Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a period of overshopping, and we’ve all been there, right? You normally stick to a firm budget and don’t buy a ton of things, but now you’re tired of letting extra purchases sneak up on you. It’s time to visit “shopping ban island!”
Impulse buying and overshopping can lead to high-interest debt, a cluttered house, and financial stress. A stay on shopping ban island can reset your spending habits and put you on the right track to reach your goals.
What do we mean by “shopping ban island?”
Shopping ban island is simply a fun metaphor to use when you know you’re struggling to quit overspending. Maybe you haven’t had to pay for expensive emergencies, but you’re enjoying spending opportunities.
You’re shopping too much and decide to visit this “island” where you’re cut off from your typical spending triggers.
I know I enjoy frugal living, but every so often I notice that my spending habits have adjusted. It’s often because I stop meticulously monitoring my spending for some reason, and those extra expenses add up.
A few more lunch dates per month, a new handbag “just because,” and whatever else you might shop for, and suddenly your budget is out of whack.
So putting yourself on shopping ban island may help you reset your priorities.
Just for a brief time, decide that you’re taking a break from buying things you don’t need. This leads to adjusting your baseline spending, especially if you’ve really been overspending lately. Keep in mind it doesn't mean not buying anything ever again, instead think of it as a short-term holiday!
Why you might be on shopping ban island
Let’s talk about a few of the top reasons you could be on “shopping ban island.”
Anyone can fall into a trap of overshopping. After all, we no longer have to wait until we have free time to hit up the department stores or malls. The entire world of shopping is at our fingertips with smartphones and instant payment options.
Constant shopping sprees can eat away at your budget and make it hard to reach your financial goals. If you’re buying a lot on a credit card, it can lead to harmful, high-interest debt that just keeps growing.
Maybe you aren’t much of a shopper on your own, but you tend to overbuy when you’re with friends. Or you’re going through a tense period in your life, and stress shopping is how you cope with uncertainties and struggles.
Whatever the cause, overshopping isn’t the healthiest way to live. It can leave you dissatisfied and broke, and sometimes a flat ban on shopping is the best way to shake the habit.
Paying off debt
Going onto shopping ban island can also be a strategy for paying off your debt.
According to Credit Karma, the average credit card debt per member was $6,198. Many people carry much more than that, too!
Shopping ban island is a great place to use when figuring out how to get out of credit card debt. After all, if you’re spending $500 every month more than you should, it cuts into your ability to save for retirement. And if you don’t change your shopping habits, that revolving debt will continue multiplying.
Even if you don’t realize it, you could be carrying a ton of debt stress caused by overshopping. You can lift that off your shoulders by paying off your debt, and trying a shopping ban is a great place to start.
To adjust your money mindset
Another big reason to visit shopping ban island, even if you’re not in debt, is to improve your money mindset. Your money mindset can include the dollar amount you feel is right to spend on certain things.
It can include thoughts like “I deserve this” running through your head as you fill up your shopping cart.
Following a shopping ban isn’t meant to make you feel guilty for spending money. It’s intended to help you clarify your goals so that overshopping doesn’t get in your way of reaching them.
Whether you give up shopping for 30 days, three months, six months, or even longer, you can use that money-saving challenge to shift your mindset around money.
Shopping ban island is a place where you remove the distractions of all the stuff you’ve been buying. Step away from the store-branded credit cards, ignore the constant barrage of sales and deals, and recognize what you have.
11 ways to survive shopping ban island
Now that you’re dedicated to shopping ban island, it’s time to create a game plan. Your goal to quit a dangerous shopping habit could be much easier to reach with specific guidelines and a plan for dealing with temptation.
1. Set a date to end shopping ban island
Pick a date when your shopping ban will end. Try to be realistic—you probably won’t give up shopping for five years, but several months or even one month might be a good start. That endpoint can provide motivation as you progress through this shopping ban.
Make a countdown on your calendar
Using a calendar is a good way to help you survive shopping ban island. You might use a physical calendar where you can mark off the dates somehow. Or if you’re used to digital calendars, you can set up reminders and a countdown there too.
Habit tracking apps
An app could also help you achieve your shopping ban goals. Habit tracking apps enable you to follow through on changing your spending habits. You can set up a “streak” in which you build up a chain of days when you don’t shop at all.
Apps can also help you to examine why and when you normally want to shop, so you learn ways to deal with those triggers.
2. Give yourself breaks
The idea of offering yourself breaks is a tricky one. Some of us need to give up shopping cold turkey.
Maybe you know that if you give yourself an inch, you’ll take a mile. In that case, breaks may not be best (or you could find non-shopping ways to take breaks).
But some of us need to incorporate a break now and then. If you know you have a long time on shopping ban island ahead of you, it’s a smart idea to let yourself off the hook at certain times.
Maybe on the last day of each month, you allow yourself one small $5 purchase, then get right back to your shopping ban.
Breaks let you celebrate little milestones along the way. Sometimes it’s easy to be discouraged during a challenge like a six-month shopping ban, so breaks ease the stress.
Remember that you’re human, so you might need to give yourself a little grace through a brief break in your shopping ban. (Then get right back to it!)
3. Visualize your goal
When you want to survive shopping ban island, visualization can be a useful tool. It’s a great manifestation method to help you create your ideal life. Picture what you want your financial life to look like.
Do you want to be fully debt-free? Maybe your goal is to see a certain balance in your savings account. Or you dream of living a cleaner, less cluttered life.
