Ruined. But not really.

On Tuesday I had a little bit of spare time during lunch so I decided to go to one of my old haunts. (That’s a funny word). Into Forever 21 I went. I used to go there pre-spending fast ALL THE TIME. Mindlessly I would buy things that caught my eye. They would sparkle and twinkle and I was hooked. (Here’s a post I wrote on Day 5 (!) of The Spending Fast about that ol’ store.) The items there are cheap and new and trendy and by the time I got sick of them they were worn out anyway since they were so cheaply made that it was super easy to put them into the giveaway/buy-sell-trade-store/thrift store bag and I could rationalize buying more! Which is exactly what I wanted to do.

Buy more.

Apparently, those days are over.

The Spending Fast went and ruined shopping for me.

I never thought I would see the day but the day happened. And. It was on Tuesday.

yes. it’s true.

Since I’m doing The Spending Diet this year and have a $100 limit on “non-needs” per month I was already over my limit when I walked into the store.

This was off to a bad start.

Maybe I wanted to “test” myself. Maybe I wanted to see how things were different. Maybe I wanted to see if things were the same at all.

Had The Spending Fast changed me at all!?!!!?

I had to know.

Forever 21 just made a huge 2 story store here (Denver). It’s quite nice compared to the old one. When I walked in I found myself saying “Nah.” “Eh”. “Uh”. I wasn’t picking up anything! This was suddenly good. I had made a secret resolution to myself that I wouldn’t buy clothes from there anymore. I wanted to buy clothes that I LOVED and thought would last. “Quality Over Quantity” I reminded myself. Accessories from there were ok. $5.80 for sunglasses are a good thing. That is, if I needed sunglasses. Did I ever tell you I used to hoard sunglasses? Well, I did. It was a problem.

Anyway, back to the story. So, I was easily saying “No” to things and then I started to pick things up. Suddenly, my arms were full of clothes. NO!?! YES!! NO! YES! I was walking into the dressing room. I was trying things on. What was happening? In the dressing room with me were oh, probably 7 striped shirts. NOT including the one I wore that day. Oh my. What was I doing? I don’t know! I DO know that I’m getting bored with this story so I’ll speed it up. I ended up walking out of there without purchasing a single item and I felt very good about it.

The Spending Fast went and took the joy out of shopping and I’m glad to report that it seems I’m ruined Shopaholic. Happily ruined.



14 thoughts on “Ruined. But not really.

  1. Bethany @ More Fruit Please

    I just found your blog through your CNN article and love it! I'm really inspired by the changes you made to your lifestyle and am definitely interested in hearing more about your spending diet since I'm thinking about going on one myself!

  2. jilly

    I too found you through CNN article. That was great by the way. Years ago I took the bus,which went through the old part of town…I re-landscaped just about every yard in my mind.

    About your shopping being ruined. Its not, you have just become much wiser about who and how to spend your money. Rejoice in that.


  3. marianney

    i agree with jilly. you now know that your money is better spent elsewhere and that you don't really find joy in buying stuff you don't need. i feel overwhelmed when i go shopping now. there is just too much stuff and i can't just pick one, so i don't pick any. oh well…i'd rather spend that $ on travel at this point.

  4. Elizabeth

    Hi Anna, I also found your blog through CNNMoney. I began a spending diet 5 years ago and paid off my debt in a year. Like you, I've discovered changes in how I feel about shopping and saving. I look forward to reading more of your blog and definitely agree with the comment that you have become wiser about money… going through debt payoff is a life-changing experience.

  5. Jeremy G. Preston

    Hi Anna,

    Just finished reading your article on and subsequent blog. I want to congratulate you on chipping away $18,000 worth of debt. What a huge financial milestone! You made a lot of sacrifices to eliminate debt and the sacrifices are paying off.

    I was very pleased to read your concept of, "A Spending Fast". Consequently, I am a financial literacy coach out of Delaware and have been preaching a similar financial concept for many years now. I call the sacrifices that you made to chip away debt being E.I. – Economically Intelligent. Note: my website is as follows: Over the past several years, I have been teaching people that debt can be eliminated through sacrifice, patient, and discipline. Reading your blog today further confirmed the financial literacy principles that I teach. Thank you for sharing your financial experience. Take care.

