It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, but life got busy. I went back to work from mat leave, there was a pandemic, I started teaching online, I got a puppy, I went back to work in person, then we added a little baby boy to our family and I find myself on leave again. Apparently this blog is something I turn to when I’m off work with a little one at home. Something just for me. Just like shopping. In the 8 months or so that I’ve been on mat leave, I have found myself turning more often to online shopping. Boxes turn up, I’m happy, then I’m remorseful. It’s time for a change. So I’m going on a little shopping diet for a month and documenting it here to keep me accountable and to perhaps entertain my readers. I am not going to say a shopping fast because I know that I will of course need to buy things like winter things for the kids but I am going on a shopping diet where I will not buy ANYTHING unnecessary. Cute jeans on sale? Sorry, can’t have them. Running shoes out of style and now I look like a sad case? Cue the violins. I am determined to succeed in this challenge and I’m hoping to blog daily about the experience (fear not dear reader, each post wont be as lengthy as this one).
But first, a little background
I have always been a shopper. I remember spending my pocket money as soon as I got my mitts on it and rarely saving for something I really wanted, preferring the instant gratification of what I could afford right then. When I got my first job as a teenager at a clothes shop, I spent my pay cheque before I got it by putting new clothes to the side to buy as soon as the deposit hit my account. In university I spent more of my loan than I like to admit at Primark so I could have a new dress each week. Patience is not a virtue I possess. I will start DIY projects late at night because it springs to mind, I dye my hair on a whim because I can’t wait until my salon appointment and if I want something, I get it. I’ve always been this way so I know it’s going to be a tough habit to crack.
So why change the habit of a lifetime?
The extended time at home over the past few years has highlighted to me how much stuff I have. I’ve purged several times and each time I fill numerous bags with rubbish (gaaarrrbage), take them to the garage where they live for a few months, send my husband to the dump and then vow to never accumulate that much again. And I don’t , for a while. But then there’s a ping in my inbox with a must have sale or there’s a gorgeous new pillow at Homesense that I simply MUST have, or a candle, or shoes, or the latest jeans because I can’t be caught dead in skinny jeans even though I hardly leave my house. Slowly but surely the items pile up again and I find myself cramming hangers into my groaning closet, piling candles into every spare drawer I can find and sorting endless pieces of plastic junk my kids have collected from Happy Meals and the Dollar Store into various bins. Then I get frustrated, purge, send my garbage to the garage purgatory, send my long suffering husband to the dump and vow to never buy anything ever again. But then that itch comes back and the cycle repeats. I have found that things have become especially bad since being at home. I spend a lot of time on my phone because I have little mind power for much else with the lack of sleep and general exhaustion from 3 kids. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a bit of an identity crisis as my body has changed and I’ve moved into my mid thirties. I’ve struggled to find a style that I love so I quite often look to social media for inspiration. However, what starts as looking for inspiration quickly turns into me furiously typing in my credit card security code and anxiously tracking yet another purchase as it makes its way to my house. Then there’s the late night Amazon binges while I’m desperately trying to not fall asleep on my baby and he babbles to me at 3am. I also love making my kids happy and find myself mindlessly buying them items they want, but don’t need. Yes I know material things don’t buy happiness but as someone who gets a high off new things I find it hard to imagine that everyone doesn’t feel happy when they receive a shiny new item. Often, things show up I don’t really remember buying and if I’m honest, there’s rarely a day that passes where there isn’t some sort of delivery. I feel the pit in my stomach and no matter how much I love my new shoes, I can’t help but feel guilty. Something has to give before I end up with an empty bank account, a mountain of plastic and clothes and enough Amazon boxes to build the addition that we are planning to build on our home (to be honest, I might HAVE to use boxes if I don’t start saving). Also I want to show my kids that you have to save money and determine the difference between a want and a need. It’s my job as their parent and right now I’m hardly a role model.
Where do I start?
Other people who have embarked on a shopping ban seem to begin with a massive clear out full of dramatic discoveries of clothes with tags and random items that they forgot they bought but I’ve been there and done that and it hasn’t helped me. I’ve got to go deeper. However, I also don’t want to get overwhelmed so I’m starting with somethings seemingly small but a huge trigger for me. Marketing emails and social media.
I know that a lot of my shopping issues stem from my insecurities and my desire to fill my life with things to make me feel like better. I really think social media has a negative effect on me when it comes to shopping as it is quite literally feeding into my addiction. TikTok is constantly showing me stylish women living their best life in Scandi style clothes and as I go deeper into the rabbit hole, that crafty algorithm feeds me more and more until I have 30 new shopping carts overflowing with birkenstocks, wide leg trousers and various chunky knits. When it’s not clothes, its makeup promising to make me look amazing and to cover up my skin problems (I’m sensitive about my skin after developing melasma and I’m positive the algorithm knows that). Then there’s the emails. Oh the constant emails with Super cash and sales and urgent titles that make me think that I must buy leggings at 50% off even though I have 300000 pairs sitting in my closet. I often hit purchase before I have time to think leading to a whole lot of stuff I don’t really want.
DAY 1 Challenge – Tackling Marketing Emails and my social algorithm
So today I am choosing to start my journey with unsubscribing from all marketing emails. Yup, all of them. I am letting go of the fear that I will miss the sale of a lifetime because you know what, there are ALWAYS sales. If you’re British I’m sure you know that DFS has had a sale on since the dawn of time. If you’re from North America, Old Navy is constantly telling you to run and buy from their biggest sale EVER! It’s a scam my friends and I am freeing myself from it. Now the social media side is going to be trickier. I would love to say “I’m quitting TikTok and Instagram and become a book reading, walk taking, self care queen!” but I know that wont stick and I really only need to climb one mountain at a time. So I’m going to be intentional about shifting my algorithm away from shopping and more towards creators who inspire me with saving money, minimalism and finding happiness outside of the mall.
So there you have it, day one of my shopping diet. I will check in tomorrow to let you know how it goes, unless I am still unsubscribing from the thousands of email lists I’ve found myself on. I challenge you to do the same with me. Unsubscribe from those emails you signed up for when you got 20% off long ago because they sure as heck aren’t about saving you money now!