Starting a Month Long Household Shopping Hiatus

Guys. It’s happening. I’m making our family kick off a month long household shopping hiatus, effective June 1.

Years ago before I met Luke, when I was a recent grad and barely making ends meet with my first “grown up” salaried job, I remember living paycheck to paycheck. I remember watching my bank account daily, and knowing at any given time exactly how much money I had left in my checking account. I remember the fear of over drafting being a very real fear. And I also remember on multiple occasions having to “lay low” for a few days before my next paycheck hit. That meant: not going out, not purchasing anything, and eating only what was in my apartment. At that point in my life, it was common for me to spend a few days each pay period where I had withhold from swiping my debit card. No ifs ands or buts.

Being 22 and living paycheck to paycheck wasn’t fun, but there was something nice about knowing exactly what I could and could not afford at any point in time.

Fast forward a decade and I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be a family that is quite fortunate.

Nonetheless, two years ago (or so) Luke and I made the deliberate decision to more actively monitor our day to day finances. Not for the purpose of changing our lifestyle, but simply to be more aware and on top of it. In doing so, it quickly became obvious that I like to spend money on unnecessary things. By monitoring our finances more closely, I’ve shopped less, and splurged less often. This is due almost entirely to the accountability of reviewing every single expense, every single month.

But I know there’s room to improve.

Enter: our household shopping hiatus.

Where I Got The Inspiration for a Household Shopping Hiatus

I’ve been a Young House Love follower for years, and this past spring they embarked on a household shopping hiatus themselves. Their shopping hiatus was inspired by The Year of Less author Cait Flanders, and they chronicled their 30 day journey on their podcast.

I guess it’s safe to say I’m an easy sell, and fast to jump on the bandwagon.

The idea of a shopping hiatus has been on my mind ever since.

Why I’m Starting Now

The past two months I’ve been far outspending our shopping budget. I know this because we review our expenses religiously, and the accountability is a harsh reality check. Even knowing that I’m blowing our budget, I still do it. And each time I swipe my card at a store I find myself super aware of a lingering sense of guilt.

Are there some things we need to buy? Absolutely. Can we afford to buy things we want but don’t really need? Yes, fortunately we can. Do we ‘deserve’ to get new things every once in awhile? You’re damn right we do. But I don’t need to buy Gemma a million new pieces of clothing, knowing darn well she won’t wear half of it before she outgrows the pieces. I don’t need to buy every item that catches my eye at Target. And I certainly don’t need to buy dozens of new plastic pantry organizers just to make myself feel more pulled together.

So here I am. It’s the end of the month and as I complete our end of month accounting review I’ve decided now is as good of a time as ever.

What’s Not Allowed During the Household Shopping Hiatus

What I love about both Cait and Young House Love’s approach to a household shopping hiatus, is the fact that there are self imposed rules. The point is not to spend zero dollars. The point is also not to live an incredibly boring and antisocial life for one month.

Instead this is about living a rich life, filled with things you enjoy, without spending unnecessarily or perhaps in your ‘weak spots’.

Certainly, if we ever reach a point financially where we need to do another shopping hiatus for more dire reasons, our rules might look a bit different. But as we head into the summer months, my goal is to enjoy our days as a family, spend time with friends, travel, and really just enjoy the summer. Shop less, socialize more.

So here are our rules for the month of June:

  • No new clothes, shoes, or accessories
  • No home decor, organizing tools, or accessories
  • No take out coffee or treats
  • No new makeup or cosmetics
  • No more than $30 in baby clothes per month
  • No new baby toys, accessories, or extra “things”

Categories That Are Allowed

  • Groceries and other obvious necessary expenses
  • Expenses for trips and vacations
  • Eating out for planned events and functions
  • Ice cream as a family
  • Drinks for networking or social events
  • Makeup, cosmetics, and consumables only as we run out
  • Baby items only as we run out

Specific Items Allowed

  • Outdoor deck rug
  • Picnic blanket
  • New one piece bathing suit
  • Baptism gown (and outfit) for Gemma
  • Decor for Baptism celebration
  • New phones

And there you have it. What do you guys think, am I crazy for kicking this off at the top of summer? What categories did I overlook, either as approved or not allowed?

Let me know in the comments below if you think you could successfully implement a month long household shopping hiatus, and if so what your rules would look like!

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