Whether you're drawn to shiny shoes, a gorgeous new Chanel purse, or can't stop buying clothes you don't need it may be time to consider a shopping ban. Constant shopping sprees whether for yourself or others can be detrimental to your finances. However, we understand the struggle of trying to quit a habit like shopping.
The good news is you can go on a shopping ban and be successful and even make it fun. So let's dive into the details of what a shopping ban is and how to do it!
What is a shopping ban?
A shopping ban is a period of time when you choose not to buy certain things that are wants instead of needs. You don’t go shopping for clothes, accessories, jewelry, shoes, etc.
You will decide in advance what not to buy. Some people want to cut out unnecessary shopping, and others tend to focus on specific items, like not buying more handbags or designer shoes.
You can completely customize your shopping ban based on what you usually buy and want to buy less of or what you think will benefit you the most. There’s a lot of “rules” out there, but the bottom line is: do what you need to so you can spend less and meet your goals.
Types of shopping bans
Again you can customize your shopping ban based on the areas you feel you need to cut back on. However, here are a few common types of shopping bans you can try:
Online shopping ban
Seriously, how easy is online shopping? It’s fun and simple to put items in your cart and then just purchase without much thought, especially if you are using a credit card. If you shop online often, you might already have your card information stored on that site, making buying even quicker.
If you love to shop from your phone and constantly order things, choosing an online shopping ban could be a good idea. To do an online shopping ban, remove your card information from the websites you often shop at. Take any shopping apps off your phone, and consider only going online for work or checking emails. It will help you to not buy extra things.
Store shopping ban
Maybe you’re more of an in-person shopper. You browse stores after work or on the weekends and are always looking for deals. A store shopping ban could help a lot. Simply set up your time frame and then avoid stores.
Do your best not to go to a mall or shopping center. Only go shopping for essentials you’ve already decided are acceptable. To help yourself out, you might try altering your driving or walking route to avoid passing by tempting window displays, too.
Specific item shopping ban e.g. a clothing ban
Many people choose to include all non-essential items that they might typically shop for - clothes, shoes, accessories, hats, perfume, makeup, skincare products, home decor items, furniture, technology, books, and other things you already have and don’t need more of.
But maybe shopping, in general, isn’t a problem for you, rather just shopping too much for a specific thing. If that’s the case, then include the items you tend to overspend on by doing a shopping clothing ban, or no shopping for shoes, etc.
Choose what you know you need to avoid, not what is typical for others. Remember, this is to help you succeed with money and change your own perspective on shopping.
Who needs a shopping ban or clothing ban?
We can all probably benefit from a shopping ban now and again. It can be super helpful if only to realign with our own priorities and goals.
But let’s face it - some of us need this more than others. If you’ve found that overspending is a problem for you, or you have trouble with self-control when buying certain items, taking some time to avoid spending can really open your eyes. As a bonus, you're likely to save some money.
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a shopaholic, doing a shopping ban can be a unique challenge and help you understand your buying habits. Everyone should try it at least once to see what they find out.
What are the benefits of a shopping ban?
Avoiding the stores for a while can help in so many ways. It offers a new perspective on life. You might feel more relaxed and less pressured to keep up with others.
And of course, you are going to save some serious money, especially if shopping is a weekly or monthly activity for you.
When you know that buying unnecessary items is no longer an option, it can really change things. Your time will be spent in new ways, not looking at new things to own but using the items you have with more creativity. You may find yourself feeling more grateful for the things you already have.
You could even have extra time in your week, and it may help you spend more quality time with friends and family. This can all change your attitude about shopping and happiness. If you find that you are happier without spending, the chances are, you may change your habits permanently.
No pressure to buy things
What is it about magazines, social media, blogs, and books that make us feel this pressure to be like everyone else? We want to have what they have, and if we don’t, somehow we don’t measure up or are not good enough. This is so false but so easy to believe!
When you start a shopping ban, you aren’t going to buy stuff. The items you own are not you, which is never more evident than when you take part in a shopping ban. And just like that, the pressure to keep up is gone. You may initially feel uncomfortable, but after some time, not having to buy so many things to be fashionable may be very freeing.
Helps your budget
This is an obviously fantastic side effect of not shopping. That money is no longer being spent, so you can save for things that matter to you. What big savings goals have you put off or thought were impossible? With your extra money, you can change your financial future for the better.
Your budget can breathe easier without all the extra money going out the door for the retail stores. When you finish your shopping ban, you may decide to spend less. Your budget will be more controllable, and you may learn a lot about money.
How to start a shopping ban (or clothing ban)
This all sounds pretty amazing, right? So how do you do it? How do you start the process of an online shopping ban, a clothing ban, or a ban for any other items, and then actually have the strength to stick with it when those Jimmy Choo’s go on sale? Here’s what to do.
Decide on the rules
You can’t win if you don’t know how to play the game. The nice thing is that you get to decide the rules. This is for you, so you should make rules that fit your ideals, not just what others are doing. Some examples that you might include are:
- No shopping for clothes, shoes, or purses.
- Instead of shopping, I’ll save $200 a month.
