I live next to a big shopping mall. On a regular basis I would hop into the mall to see whether there were some nice clothes or shoes on sale. And on a regular basis, I mean once or twice a week. I wasn’t specifically looking for something, just passing the time and feeding my addiction. I think on average I used to spend around 700-1000 euro’s per month on clothes, shoes, handbags and miscellaneous items.
Around six weeks ago, I decided that I was done wasting my money. I drew out 90 boxes in a notebook, every box representing one day until the end of 2019. I wrote the words “Clothing no buy” above it (I really did not have a better title). And I started.
I got new rules
That was easier said than done. I realised after a few days, I needed some rules. Because if I wasn’t spending my money on clothing, I could just spend it on other miscellaneous items, right? So I drew up a few rules:
- I am not allowed to spend money on items that are not necessary for me to live.
- I am allowed to buy tights/underwear/socks, but only if I don’t have any others in my closet (spoiler: I have a lot).
- Seeing as I’m going on a skiing holiday in January and March, I am allowed to purchase items for that trip: skipants, skijacket, thermos clothing, gloves and snowboots.
- Any clothing item that I do need to buy, I will buy second hand.
Those are some pretty simple rules. And so far, I have not broken my rules for a total of 40 days. The only clothing items that I have bought so far were a pair of snowboots (second hand, 10 euro’s), a ski jacket and ski pants (second hand, 25 euro’s) and more ski pants (second hand, 10 euro’s). Total costs: 45 euro’s.
Before starting this challenge, I completely emptied my closet and decided what items I wanted to keep and what items did not bring me any joy and I would never wear. I still have a big closet that’s filled to the brim with clothing. This also leads me to believe that by having a good foundation, not buying clothing for a while is not that hard. Whenever I need something to wear for a special event, I say I’m going shopping in my own closet. I have the most gorgeous dresses that I have only worn once because I thought: “I have already worn that, people can’t see me wear the same dress twice!”. At some point you realize that people really don’t care. No one will notice that you’ve worn that dress on a birthday three years ago.
By organising my closet and having a clear overview of what I owned, I was able to use more of my clothing and not feel bummed out by not having anything to wear every. single. morning.
Of course I’ve had tough moments and I really do feel like shopping was an addiction. I often fantasize about just going into one of my favourite shops and buying whatever I want. This might be a good incentive to keep going. If I have finished my 90 days of not shopping, I will allow myself to spend 50 euro’s at my favorite shop to buy some items for 2020.
Tips and tricks
If you also want to stop spending all your income (or more) on clothing/shoes/handbags/home decor and such, I have come up with a few tips to make this challenge easier.
Firstly, clear out your closet. When I cleared out my closet, I filled two big boxes with clothing that are either meant for donation, selling or giving to friends. All this clothing was clogging up my closet without bringing me any joy, just more clutter. I put more hangers in my closet, so I could see my clothing more clearly that if it were folded and stuffed in the back of my closet. This way I can see what I own and not have to worry about forgetting about an item.
Unsubscribe from all the e-mail listings of stores that you love. Every time you get an e-mail telling you there’s a new sale or something that you (think you) need is 25% off, it will be another temptation for you to look at the site and order one thing. Or two. Just unsubscribe, you will have FOMO if you did not even know the sale was going on.
Find out what’s the difference between need and want. Do you need a new pair of jeans? Or do you already have 7 pairs sitting in your closet and you just want a new pair of jeans. If you are anything like me, you’ll discover pretty quickly that you do not need any new clothing, you want new clothing. And you aren’t going to let your brain sabotage you into spending money you don’t need to spend, right? Learn to say no to your own mind.
Don’t look at shopping as a hobby but as a way of getting what you need. It’s so easy to go shopping online or in real life when you’re bored. If you can find a way to keep busy or develop another hobby, you do not need to waste your time and money on shopping.
Three months might not seem like a lot to you. Maybe you are already a perfectly minimalistic person with no desire to keep capitalism going and are living an extremely frugal lifestyle with hand-me-down clothing from 7 years ago. If you are: please teach me. But for most people, shopping is becoming more and more of a daily habit. With everything you could ever dream of available online and with same-day shipping, people do not feel the need to delay their gratification. If I want it now, I can get it now. Delayed gratification is something that I’m working on and it’s a work in progress.
When the 90 days are over, I will write a new post with my full experience for not buying clothing for three months. But for now, I am glad to have started this challenge. I feel more creative by making new combinations of the clothing I own and I feel like I’m getting more use out of my items. My own mind is less about buying and dealing with all the clutter I have, but about expanding my income, savings and investments.