Monday, February 9, 2015

No-Buy January

As a bit of a personal challenge, I decided to go the month of January "without buying anything."  I put that in quotes because there were obvious exceptions.  Case in point, groceries.  Beer counts as a grocery, if bought at a grocery store.

I guess it would be better to say I went the month without buying anything frivolous.  The main thing I wanted to focus on was clothing, because I've been doing a mini wardrobe overhaul for the past few months (still ongoing), and it was starting to add up.  Additionally, I've been spending more at restaurants than I would like to lately, so I wanted to limit that as well.

It was interesting.  For one thing, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.  Since I knew I wasn't going to be buying anything, I spent a lot less time browsing, both online and in stores, than I have in past months.  This proved challenging when I went to Nordstrom Rack to help Joe exchange a shirt.  I found this cape, at an amazing price of only $60 or so, marked down from well over $200.  I love the color, it felt very nice/soft, and I've wanted a cape for months now.  But I told myself, "Self, you already have a nice coat and you don't actually need a cape.  If you're going to spend money, it would be best spent on something else."

I'll be honest, I spent about an hour that day in a funk.  But I got over it.  Besides, I'm secretly hoping Nordstrom Rack will have a "Clear the Rack" sale so I can go see if they still have it, for an additional 25% off...

Beyond that, I never found myself upset that I couldn't buy something.  And it's not like I went on a major shopping spree once February came.  After spending a month of not really looking for things to buy, I don't feel the urge to compulsively browse online stores as much anymore.  Doesn't mean I'm done buying things forever, of course.  I still have some serious issues with my wardrobe and I'm looking for new pieces to replace the ones I don't like, or that just don't go with anything else I own.  But taking a month off gave me a chance to actually think about what I have and what I want, and where I have major gaps in my wardrobe.  So now I can focus on filling the gaps, rather than just buying things because I think I might need it.

I will admit, the month wasn't perfect.  I've been on a massive Sims 2 kick lately, so I decided to buy the remaining expansions that I didn't already have.  It probably could have waited, but I was also buying the games used, so there was a chance that if I waited longer, the cheap ones would be sold and I'd have to buy a more expensive one.  That's the defense (excuse) I'm giving, but I will say I don't regret it because I've had a lot of fun messing around with the new games.

Additionally, Joe and I went out for dinner twice.  The first was before I even decided to do this challenge, and it was something we had been planning since December anyway.  I had a $10 gift card from my birthday, as well as a second, stackable coupon for a free appetizer.  I like almost $20 of free food.  The second time, we went out with a bunch of our friends to watch a football game.  I think it's important to have a balance between saving money and being social.  Even if I go out to eat on occasion, I can still put aside a decent amount of money each month.  I'm not trying to be cheap; just frugal.

So overall, I would say the challenge was a success.  No, I wasn't perfect.  But I was able to cut down on absentminded browsing of online stores, which will undoubtably cut down on future spending if I keep it up.  I was able to think more critically about what it is specifically that I don't like about my current wardrobe.  As an added bonus, I received a nice boost to my net worth.  And that, to me, is a lot more satisfying than buying a cape.  (Though I still really, really hope it's not sold out at my Nordstrom Rack...)