Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monthly Challenge: No Shop January

I decided that to aid in that sometimes-lacking feeling of accomplishment that can come with my quasi-grownup state, I'm going to take on some kind of challenge each month of 2012. Today I am declaring this month No Shop January. 

It doesn’t ring quite as well as “No Shave November” (which I did NOT participate in), but that’s what I’m calling it nonetheless.

Last year my old roommate, who loved to buy super cute clothes online, decided to do “No Shop November” to accompany her boy toy’s “No Shave November” and save some much needed moolah. Well…I looked at my credit card statement last weekend and realized just how expensive December was. And I also realized how much money I spend on impulsive purchases and projects every month. I don’t think my bank account can wait until November and I really want to get better at saving, so I am holding my own No Shop January to start the year off on the right foot.

I’m trying to set reasonable terms in hopes that I can be a little less impulsive in the following months, so here’s how this is going to work: I’m making a list of non-allowable expenses and making a few exceptions so that I’m not completely devoid of a life this month.

No spending allowed on:
  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Random makeup like lipstick or nail polish
  • Random stuff from Target that I have a tendency to pick up when I’m grocery shopping there, including plastic containers and holiday decorations
  • Sewing and crafting materials
  • Tools (Anything I don’t have I will borrow from my parents—who will be surprised to read this)
  • Wine or beer from the grocery store
  • Fast food/restaurants when I’m eating alone
  • Groupons/Living Social Deals/Flash Sales
  • Shopping with gift cards from Christmas is allowed.
  •  I am allowed to buy the blender that I have been thinking about buying for a while so that I can make green smoothies.
  •  If a Groupon or Living Social deal comes up for the yoga studio that I really want to attend but can’t afford, I am allowed to buy it.
  • The boy and I are allowed to spend money out to eat for date night, but we should try to use my gift cards to snag a good deal.
  • Groceries are allowed, but impulsive purchases of craving foods when I already have perfectly edible food in my house are not allowed.
  •  I am allowed to buy materials within reason for a project that I plan to at least start in January. That means I should try to use paint that I already have, but if I decide on another color that would work best, I can buy the small quantity of paint. I can also buy a new foam roller if I need one and the hardware I need to retrofit this specific piece of furniture. The key is that this project is done within reason and that I take inventory of the materials I already own before buy more.   
Strategies for seeing this through:
  • Delete flash sale and store emails immediately.
  • Read Living Social and Groupon deals quickly and delete them if they don’t have the yoga place I’m looking for.
  • Plan meals better so that I don’t need to eat out.
  • Start and complete the project I’ve been planning to do instead of taking on new ones.
  • Write blog posts about the projects I’ve already completed instead of taking on new ones.

In addition to a halt on impulsive shopping, I am also taking steps to get my finances better organized. I am plan to open another savings account or two – one for short term savings projects one for long-term, don’t touch, save for an emergency savings.

I am also planning to do more structured saving. I live in a spacious house with great roommates…in a so-so location for me. It’s close to my office but not as close to Metro as I would like, and not walkable to bars and restaurants I got to like I wish it was. I don’t really want to move because our rent is dirt cheap and I like my living situation. So, to make sure I am actually benefiting from the money I’m saving by choosing to live a bit farther out of the urban areas than I’d like, I am going to start saving the difference between what it would cost me to live in one of those places and what I pay now into savings, contributing a small portion for short term and a bigger portion for long term.

And so begins No Shop January. I’ll try to keep you updated about how I’m doing, what’s tempting me, and how I’m being resourceful and using what I have to do a few projects around the house.

Oh, and by all means, feel free to join me in this endeavor! I know I’m not the only Savvy Young Something who wants to get savvier by getting her spending under control. If you decide to join, leave a comment here or on my facebook page, or send me a tweet letting me know you’re taking on the challenge!

P.S. I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on a project I took on a little while ago. Hint: It involves this pretty lady


  1. great idea. i want to do this, but at least for clothes i will probably push it back to february for a variety of reasons. my worst impulse spend is getting lazy about making dinner and saying ohh, let's just go out. that i can stop right now. thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Good for you! I am always needing to cut back on spending especially after Christmas. Being a shop owner myself, I probably wont push this idea on too many people though ha!

  3. Linda -- If I had a cute little guy running around like you do I would have a hard time peeling myself away to cook! Especially if I still lived in Charlottesville!

    Keri -- Yes, I am probably doing the economy a disservice this month, but I am telling myself that this way I can secure my ability to shop long term! Your "No Shop January" could be "No Shopping from My Own Shop January". When I worked in retail it was all I could do to keep from taking the whole store home with me. If I were an owner I would have an even bigger problem!


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