The Six-Month Shopping Fast

Abe: I have something to tell you, but promise me you won't get mad.
(Madaya. How can I promise not to get mad if I don't know what he's going to say?)
Me: Fine.
Abe: You... seem to have been shopping a lot again lately.

Truth be told, for the longest time there has been this nagging feeling that my shopping habits have been spiraling out of control, back into mindless consumption territory. I try to convince myself otherwise; after all, the size of my wardrobe has remained constant, and the same is true for my makeup collection and shoe closet. But I cannot deny the fact that as I got rid of garbage bag after garbage bag of stuff, I also felt more and more entitled to buy replacements (invariably more expensive ones). Which is kind of the exact opposite of what I want to achieve.

And so for the second half of the year, I shall embark on what I'm going to call a "shopping fast". Of sorts.

  • It is, primarily, a way of forcing myself to be more mindful of my purchases. This is painfully embarrassing to admit, but nearly every single day I find something new to obsess over and stalk - be it a water bottle or designer handbag - and more than half the time it culminates in a purchase.
  • For a brief period of time I actually rationalized my almost daily mall visits by the fact that it helps me achieve my daily target of ten thousand steps. Hah. Seriously, though, all that energy I have devoted to shopping would be better spent elsewhere.
  • You would think that, after four years in Singapore and realizing that "sales" are a daily occurrence, discounts would fail to faze me. Nope. Show me a red tag and my immediate impulse is to swipe that credit card. And I don't think I'm alone in this. Just observe a member's only sale at Watson's which happens like, what, once a month? And yet people behave like it's the last day of body wash.
  • I have enough. I have enough shoes, I have enough bags, I have enough clothes, and goodness knows I have more makeup than I could use. I am neither trendy, nor cutting-edge, and I have no need to constantly reinvent my wardrobe. What it needs is refinement, and that is not achieved by impulse-buying piece after piece.
  • I do need to save up for my wedding. Ideally, I would not wish to blow thousands of dollars in a party where I don't even get to eat (I know, I know, it's much more than that). But I've never been able to wrap my head around the immense cost of weddings these days (A thousand dollars for a bouquet! No wonder brides no longer toss theirs), and I keep thinking the money would be better spent on the honeymoon, among other things, but I guess in time I will learn to make my peace with it; that that is the cost of having all the people you love under one roof for one night, or at least that's how I'm trying to frame it. The "making peace" part would undoubtedly be made easier if I have more savings to cushion the blow.

Ground Rules

  • The shopping fast applies to three major categories: wardrobe, vanity (makeup + skincare), and gadgets. Kind of a no-brainer, as these are the areas where I consistently overspend. 
  • I am allowing myself one purchase each month. So I guess it's not technically a fast in the strictest sense of the word, but I think this makes the whole thing more realistic and achievable (read: so I don't go bonkers). Also, I feel it might be interesting, the thought process behind that single purchase.
  • Replacements are allowed, but only if I currently own no duplicates. For example, if I run out of toner, I would most definitely get a new bottle of Proactiv, because I do not have anything to take its place in my existing stash. But if by some miracle I hit pan on a blush, I have several that I could use instead, so no bueno.
  • "Sports things" do not count, i.e. I'm allowed to buy them. This is more out of necessity than anything; when signed up for Pilates last month I realized I owned exactly zero yoga pants. Well, technically I have a couple, from way back when I took Barre3 classes. They have since then been relegated to lounge wear, and are now awesomely faded and overstretched and starting to resemble bacon. And one of them has a hole in the crotch. Yay. Anyway, I am now the proud owner of two new yoga pants, and might have to get more depending on how frequently I end up taking classes. We only get to use the washer once a week because we share it with other building occupants, so it is imperative that I have as many pairs as classes (because ick). 
  • I am not allowed to have Abe buy stuff for me just so it won't "count". And I'm saying this because I can totally see myself doing it. A gift is a different story, I guess, but even so, there should be no coaxing from me.
  • I am allowed to buy things for events, such as weddings or trips to non-tropical countries, if there is nothing suitable in my wardrobe. But only if there's nothing suitable.
  • No wishlisting; that is, no "one million things I will totally splurge on once this shopping fast is over". I think it kind of defeats the purpose.
  • I might relax the rules a bit when I travel, but not too much. Maybe five items max. And only if they are unique to the place I'm visiting.

We all know how previous attempts at shopping bans turned out, but I have every intention of seeing this through. I'm a bit excited, even. Wish me luck.

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