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@HannahLouisePoston is taking over our channel for four weeks with "The Beautiful Budget!" In our final episode, she tells us the personal minimalism rules she adopted after quitting shopping for one full year.


00:00 → INTRO
03:18 → STEP 1
04:25 → STEP 2
05:35 → STEP 3
07:02 → STEP 4
08:33 → STEP 5
11:54 → STEP 6

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea. And I wanted to jump in real quick to say thank you to Avast for sponsoring this week's video. Avast is a global leader in cyber protection for more than 30 years and trusted by over 435 million users and prevents over 1.5 billion attacks every month. Avast empowers you with digital safety and privacy no matter who you are, where you are, or how you connect. So you can stay connected on your terms. And because Avast believes essential protection should be available to everyone, a free version of Avast One still includes award-winning free AV, free VPN, free firewall, and much, much more. And Avast's free version includes all of the essential features, such as free antivirus, free VPN, and free firewall protection. So I'm a business owner. And I work both from home sometimes as well as out of my office. And actually, the real Chelsea Fagan historians amongst you will remember that my first book was actually called I'm Only Here for the WiFi. I love a good free Wi-Fi connection. And I love that Avast allows me to connect safely and securely to public Wi-Fi without the fear of cybercrime and keeps my personal information secure by preventing attacks to steal my data. It's true, public Wi-Fi is amazing but can also be dangerous to your computer. So protect yourself. So thank you again to Avast for supporting TFD. Confidently take control of your online world with Avast One. It helps you to stay safe from viruses, phishing attacks, ransomware, hacking attempts, and other cyber crimes. Learn more about Avast One at Hey, y'all. My name is Hannah Louise Poston. And welcome back to another episode of The Beautiful Budget. This is my TFD takeover. I am a writer and an online content creator. I have my own YouTube channel, too. And we'll link that down below. This month, I'm taking over TFD and presenting to you a series of four videos. Today I am going to tell you the story of how I changed my life by changing my consumer habits. I used to be an overspender, especially on clothes and beauty products. I had piles of half-used cleansers and shampoos filling my bathroom cabinets, drawers full of makeup that I had bought just to try and didn't really wear, and a constant stream of clothing coming into my wardrobe that resulted in huge closet purges two or three times a year. I also, as you can imagine, spent more than I could afford and struggled on and off with credit card debt and with deep-seated feelings of shame and anxiety about my spending. For someone who genuinely loves beautiful things-- which, to be clear, I don't think is a bad quality-- figuring out how to position one's self and define one's consumerism in this modern world of unprecedentedly large-scale manufacturing and scarily intelligent advertising is not straightforward. I am definitely still a work in progress. But when I look back at my past behaviors, how I used to shop, how I used to live, sometimes I'm shocked at the differences between my past and my present habits. So I'm going to take you on a brief tour through the steps that I took to make this massive change in my life.

Step one, facing the problem-- back in 2017, as it was getting towards the end of the year, I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem, that it wasn't going away, and that no one else was going to solve it for me. The half measures that I had attempted to make up until then weren't enough. I tried to budget time and time again. I would tell myself, I'm only going to spend x amount of money on clothes this month or makeup. And I could never stick to it. For me, a big part of this was acknowledging that a behavior doesn't have to be classified technically as an addiction in order for it to be bad enough to basically ruin your life. If you Google "shopping addiction," which I did, you will find yourself reading about this long list of behaviors which were behaviors that I didn't exhibit. But I was still on track to severely hamstring my own future, both financially and psychologically. And I had to tell that to myself. Nobody sat me down and told it to me and nobody would have.

Step two, making a plan-- so the plan that I made at the end of 2017 was to quit buying my vices-- makeup, skin care, clothing, and homewares-- for an entire year. I chose a no-buy year because the drama and scale of it felt exciting to me. It felt like an exciting challenge. And that was encouraging. And at that time, I would say I needed all the encouragement I could get. I had had success with cold-turkey projects in the past, like quitting sugar. So I knew that I was capable of quitting something cold turkey. And I really believed that I could do it. That last one I think is really important, I embarked on my no-buy year totally intending to keep my promise to myself and see it through. To me, there was no question of whether or not I would stick to my rules. The questions were about how it would feel and how it would change me. I didn't know whether or not it would work, how it would work. But I knew that I had to stick to my rules and keep my promise to myself to find out. So that's what I did.

Step three, self-inquiry-- one of the reasons that I decided to do a no-buy year in 2018 was that I hoped that it would open some doors to self-inquiry. I mean, to be frank, I was also desperate. It was kind of like a last resort. I knew I had to do something. And I knew it had to be dramatic. But I went into the year not unaware that there might be more to it than just taking a year off of shopping and saving a year's worth of money. And boy, did it ever open the door to self-inquiry. My habits going into the no-buy year were so entrenched that it rocked my inner world to pull the plug on those behaviors. And what I did was that I paid very, very close attention to how I was feeling as I was going through it. I was constantly asking myself, what am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? What is this about? What exactly is this feeling? And what is underneath this feeling? In this way, I learned so much about myself during my no-buy year. From day one, I just felt like I was pulling up information about myself from the underbelly of my life, pulling it out up into the light of day and looking at it pretty much for the first time. Quitting shopping gave me the space and the energy to do that. And I also think it gave me the permission to do that, the grace to do that.

