Alysse Bryson

Traveling on the No Spend Challenge

Traveling on the No Spend Challenge has proven to be quite the journey, and I do mean that in every sense of the word. Here I am, three months in, and the allure of unnecessary purchases has only grown stronger. Despite this, I’ve been fortunate enough to squeeze in a fair amount of travel this year – a week in Tampa, a week in New York, a week at my parents (a small town in Washington State), a week in Los Angeles, and currently, I find myself scribbling this from the enchanting abode with an ocean view of a dear friend in La Jolla.

So, How’s It Really Going, You Ask?

Well, let’s say the temptation to indulge in retail therapy crosses my mind more often than I care to confess. However, since my mid-January momentary lapse involving a certain irresistible HomeGoods paperweight, I must admit I’ve fared better than expected. You see, prior to embarking on this challenge, I made a pact with myself that certain indulgences would still be permissible. I’ve nicknamed them either traditions or consumables.

For instance, whenever I venture into a new city, visit a museum, attend a special exhibit, or lose myself in the magic of a Broadway show, I have a delightful tradition. I treat myself to a magnet – a charming keepsake to immortalize the places I’ve explored and the marvels I’ve encountered. My kitchen refrigerator is adorned on all three sides with these magnetic memoirs, and as luck would have it, the collection has begun to spill over onto the drink refrigerator in the garage. The exact monetary value of my magnetic treasures is a detail I consciously choose to overlook. After all, the price of each magnet typically ranges from $5 to $15, but being a woman of tradition, I couldn’t deny myself this joy.

Now, let’s take a peek at my coveted magnets procured in this eventful year of 2024:

Oh, the Allure of a Gift Shop!

I must confess, I’ve never encountered one that didn’t captivate me. Seriously, I’ve never met a gift shop I didn’t love. Whether it’s the eclectic offerings of a museum gift shop (my kryptonite), an airport Hudson News, or even the quirky trinkets adorning the shelves of a roadside truck stop mini-mart, every little treasure has a particular enchantment that beckons to me and my trusty debit card. Considering this, the fact that I’ve traversed through so much travel and confined my purchases to these cherished magnets feels like a triumphant feat, indeed. (Me high fiving myself!)

Now, you might wonder, “Alysse, are you not allowed to buy gifts for others?” Well, let me assure you, I am permitted to do so – within reason. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a tradition for me to pick up something special for my son Jakob whenever I’m away as a token of gratitude for holding down the fort and tending to our beloved fur babies, Roxie and Bella. During my time in Tampa, while exploring a captivating street art gallery, I couldn’t resist picking up a cozy sweatshirt and a trendy T-shirt, knowing they’d bring a smile to Jakob’s face. Fun fact! With the use of Artivive app, the back of the T-shirt “comes to life” with video. Pretty cool! You can find the artist on IG @gatsbynotart

Hello New York!

And speaking of navigating temptations, let’s talk about my recent escapade through New York City during the whirlwind of New York Fashion Week. Remarkably, I managed to tread through the city’s streets without succumbing to retail temptations. Yes, my no-spend darlings, I even emerged unscathed from the alluring gift shop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit I had eagerly anticipated exploring had no merchandise, and as fate would have it, I already possess a couple of charming Met Museum magnets from my previous visits. Every time I walk through a shop, I wonder if a shopping relapse is right around the corner. It’s about as bright as a newly sober person visiting a liquor store “just to look.” Yet, I do it anyway. Simply put, I love touching and looking at pretty things and apparently living on the edge.

It’s about as bright as a newly sober person visiting a liquor store “just to look.” Yet, I do it anyway. Simply put, I love looking at pretty things.


Just Say No to Outlet Shopping!

