Recently, you may have seen a Vancouver woman in the news and her radical new concept: a shopping ban!
Cait Flanders 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.
(Wearing a Halloween costume…also a rare occasion.)
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.
Want to start your own clothes shopping ban?
Here are my best tips for getting started.
1. Take an inventory of everything you own.
If you know what you already have, it could help you curb your desire to buy more clothes. If you’ve done your inventory and you know you have 14 t-shirts, then do you really need another? Maybe not.
2. Replace your worn essentials.
Before the shopping ban begins, consider replacing essential items that are worn, like socks and underwear. Why beforehand? It’ll keep you out of clothing stores later after your ban begins when you might get the itch to spend money.
3. Develop a repair or replacement plan.
During the clothes shopping ban, you might inadvertently damage an essential article of clothing, like a suit or shoes. Will you repair the item or replace it? Decide now how much you’d like to spend on repairing items vs. replacing items.