Step four, falling apart, becoming an absolute mess-- so some of the stuff that came up from the underbelly of my life was awful. It turned out, surprise surprise, that there was a reason that I had been so desperate to distract myself from that stuff by spending every dollar I ever earned shopping. It was awful. Underneath it all, I had these feelings, like I was afraid my life was going horribly wrong, ashamed that I hadn't done anything about that. And underneath that it turned out that I didn't fundamentally love myself. I was unkind to myself. I was at war with myself. When it all came out, which took time-- it wasn't like the second week of my no-buy year and all of a sudden, everything was out in the light of day-- it was like the eighth month. It was September by the time it was really all coming out. And when that happened and I didn't have my familiar crutch of shopping to distract me, things got worse, as they say, before they got better. My mental health and my relationship were strained, especially in the second half of the year. And if you're considering doing a no-buy year, I realized that I might not be making it sound very appealing. It was hard. But it was so worth it. I think that to fundamentally change one's life, one often has to go through a period like this, a kind of dark night of the soul. And it was the no-buy year that precipitated that.

And there is good news, because step five was putting myself back together. At the end of the year, at the end of 2018, I had changed in a lot of ways. And one of those ways was just chemical. It had to do with patterns in the brain. So the cycle of feeling bad, escaping into shopping, wanting stuff, buying stuff, getting stuff, then going back to feeling bad, escaping into shopping, wanting stuff, buying stuff, that cycle had been on pause for so many months, 12 whole months, that it was like my brain had gotten a chance to heal over that pattern. Now, with this reset of my brain chemicals at the beginning of 2018, I was able to budget successfully for the first time in my life. So I made a budget for my vices-- again, makeup, skincare, clothing, homewares, the beautiful things that I love to love and love to buy. I made a budget for them, spent the budget every month with pleasure. And I found myself again for the first time in my life buying some of the things that I wanted to buy without shame. The other changes were, I would say, much messier. So I had opened doors of self-inquiry during my no-buy year, which led to more doors, which led to more doors. And even though the year was over and I was budgeting and shopping again, I had to keep going through those doors. I had to keep going down that part of the path. So I found myself at the beginning of 2019 engaged in this lifelong work of thoughtfulness, discovery, evolution, and action that I now believe is necessary for fulfillment. This includes reading, writing, getting to know myself even better in all of these ways, doing some therapy, familiarizing myself with resonant thinkers and philosophers, and finding a mentor to guide me through some delicate inner work, work on that stuff, that stuff that had come up, so that I can more skillfully and lovingly navigate my own impulses. Before my no-buy year, I think that shopping had been taking up the space in my life that that work should have been occupying. And furthermore, because I wasn't doing that work and because I felt unfulfilled because I wasn't doing that work and because my underlying sense of shame and unkindness to myself was going unaddressed, I was a sitting duck for the advertising industry, right? I was particularly ripe for the machinations of contemporary advertising. It's easy to sell someone an endless stream of stuff when she feels fundamentally broken and unfulfilled. So when I put myself back together after the no-buy, it was like those two things switched places. My fulfilling work, both my inner work and my creative career, finally took center stage. And shopping became this fun side show that I visit sometimes but that I know that I have to keep an eye on, which brings me to step six, navigating the new normal.

So it's over three years since my no-buy year ended. And each one of those years has changed me, too. I haven't just turned from one kind of person into another like flipping a switch. But because I admitted I had a problem, stopped shopping for an entire year, engaged in self-inquiry, let myself fall apart somewhat, and then thoughtfully rebuilt and restructured my habits, the five steps that we've talked about, these days I find that all of these things are true. I almost never impulse buy anything. I usually consider a purchase for weeks, if not months, before making it. I find it much easier to resist the allure of things like fast fashion and short-lived trends. I'm rarely tempted to spend beyond my means or outside my budget in a given month. It just doesn't seem worth it. Because I know I'm not overspending, I'm more likely to allow myself to buy the one thing I really want, even if it's a bit expensive, within reason for me, of course. I feel much happier choosing nicer things. And I also feel freer and calmer because fewer things are entering my life. And those two principles support each other. Most importantly, I know that feelings of emptiness, lostness, anxiety, and shame cannot be healed by shopping. So if I ever find myself slipping into trying to shop my way out of unhappiness, I catch myself in the act and I put the brakes on and address those feelings in other ways. As a result, I own fewer things. But I like my stuff better than I did before. I'm not some sort of financial genius. And sometimes I make mistakes and buy the wrong thing or something that I don't end up using or loving as much as I thought I would. But it's not a big deal, because it happens against a backdrop of an overall much more comfortable relationship with desire, stuff, and money.

 All of this adds up to, I guess what you could call my personal minimalism. It's a flexible, evolving philosophy that prioritizes thoughtfulness and leaves plenty of room for imperfection, plenty of room for me to just be a living, breathing, imperfect human who's always learning. So that's how I went from being a rampant overspender who was basically afraid to look at her own bank account to being a thoughtful consumer who is very in touch with her finances and makes relatively healthy shopping decisions most of the time. I hope you enjoyed this video. If you did, I hope that you'll check out the other videos that I'm filming for this series, The Beautiful Budget, here on TFD. Bye.