Recently, you may have seen a Vancouver woman in the news and her radical new concept, a shopping ban! Cait Flanders of Blonde on a Budget fame has been in a number of publications, include Yahoo! News Canada and Forbes discussing her incredibly successful shopping ban challenge. When I discovered Cait’s blog, I was immediately inspired to try my own challenge. For me, the challenge has been to stop buying clothes.
For those who know me, you likely do not see me as fashion forward in any respect. I boast about a pair of black shorts I have had since I was 16 years old, so fashionable is certainly not me. Wearing a skirt is such a rare occasion that my coworkers always have a comment, especially because they know it means I have run out of clean pants and shorts.
Additionally, I have neither the inclination nor the desire to replace my wardrobe every season–I just don’t see the point.
In reality, I hate shopping for clothes and shoes, and so does Garrett. If I find something I’m comfortable wearing, I wear it out until it has holes in it (i.e. 14-year old black shorts).
Despite this aversion to clothes shopping, somehow we’ve managed to spend a ridiculous amount on clothes and shoes; according to Mint, we’ve spent $7,545.99 on clothing for the two of us in the last four years, an average of $157 per month. Wow! What did we buy? Are we nuts?
To top it off, I have a tendency to wreck clothes. I have been known to stain the deck in my favorite hoodie, seal the driveway in new tennis shoes and drop food on myself just about every meal. Now, let it be known that I still wear all of these items years later, because while I am careless, I have a frugal heart. However, if I take better care of my clothes, I don’t think I would have to replace them when I have inadvertently torn the arm off a sweatshirt or glued sweatpants together (all true stories). Enter the shopping ban.
Because of the clothes shopping ban, I’ve become more self-reflective and a little less absent-minded.
When I looked back at our transaction history, I found that the last clothing purchase was for Smartwool socks from REI on November 19, 2014. I love a good pair of socks, and I tend to buy socks like people eat potato chips. (We have plenty of clothing for PA winters, so we didn’t choose to shop between November and April, but the ban officially began April 2015.) Based on our monthly clothing average, we’ve saved at least $1,000 so far, and that’s something to celebrate. And I’m taking better care of my stuff. And we don’t have to shop!
What it comes down to is that the shopping ban is so much more than it seems. Sure, if we don’t spend money, we can save money. #nobrainer
Update: We didn’t purchase clothes for two years until after we became debt free!
What the shopping ban has done for me is that it helped usher in a much-needed behavior change and a moment for self-reflection. I don’t need all of the clothes and shoes I have, yet, here they are because…because, why? Continuous improvement is our theme for 2015. As we continue to optimize our housing situation, we’re using this year to optimize other areas of our life as well.