I Stopped Buying Clothes for 3 Years and It Changed My Life and Finances

If you would have told me 5 years ago that there would come a day that I would stop shopping completely, there is no way I would have believed you. Clothes were my life. I even had a shoe club membership! My closet was jam-packed with fancy high heels and tons and tons of bargain clothes. Then, I stopped buying clothes for 3 years and it changed my life and finances forever. It was not easy breaking this spending cycle that had become a habit, but it has been worth it every single day. Here is my story about why I stopped buying clothes for 3 years and how it changed my life and finances forever.

Building more than a wardrobe

Let me start off by saying, I didn’t just stop buying clothes and instantly change my entire financial future. Although, it played a huge roll in it!

Everything changed the day our family decided we weren’t really living life on our terms. For so long I just gave into shopping impulses but forgot about the big things I wanted for my life. Things like traveling more, have a good marriage and being able to be home with my kids. Financially, my shopping habits were keeping us from all of those things.

Now, we have ditched our bad habits and freed up over $40,000 per year that allow us to save money for retirement, emergencies, and travel! (My favorite). If you want to learn more about how we did it, I put all of our knowledge together in a course!

The Bucket List Budget teaches you how to get clear about what you want the most out of YOUR life (no one else’s) and then guides you through how to make your money work to support that lifestyle!

My previous shopping habits

My old shopping habits in the past basically consisted of shopping at any clearance sale I could see. I would go shopping without any real purpose, simply because I wanted to shop. I basically looked down isles and if I saw bright yellow or red…then I made my way down the isle.

This dress was most likely only worn this one time.

Clearance sales were like a jackpot. I would buy 5 shirts (I didn’t need) at $5 a piece and then tell everyone who cheap my clothes were…like it was a wonderful feat.

Looking back, I can clearly see that I was struggling with a major shopping addiction. I never thought a shopping addiction could really be as serious as some of the other addictions people face each day, but honestly, it has the power to ruin your life just as much.

Posts about shopping:

How to stop buying clothes

I had been reading a lot of self-help books by the late Wayne Dyer when I decided that I needed to do something about my serious shopping struggles.

In his books, Wayne Dyer would often discuss how people put too much emphasis on the things they own, their status or their appearance. So much so that people could easily lose sight of who they really are because of who they feel they should be.

Change your mindset

There was no denying that I lived with a scarcity mindset…if I only had this…then I would be happy. Just one more paycheck was all it would take for me to have everything I wanted. Spoiler alert: none of it ever made me happy.

Some of my favorite self-help books.

Don’t set a timeline

When I stopped shopping, I had no idea that I would stop buying clothes for 3 years.

In my classic wardrobe. Jeans, tank and sneaks.

If you yourself are thinking about planning to stop buying clothes, you might often wonder if you should set a timeline for your spending freeze.

Personally, I didn’t set a goal and I think often setting a timeline can instantly make people feel immense pressure and stress. Whenever I tell myself I won’t do something for a certain amount of time, it quickly becomes all I can think about.

“I won’t eat pizza for 3 days….man, I really could go for a pizza right about now.”

However, a lot of people are very successful with goal setting. It helps hold them accountable and they feel like they have an end date to work toward.

The best thing you can do is know yourself and know how you will respond to setting a timeline for your spending freeze.

Get by without buying

So, what do you do when you are used to shopping and bringing in new outfits all the time to suddenly being stuck with the wardrobe that you have? My two best recommendations:

  • Create a capsule wardrobe
  • Clothes swap with friends

Capsule wardrobes

One great way to get by without buying new clothes is by creating a capsule wardrobe. Limiting your wardrobe for 3 months at a time can really encourage you to get creative and still make you feel like you get new clothes every 3 months.

See our KonMari Couple’s Closet Makeover

Plus, using a capsule wardrobe can make you more aware of the clothes you like and wear the most. If you only have 10 shirts to wear in a 3 month period and you find yourself wanting to wear 5 of those shirts more than the others, you start to really see your own personal style. This also makes it easier to let go of those shirts you were hanging onto when you begin to see that they don’t really serve a purpose.

Swapping clothes with friends

There is no better way to find your own style and save money than by swapping clothes with other friends who wear the same size as you. Chances are, they are getting just as bored with their clothing as you are.

Hand-me-down beach dress.

I try to get together for dinner every month with 6 other girls I went to school with and every few months, someone has a new tote of clothes for us to rummage through.

I have also seen people on Facebook host “clothes swap parties” where everyone brings clothes they are ready to donate and instead, they just trade out with other people who are looking to do the same.

How my finances changed

I guess it’s pretty obvious when I say that my finances improved when I stopped shopping because…I stopped shopping. So…I had more money. It doesn’t really take a genius to figure that out.

Not only did I cancel my $40 per month shoe membership, but I also stopped “saving money” by shopping clearance racks. I wound up saving even more by NOT SPENDING AT ALL.

Quitting credit cards

When I stopped buying clothes for 3 years, that meant I also stopped using credit cards. Credit cards are literally the devil for shopaholics. You get instant gratification by purchasing clothing that you have wanted for 10 minutes.

In the end, you end up paying about 25% more than you would have if you would have just paid cash in the first place. Plus, if you were paying in cash, you may have thought longer about your purchase. Maybe you would have put items back, and saved yourself even more money.

Quitting credit cards and drastically reducing my shopping allowed me to put more money toward our debt and helped us pay off our debt in 3 years.

10 Steps to Stop Using Credit Cards

Building a better budget

Now instead of just spending whenever I want, I make a plan for spending. That includes fun money. People often think that living on a budget means having no fun. In reality, the opposite is true.

You can have way more fun by making sure you are budgeting for all the areas that matter in your life, including the fun stuff!

If you have no clue how to even begin budgeting and you definitely want to learn how to manage your money better while still enjoying your life, check out The Bucket List Budget. I have taken literally every ounce of knowledge that I have and laid it out so that you can apply it to your life. Life is way to precious to feel stuck or trapped by your money!

Additional resources:

Debt payoff posts:

Reinventing my style

One of the best things that happened when I stopped shopping for 3 years is that I was able to completely reinvent and rediscover my style.

Same ‘ol tank top and ripped jeans. This is who I am now.

In 3 years I started to really see a pattern in the clothes that I wanted to wear over and over again and really helped me understand what my favorite clothing items are.

The more you pay attention to the items you like wearing the most will help show you your own personal style instead of basing my style. For me, for many years, I was basing my style strictly off whatever was on sale.

My new shopping habits

Before shopping was just something I felt like doing. It was more like a sport than anything. Now, before I even make a single trip to the store, I know exactly what I am going for.

To put it simply, I buy stuff when I need it…and I have the money for it.

Pre-planning my purchases was one of the smartest ways to keep control of your spending and ensure that you will wear the clothes that you bring home.

Why I decided to start buying clothes again

Starting a minimalist journey required me to go through a lot of major life changes including minimizing my wardrobe and then finding a good balance with clothing.

The truth is, I have always loved feeling stylish. It helps me feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin.

After I stopped shopping for 3 years I started buying clothes again with a better idea of what clothes I like and a better grasp on keeping control of my finances. We downsized our house, became debt-free and I felt like it was time for me to start shopping again.

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