Find some images that represent your goal and put them everywhere—around your house, as a screensaver on your phone or laptop, and even in your car.
4. Plan a reward
This might work as a larger version of your small breaks. As you visualized in the previous step, once you’ve reached the goal of a certain length of shopping ban, how will you reward yourself?
Ideally, the reward shouldn’t negate any benefits of the process. So you probably don’t want your first venture off shopping ban island to be on an extended shopping spree!
But you may spend a small amount, or find something that allows you to celebrate your victory. Figure out how to reward yourself without blowing your budget or your shopping ban.
5. Practice gratitude
You can build gratitude through your time on shopping ban island. Taking away the crutch of instant gratification when you constantly buy helps you to see how fortunate you already are.
That shift in mindset will go a long way toward you reaching other financial goals like investing and saving for retirement.
6. Be more mindful
Mindfulness is also a positive side effect of a stay on shopping ban island. By giving up shopping temporarily, you learn to deal with your feelings in more sustainable ways (instead of shopping).
You might use your time on shopping ban island to learn these facts about online shopping to be more mindful with every purchase you make.
7. Find alternate ways to fill your time
During the shopping ban, however long it may be, you’ll need something else to fill up the time. Whenever you would normally hit the stores or browse online, come up with alternatives to keep you busy.
First of all, reading is a fantastic way to pass the time if you tend to shop out of boredom. You can add more reading time to learn skills, be entertained, and find joy. Instead of shopping, why not try reading for well-being?
Check out your city's library to find out what they have, so you don’t feel the need to shop for books and ruin your shopping ban! You can even hang out in the library.
Plus, if you’re a book collector, you probably have a stack or two of books at home that are still unread.
Since you’re on a bit of a financial journey with your shopping ban, you could focus on finding financial books or blogs to read. Passive income books, for example, might spark creative ideas for earning more money.
Find free activities to do while on shopping ban island
Along the same lines as reading, there are countless activities to try that won’t cost any money. Check out Facebook groups for free activities in your area, or follow the local Chamber of Commerce for possible free stuff to do.
If shopping is often a group activity, be sure to let your friends in on the fun. Try some of these 40 free things to do with friends, like chilling with a movie you already own or taking a walk in the park. Trust me, being frugal does not have to be boring.
Declutter your home
Okay, for some of us, decluttering sounds like a nightmare. But even for those of us who resist it, finding the motivation to declutter is almost always worth it.
Going through your home with a decluttering eye could be the perfect activity to do instead of shopping. It makes sense because the more you look at your stuff, the more you start to see dollar signs on everything you’ve ever bought.
Then, as you toss (or donate) your old items, that may make the idea of buying more things less appealing. Everything you buy now, you’ll have to clean or maintain or store later.
These decluttering books can provide guidance if you’re feeling overwhelmed at first. (But try to find them at your library instead of buying them!)
8. Delete saved payment accounts online
It’s one of the cardinal rules of quitting a shopping habit: delete your saved payment information. Well, it’s not a rule, but it definitely is a strategy that makes shopping more inconvenient.
As habit expert James Clear writes, if your environment is currently making bad habits easier and good habits harder, you need to change your environment.
An example he gives is to hide the remote control if you’re trying to break a TV habit. Deleting your saved payment information works the same way for a shopping habit.
If you’ve saved your credit card or bank information online, it can be horribly easy to buy things with a single click on your phone. One way to spend less money (and less time on your phone) is to quit making online shopping so convenient.
Many people have reported that they’re less likely to click “buy” if they have to manually enter payment details on every transaction. It just might work for you!
9. Do the shopping ban with a friend
Maybe you often drop by Target with a friend and end up buying a cartful of items you didn’t plan on buying.
Don’t assume your friends are happy with their spending habits—ask them if they want to join you on shopping ban island. There’s no rule that says you have to live there alone!
Having a friend to tackle a challenge with makes it that much easier. If you’re someone who responds well to accountability, doing your shopping ban with someone else is a great idea.
You can find alternative activities to do instead of shopping. Maybe you’ll plan a fun (non-shopping-focused) reward after you’re done.
Even if your friends don’t want to commit to a shopping ban with you, make sure they understand your goal. If they love you, they can help by supporting your financial goals.
10. Have someone check in on you regularly
This goes along with having a buddy on shopping ban island. Getting yourself an accountability partner may make it easier to stick to your no-shopping guidelines.
Talk with your accountability partner about what you need. You might agree to have her check in with a text every day at a set time. Or a weekly check-in might be enough.
Just knowing I have someone who’s going to ask if I achieved my goal often gives me enough motivation to do the hard things.
11. Build in a negative consequence if you break the rules
One fun method of accountability is to set up a negative consequence. This is something that will happen or that you have to do if you fail to meet your goal.
The ways people use this strategy vary. Maybe you promise to donate to a political candidate you hate if you break the rules. Or if you have an accountability partner, you could include this negative result in your agreement.
Example: If you hate zombie movies but your friend loves them, the negative consequence might be that you have to watch their favorite one if you shop. The threat of having to do something you dislike may drive you to stick to your plan.
You can survive and thrive during shopping ban island!
It’s true—shopping ban island does not have to feel like a prison. You can set a goal to stop shopping, save more money, and become more financially free.
Try these tips for getting through shopping ban island and even enjoying it. You’ll probably feel a whole lot happier after ditching the shopping habit.