- I can buy groceries and essential skincare products, but nothing unnecessary like new makeup.
- No shopping for non-essentials for two months starting on a specific date.
There are plenty of other rules you can come up with, but here’s our advice. Stick to just a few rules so you don’t make it overly complicated. And make sure the rules work for you and help you reach your own goals.
Pick a timeframe
This is the tricky part. It's easy to start with a long amount of time, but this is likely to not work out. Instead, opt for something reasonable, and know that you can always add more time later if you want to.
An excellent example of an amount of time would be one month or two months. Maybe three if you are feeling ambitious or have significant savings goals. More than anything, know your start and end dates and don’t make the length of time so long that you might slip up.
Once you start your shopping ban, you want to make it easy for yourself to succeed. Do this by avoiding temptation and actively finding ways to stick to your goals. Transfer savings money to your retirement and investment accounts as soon as you get the money. That way, it isn’t there to spend.
Don't bring cash with you when you're out and put your credit cards away. Take shopping apps off your phone and devices, so you don’t see “deals” that come your way.
Using these tactics or any others you can develop, you are setting yourself up to do well. You should also find ways to replace old habits to avoid being tempted to shop. Take up reading instead of flipping through fashion magazines.
Listen to YouTubers and bloggers who talk about money and habits. Find ways to change your routines to help yourself with your shopping ban.
Decide on your goal
Be clear about the outcome you want - your main goal. You must have something you are working towards to help you when you feel like shopping. This goal can be monetary if you want, for example, to save $1000.00. Or it might be a goal of changing to healthier habits that don’t cost you money.
Maybe you want to practice gratefulness and change your mindset. Whatever your goal is, write it down, know what it is, and remind yourself of it often. Make sure it is strong enough that you will want to continue with the experiment, and make it something beneficial to you.
4 Tips for sticking to and having a successful shopping ban
Shopping bans are not easy whether you are trying a clothing ban, a no make-up ban, or something else. They may start out that way, but after a few days or a week, you may begin to feel the effects of not spending and be tempted. Here are some tips to keep up with your goals and do what you set out to do.
1. Consider turning off social media
Social media has some positives, but it is more likely to harm than help you during a shopping ban. Sites like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are likely to show people in the latest fashions or buying new tech gear.
Seeing this kind of thing can be a huge temptation and give you a bad case of FOMO. Social media can definitely cause harm to your finances!
Rather than surrounding yourself with a constant environment of more, consider unplugging from socials during your shopping ban.
Take apps off your phone, log out of Facebook, and do your best to avoid this type of media for a while. If you’re tempted to keep up with friends or family through social media, an old-fashioned phone call or visit is even better.
2. Make a list when you shop for necessities
Obviously, you can’t completely cut out shopping unless your ban time is relatively short. You will still need essentials like food. Before leaving home, consider making a list. Before you shop, know what you need to buy and what to avoid.
If you see something while shopping that you think you can’t live without, look at your list. On your list, include everything essential. But question whether you really need it before adding it, and remember to go into the store, cross things off your list, and leave having only bought those items.
3. Remind yourself that shopping is not a necessity
Groceries and food are necessities. Gas for your car, paying rent, and your phone bill are necessities. A new scarf, wall art, or those brand new sunglasses are…well, not. Retail shopping is not a necessity.
It’s essential to tell yourself that you already have the basic things you need to live. You have food and clothing; you have a place to live. These are things you need. But checking out deals and shopping department stores is just fun.
You don’t need it to survive, and you will be fine without it for a while. If you are having trouble defining needs and wants, our article can be helpful.
4. Focus on the outcome
If your shopping ban goals are not clear, that Everlane sale will be hard to pass up. Focusing on your goal, on what you hope to achieve, is essential for completing a shopping ban. Without a clear plan, most of us would crack under pressure within a matter of days.
Make sure your goal is apparent and work towards it every day. Install new habits to replace shopping, and remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. You are likely to succeed and do very well if you focus on the outcome, not the everyday process.
Improve your finances with a shopping ban!
You can do this! I can’t emphasize that enough. Believe that you can change your habits, save money, and get a new attitude about shopping. Your shopping ban is going to work, even if it takes some time and practice.
Remember that even wanting to do a shopping or clothing ban is a sign of success because it means you are thinking about your future and not just the here and now. Completing one can help you save tons of money, reach your goals, and get the added benefits of gratefulness and a new perspective.
As you go through your shopping ban, remember some basic things: Have a solid time frame, know what you aren’t going to spend on, and remember your goals. These three principles can help you have a successful shopping ban that doesn’t wholly flip your life upside down but adds a better way of thinking and new ideas.
When you finish your shopping ban, you will likely have different thoughts about needs and wants, more savings, and a sound system for deciding when to buy something. These are the great side effects of being disciplined and deciding not to spend. You are totally capable of completing a shopping ban and changing your buying habits!
Bulk up your savings even more by enrolling in our completely free "Savings challenge" bundle! It features various money-savings challenges to help make saving money fun and easy. Also, tune in to the Clever Girl Finance YouTube channel and the Clever Girls Know podcast for tips on curbing your spending, saving money, and looking fabulous on a budget!