a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Mar, 2009

The Shopping Embargo is officially over

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

shopping embargo 2009

How did it go? You’ll have to click over to the original post and scroll down until you get to “Last thoughts” in order to find out. I’d love to hear from anyone who participated, and anyone who didn’t!

p.s. It’s never too late to host your own personal Shopping Embargo. I even know of someone who’s given up shopping for Lent.

10 Responses to "The Shopping Embargo is officially over"

1 | scatteredmom

March 1st, 2009 at 9:17 pm


We did great up until about two weeks ago. I found a really awesome cookbook in a clearance bin and bought it ($8). THEN, there was the bag that I found on sale that I had been eying for our summer vacation, and I broke down and bought that too. ($30)

Hubs surprised me for Valentine’s day with new Oneida flatware. ($80) We’d been meaning to get some for AGES cause ours was going all rusted an pitting. (ick!)

We do pretty good overall, though. If we do make a purchase it’s something that we’ve really needed and gone without for ages, and then found on sale.

2 | Chantal

March 2nd, 2009 at 9:10 am


Thank goodness i didn’t sign up for this cause I would have failed miserably. I don’t shop a lot generally so I came close, but I did end up buying a trip to Florida, sort of an impulse buy, there was a seat sale, I am going to a conference a week later so my fare is covered… Regardless, I bought it, and we are stretched pretty thin till it is paid off.

3 | Loukia

March 2nd, 2009 at 9:16 am


Wow, great job! I just read your original post. I got me thinking, me who is a self-declared shopaholic. I shop all the time, and so much of it is stuff I do not need. The clothes… the shoes, and all the toys, books and clothes I buy for my boys… it’s really a waste of money. If I didn’t spend as much as I did, I could have a lot more money in the bank to take that extra vacation a year, you know? One thing I will never feel bad about spending money on is books. My son has hundreds of books but he is an avid reader (okay, he can’t read per say but he’s getting there…he has a huge love for books and learning) I know I could take them out of the library but books are just something I like owning. I think I’ll try my own shopping embargo for the next month and see how I do. I even brough my own lunch to work today. I was spending an average of 10 dollars a day on lunch, plus another 6 on coffee twice a day… what a waste!

4 | andrea

March 2nd, 2009 at 9:32 am


Louika: I’d rather take a holiday than have a closetful of clothes I don’t have time to wear!

We’ve just figured out that if we didn’t eat as much take-out/resto dinners and lunches we’d have a heck of a lot more money in our wallets.

Books are a tough one. I can’t bring myself to buy books that Sarah speeds through in one sitting. What’s the point? We’re big users of the library. We are all big readers.

We’ve drastically reduced the number of books we purchase. I do think it’s worth buying special “keeper” books – usually hardcovers. If it’s a very good book (i.e. Harry Potter, the Golden Compass) I know we’ll all read it … maybe several times over! I love giving good books as gifts too. Books can last a lifetime!

5 | Mom On The Go

March 2nd, 2009 at 11:08 am


I have to say that I did really well, since I can remember my purchases – a CD from a Klezmer trio and wool socks and rain boots (on a night in Toronto that was far colder than the day had been) – but I didn’t eliminate meals out and I still spent money on entertainment, mostly parking while we were at museums or Jacques Cartier Park. Maybe I didn’t do well if the entertainment expenses are counted in (which I didn’t). For Lent, I’m targeting lunches out and tracking every single penny I spend. Giving things up for Lent is less spiritual and more like a continuation of the “it’s New Years, I should make a resolution”. I can do anything for 40 days, right?

6 | Loukia

March 2nd, 2009 at 12:01 pm


Giving books as gifts I also love doing. I think I will try to give up shopping for lent, too. What a good idea, a great challenge for me! I think I should put my VISA in the freezer this month… bring my lunch to work everyday and DO NOT go to Rideau Centre on my lunch breaks. I’m wondering if I will succeed? I don’t need any more clothes. If I lost a few more pounds, in fact, I could fit into some old clothes that are still very wear-able.

7 | LO

March 2nd, 2009 at 12:04 pm


I did amazing! just joining was a huge feat as I am a shopper and love nice things. but priorities have shifted and I took on the task and was very successful. not only that, I think this little project changed a part of me and my affair with shopping forever. I still like to shop and probably always will but I think more and ask myself certain questions before buying and it works. I walk out of stores empty-handed all the time now. Then, when i really do want or need something, it can be purchased freely!

8 | Jennifer

March 2nd, 2009 at 12:33 pm


Great idea Andrea. I can’t say we didn’t buy anything but it certainly had an impact on what and when and how we purchased. We did not buy or rent any movies or books. Borrowed a pile from the library or friends. Asked the question “do we really need this?” before purchasing, so most times the answer was ‘no’ and the wallet was closed. Also made a real effort to buy less gas, which made me buy less stuff as you can only carry so much on foot. Didn’t bring money with us on a lot of outings. Haven’t stepped foot in a Starbucks since December (this is a big deal in our house). Most work-lunches were from home. Stuck to using cash. And avoided Loblaws as my weakness is purchasing food things. ALso started looking at where things were made and ended up putting back a few items because they weren’t made in Canada. All the money we saved was used for a great getaway to Montreal. And it was a great feeling to go away and know when we got home we wouldn’t be receiving a visa bill next month for the getaway. Awesome inspiration Andrea! And on a similar note, if you can set your PVR to record, on the Oprah show today they are showing an experiment they did with a family wherein the family can not spend any money for a full week. (BTW my husband now refers to you as the Oprah Winfrey of Westboro!!)

9 | nadine AKA scarbiedoll

March 3rd, 2009 at 12:22 am


Well I made it until last Thursday when I was feeling really down. A friend owns a shoe shop in Yorkville and by the time he’d added in “friend pricing” it was impossible to say no. Still, I think I’ve weaned myself off the quick fix for the most part. It was pretty awesome (and somewhat depressing) but I’m glad I tried!

10 | Mary Lynn

March 3rd, 2009 at 10:59 am


We also did great up until about two weeks ago. When hubby landed a new job we found it too hard to contain our excitement. Plus we went on holiday in mid-February, so barring all spending just didn’t fit in. We bought a painting to celebrate the new job (is art superfluous spending?) and we ended up buying me a new phone, mainly because we had to cancel out of our current phone contract before hubby started the new job. Oh, and I ordered those cool mesh bags from the company in BC you posted about. :-) Oops.

That said, we did drastically reduce our spending in January and early February. One of the places that we trimmed the most was in food costs. While hubby was unemployed we kind of made a hobby out of planning delicious but frugal meals. We discovered a lot of ways to make the most out of inexpensive cuts of meat. We also did a better job of shopping around for the best price. We learned a lot, and I think we’ll continue to use what we learned even now that we have more money coming in.

I also saved on the sort of nice-to-have, but not really necessary purchases I tend to make: extra clothes for the kids or for myself when really we have enough, more books when I already have so many I need to read, kitchenware when I don’t even have room for the stuff we already have.

So I didn’t do fabulous, but I did better than I normally would. I’ll try a bit harder next year!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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