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, grab my Free Shopaholic Survival Kit to get my 5 best tips for transitioning toward healthier spending habits.
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
If any of these are something you are struggling with, you can get info on how to help with all of them in my Free Shopaholic Survival Kit!
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.
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.
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Breaking the addiction
If you struggle with a shopping addiction, here are some ideas so you can use to slowly shift yourself away from shopaholic status.
Separate your stuff from your status and worth
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.
This can show up in the form of buying cars that we feel make us look more wealthy or desirable. It can be dressing in a certain way that we believe will make other people like us more.
Separating yourself from your items and recognizing that you are whole and complete as you are is going to be one of the healthiest things you could do for yourself and your relationship to stuff.
Recognize low vibe shopping
One thing I talk about in Shopping Rehab is the idea of learning how to be a High Vibe Spender. All this means is learning to spend from a place of love, and peace.
The reality is that most of us will allow our days to get away from us. We show up for life and having little things go wrong, fights that happen, or even have sneaky subliminal messages show up that make us believe we aren’t good enough.
When all of this life-stress piles on we can sink to a place where we feel that frenzied need to start purchasing things because we are desperately seeking the high we get from shopping.
Let me encourage you to recognize this urge as a sign from your body that you need some tending to.
Take a pause
Instead of going shopping.
Take a hot bath, go for a walk, hit the gym, whatever works for you to distract yourself from your busy mind and then, when you’re in a better place, allow yourself the space to journal about or talk through what the bigger, underlying problem really was.
Whenever we shop from a place of panic or lack, we are bringing things into our home that carry that same energy with them and the quick burst of happy never lasts.
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.
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:
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
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, cash back. 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.
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 my course, 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, you can get started for free with my Shopaholic Survival Kit!