I stopped shopping yesterday as the first step on my path to be Debt Free.   I will stick to this moratorium for six months.  The inspiration came from Cait Flanders, who followed her shopping moratorium for twelve months. When I told a good friend what I was doing and for how long I might follow it, she immediately cautioned me to see if I can stick to the shopping moratorium for a shorter period…like ONE MONTH!  Really?  I guess I am even worse than I realized if my closest friends have that kind of response. With this in mind, I am compromising at a SIX MONTHS moratorium.  A couple of days ago, I finally informed my better half that I was beginning a shopping moratorium.  The response was: “Why now?”  OK, that is a fair question, but I had been hoping for something more like: “That’s great!  What can I do to help?”  I explained my inspiration recently came from a book called The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders. His lack of enthusiasm helped me to realize any major behavioral change by me affects those around me as well. I should set some ground rules so the shopping moratorium remains real and attainable. I created a shopping list of exemptions and a list of off-limit items:

Exemptions:

  1. Groceries and pet food.  I will try to avoid impulse items, but groceries (including paper goods like napkins, plates, paper towels) are allowed, and I won’t hassle myself over it.
  2. Work items that I need.  This does not include “That would be cool for…”   Included work exemptions are
    1. Books needed to help me improve my work, that are either not available as an e-book/audiobook from my local library, or that I need on hand for reference. 
    1. Office supplies such as paper- one case at a time, ink, laminating supplies etc.- my employer pays or reimburses office supplies.
    1. Office items my employer instructs me to buy.  Since I won’t be spending my own funds for those, they don’t count against my moratorium.
  3. Appliances that replace broken ones I regularly use.
  4. Supplies for three current projects that I have already started, made little progress on, but which I decided must be completed by this fall.
  5. Gifts and cards for others.  Since I have been decluttering, I may give experiences as gifts instead of items to clutter someone else’s home, but either way, if I am giving a gift away for a special occasion such as a birthday, retirement, get well, anniversary or expression of sympathy; I will allow spending on it.
  6. Items for other family members, if needed.  My parents can no longer get around as easily as they did, and having a personal shopper sometimes helps.  I have great parents who rarely ask for anything, so if they want it and I can get it, I will.
  7. Things we (my spouse and I) already agreed we needed to buy, such as car seat covers so our energetic dog does not destroy our vehicle.
  8. Replacement clothing – only if something wears out or is destroyed by the dog.  He is still a puppy, and while he has improved, we still lose shoes or garments when he gets them.
  9. Travel expenses.  We have to take a few trips this summer and will have expenses from them, but I will not be buying lots of things to take with us and will plan the trip to reduce the “Oops!  I forgot to pack the…” extra purchases of stuff I already have at home.

Things I will not buy:

  1. Supplies for any new projects.  This means I can only start new project if supplies are already on hand, which should also help me declutter.  I start lots of projects and get sidetracked by more urgent deadlines, which creates a build up of partially finished projects.  Old projects need to be completed first as part of my simultaneous attempt to declutter.
  2. Shoes – unless an old pair wears out.
  3. Fast food or coffee house beverages.
  4. Pool accessories – because it is finally warm enough to enjoy jumping back in, but I will not be buying fun inflatables that aren’t needed.
  5. Cool new gadgets.  They are fun, but I don’t need them at this time.

How I Began:

I deleted my wish lists on several sites, and was surprised realize that I felt pretty good about it.  Getting out of debt, and getting to the point where I save up money can be freeing, if I don’t go nuts from the whole find the deal withdrawal.  To offset the impulse to problem solve by buying an item to ease the issue, I will dive into those projects I mentioned, and into summer activities.  By fall, I hope to have developed better problem solving skills using brain power or items on hand.

I just have the one critical step left, BUDGET.  It is not my favorite thing to do, but it is important to look at where the money will be going, if it goes.