Have you ever thought about what would happen if you stopped buying clothes…….for years?
If you are a normal human being, you probably buy clothes on a pretty regular basis. The average, recommended amount (according to the majority of budgeting authorities) to spend on clothing per month is 5% of your income.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average family spends ~$1,800 per year on clothing. Pending how much you make, you could be spending upwards of $3,000-$4,000 per year just on clothes. Think about that. A 2-year clothing spending freeze could save you $4,000 -$5,000!
I used to buy a new piece of clothing every week. This was a behavior that started pretty early in my adult life that I didn’t catch on to until much later. Not only was I constantly buying new clothes, I was still holding onto clothing from Jr. High like your mom holds onto all of your baby teeth (for no good reason!!).
I was like an addict. I would go to a store and pick out so many pieces of clothing my hands would go numb from holding all the hangers. When I was checking out, I would get this amazing high of endorphins, like I just got asked out by THE most popular guy in school. No regrets. No guilt.
So, you are probably wondering how the heck I went from this shopping obsession to a total spending freeze. Let me tell you, it definitely was not intentional at first.
When I packed up my closet to move in with my husband, I had 40+ garbage bags full of clothing to move. My SUV that can hold 2 adults, 2 children in car seats, 2 dogs, a cat and all of our crap was completely filled to the brim just with garbage bags of clothes.
It was around this time my student loans were no longer my life support and I realized I was freaking broke. This caused a drastic change in my lifestyle, I started budgeting like my life depended on it, and I tried to cut as many costs as I could. I was throwing out any dead weight I could find like I was a sinking ship.
What started as just cutting costs turned into a 2-year spending freeze. I learned a million little lessons along the way, but mostly I stopped focusing on “stuff” and learned to make do with less.
Why you should do a spending freeze:
- You already have a ton of clothes, and you keep buying more.
- You can fill an entire SUV with your clothes.
- You are broke.
- You are trying to save money.
- For funsies!
If you are going to embark AND SURVIVE on this 2-year clothing spending freeze adventure you have to use these helpful tips.
4 tips to survive an extreme clothing spending freeze:
1 – Prepare
If you plan to spend zero dollars on any piece of clothing for two years, you can absolutely accomplish it. Chances are, if you need to stop spending money on clothes, you already have plenty of them at home. To prepare for your two years of no spending:
- Take stock: Go through all of your clothes and see what you have! You may be surprised by everything that has been hiding in your closet.
- Think about the staple pieces you will need to survive (black pants, blue jeans, layering tank tops and t-shirts, etc.).
- Consider if you have any upcoming events (weddings, showers, graduations, etc.) and make sure you have appropriate outfits for it.
This is not a time to go out and spend tons of money, but you should be able to make everything in your current wardrobe work. If you are missing a vital piece of your wardrobe go and get it right before you start your two years!
2 – Borrow
At some point during your spending freeze you may run into a time where you need a certain item. You have to stay strong and find someone to borrow clothes from if you can. One of my friends who is close in size to me was made aware of my intention to not buy clothes, and when I needed something for a wedding, she was there for me to “shop in her closet” for that event.
If you can’t find anyone to borrow from, you will have to live with what you have. This is part of the adventure and sometimes it gets a little tough. At the end of the day, you will survive, even if you don’t think you have the “perfect” outfit for a certain event. Trust me, it will be character building and your friends and family will still love you.
3 – Say “No.”
Come on now, you knew this one was coming. You are going to have to say no to yourself, your friends, yourself, your husband, and that little voice in your head yelling at you to just go get that new top you want so badly. Say “NO.”
You are an adult. Learn to tell yourself “no.” This is a basic life skill. If you don’t know how to do this, you are going to have a rough life ahead of you of going into debt because you buy things you want even if you can’t afford them.
Pro-tip: Something to keep you excited about saying “No,” is to keep track of what you would have spent if you had said, “Yes.” For the first few months, I kept a running total of all the money I would have spent if I had not told myself “No.” I made sure to share this with my husband so he could celebrate my awesomeness (his favorite thing to do).
4 – Avoid temptation.
As you are taking on this 2-year challenge, let’s not bite off more than we can chew at one time. If you have a habit of shopping on the regular, quitting that cold-turkey is going to be challenging. The last thing you need to do is put yourself in a situation where you are going to have to fight to not spend money on clothes.
You should avoid shopping malls, Saturday strolls through Target and hitting up the outlets on holiday weekends. Unsubscribe from any retailer email lists you are on. You no longer care when the sales are happening because all of you clothing is currently costing you ZERO dollars.
Remove anything from your life that is going to make your spending freeze that much harder.
My husband and I decided to just go “window shopping” at a mall to kill some time on a weekend (obviously pre-kids) and it was freaking torture for me! Each store I had to walk by and not go in was like having to listen to someone repetitively click a pen for hours on end.
Do not do what I did. Resist the urge to put yourself in a tough situation.
Is this for you?
So, what do you think? Is a clothing spending freeze right for you?
If you live to shop, have no money, want to save more money or just like a challenge then this is for you!
It’s going to be tough, but if you use these four survival tips, you can totally do it!
About the author
Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m a mom, wife, veterinarian and finance blogger. I am a budgeting master on a mission to teach women the skills to become financially confident and live the life they want. One of the things our readers love most is the focus on planning to get ahead of life’s expenses rather than constantly doing damage control when things come up. I blog about budget mastering, debt conquering and expense planning to end financial stress at www.BudgetwithRachel.com. You can also follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.