Start the New Year off right: Take more than one holiday from shopping

if money's burning a hole in your pocket, it's not a new pair of pants you needOn Christmas Day it snowed here in Portland, Oregon, where I live, so we spent an hour eagerly watching the Weather Channel to hear more news of white Christmases. The sweet, certainly well-meaning weathercaster perkily hoped that we were having a nice vacation from working ... and shopping! My husband and I looked at each other. Could this be true? We only have one chance a year to take a holiday from shopping?

No! Say it ain't so. Let this be the year that nearly every day is a well-earned vacation from shopping. Sure, there's the stuff that can't be avoided; groceries (though we've committed to getting most of our food locally this year), toilet paper, the occasional pack of socks or new tool we long for. (For my husband, that's real tools, for me, it's camera equipment. La!) But free yourself from the need to shop. Despite popular belief, you are not single-handedly responsible for protecting the fates of the retail stocks. Limited Brands and The Gap will survive without your help, and if they should fail? Truly, fashion clothing is not the pillar of civilization as we know it. Mankind will go on.

If you're struggling with the idea of not spending, here are a few tips on how to reduce unnecessary expenditures:
  • Would I buy this if it were $10 more? If the answer is "no," you probably don't need it. "Really good sale" should not be the only reason you're purchasing an item.
  • The two-week waiting period. You must have that electronic doo-dad. It will vastly improve your life. Really? Go home, and go about your daily life. If you think to yourself, "I really could use that X!" even twice in your waiting period, get it. You'll be surprised how few things pass this test.
  • Get rid of 10 for every one you buy. We have this rule with toys: our kids have to send 10 toys to Goodwill for every new one they want to buy. The rule could even be "two to one" for clothes or craft supplies. It reduces clutter and allows you to think deeply about how worthwhile the new purchase is.
  • Will it fit? Look at the new thing you want, on the rack or shelf or showroom floor. Where will you put it? How will it fit into your life? What will have to be displaced? If you truly can't imagine a place for it, don't buy it.
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