Disclaimer: In 2018 I am following a No Spend. This means that I am focusing on saving money and not spending on any frivolous or unnecessary items. A No Spend can look different for every person, depending on what their goals are. Through this series of monthly posts, I am sharing my tips and tricks that I have discovered along the way.
One of the biggest driving forces, when I decided to do a No Spend Year, was my closet. I’m talking about clothing, scarves, footwear, purses, jewellery, the whole shebang. I was lucky enough to spend over a year getting paid in clothing through a company I did some work for, but I also spent a fair bit of money on fashion related purchases over the past 5 (or so) years.
I mentioned this a bit in my previous No Spend post (what to think about when starting out), but one day I suddenly realized how much money I have wasted on these types of purchases. I have a few bad habits that I’m sure many of you can relate to:
- I stand in my closet in the morning and look at all my clothing. There are a ton of choices, but yet I can’t pick out one single item that I really want to wear. I finally settle on something but make a mental note to see what I can find online for some fresh, new options.
- I have a whole bunch of awesome purses, in all sorts of colours, but always use the same one since it’s the most convenient.
- I’ve got all sorts of neat jewellery but don’t think to put any on in the morning when I’m heading out to work.
- I love my scarves, but end up taking them off every time I have an outfit involving them. They never seem to sit just right.
- I have a whole bunch of footwear options but only rotate between about 2-3 of them depending on the weather.
- I have a ton of items I’ve only worn once or twice, even if I loved them, because I default to the reliable standbys.
Now, over the years I have gotten pretty good at getting rid of clothing that no longer serves its purpose. The style might be something I no longer like, or the colour doesn’t flatter me as much as I would like it to. The issue is that I always want to replace it with pretty new things, and then the cycle repeats itself. I knew that the fashion expenses would have to be the first to go, here is how I’m coping with that, and the tricks I’m using to avoid purchases!
Unfollow, unlike, unsubscribe, do every “un” that you need to in order to avoid seeing what’s available at your favourite shops. This was one of the first things that I did. As I got newsletters from clothing companies I would hit that handy “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email. As I was scrolling through Facebook and Instagram I would “unfollow” or “unlike” any and all clothing companies that showed up in my feed. I unfollowed blogs that focused solely on subscription boxes (another downfall of mine). I basically erased all of these from my daily life.
The nice thing is that none of this is permanent. When I make it through this year I can subscribe and follow these companies again, if I want. I didn’t have to leave the Facebook groups that are devoted to shopping; I could just hide them from my newsfeed until I can start enjoying them again down the road. Hopefully with a whole lot more willpower than I ended 2017 with. Who knows, I may end up leaving them yet.
A huge amount of temptation is gone when you un-everything, but you still have to avoid actually going into the physical store, or opening up your web browser and typing in your favourite website. That little voice in the back of my head is constantly wondering what kind of sale store xxx is having right now and I want nothing more than to look. I know that I can’t though. It’s like when you eat *just one* chip, and then suddenly the whole bag is gone. You see what the store has available and then suddenly your cart is full and you’ve blown your budget. It’s much easier to just stay away entirely.
Websites have also gotten smarter. Have you ever looked at something online and then suddenly you’re seeing ads for it everywhere? Yeah, that’s not just a coincidence. Websites (including Facebook) can see what you are looking at and will do targeted ads for those items. So that browser that you just closed after saying no to a shirt? Well, be ready to see that shirt on every website you look at for the next month. Talk about temptation. Your best option is to just not look at all.
Wear Your Closet
Ah, the inevitable rut where you have nothing to wear. You wear the same handful of items on repeat and grow tired of them quickly, but the rest of your closet just doesn’t appeal to you. Sound familiar? Every once in a while I will go through and “wear my closet”. Here’s how it works:
- I have my closet organized by sleeveless, short sleeve, full-length sleeves and sweaters. Within each category, they are organized by colour.
- Since I started in January and it’s colder out, I started with my tops that have full-length sleeves. One by one I wear each shirt.
- When a shirt gets hung up again, it goes to the very end of the rod, keeping with the organization of the front section.
- I get rid of anything that doesn’t fit me right or that I’m just not “feeling” anymore. If I put a shirt on and decide against it 3 times, it goes. Clearly, it’s just not working.
There are a couple benefits to trying this.
- You re-discover items you had forgotten about and have a chance to create new outfits.
- You get rid of “fluff” that’s just filling up your closet.
There are other variations of this. Some people like to turn their hangers backwards, and then after wearing an item, they put it back up normally. Some do the Marie Kondo method where they go through everything at once and decide if it “sparks joy for you”. Personally, I have found this method to work the best and it works the best for my organization, but everyone is different.
Re-discovering your closet, and all the great items that you once loved, is a huge help in not buying new clothes. Why do you need something new to wear when you’re finding something new every single day? Mix it up by adding accessories and finally using those purses that you’ve collected over the years.
Before I went on a complete No Spend, I would often visit stores online. I’d comb through every page and add items to my shopping cart or wish list. I’d agonize over whether or not to make the purchase, before finally just closing the browser. I realized that I very rarely ever went back to the webpage to actually buy the item. Please note: I do not recommend this if you cave easily. It can happen all too fast that you have items in your cart and suddenly you’ve hit that “checkout” button and entered in your credit card information. If you don’t have the willpower, don’t visit the website or store.
Styles are constantly changing, new items are always being released and stores are always having sales. The stores are not going to run out of clothing. Sure, the item you are currently eyeing will likely sell out, but soon enough you probably won’t even remember what it looked like and a new piece will have caught your eye.
Know Your Reason
Last month I talked about knowing why you are doing a No Spend. This month I am talking about the importance of knowing why you are spending/shopping. Subscription boxes became something that I loved because it was like getting multiple gifts every month. Shopping was fun because of that feeling you get of getting a parcel in the mail. You open it up, you get to try on your pretty new clothes, I know that it made me happy. I can’t rely on material items for happiness though. I need to find that happiness in other avenues, which I do. I can honestly say that in almost two months of not shopping, I really haven’t missed it. I’m not any less happy than I was when I was getting regular packages in the mail.
Whether you’re doing a complete No Spend in 2018 or just wanting to cut back on your spending, these are some great ways to keep yourself in check. The less accessible the items feel and the less you see them, the more likely you are to stay strong. Remember, the thrill of the hunt and the receiving of the item is often more exciting than actually having the item. Appreciate what you already have and save that money.
If you do find that you need that moment of elation or that you feel more depressed when you aren’t buying something, I really recommend that you look deeper into what is causing that feeling. As someone who regularly deals with depression, I know that you can’t rely on shopping or material items to feel happy. That is nothing more than a band-aid, which will get ripped off. Find (cheap or free) hobbies that you can try or learn a new skill, try bullet journaling, there are so many other ways that you can try and find happiness in your everyday life. You don’t need that band-aid. Besides, won’t you be happier when you aren’t stressed about money or you’re able to experience more because you don’t have to count your pennies first?
So tell me, what tricks do you use to avoid the temptation of shopping?