I Gave Up Shopping for 40 Days and This is What I Learned

Posted April 20, 2016 by Prairie Wife - 7 comments

A few of you who read this blog may not know I am Catholic. While it is a big part of who I am as a woman, wife, and mother, it’s not a big part of this blog. I do often mention prayer and God and even shared a post about the grouchy lady at church, but overall it doesn’t usually come up in blog posts.

Those of you that aren’t Catholic may not know about the liturgical season of Lent. It’s the 40 days before Easter and a solemn time in our church year. We focus on Jesus’ sacrifice and prepare to celebrate His resurrection at Easter. We do this by fasting, not eating meat on Friday, and giving up something during Lent.

love shoppingThis year I dug deep when it was time to pick something for Lent. I wanted to choose something that would have a lasting impact. When I thought about my favorite things to do shopping came to the top of my list.

So, even though I knew it would hurt, I decided to give up online shopping and buying anything we didn’t NEED for Lent. I even added no eating out…

I waited until now (almost a month after Easter) to write this because I wanted to be honest about how (and if) my choice changed my shopping and spending habits.

The first week was a piece of cake. I was full of religious zeal, and it was no problem to keep away from Target. It wasn’t my grocery shopping week, so that made it even easier to keep away from temptation.

The second week was a bit harder. I was missing my time checking out JustFab.com, and there were a few bath products that were running low. I usually purchase from VintageBodyCare.com, and I realized I was just going to have to make do with what I had left.

When I went to the grocery store, I stuck to my list and didn’t waver when I saw the sale signs and buy 2 get 1 free deal.

I really wanted to stop by the drive-through for dinner on a busy night but I took a deep breath, gripped the steering wheel, and drove on by. Dinner was a bit later than usual, but we all survived.

Then came the third week, and it was time to buy birthday gifts for Cowboy C. When making my Lenten promise, I failed to notice that I would have two Cowkids’ birthdays during Lent…

The top gift on Cowboy C’s birthday list was a “Cat Bob” which we finally figured out meant a Bob Cat. He had seen a stuffed one at a friend’s house and wanted a REAL one of his own. While I knew that wouldn’t work, I thought I could find plastic or a stuffed one. Four stores and almost two hours later and I had to admit defeat. It was all I could do to keep off Amazon.com, where I knew a simple search and free two-day shipping would bring one right to my door.

I took a deep breath and prayed that Cowboy C wouldn’t be too disappointed when his birthday came.

It turns out Cowboy C was fine with no “Cat Bob”, he never even mentioned it.

Lesson learned: Kids will be happy with what they get, and I tend to build up the idea of “the perfect gift,” not them.

looking in closetWeek four rolled around, and The Cowboy and I had a big event to go to.

Usually, I would head out and buy a new dress, but not this time!

Instead, I hit my closet and dug deep. I found a dress I hadn’t worn for years and styled it with some chunky accessories and a tuxedo blazer that I had. I spent some time on Pinterest and tried a bolder makeup look to make my look feel fresh and new.

About this time, I realized that I tended to visit online shopping sites on my phone when bored. It wasn’t nearly as much fun when I couldn’t buy anything!

Week five, and it was time to visit Target. I, of course, had to test myself, and I slowly walked by the women’s clothes. It was hard not to pause and look through the clearance rack, but I knew there was nothing I needed.

It WAS difficult, but after over a month of no shopping, I had the routine down.

I focused on my list, took a deep breath, and kept walking while repeating in my head, “only what we need, not what we want.”

Finally, Easter rolled around, Lent was over, and I could shop again!

I found myself with my favorite shopping partner, my big sister TexasTwoSteppin’! She took me to a darling boutique, and while I easily saw a dozen items I wanted I spent some time truly thinking about the items and ended up purchasing just one pair of boots. I bought one souvenir for each of The Cowkids, that’s it. With hours to kill in the airport, it never even occurred to me to browse through my favorite online shopping sites.

When I got home I made a few purchases of items I would need for my surgery. I noticed it had become part of my shopping process to evaluate items I had chosen before leaving that store section. More often than not, I was placing at least one thing back on the rack.

woman on computer

A month later, I am back to using my beloved Amazon.com, but I am way more conscious about what I buy and if I actually need it. I’ve been putting items in my cart and waiting a few hours before purchasing them to ensure I’m being practical.

The Cowboy commented on how he noticed that we had spent $100’s less during that time…yup, $100’s. Not only was I being more frugal about indulging in my wants, but I was taking a fine tooth comb to our overall monthly budget.

I have to say that I learned way more from this than I thought.

I realized that not only had I been a bit wasteful with our money, but with my time as well.

I still plan to use online shopping for hard-to-find items (like “Cat Bobs”), but I’m proud to say I’m shopping locally more often. Not indulging as frequently makes the few things I’ve bought for myself and the kids all the more special.

Ultimately, giving up shopping for Lent taught me to be grateful.

I found that spending so much time thinking about what we already had (instead of what we didn’t), helped me to appreciate how blessed my family is.

What do you think? Could you give up shopping for a month?

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7 thoughts on "I Gave Up Shopping for 40 Days and This is What I Learned"

  1. Bennie says:

    I’m a Catholic too, not a big practicing one but I am one by birth. My go-to at lent is choclate. I last maybe a week and then I find myself weekening and nibbling on some chocolate chips.

    I never thought of giving up shopping but I don’t think my shopping is out of control (not that I’m saying yours was). Maybe next year I’ll give up cocktails. I do love my wine on Friday and Saturday nights but it’s something to consider.

    Good job on your Lenten sacrifice, did you notice if you saved money that month?

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I have lots of friends that give up wine and it’s really hard for them! They find that it makes them a bit more conscious of how much they drink, and reasons why which is interesting. We did save money…I would have to say probably about $200 in the end! That really adds up and I’m really trying hard to stick to it.

  2. As a former Catholic, I was okay with some of the things I had to sacrifice for Lent. However, the Internet was non-existent back then. I notice that a lot of your shopping is done online, so this would not be a problem for me since I have NO money to shop and I avoid any kind of sites that require my spending money. Therefore, I would like to see if I can make it 40 days without the Internet…Now that seems scary! One of these days I will try it and let you know how it goes.


    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I have to admit… I don’t think I’m brave enough to try that!

  3. Krystal says:

    I can relate – recently decided to be a SAHM, so still learning to adjust our budget. It amazing how much we spend on wants versus needs.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I hope the transition has been going well for you, I know it can be hard! And it is amazing when we really start to look at those things what we can save on or even do without.

    2. Prairie Wife says:

      I hope the transition has been going well for you, I know it can be hard! And it is amazing when we really start to look at those things what we can save on or even do without.

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