One would assume that a week-long visit to my parents’ abode would be a reprieve from the temptations of shopping. Alas, they reside in the land of outlets, and as fate would have it, I have a penchant for strolling through the Nike outlet in pursuit of athleisure clothing and sneakers that, truth be told, I have no genuine need for. Knowing full well that Jakob also has an extensive collection of sneakers, I decided to evade this particular establishment altogether. However, I did grant myself the indulgence of a visit to Bath and Body Works, where I gleefully ventured into the clearance section and emerged with a delightful assortment of 12 candles – dubbed “consumables” and thus fitting neatly into the realm of approved expenditures. Seriously, I got 12 candles for $25 – that is a DEAL! And as self-care, I burn candles all of the time. #consumable

From East Coast to West Coast – My Shopping Bags Stayed Empty (Well, mostly.)

Now, let’s fast forward to the weeks leading up to my recent escapade to California. Prior to taking this trip, the overwhelming urge to indulge in a bit of retail therapy gripped me with an unprecedented force. So intense was this desire that I found myself surrendering not one but two gift cards, each valued at $100, in exchange for unnecessary acquisitions from and Nordstrom. Deep down, I attempted to rationalize these transactions as benign, given that I hadn’t spent a single penny from my own coffers. In essence, I convinced myself this wasn’t a relapse into shopping but rather a harmless utilization of existing resources. Ah, the intoxicating allure of adding items to the virtual cart, that sweet dopamine rush coursing through my veins. Yet, upon reflection, I can’t help but acknowledge that perhaps I should have resisted the siren call and preserved these gift cards for a future necessity or as thoughtful tokens for others. Oh well, too late. But I am enjoying my Muppets Candle, framed Disco balls artwork, and two flannel Gap jackets.

The No Spend Challenge – The Ultimate Test of Willpower and Self-reflection.

THIS IS SO HARD! It’s like a deep dive into the abyss of impulsive shopping tendencies, where each scroll and click reveal a glimpse of the void I seek to fill. Have you ever tried going iPhone-free for just one day? The phantom buzzes and instinctive reach for the phone are akin to the siren call of a shopping addiction, a constant reminder of my craving for that dopamine hit. The other day, I was enticed by an ad from Nordstrom Rack, and before I knew what was happening, I had re-downloaded the app and had 7 things in my cart. I was in a shopping scroll black-out! But have no fear, no credit card or gift card was used. Once I came too and realized what was happening, it was deleted once more. (I’ll miss you NR! Please don’t forget me!)

Fast forward to a sunny day in La Jolla, surrounded by sister-like friends + family, I made a conscious decision to break the shopping fast. A hat here, a sweatshirt there (clearance rack finds, of course), and a free tote bag gifted by the persuasive powers of my friend Nicole. While I adore these trinkets, deep down, I know they were more want than need. But in that moment of camaraderie and celebration, I justified it as a token of our time together, a reward for my nearly three-month long shopping abstinence.

Yet, the truth whispers in the shadows – I excel at weaving tales to justify my moments of weakness. Meaning, I am a pro at lying to myself. The allure of the experience, the thrill of the purchase, all wrapped in a guise of self-reward and shared memories. It’s a dance of excuses and justifications, a battle between restraint and desire. The road to mastering the No Spend Challenge is paved with moments of self-realization, of unraveling the threads that weave through my shopping soul.

So here I sit, not a perfect participant of the challenge, but a resilient seeker of finding the truth within my oh-so impulsive spending habits. Each slip-up is a lesson learned, each clearance-find acknowledged, each temptation a clue to the deeper desires lurking beneath the surface. I’m trying to fill a void that really only God can fill. I’m trying to learn that more will never be enough. So, the journey continues, the quest to uncover the true essence of what drives my shopping impulses, one thoughtful no spend day at a time.

Instagram Reels of My Adventures:

No Spend Challenge – The Series:

Sources: (In case you need them)

  1. SAMHSA’s National Helpline
  2. Verywellmind on Shopping Addiction
  3. Priorygroup on Compulsive Shopping
  4. Goodrx on Shopping Addiction
  5. PsychGuides on Shopping Addiction
  6. Wikipedia on Shopping addiction
  7. Blackbearrehab on Compulsive Buying Disorder
  8. Everyday Health on Shopping Addiction
  9. Healthline on Shopping Addiction
  10. Addiction Center on Signs Of Shopping Addiction

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