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.

Admitting the problem

I think the day I found myself crouched in my closet, hanging my head in shame and not even wanting to wear the new clothes I had just bought was the first time I knew I had a shopping problem.

It was so easy to get caught up in the rush of spending and tossing items into my shopping cart — but the happy high was always short lived.

For so long I struggled with so much guilt, I didn’t want to wear the clothes I had bought, but I was also too ashamed to return them to the store.

Let me tell you, nothing sucks more than a closet full of a regret and an empty checking account.

I’m so thankful to have gone through the process of simplifying my wardrobe and kicking my shopping addiction. If this is something you struggle with, I created an easy-to-use mini course called Shopping Rehab that helps guide you through how to outsmart retailers and how to shop without the financial fallout. Click here to learn more about Shopping Rehab.

I want more than a full 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. I had forgotten about the big things I wanted for my life.

The things I truly wanted were things like traveling, having a good marriage, and being able to be home with my kids. However, when it came to our finances, my shopping habits were keeping us from all of those things.

Since sharing my story I hear more and more from other people who have fallen into the same pitfalls of over-spending like I once did. Things like:

  • Spending your money before payday
  • Telling yourself you just need “one more thing” to be happy
  • Kicking yourself after over-spending
  • Being too embarrassed to return stuff that you over-spent on

Because I am a big believer in going through hard things and then helping anyone else out of those same struggles, I created Shopping Rehab as a way to empower other shopping addicts to kick their habits and live life on their terms!

Freeing up money

In 2016, we ditched our bad habits (and downsized our house) which helped us to free up over $40,000 per year! –Yes, it is insane that we were wasting that much money every single year!

While I know this number isn’t typical for everyone, I encourage you to take the time to really crunch the numbers for yourself. Take the time to evaluate how much you spend per week on unnecessary stuff. You might be surprised to find how much that number adds up to in a year!

What we did with more money:

  • pay off debt
  • increase retirement
  • save for emergencies
  • travel more

It’s so funny how for so long you can think that you just need more money to help you get where you want to go (or to own what you want to own) when in reality we just need less of the stuff that’s holding us back.

I decided to stop buying clothes for 3 years and it transformed my life
At any given moment, we have the opportunity to change our lives for the better.

Clearance racks and insecurity

My shopping habits in the past consisted of shopping at any clearance sale I could find.

I would go shopping without any real purpose. If I looked down an aisle and saw bright yellow or red clearance stickers, then I made my way down the aisle. I simply wanted to spend money.

Clearance sales were like a jackpot! –Or were they? How your favorite stores trick you into spending more!

Instead of scooping up that $40 sweater that instantly caught my attention, I would book it to the clearance section of the store, buy 5 shirts at $5 apiece and think I had gotten a bargain!

Now I realize by sticking to the clearance racks I was playing smaller and not allowing myself to own things that could have truly made me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

The truth about shopping addiction

Looking back, I can clearly see that I was struggling with a major shopping addiction.

I had never thought a shopping addiction could be as serious as some of the other addictions people face. However, I have come to realize that anything that takes away your control, your time, and your money has the power to become an addiction if you allow it to.

And believe it or not, things like a shopping addiction that take away our money can also be tied into self-sabotaging habits! Think about it, I wanted bigger and better things for my life, but when I was broke all the time I had convenient excuses to stay stuck where I was at and would try to trick myself into believing I was happy by bringing home a new sweater I got on sale.

These are all mindset shifts and new habits that I talk about in Shopping Rehab that I know can help so many people heal from this addiction that is so often brushed off as a harmless way to blow off steam.

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Breaking the addiction

If you struggle with a shopping addiction, here are some ideas from Shopping Rehab that you can use to slowly shift yourself away from shopaholic status.

So often we put an emphasis on our outward accomplishments or titles. We start to believe we don’t only own our things, we start to believe that we are our possessions. That means if we lose our status, or we lose our stuff, we lose ourselves.

The first time I was able to really begin to see my addiction is when I began to challenge the belief that I was NOT my things. In fact, this is one of three mind-blocks that stop people the most from living a life with true freedom.

If you are quick to buy something new whenever you are faced with struggles, conflict or even boredum, I highly encourage you to challenge yourself to a spending freeze. Not in a way that makes you feel deprived or living in a scarcity mindset.

It’s just that often times choosing to pause forces us to get quiet and pay attention to the underlying issues we might be struggle with that are holding us back from living the life we desire.

Wondering why you keep buying stuff you don't need? Here's the hard truth that can transform your life and spending for good.

Changing your mindset

There was no denying that in the midst of my shopping addiction, I lived with a scarcity mindset. I believed I just needed one more thing to 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.

In fact, there are 3 things that feed our scarcity mindset and those three things are:

  • Not recognizing our money core desires
  • Not connecting our emotions to our visions
  • Manifesting from a place of lack

No set timeline

If you yourself are thinking about doing a spending freeze, you may wonder if you should set a timeline or a deadline. Allow me to add some perspective.

When I stopped shopping, I had no idea that I would stop buying clothes for 3 years. If someone had told me, “no more clothes for three years!!!” I most definitely would have headed out and gone shopping in a panic!

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.

I stopped buying clothes for three years and it completely changed my life!
One trick I have learned when I see something I like is to take a picture of it.
Somehow it makes it so much easier to move on!

How to quit 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? First of all, you don’t have to do it the way I did, but if you’re curious, here are some of the things I used to stop.

My three best recommendations:

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.

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 can really start to gain perspective on 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.

Swap clothes with friends

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

If you don’t know anyone off-hand who you could swap with, try a “clothes swap party” on Facebook. This is where anyone can offer-up clothes they are ready to donate. Instead of hauling them to Goodwill, they can simply trade with other people!

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… Here are some of the major money saving game changers:

  • Cancelled a $40 monthly shoe membership
  • Ditched a $60 per month athletic wear membership
  • Stopped using credit cards (less interest paid)
  • Avoided all clearance racks

40 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Bills

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.

In the end, you end up paying 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.

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.

*UPDATE* After actively working on minimalism for 4 years, paying off debt, and shifting to an abundance mindset, I have now started “credit card hacking.” This is a method that allows you to pay all of your bills like normal using a credit card. You pay off the card (just like you would your bills) and can earn rewards like hotel stays or in our case, cashback. If you want to learn more about how we have simplified our spending and our budget, you can sign up for my free 5-day email series, Minimalist Budget.

Building a better budget

Now instead of just spending whenever I want, I make a spending plan for our monthly income. That includes fun money.

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 my guide to budgeting your particular paycheck. I have taken literally every ounce of knowledge that I have and laid it out so that you can apply it to your life. Learn about our 5 accounts automated budget system.

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.

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

Wondering why you keep buying stuff you don't need? Here's the hard truth that can transform your life and spending for good.

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. These are the kinds of empowering things that I share in Shopping Rehab because I believe every person should feel empowered going into the store rather than feeling at the mercy of good marketing.

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

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

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.

Need a shopping cleanse?

Remember, if you’re looking for more inspiration and motivation to help you kick a shopping addiction, check out my mini course, Shopping Rehab that is designed to help you do exactly that!

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