Why and How You Should Do a Shopping Ban

Girl in clothing shop

A shopping ban is exactly what it sounds like, a ban from shopping. But the exact rules for a shopping ban tends to differ depending on who you ask. Most people, however, would include any shopping in the form of clothes and apparel, as well as shoes and accessories. Many would also add any items for the home or tech appliances.

So why should you try a shopping ban, and how do you do it?

Why should you do a shopping ban?

There are many reasons for doing a shopping ban, but I would ultimately say that they all include something. And that is sustainability. Ther reasons might be:

Financial sustainability

It’s quite common for people that are in debt or are facing tough financial times to cut their shopping for a shorter or longer period. It allows them to cut their unnecessary spendings from shopping to better their financial status.

Environmental sustainability

More and more people are getting aware of the fact that overconsumption is killing the planet and the people. Buying less stuff will have a positive impact on one’s personal impact on the world. It will mean fewer resources used to produce products for you, as well as fewer things to have to recycle, reuse, repurpose.

Mental sustainability

There is a reason why Marie Kondo and minimalism have become a big trend. Living with less can give you more time for the things that really matter. If you are a shopaholic and only find joy in buying new things all the time a shopping ban can be a great way to kick the bad habit.

No matter why you want to buy less a shopping ban is a great way to detox your shopping habits.

How to do it?

Set clear rules

The first thing to do is to set rules that work for your situation. If you have kids it might be hard to ban all type of shopping you do, but you could decide that purchases for the children are okay, but not for you. Some people think that gifts are okay to buy, as they are not for yourself. Some people include almost all purchases in a ban, even experiences such as travels, concerts and restaurant visits.

If you have any purchases you know will be needed during the time of the shopping ban, it’s a good idea to write out a list of needed items that are exempt from the ban. You might need to buy a bridesmaid’s dress for your best friends wedding, your running shoes are starting to break, or your computer is really old and you do not know if it will survive the time. The rules are for you to have a better experience and to hold yourself accountable.

Be realistic

This one is probably the most important one. You need to be realistic with both the rules of the shopping ban and during the actual process. What works for others might not be for you. I know people who have done modified shopping bans where they are not allowed to buy anything new, but they can buy second hand.

Also, don’t be a Scrooge for things like your health and wellbeing and don’t feel bad if unexpected expenses come up. You might get a bad toothache that will result in expensive appointments. There is nothing you can do about this (except maybe keeping a buffer for unexpected events), so just deal with it and move on. You simply need to give room to life happening, e.g. it’s okay to replace something you really need that breaks, it will not make you a bad person. The ban is a detox, it is meant to change your habits, not get rid of them all together!

Remove & avoid the temptation

Just like when you’re on a diet (not that I really do diets, because they kinda suck) it’s a good idea to remove and avoid all temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

A great first step in removing temptation is to unsubscribe from all sources that usually triggers your shopping behavior. This can mean unsubscribing from e-mails or send-outs from companies, as well as muting or unsubscribing from brands or influencers on social media. Avoiding temptation can mean that you avoid going into stores all together or at least the ones where you usually shop. It can mean that you avoid going to the mall since it might trigger you. Sometimes it might even involve avoiding certain people that seem to trigger your behavior…

Change your habits

Changing your habits and exchanging them for new (healthier) ones is key to remaining the behavior after the ban is over. Otherwise, you risk returning to bad habits once the ban is off. It doesn’t really matter what you fill your time with, you could swap scrolling through online shopping sites for reading a book, or knitting, or whatever that makes you feel good. But try to swap it for something positive. Sometimes we do not understand how much time we actually spend consuming or looking to consume, but if you use that time wisely, you can come a long way!

Remember it’s not forever

Maybe this seems a little bit contradictive to the last point. Obviously, the intention of the ban is to challenge one’s perceptions and habits. Still, remembering that it’s not forever can help deal with it. Hopefully, when later comes and the ban is over, you won’t have the same urge to buy anymore, and you will have a more conscious relationship to shopping.

Find your creativity

When you are not allowed to follow in your old habits of buying new every time you feel uninspired or bored it is vital to get more creative with what you have. If interior decor is your thing, you could get creative by using items from nature, upcycling things (maybe making a nice candle holder from a glass jar?), or simply rearrange the furniture a bit. If clothing is your biggest vice you could try borrowing from friends, refashion things you already own or try find a way to use something in the not intended way (like a dress as a skirt/top…). I have also found help in using the Cladwell app. It can give you suggestions on how to combine the items you have in ways you didn’t think of before.

Are you up for a shopping ban?