I first got the idea for my shopping fast in 2006. It was Boxing Day, the Canadian equivalent of Black Friday, which falls on the day after Christmas.
That day in 2006, I found myself at a grocery store because my family had run out of food. The supermarket that I was at carries a lot of non-grocery products, like clothing, cosmetics and appliances–and I realized there was a big hubbub all around me. People had shopping carts full of super-sized bath sets brimming with perfumed soaps and bottles of bubble bath.
I thought, “Why are these people spending their money on this junk? Is it for themselves? For next year?”
For a lot of people, that perfumed bath set was an impulse buy–it was just too good of a deal. To me, it was needless consumption. And that’s when I challenged myself to go without buying nonessential items from Boxing Day through the end of February. I then posted the challenge on my blog, and invited other bloggers to do it with me–eight people signed up right away.
The Shopping Embargo was born.
The ABCs of the Shopping Embargo
My family’s finances were a lot like that of other people. We had debt–a mortgage and a car loan. We also had savings, and we were saving for retirement and our children’s education. But it wasn’t until I started the embargo that I realized just how often I bought something on impulse.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a hoarder, but I’d be out grocery shopping–and find myself in the toy department, even though I hadn’t intended to buy a toy. At the checkout, I was picking up things that I didn’t need, saying, “Oh, I could use this.”
So my tactic was to get rid of all reminders of what I was missing.