Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
At the start of this year, I dared myself to go on a “No Shopping Challenge” for the next 365 days. I told myself I would write a follow-up article about my progress, but ended up writing about other things instead because there were quite a handful of moments this year wherein I indulged myself and splurged.
I went to Japan in January, and while I vowed to stay away from clothes—trust me, it took a lot of strength to walk away from GU—however; I bought a ton of skincare products. I really don’t know why I had to buy three types of facial wash or two kinds of moisturizers or several lip balms because they were cute (and cheap). And further in to the year, let’s just say I had a few more moments of temptation where I caved in—especially in New York.
I know, I know. I screwed up. And of course, I felt bad about not honoring my word. A few days ago, I had a bit of time to reflect on my life this 2018. I contemplated on my approach and attitude towards this “No Shopping” thing, and I wondered why I still felt the need to have more when I had more than enough.
Deep inside, I knew the decision to quit shopping was very abrupt—I went on cold turkey too soon. I may have shopped, yet this 2018, I know I have become more aware of my spending habits and where I would spend my money on. In the middle of this year, I read a wonderful, wonderful book about Japanese minimalism called Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki, and one of the best things I’ve learned from this book was about having the best of one thing.
Sometimes, instead of saving up for that one thing that we want, we settle for less. And we accumulate “lesser quality” things so much, that the amount we spent on them could’ve afforded us the best of that thing. For example, I want this pair of shoes from Tod’s; however, because I am so overwhelmed by the price, I keep buying from other brands (mostly fast fashion) to fill the “Tod’s void.” I settle for cheaper brands that are of poorer quality, instead of waiting and saving up for my Tod’s. Finally, I end up with three pairs of cheap shoes that don’t give me as much fulfillment, and I’ll still keep dreaming of those Tod’s until I just decide to buy it. Not only do I end up with four pairs, but I also end up spending more.
Another valuable resource I’ve come across was advice from YouTuber, Ingrid Nilson. Apparently, she decided to do a No Shopping Year also in 2019, and it was great timing that she decided to vlog about it on her channel as I wanted to get some tips on how to be firmer and more disciplined when it came to shopping.
She said that she ends up shopping mindlessly because of three main reasons: (1) Boredom, (2) Loneliness, and (3) Pressure.
When I look at my life right now, and I think about the intention of my purchases, I find her three reasons to be very in sync with my own. First, Boredom. Let me tell you about this shopping platform, which I know you are all very familiar with: Carousell. I used it as a tool to sell some of my stuff, but I ended up buying things from other people, too. Why? Because it was so much cheaper. Online shopping is the black hole of consumerism, and I don’t want to get sucked in any longer. Whenever I find myself browsing endlessly, I’ll do my best to find something better to do.
Next, Loneliness. I cannot stress the truth of this. I never thought living away from my mom and Rocket would affect me this much. I always used to think that I was strong and would not be fazed—but not being with my mom or Rocket made me feel lonely a lot. Maybe I felt material things were a means to fill that hole, but I was wrong. Nothing can really replace them, so instead of moping around and trying to buy something to cheer me up temporarily, I’d rather run, swim, do yoga, or any healthy activity.
Lastly, Pressure. This might be the truest of them all, and I know this affects me the most because of what I see on YouTube and on social media. This, combined with online shopping will be the death of my spending budget if I don’t get a grip. I am not an excessive shopper; I’m actually quite the tightwad, but I noticed that my spending habits could sometimes spin out of control.
I also know now that in my case, going cold turkey isn’t the best solution—I need to ease into things at my own gradual pace and give myself some breathing room. I made a few rules that would allow me to see this challenge as a companion and not an enemy. A change of perspective helps. Cutting myself off completely from something I enjoy is not the healthiest way for me to learn, so my rules include allowing myself to buy a few things like underwear, or when a certain article of clothing gets ruined, or I run out of a certain make-up or skincare product. Also, I am giving myself two leisure items that can purchase on my sixth month and on my twelfth month (so that’s July and December). These two leisure items are things I’ve had on my mind on for years now, and with the money I know I will be able to save, it’s my little reward to myself for downsizing and focusing on the little things that mostly come free, instead of spending on temporary Band-Aids.
To tell you the truth, even if I ended up shopping this year, I learned more about how I grow. For me, I needed time to reach this point of confidence, knowing that I am mentally and emotionally ready to kick the habit of impulsive and mindless spending, and ease into a simpler, more meaningful lifestyle.
And yes, I am renewing my commitment this 2019, and I want to be accountable by writing “Progress Report” articles every quarter of next year. Let’s go and make this count.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom
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