  6. A@Please Don't Eat Me

    I just found you through the feature as well :)
    I LOVE forever 21 as well, and if i have 20 bucks in hand at the end of the month i spend it there..
    I am in the same boat as you were before, but I am on a spending fast as well starting jan 1st lol i hope i make it through the whole year like you did!!

  7. Sarah B.

    I found you on the cnn website yesterday, I believe. I couldn't stop reading you blog! I totally agree with you about Forever 21. I used to buy alot of shirts from forever 21 but they wouldn't last and would start to rip and I was always pissed! I stopped buying stuff from there and even went a whole 6 months without stepping in the store! BUT for my birthday I went in there and ended up buying two shirts! I dont know why I did that

    I love your blog :)

  8. Dubious

    Hi … like many others, I found your blog via CNN. First, let me congratulate you on your "spending fast" and financial accomplishments. Now… I don't mean to be a party pooper, but I have to say that the article was a bit short on useful information. Essentially, the Cliff Notes version of the article is "I took the bus", which doesn't quite explain the $18,000.

    While I agree that you've achieved a tremendous goal by wiping out that much debt in a year, it's also pretty obvious that you have an quite a bit of disposable income … much more than the average person. Given that claim that you still pay for rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities, cell phone, gym, health insurance, etc and yet you can still manage to wipe out $1000-$2000 or more per month on several occasions.

    The last 3 months of your fast are particularly curious, because you managed to save over $12,000 and the only detail you provide is that you had added revenue from a public art commission. Must be nice.

    Anyways, I don't mean to be "internet tough guy" or anything, so congratulations again.

  9. Adalyn

    PHEW! Found you through CNN like everyone else apparently, and just spent the last few days reading your blog.

    Right now my debt is more than I make in a year (and damn did it hurt when I realized that). But my wasteful spending is huge (I spent $150 on a whim today…that's half my weekly paycheck. OW). I'm definitely thinking of doing a smaller-scale version of your fast.

    You're a really engaging writer, I had fun reading about your escapades. I'm in Denver too, small world.

  10. Anna Newell Jones

    Hi Dubious aka "internet tough guy":)

    You mentioned that I must have more disposable income than most people. I beg to differ. You see, the reason the spending fast started was partly bc every month I would go over my income and tap into overdraft (spending $200-$300 over my income every money). There was no extra money, no disposable income -in the beginning.

    I did come up with ways to reduce my expenses and found additional ways to increase my income using skills I already had but wasn't utilizing. For example, I started an etsy shop and thought of ANYTHING I could to sell on there. Zombie and vampire portraits, banners, baby onesies, cupcake toppers… Here's the link if you're curious: Towards the end I submitted a proposal for a public art commission and actually got it. That WAS extra money to go towards my debt that was a nice thing especially at the end of the year.

    Once I started to pay off my debts, reduce my expenses and come up with new ways to generate additional income my disposable income certainly grew- which was exactly the point & has helped me get my debt taken care of faster since I'm no longer making more debt for myself and since debts are paid off the money that would have gone to them can go to the other debts.

    Thanks for the congrats too ;)

  11. Sharon

    I just saw the CNN article, but I found you before that! I'm always fascinated with people who can manage to spend less for a whole year!

    I feel your pain. I no longer enjoy shopping. In a way, it makes me sad. But it has so many more benefits!!

  12. Alexandra J.

    This is fantastic! Good for you! I'm doing something similar—-I'm buying NOTHING NEW in 2011. With little exceptions–I will stick w/ used items only! If you're interested, check out my blog I've added the CNN money article to my blog post as an inspiration and of course to spread the simplicity word! ROCK ON!

  13. Leah

    This is very encouraging. I just began a shopping-for-clothing fast and I'm already seeing the positive effects. I went shopping with my mom this weekend and had a hard time agreeing to let her buy me anything. In the end, I came out with one shirt that was on mega clearance and since I didn't buy it, I hadn't broken a rule but I still felt guilty. It's nice to see how controlling shopping urges really does make it easier over time. Good luck with your diet.

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