27 Dec, 2012
Shopping Embargo 2012-2013
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Shopping Embargo
Our family has been participating in a post-Boxing Day Shopping Embargo since 2006. I can hardly believe it’s been that long, but it has. It’s become The Routine in our family, and I think that’s a good thing.
This year’s Embargo is more important than ever. We have just surfaced from a major home renovation and need to do some serious belt-tightening. What’s more, we are still paying rent on the apartment we rented this summer (the lease is up in May) and it hurts me to see that money seep out of our bank account every month.
But at the same time, the Embargo is about more than saving money (although that is a very good side effect) it’s about smarter shopping, and treading a little lighter on this world of ours.
The Shopping Embargo, for those of you who are new around here, is my family’s self-imposed moratorium on shopping. We allow for the basics – groceries and the like – but everything else is up for serious consideration.
This is the basic goal:
Until Feb 28, we pledge to buy only purchase essential items for ourselves and for our family: groceries/consumables, gas, basic hygiene (shampoo, soap, but not cosmetics), medicine and essential clothing.
The Shopping Embargo – at its core – is about a few elemental things. It’s not about deprivation, or putting people out of work. It’s simply about
- being grateful for what we already have,
- examining our needs and wants,
- shopping mindfully, and
- seeking alternatives.
What do I mean about seeking alternatives? You can define this any way you want but one alternative might include buying things that are Canadian made, or shopping at small local businesses instead of big box stores. How about looking in our closets to see what’s already there instead of buying yet another little black dress? (Guilty as charged.) For example, how about borrowing that dress from a friend instead of buying new? Or wearing the one you wore to the party last year? (It’s ok. It really is.)
The Shopping Embargo has become a yearly personal challenge for our family and I post about it on the blog because it keeps me accountable and helps me stay motivated. I am always happy when others join me, however the thing about the Embargo that makes me uncomfortable is acting as Official Embargo Shopping Police and fielding questions: “Is it okay if I buy a pair of boots?” or “Can I buy books and magazines?” (I do!) or “We are putting in a new kitchen, is that ok?” Um. YES! Of course it is! And I won’t judge you it. I mean geez, one year our family went to the Dominican Republic during our Embargo. One year I HAD to buy a new bathrobe.
That’s why the revised Embargo mission (should you decide to take it of course!) could read something like this:
Until Feb 28, we pledge to only purchase essential items for ourselves and for our family: groceries/consumables, gas, basic hygiene (shampoo, soap, but not cosmetics), medicine and essential clothing. And we will also challenge ourselves to [INSERT YOUR PERSONAL GOAL HERE].
Your personal goal might be to reduce your clothing allowance or the amount you spend on dining out. Whatever! Just don’t give up if you have a setback and suddenly find yourself buying another pair of slippers for your kids at the Superstore because They Are So Cute You Can’t Leave Them And Besides They Are A Great Deal. And if Boxing Week Blowout is the only time you can afford to buy a laptop, buy it, just try and get out of the store without piling a lot of other things in your cart.
It’s hard to go cold turkey. If you’re the kind of person who heads to the mall whenever you’re feeling bored or blue, you’re going to have a tougher time of it than someone who hates crowds. If you’re the kind of person who has a lip gloss addiction (that would be me) you might want to think about steering clear of the cosmetics aisle for the next couple of months and making a standing coffee date with a girlfriend instead.
I feel like last year’s post explained things really well, so if you’re keen to read on, read on. If you’re interested and new to the Embargo I recommend reading it. I’ve learned so much over the past few years.
In the past I used to update my progress in the comments of that year’s Embargo post but I’ve decided to do it a bit differently this time around. There’s now a Facebook group for the Shopping Embargo. It’s a place to share thoughts, strategies, questions, and find support among likeminded thinkers. Want to join? It’s right here.