My self imposed shopping ban comes to an end in less than a month (April 30th) and time is ripe for a little reflection.
Before starting, I want to talk a bit about the nature of this ban. Before last November, every month I had a budget, for my fixed living expenses (rent, food, transport etc), any special occasion (bf's birthday, anniversary) and a small allowance. I did not have a budget for clothing and shopped on the go, the same way one stops for a cappuccino I stopped for a little trinket from Forever 21. But over time these trinkets added up, and before I knew it I was charging up a storm on my student credit card. Yes, I got a lot of free air miles, but you could barely consider them free, at least not after accounting for the accumulated interest.
As entertaining as it might sound, I was turning into a real life Rebecca Bloomwood, but there was no Luke or godsend personal shopper job to pull me out of this abyss. So I took the only step that made sense, I stopped shopping. No trinkets here and there and nothing other than essentials like replacing my last pair of black pantyhose when it rips, and if my monthly allowance did not have any room for that then I vowed to go without. Thankfully the situation did not come to that, in fact it was nothing like I had ever imagined it to be.
Here I thought I would surely die if I could not shop for 6 months, but clearly I am alive and writing this post about my experience. All I've realized is that we take a lot in our life for granted, a lot of unnecessary things and real life is truly lived when you trim all the excess off.
It's almost like the last six months literally snapped me out of a deep but disturbed slumber. When I had hours of free time from not wandering listlessly around shops, I read. I found blogs like Zen Habits and Mnmlist and books like Savvy Chic and Entre Nous, that showed me how the value of a life well lived is not measured by the amount of things we possess but how we spend our time acquiring meaningful experiences. I read blogs like Dead Fleurette, who inspired me to experience the sheer pleasure of saving long and hard for a few but perfect pieces to create a timeless wardrobe. The values I learnt, the words I read were nothing new, the age old practices of leading a simple but meaningful life, stopping to smell the roses and quality over quantity. I wondered how I had forgotten these values I had grown up with and when did I become a blind consumption machine???
When I started the shopping ban, I just wanted to be debt free, but what I learned in the process is, to live life the way its meant to be, simple, slow and meaningful. I rediscovered the beauty of a home cooked meal, made with the freshest ingredients I can afford, the luxury of a gorgeous silk lined wool cape that I saved up for months and will enjoy for years, the gift of time that I have an abundance of as I never will have to run like a mad woman for more money to afford the next new toy or spend hours organizing and cleaning a houseful of stuff that I neither love nor need.
I have learned to allow only those things, people, experiences to enter my life, which have a deep meaning to me and I have never been more at peace with the world.
And if I really want a black Mulberry Bayswater bag, I am confidant that by the time I finish saving up for it and track it down, I will know for sure if we're meant to be together. Because nothing really proves love better than the test of time. :)
Have you ever made a decision like this, that ended up giving you much more than you could ever dream of?