Photo: Courtesy of Cait Flanders

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How to Save a Huge Chunk of Change This Year

Her Savings Strategy After Paying Off Debt: Complete a shopping ban

We all dream of having a savings account big enough to swim in—but a broken air conditioner in the middle of summer or semi-regular Seamless orders can get in the way. Nearly 29 percent of Americans report having no emergency savings, according to a recent Bankrate survey. Flanders, in the same boat as a lot of us, aggressively saved money by starting a yearlong shopping ban in 2014—vowing not to buy anything that wasn't on an approved shopping list. She managed to save $17,000 (CAD) in the first year and $11,000 (CAD) the year after.

Here's how she did it: First, figure out what items you are allowed to buy. Flanders' approved list included groceries, basic kitchen supplies like plastic wrap and foil, basic cosmetics (only after running out), toiletries, cleaning products and essential items she would need during the year—such as a single dress for six upcoming weddings, a pair of winter boots and a new bed. Account for all upcoming events and tally up expected costs. During her shopping ban, Flanders cleared out 70 percent of her belongings—selling items like a barely used juicer, old laptop and camera for cash. In emergencies (when she ripped her only pair of jeans), she used the money she made selling clutter for replacements.