|Violin & Sheet // Personal Picture|
3 months have passed since my Shopping Fast experiment ended. When you pay close attention to puchases for six months, there is always some apprehension as to how the new habits will turn out - similarly to a food diet in a way. Here are a few observations and learnings from my own experience, 3 months later.
Globally, the shopping fast had a positive effect on my current mindset and habits - if I compare with January to March 2014, the improvements are quite incredible. My purchases went down, were more carefully thought and planned, I spent a lot less time and money on material acquisitions and managed to direct my focus elsewhere with little effort.
On Shopping HabitsThree months is still short to draw conclusions here, but the first signs are promising. Since the end of the fast, I have purchased a couple of items during winter sales, a bento box for soups and two pairs of jeans (to replace old, torn pairs).
The shopping fast effect: When you are on a shopping fast, you become aware of how often you end up browsing online or physical stores, going on shopping trips etc., because you "forbid" yourself from getting anything new. At some point, for the fast to work, you have to replace these with something else. In my case, I discovered interesting editorial sites (Aeon magazine, Medium...) to read from, and swapped shopping afternoons for reading or writing sessions, violin, meet-ups with friends or video gaming.
After six months, I have discovered (or re-discovered) tons of activities I liked doing, and, even though the shopping fast is over, I now browse and shop much less often than before, because I like the new substitute activities better.
On TemptationI still want new stuff now and then. I think that's unavoidable. I had a small wishlist for winter sales, and I have a few items in mind to celebrate the arrival of Spring. There is a number of video games I want to put my hands on, and my soon-to-be appartment gave me decoration ideas.
The shopping fast effect: I don't think you should expect a shopping fast to eradicate the wish for new items - if it does, all the better, of course. However, browsing less and spending more time on other projects makes temptations fewer and farther apart.
Further to this, I also noticed that I act upon these temptations less often than before. The reason is simple: I now need to convince myself to go shopping, even if there is a precise item I'd like to get for myself. Why? Because I'd rather be doing something else instead of wasting my time in shops. I only noticed this recently, when I tore open two pairs of jeans in a week and needed to convince myself to find the time to go buy a replacement pair.
On MoneyI can't say much on spending habits these days, as I am in a non-regular situation right now (in the middle of a move), so I'm saving more than usual, and I'll soon be spending more than usual. However, there are things of note when it comes to item pricing and my own values regarding how much I'm willing to spend on objects.
The shopping fast effect: I have realized that expensive items tend to, unconsciously, be seen more positively, either because we associate it with higher quality, or with a certain social status, or with a more ethical production method. I have also realized that, despite all my questioning about price and marketing and consumer psychology, this is something I am still influenced by, as we probably all are.
However, the shopping fast forced me to be more aware of what I'm buying - since I needed to justify my purchases as "fast allowed' for six months - and I am now more mindful before I settle for a purchase. It this price justified? Can I get better quality for the same price, or the same quality for cheaper? Is this the kind of vendor I want to give my money to?
As a result, I changed some of my spending habits in surprising areas, like groceries. I have also reaffirmed my efforts to be a more conscious consumer, as best I can with my available time and money.
Other ChangesAs I mentioned in a recent post, I have rediscovered parts of myself recently - passions, activities, projects long forgotten, probably because of the semi-automatic mode we navigate in our daily life. This has started long before the shopping fast experiment, but I believe spending less time shopping or thinking about purchases, and making myself find new activities, accelerated the process.
Weirdly, natural beauty products: I have no idea whether this is due to the shopping fast, or if this questioning just happened to bloom at the same time, but I started switching to a more natural body care routine right at the time of the fast experiment. I think one of the reasons may be linked to not buying any new product unless my stock was depleted - and discovering how much I've stocked in less than 2 years in Paris. It might also be linked to the efforts to be a more conscious consumer I mentioned above. In any case, that's an interesting change I've experienced these past few months.
Overall, I feel like I levelled up a lot these past months. I have decided to take writing more seriously, I have stabilized my shopping habits, and I feel like I have more free mental space than ever. Again, how much of this is linked to the shopping fast itself is hard to say, but, if you are on a simplification journey, I warmly recommend to give it a try yourself. Let me know if you're interested in some sort of Shopping Recasting starter guide, I can add this to my posting queue.