Shopping Ban and Mindful Consumption

(Written February 7th, 2019)

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders inspired me to evaluate my spending. Not just the amount I spend, but the emotions and mental processes that lead to purchases. She did a year long shopping ban (with specific rules) and documented the process. We are embarking on a similar journey with our own rules and intentions. Here are the rules, goals and lists.


  • Save all receipts in an envelope for each pay period (two weeks). Write on the back which category it was for (gas, groceries, etc) and how it was paid for (cash or debit).
  • No credit card usage! (We did all of 2018 with no credit card usage, so this is a nice extension of that success).
  • One day per week that we spend zero dollars as a family
  • One day per week that we drive zero miles as a family
  • Any cash at the end of a pay cycle goes into a savings envelope for approved shopping items.
  • No purchases off the nonessential list.
  • Use 95% cash for essentials list (laundry room requires debit and gas easier with debit)
  • Approved shopping list items must be paid for with cash.
  • Windfalls (tax returns, bonuses, etc) towards debt, rent and savings first.

The lists:

  • Essential List: groceries, gas, laundry, toiletries (when they run out), experiences, gifts (for others).
  • Nonessential list: decorations, trinkets, books, unnecessary toiletries or too many at once
  • Approved shopping list: Hybrid bike for K (husband), camping grill, shoes and clothes as they wear out (must follow one-in/one-out rule and buy used when possible), 1 coffee shop visit per week, gardening supplies for patio garden in spring.

Goals of 2019 Shopping Ban:

  • Save a little each paycheck in our savings account.
  • Pay down student loan debt (try to pay off one loan this year).
  • Think through purchases.
  • Continue to simplify what we have without consuming more.
  • Be content and grateful for what we have.

So here it is–all the rules, lists and goals of our “shopping ban.” This may seem tedious to some, but as a “rule follower” type these parameters motivate me and hold me accountable to myself and my spouse. If I know each receipt will be viewed and requires discussion, I will make fewer purchases and more thoughtful ones.

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