Spending too much? Here’s How To Implement A Shopping Ban

If you are buying things you don’t need it might be time to implement a shopping ban. I am currently on a yearlong shopping ban and this is how a shopping ban could be implemented.

Spending too much? Here's How To Implement A Shopping Ban
Spending too much on stuff you don’t need? It’s time for a shopping ban!

1. Take inventory

Take a look at everything that you have. Which areas of your space are cluttered? What items do you have more than enough of? Where’s excess? Is there a particular category or area in your home that you’ve been dying to declutter? Take inventory of everything you have.

If you’ve got a ton of clothes, start with those

2. Declutter your home

This is a crucial step. If you have way more then you need then it’s time to declutter. Go through your items category by category (hobbies, toiletries, clothing, etc.) as opposed to room by room. This will make for a much more efficient process.

Simply go through everything and let go of all those items that you no longer need.

Since my big purge everything I own fits into these two beauties

3. Decide on a time period

I decided to do a yearlong shopping ban because the time frame makes sense to me. Choose whichever time frame works for you. Three months? Six months? Nine months? It’s up to you.

That being said, my recommendation would be to stick with a time frame of at least three months. Why? In order for you to really get into the groove, a longer period makes more sense. Anything shorter than that might not be worth your energy and attention.

Think about it for a second, buy doing a three-month-long shopping ban you’ll get a good understanding of your spending habits and difficulties. Over this period you’ll gain insights that you wouldn’t be able to gain if your shopping ban were only a month long. Good things need time.

4. Create your rules

After you’ve taken inventory and decluttered it’s time to sit down and create your rules. This step is super important. In order to implement a shopping ban, you need rules.

They will help me to stay on track and function as a guideline for what you can and cannot buy. When writing down your rules make sure to make notes of 1) items you are allowed to buy and 2) items you are not allowed to buy.

The rules for my yearlong shopping ban are fairly simple and I highly recommend keeping this step very basic by focusing on the most important stuff.

5. Create two lists

It’s time to get very specific. In order to implement a shopping ban, you need to know exactly what you plan on buying during it. Of course, life happens and your lists should by no means be set in stone.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might not even buy everything on these lists. However, if you really need to, you know it’s accounted for. In My Approved Shopping list I listed everything that I could possibly need and in my “Essential Clothing items” list I got very specific about all the clothing I intend to buy.

I’ve been planning all my purchases in advance for several years now and, shopping ban or not, it’s something that I highly recommend doing!

Essential clothing items - the minimalist ninja
My essential clothing items

6. Unsubscribe from newsletters

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of newsletters. I always saw them as a great way to save money. “If it wasn’t for my newsletters I’d miss out on all those sales!!” or something along those lines is what I told myself.

The most sustainable and cheap way to shop is to not shop at all. Unsubscribe from all those unnecessary newsletters using free services such as unroll.me. I’ve unsubscribed from hundreds of newsletters this way and it only takes a second or two!

How to declutter your inbox
I’ve been using unroll.me for years!

7. Tell your friends and family

This is a very important step in the process. Tell your friends and family that you are doing a shopping ban and why.

Why exactly are you doing a shopping ban? I am doing a shopping ban because I see it as a great opportunity to spread the word about frugal living and to create some excitement around this wonderful lifestyle.

8. Know your triggers

What exactly do you enjoy about shopping? What gets you excited about acquiring a new (or used) item although you know, deep down, that you don’t really need it?

When you buy things that you don’t really need, how are you feeling? Are you excited, happy or a little down? What environments do usually draw you in?

Taking a deeper look at your shopping habits can be an incredibly helpful step in implementing a shopping ban.

10 Tips On How To Create A Successful Shopping Ban
I only visit second-hand stores 1) when I REALLY need something and 2) when I know EXACTLY what I am looking for

9. Learn to do without

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes to mind. If you don’t absolutely need something, you can probably do without it. Of course, if an item is fulfilling a basic need such as food, shelter, clothing and so on then not going after it would be depriving yourself of life’s necessities.

However, everyone that goes beyond fulfilling a basic need, is not essential and you could, therefore, do without it. Test your limits and experiment.

A shopping ban is not supposed to be dire, it’s supposed to be a fun and interesting challenge.

10. Appreciate what you have

If you are like most people that I know, then you probably have everything that you need. Your basic needs are being met and you are not struggling to survive.

Appreciate everything that you have, and everything that you don’t have. It’s of uttermost importance to be grateful.

Minimalism is a priviledge
This is everything that I currently travel with

Shopping bans rock!

A shopping ban is a great challenge that I can only highly encourage you to take up! If you are thinking of creating your own shopping ban make sure to ask yourself these questions and follow these tips on how to create a successful ban of your own.

Already super frugal? Here’s why a shopping ban might still be worth exploring.

More shopping ban content:



  1. December 16, 2018 / 9:13 AM

    Woohoo! I am also on a year long shopping ban, so it’s nice to have someone else to follow along with. Great overview and tips šŸ™‚

    • Nina
      December 16, 2018 / 7:23 PM

      That’s awesome! Thank you so much!

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