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Let’s Try This: No Shopping for a Year

by January 21, 2018 General


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

It all started when my blockmate from university, Rachel, posted about her goal of not shopping this 2018. “Who’s with me?” she asked.

I took a moment to think about all the stuff I bought last 2017—clothes, books, more clothes, more books, and makeup. During the tail-end of 2017, right smack at the end of December, I started getting really fascinated with makeup—partly because I needed to do my own on my wedding, but for the most part, it was fun! I took a mental inventory of all the Uniqlo tops I purchased—same style, different colors—and all the things that I really didn’t need but ended up buying anyway simply because they looked nice.

I bought a ton of books in 2017, too. Most of them I haven’t even opened yet. That doesn’t count my Kindle purchases. And let’s not forget the tote bags, the accessories, the scarves (who even wears scarves in Singapore?!), and the “souvenir shirts” I bought when I travelled.

“Who’s with me?”

I typed, “Me!” and without hesitation, hit Publish.

Rachel and I would talk from time to time because we enjoyed the same interests—energy, yoga, and travel, among many others. But this topic of “no shopping for a year” got us talking again, especially since I said that I wanted to be accountable to her. An article popped up in my feed from The New York Times about this woman’s “Year of No Shopping,” which I immediately linked to her and a close friend of mine.

A full year without shopping—yes, this was what I signed up for. So, on the 30th of December, I bought all the makeup essentials I needed and called it quits. When the clock struck 12 on Jan. 1, I heaved a sigh of nervousness and dread—365 days without shopping. Here we go…

Why am I taking up this challenge in the first place? Well, apart from mostly being able to save my money, I wanted to exercise a more mindful and minimalist approach to my lifestyle. I realized that big-time companies are actually jumping on the minimalist trend, marketing their products as “basic” and “minimalist,” and in the end, we ironically splurge more on items that should help us live with less.

Before I moved to Singapore, I “Kondo-fied” my room and ended up taking out 21 XL garbage bags filled with clothes and other junk. A few months ago, I was shocked to discover that I had around three huge bags filled with clothes to clear. Things just kept on accumulating without me being aware of it. I admit, it wasn’t my proudest moment, which is why I feel that I should go cold turkey on this mindless shopping. It’s not like I need any more new clothes, anyway. I have at least more than enough.

The same goes with books. I used to proudly label myself as tsundoku, or the Japanese word for people who buy more books than they intend to read. I am a firm believer that books are an investment, and I still do! However, since my goal this 2018 is to save more, I’d also like to read the books I bought before buying any more. It’s silly to just keep on hoarding for the sake of owning that title and read it once I’m done with my current book. However, 90 percent of the time, I forget that I had another book lined up. It’s a terrible habit, so I’m curbing it now.

Lastly, makeup! I have been watching a lot of makeup tutorials online for my pre-nup shoot and my wedding, and wow, these vloggers really know how to market their stuff—especially contouring. I have a round face and a built-in double chin so I am really obsessed with contouring and face sculpting. In a week’s time, I’ve learned about “cooking” the contour to make it sharper. So, as a result, I spent quite a few hundred dollars in Sephora buying makeup. I did do a reality check before my purchase, and I realized that I was definitely missing the essentials. So after I stocked up, I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything unless I ran out of something.

While it may seem like a short list of things to stop shopping for, it’s been a really tough few days, and it takes a lot of discipline to not be impulsive. A dollar spent is a dollar spent. I’d walk into Zara just to peek, but I’d still end up fighting the urge to purchase a top that’s on sale. Thank goodness, I haven’t purchased anything yet, but it’s only January and I’ve got twelve months to go. Another thing that I’m adding to my list is notebooks—I love notebooks and washi tapes and I’ve accumulated quite a lot of them. I’m currently in Japan, and it’s taking a lot for me to not buy clothes or notebooks or cute stickers and washi tape and MAKEUP.

However, I’m learning to balance it out so that I don’t explode. I’m allowing myself to purchase anything in the grocery as long as I don’t hoard. Travel will always be there, but shopping during my travels is still considered a shopping purchase. It’s been a challenging start so far, but I have hopes that this will end up to be one of the most meaningful changes that I can do to my life this year.

Let me know if you’d like to try it out as well! Shoot me an email at, and let’s do this together.

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, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.

Art by Lara Intong

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