An Update on My Shopping Ban: Six Months In

We’re halfway through the year now, which means I’m halfway through my self-imposed shopping ban. Back in January I set the goal that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes for entire year, and I’m happy to report that so far I have been able to stick with it! Along the way, however, I have made a few discoveries that were a bit surprising, and I’m excited to share them with you.

LESS IS MORE UNTIL IT’S LESS AGAIN

When I started this shopping ban, it was with the clear understanding that I would often end up wearing the same outfits over and over again. While that has definitely been the case, it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. I have almost developed a “uniform” of sorts for non work days and my work day wardrobe consists of a handful of dresses that are on constant rotation. What I didn’t realize is just how quickly clothing wears out when you’re consistently washing and wearing it once or twice a week. By the end of January one of my favorite sweatshirts had crumbled in the drying machine, and another sweater of mine that I had purchased just last fall is showing the strain of its constant wear by pilling prematurely. It’s not a huge problem now, but I sense that by the end of the year I will be replacing some staples in my wardrobe that otherwise would have lived longer lives.

MY SPENDING BAN IS COSTING OTHERS

Something that I definitely did not anticipate when I started this spending ban, was that it would actually end up costing other people money. Living in Philadelphia, we rarely spend time at the beach or around pools. It’s just not a big part of our lifestyle. In February, however, we took a trip to visit family in Florida, and in packing for that trip I noticed that two out of the three bathing suits I own were now too big. This is generally a theme with my clothes, but with a bathing suit the stakes were much higher. I relayed the problem to my mom and she promptly mailed me a new swimsuit in the mail that was absolutely perfect. I was able to get out of my jam thanks to her quick action, but her wallet took a hit instead of mine. This is a side effect that I was rather disappointed about, but with a generous mother like mine, I probably should have seen this coming.

I VALUE GIFTS MUCH MORE

I’ve always enjoyed the act of giving gifts more than receiving them, but this year is different. Mother’s Day was exciting because I really hoped I would receive new clothes, and sure enough my husband upgraded my ratty old pajamas with two new pairs. Now when people ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday it will be so much easier to answer. I want clothes! I guess this is a small loophole in that I am occasionally getting to add new items to my closet, but it’s so much more enjoyable than having to pay for them myself.

RECOGNIZING HOLES IN MY WARDROBE

I mean this in two ways. Not only am I recognizing the things that I don’t have enough of (read: work pants), but I also am starting to see just how worn my clothes really are. I always regarded having holes in my clothes as a badge of honor, and the longer I’ve had an item of clothing the more I value it. However, when your wardrobe gets whittled down to just the things you really wear everyday, those holes grow bigger quickly and you start to realize the value of quality. Moving forward with my wardrobe in the future, I will pay a lot more attention to the quality of the items I’m buying.

In addition to that, I’m starting to really notice what I don’t have enough of in my wardrobe. By the end of this experiment, I hope to develop a list of the clothing items I really need to complete my wardrobe. Then I’m going to make a plan to tackle it over time.

IN A NUTSHELL

Overall, I really have saved a lot of time by not even bothering to browse online shopping sites. That’s time that I’ve invested into reading a book or working on my business, so it’s actually helped my productivity quite a bit. From a financial perspective, I have obviously spent zero dollars on clothing this year, and that’s a really good feeling (though I can’t say I’m not looking forward to having the option to spend again).


Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook

Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.