Tip 2: find alternatives to shopping (yes ladies, there are alternatives!)

Finding out what clothes and colors look good on me was interesting and fun, but also a bit of a torture. I can pick and choose items that look better on me, but am also more aware than before of the items that actually don’t look that good on me. Normally, that wouldn’t be such a huge problem, but seeing as I have signed up and committed to this challenge, there is very little I can actually do with this information (besides reducing my wardrobe to only approved items – which is actually a very scary thought given my no shopping policy).

It’s been four weeks since the start of my sabbatical and all has gone reasonably well, but I’m starting the feel the urge to shop again. Everywhere I go, I see SALE signs, every shop window has exactly the blazer I was looking for, even Boyfriend is pointing out outfits to me. What is especially cruel is that I now know that some items I regularly wore are a big no-no. How can I ever wear these with confidence again? Every time I put them on, I get a vision of a big dressed-up bowling pin.

Must say no … must resist temptation … must hold on…..

Time to find alternatives to get my mind off shopping.

Tip 2: Keep busy and find things that you love doing (instead of shopping)

Seems easy enough, you’d think. But coming up with a list of things to do besides shopping is actually quite difficult. Shopping has taken up a lot of my time. Too much. Every time I went into town, I felt the need to buy something new. Even if it was only something small, like a pair of earrings. I had to bring a ‘souvenir’ home.

And when on holiday, a shopping spree would always be on the list. I didn’t get unique local items; lovely beaded necklaces, handmade dresses, pure craftsmanship.  No…… I just went into exactly the same stores as I did here. Nothing new, besides paying in a foreign currency; if my holiday destination wasn’t part of the euro zone that is. Now that I’m writing it down and seeing it in black and white, I’ve become fully aware of how pathetic it actually was. And in a way, also very sad. Think about it: all the time that I spent shopping (abroad, but also here in NL), I could have spent on far more interesting things, lasting things, things that really ‘mean’ something. ‘Cause, in all honesty (and I’m sure most of you will agree), you can’t really call shopping a meaningful activity.

After almost a month, I’m already noticing the difference. I wasn’t low on cash at the end of the month, paid off my credit card completely (and haven’t used it since), and managed to save a bit as well. This could also be partly due to the fact that I had some extra money coming in, but still. I’ve also had a lot more spare time which I have tried to make good use off.

Here’s a list of things that I’ve done in the past month instead of shopping.

1. Walking

I’ve gone on loads of long walks, with or without Charismatic Canine, but usually with Boyfriend. Luckily, we both really enjoy going out for walks and we would actually prefer walking somewhere over cycling or taking the tram. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, so plenty to see. Walking doesn’t have to cost a thing (although we usually combine it with a cup of coffee somewhere, it’s healthy (if you don’t have cake with your coffee) and it stimulates conversation.

2. Crocheting

Yes, I know, it sounds a bit old-maidish, but actually crocheting has been on the rise again for some time now. I’ve only recently taken it up (remember that awful summer we had?), but I’m really enjoying it. At the moment, my skills are somewhat limited (flowers, hearts and, how appropriate, granny squares), but I’m considering taking lessons. Can be expensive, depending on the materials you use, but definitely keeps you busy for a significant amount of time.

3. Reading

I used to be a book addict. Not addicted to reading, I’m afraid, but addicted to buying them. I’m embarrassed to say that I have at least 15 books that I haven’t read yet. So I decided some time ago that I’m not allowed to buy any new books until I’ve read them all. Since the start of my sabbatical I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s At Home

I also joined a library, so I can borrow instead of buy and I try to swap books with friends. E-bay is also a good way to get a book you want for an attractive price and it’s also a good way to get rid of your excess clutter by selling them.

4. Baking

Warning: this pastime may lead to more necessary shopping. If you bake and eat too much that is. Last week I baked an absolutely lovely, yummy scrumptious apple, forest fruit cobbler. Really easy to make and so delicious (especially served warm with vanilla ice cream). Boyfriend loved it so much he went for seconds and thirds.


5. Blogging

Need I say more?

6. Yoga / Pilates

Given the fact that I stopped shopping cold-turkey, I thought I could do with a bit of Zennnn in my life. And what better way to achieve this by doing yoga and pilates? It is really relaxing!

As you can see, I definitely haven’t been bored. Stopping shopping has led me to do things that I always wanted to do, but never seemed to have the time for. Now I realise that this was mostly because I spent a large part of my time browsing, trying on outfits and queueing up at the cash desk. I was always able to make time for shopping, but seemed to have very little time for other activities.

Luckily for me, I still have 11 months to explore new pastimes. I may be 10 kilos heavier due to excessive baking, may be walking around town in self-crocheted outfits or have a blogging addiction, but at least I’m not shopping anymore 😉