I Quit Shopping for 365 Days – Here’s What I Learned From the No Shopping Challenge

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*L Bee Note: We are taking a break from #awkwardmoneychat this week, and will be back with the first of four new episodes next week. In the meantime, read Michelle's excellent reflections on an entire YEAR's worth of no shopping. 

On April 1, 2014 it will have been a year since I’ve gone shopping for anything that adorns the body. I haven’t purchased a single thing. Embarking on a “no shopping challenge” like this one is “no shopping challenge” like this one is not for the faint of heart. You have to look a couple of things in the metaphorical eye: greed, desire, lust, and envy were all things I had to address. I’ve learned a number of things about myself during this time and so I’d like to share a few things with you. 

5 Important Things I Learned from the No Shopping Challenge

Your clothes are a reflection of your mood

I noticed a lot of people walking around looking like crap. They are wearing pajama’s to Costco, not combing their hair, and not bathing. I think there are a lot of unhappy people out there. I’m not saying that you need to be wearing a suit or dress everyday, but taking the time to put a little makeup on, put on some cute clothes, and groom yourself goes a long way. Remember, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for a year. Making sure that I’m ironed and put together helped me feel pretty good and the days I didn’t take time to put myself together well had a noticeable affect on my mental health.

Riding boots are the key to everything (and so are skinny jeans)!

I live in Colorado where we have seasons. These seasons can all happen in the same day. Think thunder, snow, rain, and 80’s. Yep, this really happens. One of the things that I wore on average at least 3 times a week were my riding boots. I’ve worn my boots so much that they are no longer wearable. The minute I start shopping the first item I will be investing in is a pair of well-made boots where I could resole the boots when the soles wear down. They go well with everything!! Riding boots are a classic item that’s been around since the 1800’s.  Skinny jeans pair nicely with riding boots and when worn with a sweater or long shirt it’s an easy chic outfit.

The Classics Are Classics For A Reason

It’s important to invest in classic pieces such as:  black riding boots, a cream sweater, white collared shirts,  or a little black dress.  The key to making your outfit pop is using trendy items strategically. For example, I have a pair of zebra striped black kitten heels. I wouldn’t necessarily wear a zebra stripped shirt. But, those shoes with a simple outfit POP! Invest in your classic pieces. I regretted not having a number of those items throughout the year.

Inventory Your Wardrobe Before Taking a No Shopping Challenge

Have you ever wondered why you have 5 black shirts that are all similar to one another? Or, 5 coats but one gets more usage than the other 3? Really take some time to figure out what you have and get rid of what you aren’t using.  Get rid of what you aren’t using. Click here to read our tips on how to shop your closet.

We Have Way Too Much Cheap Clothing

Quality before quantity. We are surrounded by so many cheap options for clothing. Forever21, H & M, and T.J. Maxx are a couple of the stores that come to mind. It’s so difficult to not buy new pieces when there are so many tantalizing items out there. Eggplant jeans, aqua blouses, blinding white tunics, and so much more. The thing is cheaply made clothing….is cheap. Whenever I go to Europe I am very aware of the difference in textile quality. I actually wear my best clothes when I go to Europe. I’ve decided to stop buying cheaply made clothing and investing in quality items.

I’ve also decided to practice conscious spending in all parts of my life. (Use these time-saving apps, one of which helps you shop better!) I want to make sure that my spending makes sense from a life-hours expended standpoint. I also have become pretty committed to buying from American manufacturers. I want my dollar to circulate in the U.S. economy for as long as possible.

Taking a year off of shopping ended up being a lot more challenging than I ever expected for completely different reasons than I expected. I didn’t realize the how emotional the experience would become.

I’m currently in the part of the challenge I call “resignation.” I am resigned to finish this challenge with as much dignity as possible.

Starting from scratch or simply in need of a financial re-boot? Click here to enroll in Financial Best Life's FREE 7-Day Money Cleanse!

Could you go a whole year without buying new clothes? This woman did! See what she learned from a year long no shopping ban.

 

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  • Michelle
    April 12, 2014 at 1:30 am

    I’m almost done making my Spring-Early Fall purchases. I’ve spent a lot less than I have in the past and have lost my taste for non-stop shopping. So, I think my shopping budget will be much lower than usual.

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans
    April 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I definitely need to start investing more in classics rather than trendy clothes to get more wear out of my purchases!

  • Michelle
    April 9, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Initially I had some mild withdrawal because shopping was such a habit. Then, it was smooth sailing! The cheap clothes from: H&M, Forever21, and other shops are so tantalizing because it feels like you’re getting a great deal. Like you’ve found a treasure. Now, I just want to use what I have and thoughtfully add to the items that I already have. The small tweaks that I’ve made to my wardrobe already have made a big difference to how my outfits look and it has taken very little to look a lot better.

  • The Wallet Doctor
    April 8, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    That quality before quantity thing is hard for me. I like shopping and I don’t like spending much, so I tend to go for the poorer quality piece. But, ultimately, I think you are right. Its better to have fewer better quality pieces. Very interesting post, thanks for sharing it!

