July 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Yes! I felt the same way. I did get $60 to Old Navy, which I’ll use to replace some t-shirts (one day throughout this second ban) but I would’ve been happy with nothing, too. Happy early birthday!

  • Reply Grace July 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Wow, what a story. It certainly is inspirational. I also came over from Joshua’s site and it is inspiring me to take on a shopping ban of my own. I always thought to myself “I’ll spend less this month”, but after reading your post I realize that I really need to sit down and define what I’m allowed to purchase and what everything else you’re not allowed to spend on. Did you have any limitations on entertainment? Like a concert, movies, or kayaking, etc? Thanks for spending the time replying to each and every comment. It’s amazing! I think I will go home later today and design my year long ban now : )

  • Reply Young August 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Cait, thank you so much for this post – this is the first post I’ve read on your blog (linked from one of the bloggers I follow) and I feel like you captured really well the challenges and joys of living on less! You’ve certainly inspired me, and I plan to start a shopping ban after the holidays. Thanks so much!

  • Reply Celia Lewis August 9, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Congratulations, and Happy-Happy Birthday, Cait.
    I’m retired on no pension, little money, living with a disabled son (other 3 kids are fine), and thought I was “pretty good” at minimalistic living. Not!! There are so many more ways I could make changes, I see!!
    I have had to move many times (renting basement suites means the landlord sells the house and new landlords give me notice! Sigh) – so I’ve purged a lot of items each time I’ve been forced to move. Inadequate storage room in those various suites means all clothing gets checked twice a year for whether it’s a keeper or not. Ditto with cooking/kitchen items, books, office supplies [I am an amateur/intermediate genealogist]. I do always have a vegetable garden, whether in the ground or in many pots (vertical veggies), and that helps my budget/meals for about 4-6 months of the year.
    I’ve now bookmarked your blog so I can follow along with you. Today I saw your post on my facebook page, for the first time, from a writer-friend (I also write romance novels – twould be nice to make $ from those one year). What an eye-opener.
    I’m making a list of the changes I want to make this coming year. I’m definitely inspiried – and at 72, that’s a very good thing!!
    Congratulations again, and keep blogging – I know I’ll need more inspiration along the way.
    – Celia

  • Reply Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot August 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Feels fantastic, doesn’t it? I have been on a shopping ban, as you say, since January 1st. I thought it would be hard. It’s actually fine. I’m enjoying it. I wonder if I will ever go back to my previous shopping habits. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Reply Melinda August 31, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Here from mindfulminimalism.co.uk.
    Wow!!! I can’t believe you removed 70% of your belongings!!
    Congrats on successfully completing the ban and going for 2 years!!

  • Reply Aimee September 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, this was truly inspiring! I also read your article on Joshua Becker’s site and loved it. I just wrote about my one shopping excursion this weekend, where I learned to say no to impulse buying and purchase only what I truly needed, as part of my journey towards minimalism. But to do a one-year shopping ban, now that’s daunting! I am in the process of going through the house these past few weeks, purging the things that are no longer used or loved. That is a journey in itself, but I am loving how much less I have to deal with (even though, with kids, there’s always more coming in each day!) and how good it feels to let things go instead of being obligated to them in some way. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to following year two!

  • Reply Suzanne September 21, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Just found your site, so you can add Japan to your list! I have imposed a ban on shopping that , like you, started with Lattes 2 years ago! I found that as time went on, my “need” to reward myself with a latte subsided and it became more automatic to turn down an offer to get a latte. It just didn’t taste as good – or had lost the appeal it once had.

    Now my lack of consuming urge seems to have spread to other things – as I was once “consumed by” buying shoes and everyone in my life seemed to condone my shoe habit because, living in Japan, it is impossible to buy shoes in a 9.5. So every trip to the US -or even on line shoe shopping, it was “understandable” that I needed to stock up –in case there is a shoe shortage! Of course like many folks, I had more shoes than I could possibly wear -mostly all black! So one of my first purges was my shoe closet.

    I am embarassed to say that I had a habit of buying duplicates -backups- of shoes that I never got around to wearing. Same thing with longsleeved Ts. I had a habit of buying 2 of every thing. For just in case. . . . So now that I have face the Scarcity demons, I have a leaner and more useful closet. The ban on Book buying came next. Then came Cut Flowers – my other regular impulse buy, as we have wonderful flower shops here. I have started growing my own flowers, which is a fun and inexpensive hobby once you learn what will grow in your locale. So one by one I am plugging the leaks in my budget. Only wish I had started this sooner than later. It really is more satisfying to live with less.

  • Reply John Sobkowicz October 9, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Cait – just read your post and really liked it. Wanted to relate a recent experience, similar but tied to a different incentive. I am retiring at the end of this year, after which my wife and I are going on a humanitarian mission (for 18 months). We have moved a lot over the years and are really minimalists at heart, so we haven’t accumulated a lot. But after selling our house and contemplating storing what we had for 2 years, we realized there was still a lot of not useful stuff. So, we sold it or gave it away (one day, we just took everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in our garage, and put it on the front driveway with a sign “FREE” – it was all gone in 1 hour). Once we started, it was hard to stop! In fact, we didn’t stop until all we had left were one bed, one dresser, some suitcases, minimal clothing and toiletries, family photos and family history information. You could shoot a canon through our house now and not hit anything. As you have mentioned, it is a liberating feeling. And I don’t fear retiring or have any anxiety about it – my life is not about what I do (did) or what I own, but what I cherish. My full support for your ongoing efforts to avoid consumerism in all its ugly manifestations.

  • Reply Cecilia Lombard October 12, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Found this blog entry through the YNAB (http://youneedabudget.com/) newsletter and YES it is something I need to do. So starting from November, I’m doing my own shopping ban with books, dvd’s, etc at the top, closely followed by photography equipment…

    By the way, I’m in South Africa :)

    Cecilia

  • Reply pepper February 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Loved this post! So awesome!
    You did fantastic. Great job with saving too!
    I have been trying to do this more. And honestly if. Do buy something I told myself not to (make up, underwear, socks) I feel so guilty!!!

  • Reply Chloe March 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I really need to do this. I keep meaning to start but I fail after a day. I’m terrible for spending too much money on things that I don’t really need.

  • Reply Millennial Boss April 26, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I just recently sold 3000 sq ft of furniture on Craigslist and my car. In a major kick right now to get rid of stuff. Once you start, you can’t stop. Guess there are some good addictions in life. Thanks for the inspiration!

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