In the summer of 2014, I decided I was done feeling guilty. The money was gone, and I had paid off each purchase. These were sunk costs, at this point, and I just had to let them all go. But I also decided to let each of these items physically go—by donating and selling them—and that I had to stop shopping altogether for a while.
That’s where the idea for my yearlong shopping ban came from. I was done wasting my money. I had enough stuff, but I never felt like I had enough money. Instead, I was living paycheck to paycheck, I wasn’t happy, and I knew there had to be another way. So I decided to not shop for an entire year and, at the same time, declutter and purge everything in my home that I didn’t need, use, or truly love.
There are so many stories I could share about the experience. Some months were easy. And some months were really, really hard. Harder than I ever expected. I went through personal losses that taught me why I had always turned to shopping and drinking. In those months, I realized that I didn’t know what I was doing when I had originally made all of those purchases. I didn’t walk into a store and think, "This is beautiful, and it would make people think I’m so much more interesting or like I’ve reached a certain level of success." But I did walk into stores looking for things that might make me feel better.
Throughout the year, I got rid of 70 percent of my belongings, saved 31 percent of my income, and didn’t buy anything unless I needed it. The most important lesson I learned in the process is that we can't buy better versions of ourselves. By not being able to shop for the person I thought I should be, I finished the year knowing and finally accepting who I really was. I may not be as talented as some of the people around me, or as smart as some of my favorite authors, or as put together as the women I see in professional settings. But I am here, and I have a few hobbies now, and I always try to be a good person—and that is enough.
Looking to simplify your life too? Here's a great piece of decluttering advice and 12 fun ways to get started.