Ever considered a shopping ban? Bridget Casey shares three excellent reasons to try one on for size.

Every year, I do a self-imposed “shopping ban” where I refrain from spending on non-necessities for at least 30 days. What this means is, for the duration of the shopping ban, I don’t buy any unnecessary items like new clothes, books, or magazines. I axe my daily take-out coffee and turn down all dinners out that aren’t for a special occasion (like a birthday). I even say no to things that are painful to miss out on, like concert tickets. In short, I more or less become a frugal hermit by my own volition.

And it is awesome.

The shopping ban was a practice I originally implemented a few years ago to find extra money in my budget for a defined financial goal, such as making an extra payment against my student loans, or finding another $500 to add to my emergency fund. But as the years passed, I found the benefits of a shopping ban were more than financial. Taking a few weeks out of my regular spending habits not only helped my bank account, it also made me a more discerning and mindful consumer.

This year I tripled the challenge, and committed to a 90-day shopping ban. The results were transformational, and now I think everyone should give a shopping ban a try.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. It changes the wants vs. needs equation

On a shopping ban, you have to diligently track and evaluate every purchase you want to make, determining is this a want or a need? Chances are, you need much less than you think you do, and most of your purchases are wants. When you make a concentrated effort to live with less, you will find you enjoy the same amount of happiness and life satisfaction even if your spending is significantly reduced.

  1. It acts like a reset button on your spending habits

A shopping ban is like a spending detox to reset your habits and change your consumer behavior. Most of what we buy isn’t even our idea in the first place—we’re talked into it by marketing campaigns. By refusing to fall for the advertising we’re exposed to every day, we can focus more on our true values and wants.

  1. It will put more money back into your bank account

Finally, the main draw of the shopping ban is you will come out richer at the end of it! Every dollar you don’t spend for the duration of your shopping ban is one more dollar you have to use towards something you really value at the end.

With so many bills and financial obligations, it’s easy to feel out of control of our money. The act of pausing and reflecting on your spending might be all it takes to break your bad habits and find an extra few hundred dollars to reach a financial goal. It might even change the way you manage money forever!

Bridget Casey writes for

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