Shopping Ban FAQ

Since announcing that I was going to do the shopping ban for a second year, I’ve noticed an influx of new readers have been asking a handful of the same questions. In case I haven’t answered them in previous posts, I’ve put my answers to all of your FAQs in one spot!

Why aren’t you allowed to get takeout coffee? That’s not shopping!

Since starting this blog in 2011, I’ve been pretty public about the fact that takeout coffee is my biggest vice. When I lived in Toronto, I went to Starbucks twice/day during the workweek and again on weekend mornings. I cut back, when I was living in Vancouver, but not by much… and when you track your spending every week, like I do, you eventually get to a point where you start asking yourself if what you’re spending money on is something you truly value. The answer with coffee was no. So, I challenged myself to give it up – not just to save money, but because I knew I didn’t value putting my money towards that addiction.

Do you really never get takeout coffee?

The answer to that is also no. When I was about seven months into the first yearlong shopping ban, I started to feel like I was being a bit too strict about the whole thing. There were days when I’d meet a friend for breakfast at 8am and not order a cup of coffee with my food, even though I hadn’t had any yet. Then I’d go home with a headache and feel ridiculous for having turned down a $2 cup of regular coffee, just for the sake of the shopping ban. I also got sick of saying “no” to every single coffee date request from friends and clients, and declining offers from everyone to buy me a coffee or tea, so we could get something warm to fill our bellies over good conversations.

The point of the takeout coffee ban wasn’t to affect my relationships, or to make other people spend money on me – it was to quit my takeout coffee addiction, and I did that. So, I try to always suggest going for walks, hikes, etc. with friends, but I won’t say no to coffee dates, on occasion.

Do you still eat at restaurants?

Yes – but not as much as I used to. Again, when I was living in Toronto, I was spending at least $250/month at restaurants. Now, I might go out once/week and typically spend $75-100/month. One thing I’ve noticed, as time has gone on, is that I don’t value restaurant meals as much as I used to. While I was once happy to spend $25-30 on brunch and a latte every weekend, as well as went out for numerous lunches and dinners during the week, I’m now at a stage where I only like to do that once/week. Similar to coffee, I often suggest other things to do with friends, but one meal out with good company is nice. 🙂

If you don’t go out to eat often, do you find that you go overboard at the grocery store?

Nope, I can honestly say that I’ve been spending the same amount on groceries for years (besides the fact that food prices have skyrocketed, so my budget has inflated for that reason). I buy pretty basic foods and try to meal plan so I eat the same thing for a few days. I typically spend $225/month on groceries.

What about entertainment, fitness classes, etc.? Where does that stuff fit into the ban?

I value experiences (entertainment) and my health (fitness classes), so I’ll do whatever fits into my budget! Since starting the shopping ban in 2014, I’ve bought 1 ticket to a hockey game, 3 concert tickets and gone to numerous classes at my local recreation centre ($6.50/class).

Oh, and I get my haircut maybe twice/year and refuse to pay salon prices for colour or highlights!

What’s been the toughest part about not shopping?

Not being able to buy new books – without a doubt. I’m 13 months into this 24-month challenge and I still want to buy them! But, not being able to buy new books has also been the best part of this experience, because it’s forced me to face one of my worst spending habits. If I hadn’t broken that one bad habit, I honestly don’t think I would’ve gotten as much out of this challenge as I have. Since I know how much I already own (including unread books), it’s easy to not shop for anything new, because I know I already have stuff I need to use up/read first!

How do you stayed motivated?

There are definitely days where I want to throw in the towel and just buy some new clothes or get this one book I can’t wait to read… but my answer to the question above is what helps me stay motivated. Because I know how much I already have, I know I don’t actually need anything more to be happy. Having the small approved shopping list also helps, because then I’m able to save up and buy a few things I really want – and I’ve learned how rewarding delayed gratification can be.

Finally, similar to my debt repayment journey, the other thing that helps me stay motivated is knowing I have to stay accountable to all of you!

Any other questions? Shoot me an email!