When my friend Danielle asked me if I would like to join a No Shop February challenge this month, I thought it was a great idea. After one week of it, I am surprised with how it went and what I learned about myself. I have a feeling by the end I’ll be proud of myself. I’m already super proud of all the other ladies who have joined in on this challenge. My #NoShopFeb focus: mindful spending helps set the pace for mindful living. Each gal joined for slightly different reasons – but cheers to all of us in solidarity, and to a more mindful month for all (including you!). One Month. One Goal. One Community. Let’s Go, No Shop February!
Why am I doing #NoShopFeb?
1// I love my blogging community in Boston.
See below – awesome ladies. Doing something together with some of them makes it automatically fun.
2// I wanted to try an accountability challenge.
One of my personal goals for 2018 is to focus on my health and fitness. I don’t enjoy exercising at the gym. It seems whatever strategy I have used doesn’t work to get me there and to enjoy it in a regular way. So, I’m trying out accountability to see if that may help me save $$, to know if I should try it for fitness and get a fitness buddy! (Any volunteers?)
3// I like to save $ on food.
Last year, I had a strong desire to save, so I developed a system to reward us for every meal NOT eaten out. I had this kitchen tips calendar (which has great tips I’ve cut out, reference, and use + a tear away market list each week) on the fridge and would write down what we’ve eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I assigned a dollar amount to every meal eaten in (or brought to work): breakfast was worth $8, lunch $10, dinner $20 per person. At the end of the week, I tallied how much we didn’t spend on eating out, and deposited it into my savings – cha-ching! However, a temporary loss of grant $ out of my control required me to divert savings into living expenses, and since then, that system hasn’t been in use after a good 5-6 month run. I’d love to start that up again.
Reality Check: While I eat breakfast and lunch from home, I can’t commit to that this month because 1) I need a new calendar – the system worked really well before as a physical reminder of spending, saving, and also how healthy/unhealthy our food choices were. 2) I’m tired and exhausted while I finish my PhD next month. Cooking and meal planning (other than a relaxing “I feel like baking or making my favorite food!”) is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me. It isn’t realistic to add that to #NoShopFeb for me, and I’m OK with that. I am still saving $ by not spending for breakfast and lunch, but dinner mostly is out. I don’t buy coffee out during the weekdays (maybe once a week, on a weekend, when I’m out with B), so that is pretty good.
4// Mindful spending
While I save on food, I spend on style. The most money I spend any month is on groceries and living expenses. Next comes clothes or shoes, and then home organization items.
I actually really love saving money and getting a good deal. I’m not awesome at things like bargain shopping because TJ Maxx, Marshalls, even Target sometimes stresses me out. If I do bargain shopping, it is online so I can clearly make sense of what I’m looking for and the bee-bop-doots in the webosphere do all the sifting and sorting for me. I do love neatly organized shelves and a nice shopping experience when I do shop, but finding a strategic way to get the maximum savings with credit card deals, discounts, rebates all at once for an item is how I get a good deal. In other words, I will wait for the best combination of deals, but I won’t search endlessly online for the cheapest version of an item. If you aren’t already on Ebates (get cash back for normal purchases) get on it – no reason not to!
My weakness? Books. I love books – but at the current slow-to-a-crawl rate I read them, I wouldn’t be surprised if they all got huffy and walked out on me. At any given time “I’m reading” 5 – but that means I pick it up and read a chapter or two and read a different one the next day or later that same day. I respect authors and their creative génie so much that these sacred little windows into adventures and possible newly inspired iterations of me are very attractive. The Tally: I’ve got enough books (in three different cities at this point) to start a library (a little over 1000? – I counted before a move once). Actually, we had a home library room when I was little, and Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie…so…you can fill in the pieces. Not buying shiny new books is hard for a serial learner.
My #NoShopFeb guidelines
Not buying other unnecessary clothing, shoe, home items is something that I think I could do – I don’t need anything now. If I do need something for the house (I’ve had my eye out for a specific functionality for a furniture piece) and find something that fits the bill, no compromises, and is an appropriate deal, I’ll consider a purchase. Gifts for others and replacing necessities are OK.
The bottom line: buying for buying’s sake is a NO. I want to continue to practice cultivating a habit to be thoughtful about what physical items I bring into my life. Quality over quantity. Collect moments not things. Love the things that are part of those moments, and be generous. Feel lighter, freer, organized. The hope is to curate a home that is FREE and HAPPY and WONDERFUL, and things? They would not be a hindrance to feeling free and light.