    • Michelle
      April 9, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      To be honest, I was a little bummed out once I figured this out. I DO love good quality items but there is something about the cheap stuff. It’s like I’ve found some magical deal…when in reality it’s just cheap 🙁

  • Victoria @thefrugaltrial
    April 8, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I once went 6 months without buying clothes, shoes and accessories. For someone who shopped as a hobby, I found it suprisingly easy and liberating. However, since then I have accumulated so many clothes. It’s interesting what you state about clothes in Europe. I’m from the UK but shops like H&M and another brand called Primark, along with our supermarkets, sell clothes so cheaply (you can buy nice dresses in the UK for £10, approx $16) that it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying clothes for one ocassion. As I get older I am becoming more interested in buying quality and classics rather than buying ‘quick’ fashion which will go out of date quickly and/or fall apart after 2 washes. I’m currently trying to pay off a substantial amount of debt but I will need to buy a few items of clothing this year, but I will almost certainly buy quality i.e more expensive and classic items.

  • Chellie @ DebtandtheGirl
    April 8, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Saving money from buying clothes is one of my field but I don’t think I can hold it for too long just like what you did! I buy clothes once in every three months because I often prefer DIY clothes and stuffs. Just by using my creativity can actually help me to spend less 🙂

    • Michelle
      April 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      I’m actually in the process of learning how to sew!! I think it’s so cool that you’re making your own clothing. I can’t wait to start making mine. I will begin with skirts.

  • Michelle
    April 8, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Kids are clothing magnets. I think you should track it and see what you find out!

  • Brian @ Luke1428
    April 8, 2014 at 12:47 am

    I don’t know how long I’ve actually gone in one stretch without shopping for clothes. Seems like a year when all the clothes budget money goes towards the kids. The grow so fast it seems like every month or two they need a new pair of shoes.

  • Anneli @thefrugalweds
    April 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Love this post! In the past year, I’ve only purchased clothing for work-related client meetings (which are reimbursable expenses) Like you, I have my list of staples in my wardrobe: my J.Crew camel coat, my Rebecca Minkoff flats, my Rag&Bone black blazer, and my brown Lucky riding boots, and my Enzo Angiolini black stilettos. I found that buying quality items – although they might be more expensive upfront – is more cost-efficient in the long-run. When I think about how long I’ve had my long camel coat – I think it’s going on 7-8 years now – the $300+ I spent on it is absolutely worth it. The classics are a classic for a reason 🙂

    • Michelle
      April 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

      I am jealous of all of the staples that you just listed. I’ve purchased a number of items and now I just don’t want to buy anything else. I think I will be under my budget for clothing this year! I would get super excited about cute “cheap” thing but then I ended up replacing them so often that it wasn’t worth it in the long run.

      • Anneli @thefrugalweds
        April 10, 2014 at 6:19 am

        Instead of buying cheap and I actually prefer buying “pre-loved”. There’s some amazing thrifting in LA and it’s pretty gosh-darn cheap! I find my style is more about mixing in my staples with some awesome thrift-store find. They have so much more character (and I’m sure a very interesting story!) Yay for coming in BELOW your clothing budget!!

  • Candice
    April 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I don’t think I could do this lol. I do go a few months at a time when money is tight. I will say that cheap fashion sucks but a few days ago I was shopping with a friend and realized that I hate to spend more than $20 on fads. Odds are I’ll only wear them for one season. I do like to spend money on the classics because they will be around longer.

    • Michelle
      April 8, 2014 at 1:03 am

      I love a fun trendy item but I just don’t want to waste my money anymore! I’m aiming for a more pulled together look , not sure if I’m succeeding buy here’s to trying. You could totally do this challenge!

  • Janine
    April 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Wow! A whole year is amazing. I tried to do 120 days but I think I’m going to fail that. I noticed all my cheap clothing when they started to fall apart. So frustrating. I’ve stopped buying stuff that is cheap, although occasionally I will pick something up that I don’t think is cheap but ends up falling apart and that’s extremely frustrated. Have you read Overdressed?

    • Michelle
      April 8, 2014 at 12:59 am

      I believe in you! You can do it. It does help when the seasons change because then you can shop the “new” season in your closet. I haven’t heard of Overdressed and will be requesting it from the library. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  • Michelle
    April 7, 2014 at 4:40 am

    I wish I didn’t enjoy fashion so much but it’s definitely the way that I express myself creatively. I don’t need to shop as much as I was and am a lot more aware of what I really like, what’s necessary, what I’m willing to pay, and that I can go without shopping not be too fussed about it. I find this very empowering!

  • Melanie@Dear Debt
    April 7, 2014 at 4:21 am

    I actually really hate buying clothes. I’m very utilitarian when it comes to clothes– it’s pure function for me. I wish I was more stylish, I just don’t have the time, money or energy. I’ve also worn my columbia sportswear boots (that I got from a gig) so much that I need to get new ones. I am also dealing with wanting to look more professional and put together. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal. I like it, because when I dress up, people are really surprised and ‘wowed’ by it. But I think I could step it up a notch on the daily, you know? I’m so proud that you completed this challenge and learned so much. It really gives you a lot to think about.

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