If you follow me on Instagram (if not, click here right now), you’ll know that for the last fortnight, I’ve been doing #FrugalFebruary, a self-imposed challenge to stop the mindless shopping for beauty and style items that I seem to buy on an almost daily basis with hardly a thought as to whether I actually need it or not. What’s been great is to see how many of you are also doing this with me too, and learning from your messages about WHY you’ve decided to do it and what’s keeping you strong in the face of temptation. I have to admit, it’s not as easy as it probably should be, and I’ve had to take some conscious actions to help me resist – that along with your support as I post my daily calendar screenshot with the little green tick that denotes a day free of shopping and spending.
But it’s precisely because of the all the DM conversations that I’m having with you all that I thought it’d be a good idea to get it all down in a blog post. Why I’m doing it, why I think it’s good for us all to do this every once in a while, and how to make it as easy on yourself as possible.
I know most people go on a no-spend in January. After the excesses of Christmas and New Year, coupled with the fact that January is usually a quieter month socially, it seems like sensible timing. But here’s the thing: my birthday is in January, so I’ll normally do a little shopping around that time, and I’ll also have my eye on a few things that will go into the January sales that I wouldn’t want to miss. So all in all, a no-spend January isn’t really viable for me.
BUT, lest you think I’m taking the easy option by scheduling it for February, let me tell you why it’s not as easy it should be. February is when all the new season fashions and makeup start to drop in-store – after months of winter fashions and shades, the stores start to fill up with the Spring colours and styles that we’ve all been desperate for. Not only that, it’s Awards season when we see all the gorgeous red-carpet looks; add to that the multiple Fashion Weeks all around us that fill our feeds with all the newness that I for one am so happy to see and you begin to get the idea about why it’s just as difficult to curb the splurges in February as it might be in January. As one of my followers DM’d me: “You’re mad! I’d never be able to do a no-spend in February – as a stylist I need to be getting hold of all the new season items before they sell out!”
METHOD IN THE MADNESS
There’s method in my madness though; by the time this self-imposed spending ban is lifted in March, I’ll have worked out exactly what I REALLY want or need and I’ll have saved myself from the impulse purchases I (and most of us, from the sounds of things) make week in, week out. Don’t get me wrong; just because I’m not buying anything, it doesn’t mean I don’t see what’s around me; I’m keeping a wishlist of the things I’m tempted by, but when it comes to shopping them next month, I’ll be more selective about what I’ll actually spend my money on, with the likelihood being I’ll have realised I don’t really need most of them – surprise surprise!
THE PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS
There are way more pros than there are cons to doing this, not least of which is the time I’ve freed up by not mindlessly scrolling through the “NEW IN” sections of my favourite websites. Not shopping means that I’m ‘shopping my wardrobe’ and making better use of the clothes, makeup and skincare I already own; more times than I care to note, I’ve realised that I actually have a very similar item to the new version that’s just been launched – most of us don’t really NEED anything new and could quite easily do without buying anything for months on end and never really run out of having something to wear. And of course, there’s the massive favour it’s doing for my/our bank balance – my husband has never seen so few deliveries to our house!
I thought I’d share a few of the strategies that have made this so much easier than I thought it would be (although there have been days when I’ve almost caved in… almost, but not quite).
WHY TEST YOUR WILLPOWER?
Why torture yourself? Willpower is great, but constantly holding out is just plain tiring. Far easier to just not look… off-line and online, it’s just easier not to even look and avoid temptation that way.
MAKE A LIST
If you shop in any of the big five supermarkets for food (online or highstreet), then you know there are so many temptations – even a new lipstick or a plain t-shirt – it all adds up. Far easier to make a list and totally stick to it – don’t even think about checking out this week’s offers – they’ll still be there next month and by then you’ll know if you REALLY need yet another nude lipstick! Better yet, if you don’t trust yourself to not throw in a quick mascara in the shopping trolley, get someone else to do the shopping for you.
ADD ONE, TAKE ONE AWAY
As I mentioned above, of course there are things that haven’t escaped my notice and for those things, I’ve created a wishlist on my phone in the notes app. BUT here’s the crunch; for each thing I’m adding to the wishlist, I’m also listing one (sometimes more, but at least one) item that I’ll either sell or give to charity. Actually, I need to do a huge clearout in addition to this, so keep an eye on my INSTAGRAM and DEPOP accounts where I’ll be listing some of the items for sale. It’s when I do these clearcuts that I realise how much of an impulse shopper I sometimes am – I have so many things I’ve never worn, but I remember at the time thinking how much I HAD to have that item… quite a sobering thought. Basically, I guess this is the point of this whole exercise – to be more mindful of what we spend our hard earned money on.
My last two strategies have been the most useful…
STAY OFF INSTAGRAM STORIES
Ironic that I should suggest this, seeing as so much of my social media sharing is within the instagram platform, but seriously, stay away from mindlessly scrolling through other people’s stories to see them showing off new products daily (more often than not, with a swipe-up that gives you the option to buy it straight away). Continually seeing other peoples purchases or suggestions subliminally normalises your desire and self-justification to shop constantly… bear in mind most influencers haven’t ACTUALLY bought the item they’re showing you, it’s just a photo taken from a website of the product, with a link to to shop it. (9 times of out 10, they haven’t bought it, and even if they have, I bet loads of them return it after photographing themselves with it – yes, I’m getting cynical here).
Last but not least…
If you’re anything like me, your email inbox is awash with special offers, flash sales, time-limited extra discounts, new in… however else it’s dressed up, it’ll be an email from shopping websites you don’t even remember signing up to. Recently, I’m just clicking that unsubscribe button at the bottom of each email as and when they come in – it’s such a satisfying feeling and if I don’t read about or know about a special offer, I’m not tempted, right? Of course, this also comes with the added bonus of clearing up my inbox from lots of surplus emails I never actually read that clog up the in-tray and risk me missing the emails I actually DO need to see – so it’s a WIN-WIN!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAILSAFE WAYS TO SPEND LESS AND BE MORE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU ACTUALLY SPEND ON? ARE YOU EVEN DOING #FrugalFebruary? OR DID YOU HOLD BACK IN JANUARY? I’D LOVE TO KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
*images from unsplash