Reality Check: During this first week of #NoShopFeb, I came face to face with one of my stress coping mechanisms. Looking at pretty things, browsing (especially since malls and shops are warm and organized…essential during a cold New England winter) sometimes can cheer me up. The limitation of NOT being able to come home with any small thing (never a big item) actually made me sad. I know this is a particularly stressful time of my life with my education and career, so if I could have chosen a different month to do a #NoShop challenge, perhaps that would have been a happy medium. I hope I can identify another equally satisfying or relaxing pastime to do. Any ideas? Something not social – introvert over here, hi!
5// A chance to change my taste and habits and let go of some things.
The fun part is paring down what I wear to favorites in my wardrobe. A couple of years ago, I had a really hard time getting dressed – I didn’t like my clothes anymore, which was a signal that my taste was changing and mainly, I was growing into a new me. Not growing up with a lot of options as a kid, I was accustomed to holding onto clothes through the years because I needed something to wear – regardless of whether I liked it or not. I’m grateful to have the option to wear classic or trendy styles now, as it allows me another a way to be creative.
After that uninspired period, I assembled the makings of a capsule wardrobe and told myself if there was a day I couldn’t decide what to wear, I would wear a classic outfit: a white button down, black pants, and call it a day. To take the guess work out on those days when getting dressed is a chore, I arrange these items that ALWAYS look good in one part of my closet. I try to purchase pieces that I have a sincere gut feeling about – they have to be quality, comfortable, stand the test of time, and feel genuinely like ME. I also avoid fast fashion, because of my work in getting this article on fast fashion published.
Letting go of items is a challenge for me. I let go of something once that was in the family, and I regret it every time I think about paring my belongings down. Because I think about how cool it is to receive something passed down with a history, it becomes harder to figure out what is OK to hold on to for sentimental reasons, and what is OK to let go of. If you have any experience with this, please comment below! Plus, does anyone else think of how your jacket today *could* be cool and vintage for your kids or grandkids? Lesson learned: trust my gut.
I have a few small piles of donations growing in all categories. In January, I purchased this Clean Out Kit for clothes from one of my favorite lady-owned Boston businesses, Brass Clothing. Despite best intentions, did you know that clothes you donate may actually go sit in a landfill in the US, or worse yet, in a southeast asian country? Throwing our trash in another country is so WRONG and upsetting. Brass sends these clothes to Green Zone which will either recycle or upcycle (some fabrics can’t decompose or be recycled!) the fabrics into something new.
How’s that for peace of mind + decluttering + conscientiously donating excess?Good, very good.
Back to Community…join in on #NoShopFeb!
As I mentioned, I’m doing this with a bunch of other lovelies. Some post how they remake outfits (all from their own closets), some about how they’re saving $ on those daily coffee runs, avoiding Target or Amazon, and others about the good they’re doing with saved $ or donations.
Follow us on Instagram
@achicvoyage@afashionfix@alexmjdotcom@amodestlife@asequinedlife@ashleyvbeine@bluebootsgo (hi, that’s me!) @champagne_thursday@cmcinthecity
@d_mobley@elizabethev@emilyshell @gretski126 @iceicebergha @jenfirshe@jqlouise
@klassicallykaytee @kristinbassett @kristylyons@lyssmmm @mystyletales @natmazz
@nishatnguyen @primandpropah @sassyysaraa @shaunagallagher @sixfeetinheels
@speedy2ac @thechroniclesofsheel @Aline_aesthetic @alexbyersays @katie_c_mac
Check out our blog posts – I’ll update this list when there are new ones 🙂
Want to join in??
Do you have any goals you want to make, or $$$ losing habits to kick? I need that emoji with the dollars that fly away, haha! Make your own guidelines, share, and inspire. There’s still time, just use and follow the #noshopfeb (did you know you can Follow #tags now?), and see you on the ‘gram! 😉
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This is so well written Sanae! I love the idea for a kitchen tips calendar, but I also don’t blame you about not participating while you finish your PhD – I’ve found that my health is more important than saving a few dollars, so on nights when I don’t get home until, say, 9pm, I don’t feel guilty picking something up instead of starting to cook at that late hour and losing sleep.
Excited to be in this with you!
Hi Emily! Thank you so much for commenting. I am so happy that it reads well. The calendar is great! It really helped motivate me to save. Health is priority, and I just trust and have faith that everything will get done in its own time. I’m happy we are in this #noshopfeb together – it is better together <3
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