If you know me very well at all, you know I tend to be a pretty frugal person. I shop the clearance racks, even at second-hand stores. I don't think there's anything wrong with buying gently used items, and in fact, I have a hard time paying full price for things when I know I could get them somewhere else for less money. Because I am working hard to pay off debt, my budget is fairly tight. In looking for practical ways to cut costs, there were only so many areas I could scale back. Personal purchases was an easy choice for me.
In the midst of my journey into greater simplicity, coupled with my commitment to dropping my debt, I challenged myself to an even stricter shopping lifestyle. I decided in March to not buy any clothing, accessories, home decor, music, movies, or books for the remainder of 2015. This, of course, was only restricted to buying things for myself; gifts for others don't count.
Why such an extensive list, you wonder? In taking a more objective look at what I already own, I could confidently say that I have far more than I need. I really, truly, don't need any more clothing or entertainment. I have roommates I can borrow things from if I feel the need to change up my wardrobe. Between all of us, we have a vast library of books and movies, and there's always the library and internet. I essentially limited myself to buying consumables-- food and paper products (although I'm working to reduce those, too).
Although I'm less than three full months into this challenge, I feel good about my progress. I have been tempted at times to buy things, but have been able to walk away content that I have enough. It actually hasn't been as hard as I expected it to be. I have chosen to not frequent stores that make it difficult for me to stick to my convictions, and I regularly remind myself why I have chosen to commit myself to this challenge-- so that I can pay off my debt and be free from it.
I want to encourage you to consider your own shopping habits. Are you more prone to buy things when you're upset? Do you participate in retail therapy? Do you stare at a full closet and feel like you have nothing to wear? I challenge you to rethink your tendencies and consider finding other ways to express yourself.
Here are some suggestions of things I have done to make this process easier:
1. Get more creative with your clothing, putting things together in ways you haven't before. It will give you more options without requiring any new pieces.
2. Borrow things from friends or family members, especially if you wouldn't use it regularly enough to own it yourself.
3. Shop at stores that don't tempt you to defy your new standards. I have chosen to go to a small grocery store that has very little besides food because it doesn't allow me to wander into other departments and buy things I didn't go to the store for.
4. Keep your reason for reducing your shopping at the front of your mind; don't focus on what you aren't getting. Remind yourself instead that you are choosing things you want more-- freedom, debt-free living, less clutter, more space, room to breathe, a more organized home.
Will you join the challenge?
Interested in a money-saving challenge, but don't think this is the one for you? Check out my sister's $5 Piggy Bank Challenge.