How I did a shopping fast for six months

I’m definitely a reformed shopaholic. There was nothing that a bit of shopping couldn’t fix in my life. As soon as I starting working “real” jobs and made a decent salary, I became an online shopping maven. I didn’t grow up with tons of clothes and retail therapy made up for what I didn’t have as a teen.

But when you’re shopping or “treating” yourself every other day, it becomes an issue. They really don’t teach you how to cultivate healthy financial habits in school.  If you don’t grow up with that, it’s so hard to figure out how not to blow your money on everything.

Anyways, I realised that at the ripe ol’ age of 26 I had nothing to show for the last few years but a closet of nice clothes, takeaway receipts and an empty savings account.

(Sidenote: black tax is real thing and also hampers black/brown kids from having much savings to begin with because you’re always helping your family in some or other way financially)

One of the huge things was that I constantly shopped online (yes, Superbalist) and was easily swayed by sales on things I didn’t need. I wanted to start 2018 on a good note, so I embarked on an online shopping fast.

I did have to buy clothes (#weightgain) but it was only from friends/clothes swaps. And now, I’ve noticed how my habits changed.

So here’s how I coped.

Unsubscribe from all those online shopping retailers

The first step in my fast was to make sure I wasn’t getting those notifications. I used to get daily newsletters from around four different online shops and that’s how I got lured in. You don’t need to buy anything just because it’s 40% off, my friends. Not getting those constant reminders, is the easiest way to stick to a budget. Out of sight, out of mind. Sorry, Zando.

Figure out why you’re spending

I had a tendency to spend money on clothes I didn’t need but I also had a look at why I was throwing money away. I loved buying stuff when I had a “bad day” and I was more likely to literal throw money at a sale. I would spend a lot of time scouring sites to find a bargain that would justify spending money. I try now to ask myself, “why do I want this?” or “am I buying this for a good reason?” before just swiping and praying. Tackling the emotions behind my reckless spending helped to isolate the real reason behind these habits.

Evaluate what you really need

Start figuring out what your closet really needs. Are you starting a new job and need more corporate/professional clothes? Or do you work from home and rarely need to shop? Having a clearer idea of what you’ll need lessens the chance of spending money just for the sake of it. You’ll also be able to save up for a quality item within your budget.

Give yourself 24 hours before you purchase

So now the shopping fast is over and I try to implement this rule. If I see something I like, I mull over it for at least 24 hours.

Do I really need another black pants? Okay I do. Why do I want to buy this one? It’s made in Cape Town and I’ll be able to wear it to work. Does it fit my current wardrobe? Yes. These questions might seem excessive, but I genuinely needed to re-evaluate the way I purchased clothing. I used to have 8 different black dresses but I only wore one regularly. I bought them all because they looked nice but didn’t fit my actual needs.

(Sidenote: I’m also a size 8/10 so clothing shops cater to my size. If you’re not in that bracket and struggle to find things you like, you can apply these tips to household items or something else you may spend money on. Fashion is exclusionary af and fatphobic.)

Six months later and this experiment worked well for me. I definitely feel less inclined to spend money on clothes and I’m moving towards a more useful wardrobe. However, it wasn’t always easy and I had to remind myself not to fall back into reckless habits. I’m now gonna try and implement this with my fast food habit (lol).

I hope this helps you or anyone else you know.







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