While I typically like to pride myself in being a fairly balanced and well-rounded person, the truth is I haven’t been feeling all that fantastic lately. Even though the year has been off to a good start, a combination of self-inflicted anxiety about the future coupled with an unfortunate series of events concerning both family and close friends have left me feeling slightly morose as of late.
In an effort to counteract the negativity and keep my head above water, I’ve been throwing myself into routines. Be it a workout regimen, a journalling schedule or a carefully constructed to-do-list at the start of each workday, I find that carving out time to be productive allows me to channel my energy in a far more positive manner.
Another less desirable coping mechanism I’ve developed, however, is a dependency on material goods. Sure, a little retail therapy never hurt anyone, and it does feel nice to treat yourself every once in a while, but a quick survey of my credit card statement last week revealed that “every once in a while” had come around a little too often in the past couple of months. Although I haven’t exactly been making extravagant purchases by any means, I found myself indulging in online shopping as often as once or twice a week, and the bills were definitely starting to add up.
At the end of the month, I gave myself a much-needed reality check. While I’m definitely thrilled to be finding so many ethical, eco-friendly and vegan alternatives to things like beauty products and apparel, I shouldn’t be buying something unless I really and truly need it. Although I’ve been de-cluttering for the better part of a year now, I still have so many things that I get barely any use out of, and my efforts are better spent consolidating my existing belongings rather than acquiring new ones.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to challenge myself for the month of March – to live with less. For starters, I’ve put myself on a month-long shopping ban, which means I won’t allow myself to shop for any non-essential items, online or otherwise. Instead, I’ll be compiling a visual wishlist of things I like using Pinterest, and at the end of my ban I’ll allow myself one non-essential purchase per month. Limiting it to just one a month will hopefully enable me to make much more considered purchases, as if I lose interest in something from one month to another then it probably wasn’t worth having to begin with.
As for essential items (things like toothpaste, shampoo and other toiletries) I will only be buying a replacement for an item once it is finished in order to avoid the habit of buying excessively in the interest of “stocking up”.
I’ve also decided to extend the challenge to the one area that is my largest financial expenditure: food. While I have always been a proponent of the argument that a vegan diet doesn’t have to cost the earth, as single 26-year-old with disposable income and a penchant for healthy vegan cooking, I do tend to spend more than I need to on groceries. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a sucker for specialty items, so-called “superfoods” and organic herbal teas – all of which cost a pretty penny. So in the name of scaling back and avoiding excess clutter in the kitchen, I’ve decided to cut my weekly grocery budget in half and focusing maily on core staples; fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, pulses and legumes. I’ll also be challenging myself to cook all 90 meals of the month from scratch, in the interest of both cost savings as well as using up items that have been stashed away in my kitchen cupboards for months on end.
Some may say that all of the above sounds drastic, but my aim behind this smorgasbord of a monthly challenge is really to start embracing more of a minimalist approach to life in general, to value and treasure the things I do have and to be more meticulous and thoughtful about the things I acquire.
If you’re interested in following along or even joining me on any part of my March challenge, I’ll be doing my best to document it on social media, and I’ll also do a full re-cap at the end of the month to evaluate my progress and success (or failure!).
What’s one way that you try to live with less?