Personal Growth

No Shopping for 46 Days. How Did It Go?

What and Why

This year I did some research on the history of Lent and decided to observe it by reading through a daily devotional, To Seek And To Save: Daily Reflections On The Road To The Cross as well as by taking a break from non-essential consumerism for 46 days. From March 2 until April 18 I committed to only purchase groceries and essential home and personal care items.

One of my favorite pastimes is sipping a venti coffee and leisurely browsing the isles of Target, Home Goods, Costco, or even the grocery store. As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of things that I didn’t even know that we “needed” and that were not on the shopping list that can be discovered by browsing the isles as a hobby. I also excel at shopping on the Amazon app. Anything that comes up that we “need” can be delivered within a day or two. I recognized that it was increasingly becoming easier to overspend our monthly budget and I felt that a reset was what I needed. Lent was the perfect occasion for that reset.


The first challenge I’ll address is the difficulty of telling ourselves “No”. We live in a culture of instant gratification, abundant goods, and credit to cover what we don’t have cash for and marketing tells us that “we deserve it”. By engaging in a fast from food or a “soul fast” from entertainment or shopping, we make the decision to tell ourselves no for a period of time. This is a powerful practice and as contradictory as it seems, can be incredibly liberating. It reminds our flesh that it is not in charge.

A challenging moment that came up was when I received an email from one of my favorite athletic brands and they had a clothing item come back in stock that had been out of stock for quite some time. This particular zip-up hoodie was saved on my wish list and they let me know that it was back in stock but would not last long. The temptation to order that was pretty high up there for me but I did refrain. Sigh.

Another silly but difficult moment was when Costco had brand new spring pajamas on display and they were exactly what I felt I “needed”. They were just $14.99 and could have gotten mixed in with the groceries, right? Again, I refrained. Sigh again.

Still another challenge that came up a few times was when there were books that I wanted to read but since I wasn’t buying them, I had to get on the waiting list at the library before I could borrow them. I have two library memberships and can find many books that I want either in digital form or audible form, and as a last resort paper copy, but there often is a waitlist to check out the books, so it’s a good lesson in patience to be at the mercy of other citizens to turn their library books in on time.

Gray Areas or Cheating?

One “gray area” that I did choose to indulge in was using a Starbucks gift card on a few occasions to pick up a coffee before going on a walk. I decided that since it was a gift already given, I wasn’t spending any money. Also, we could make the argument for how essential coffee is, right?

In the spirit of honesty I will confess that there was a non-essential item that I had my husband buy for me so that I could still be a legalist rule follower and not technically shop (eye roll, I know). Before the fast began, my watch was showing signs that it’s life was just about over. Although I do use my watch for telling the time, my primary reason is to track my movement throughout the day, as I find it motivating to meet my fitness goals. I really didn’t want to replace it until it totally died, so I told my husband beforehand that if it did indeed hit the dust during my fast, I would send him to the store to replace it. Sure enough it happened a few weeks in and he was my personal shopper. Thanks Honey!

What Helped

Here is what I found helpful in sticking with only buying essentials:

  • I planed ahead for the special events coming up and for example I bought Easter basket gifts for my kids early. The great thing about this was that it was done and there was no adding little gifts here and there as the countdown to Easter began.

  • I really only went to grocery stores and did not go down any isles without grocery list items. I did do one mobile order at Target for some personal care essentials that we needed, but I did not browse the store as I typically would have in the past.

  • As “gray area” items came up, I added the items in question to my Amazon shopping cart and waiting several days before deciding whether or not they would be deemed as “essential” enough to purchase. The majority of the time, I had completely changed my mind on “needing” the items and ended up not making the purchases.

  • I unsubscribed from several retailer emails so that there was no temptation by the sales and it helped clean up my in box.

  • I unfollowed the few “influencers” that I followed on Instagram. It is amazing how many items I did not know existed or never would have purchased, but was convinced by their reviews of them that they were things that I “needed”.

  • I rediscovered how much I have and that I have many clothing items that I haven’t worn in a long time but I really like them.



In conclusion this was an incredible practice and something that I plan to incorporate in my life again from time to time. The devotional was so good and a great way to start my day as well and I will reread next Lent season. The consumerism fast really was a mental reset for me and I am more thoughtful about any non-essential item that I have purchased since the fast ended. I was reminded how good the peace that comes living within our family budget is and it’s amazing to not sweat over how to balance the budget with unplanned purchases. I was reminded how blessed we are and that we really have everything that we need. This helped me choose gratitude.

What about you?

Would you be willing to give up shopping for a period of time? I’d love to hear from you!



  • Suzanne Corrigan

    Love Reading your experience and it’s motivated me to go on a shopping freeze. Consumerism is the way of America and we get so numb using credit cards and quick cash. I want the discipline of being able to say no to Suzanne Thanks for leading 💬

  • Christine King

    I did ok first few weeks I had a couple birthday come up I hoping that was essential. I did do a some pre stocking on some items from Trader Joe’s😂😂dark chocolate almonds 😂
    My non essential shopping happened when I got our girls Easter items after that it was over😞but I tried and It was good.
    The Bible study group I am with we did focus on Easter. On quiet Saturday I focused more than usual on what Jesus did for me never thought about Quiet Saturday it was good.
    Thank you Amber for the idea.❤️❤️

    • Amber Sollie

      I love it and I also pre-stocked the Trader Joe’s chocolates 😉 I have you to thank for introducing me to the chocolate covered almonds too ❤️