You can start a no shopping challenge and save money, starting right now. A no shopping challenge will teach you how to stop shopping. You can do it for one week, one month, or an entire year! I took a no shopping challenge that was supposed to be just 30 days long. It turned into a one-year long experiment of not buying any new clothes, and it opened up a world of minimalism and simple living I did not know was possible. A no shopping challenge is the best way to learn how to stop a shopping addiction and break free from the endorphin high we get from buying things we don’t really need.
A New Year’s Resolution
My simple living, minimalist adventure started as a typical New Year’s resolution, one that was going to last me just 30 days. I was going to take a no shopping challenge for the month of January. The no shopping challenge would give me time to recuperate from Christmas, paying off any debts from the month prior. However, this New Year’s resolution morphed into something I still cannot believe I successfully accomplished, and you can do it too! I resolved to make it an entire year without buying any new clothes.
When I told my family and friends about my challenge, they all thought I was insane. I knew deep down I had a shopping problem because I was spending several hundred dollars every month to dress for success in my growing career. I NEEDED these clothes I was buying, at least that is what I thought.
A no shopping challenge was born
After taking my January no shopping challenge and doing some soul searching on needs versus wants, I decided I could take on a bigger no shopping challenge. It was a challenge that ultimately changed the course of our lives. The habits I learned bled through every aspect of our life and opened doors I did not know existed. For example, with my new spending habits in place for a solid year, I was able to quit my six-figure salary job to stay home with my kids and start an online business I had only dreamed of starting in years past. These new spending habits also allowed for more experiences over more stuff. We started to travel so much more!
How to stop shopping with a no shopping challenge:
Give your closet an honest assessment (before your no shopping challenge)
Before you start your no shopping challenge, give yourself an honest assessment. How many clothes do you really own? You should actually count them. I had 38 dress shirts. I could go to work for a month and a half without repeating a shirt. That’s ridiculous. That was for one season.
If you really want to know how many clothes you own, take them all out of your closet and all out of your dresser drawers. Yes, ALL OF THEM! Put them all on your bed. If you are anything like me, that pretty much takes up your entire bed, and the height of the pile may be overwhelming. The results of this simple exercise were astounding, and I was embarrassed.
There were clothes with tags on them, clothes I hated, and articles that matched nothing else in the entire closet because they were so “unique”. There were items in my closet I forgot I ever owned. My socks drawer was overflowing. I wanted to cry. There was just so many clothes.
How did I get to this point? How much money had I wasted? This question led me to test myself and take a clothing no shopping challenge for one year.
Check out this post for a step-by-step guide on how to declutter your closet.
Create your no shopping challenge timeline
One of the steps to figure out how to stop shopping is to determine the timeline for your no shopping challenge. A full year no shopping challenge may see impossible and far too long. If this is the case, pick a smaller timeline. I started at 30 days, and I was so amazed by my results that I extended the challenge for a year. It can be for 30, 60, or even 90 days. Pick what works for you. I had a serious shopping problem, and after counting my clothes, I knew I had more than enough outfits. Just stick to the timeline you set for yourself. You can do this!
Create a capsule wardrobe
What is a capsule wardrobe? I never heard of this term before my experiment. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential and timeless clothing items. The pieces can be mix-matched well with other pieces and accessorized with seasonal pieces. Some people have rotating capsule wardrobes for the seasons. Others have a year-round capsule wardrobe. Others limit the number of pieces in their wardrobe, say to 30-something pieces.
Honestly, I was so overwhelmed, I did not want to limit myself to just 30-something pieces. The frugal girl in me could not bear to get rid of perfectly good pieces just to meet a number. Therefore, I made my own capsule wardrobe rules. Basically, if the piece was timeless and could be mix-matched in at least three ways, I kept it. The pastel purple dress pants had to go! The crazy print top that only matched one pair of pants had to go too! The other definitive rule, it had to all fit in my closet and dresser drawers. Storage boxes and alternate closets were not allowed, and we had a small closet.
For more details, check out this post on how to create a capsule wardrobe.
You need rules if you want to learn how to stop shopping!
I needed rules to ensure success if I was going to learn how to stop shopping.
Here they are:
1 – Underwear and socks were not part of the no shopping challenge.
If I NEEDED underwear, I was allowed to go buy what was needed.
Throughout the challenge, I actually threw out a lot of underwear and socks I did not like and had seen better days. I learned I hated every bra I owned except for one. At the end of the year, I threw out every bra I hated. I then bought two more like the one I liked (all different colors). My appreciation for the clothes I loved grew so much during this year.
I never had to buy socks. I asked for a specific type of socks for my birthday and Christmas. Those were enough to get me through.
Although I had some leeway with socks and underwear, I tried very hard to apply the no shopping challenge to these items as well.
2 – Shop thrift and consignment stores first.
If I NEEDED something, I was allowed to shop thrift and consignment stores first and only after being unsuccessful could I shop regular retail.
At the beginning of the year, I sold many of my clothes to a consignment store. I took the store credit rather than the cash. Three times throughout the year I was able to go to the consignment store and find items I actually NEEDED. I got a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts and a pair of sunglasses. It did not cost me anything.
Be very strict with yourself. You are only allowed to buy something if you really need it. If you can borrow something for a one-time event, then do that before buying something used or new.
Declutter your inbox from retailer emails
To succeed in your no shopping challenge, you need to remove the temptations and stop any online impulse shopping. One easy way to do this is to declutter your email inbox from retailer emails. You don’t have to unsubscribe from everything. Sometimes there are good deals and coupons….when you NEED them.
You can declutter your email inbox by setting up rules for your retailer emails. I send all of my retailer emails to a “Shopping” folder. The rules automatically put emails straight into that folder. If I NEED a new clothing item later on, then I can specifically search for an email coupon. You can also set rules to delete the emails after 30 days. This allows you to stay out of that folder and reduce any shopping temptations!
Stop going to the mall…and Target
Just like you need to remove digital temptations, you also need to remove physical temptations. For my one year no shopping challenge, I only set foot in a mall once. Let me tell you, there were temptations everywhere, and I was well practiced by then! Marketing is a beast, and I am weak. I still went to Target, but I went with a list and a plan. I refused to even walk through the clothing area. In the beginning, seeing the cute seasonal clothes was almost more than I could handle. Stant strong, and avoid retailers at all costs.
If you shop because you are bored, check out these free activities you can do instead of shopping.
Don’t give up if you slip
If you slip up and buy new clothes during your no shopping challenge, don’t give up the challenge altogether. Think about why you slipped up, and then think about how you can prevent it from happening again.
I slipped once during my one year no shopping challenge and bought two dresses one summer day. I was hot and bored, and I felt like I needed the dresses. In reality, I had dresses and skirts in my closet, I just did not like them. Thankfully, I did put a lot of thought into my purchase and bought two timeless summer dresses. I still wear them. I realized I went shopping that day because I was alone without the kids and wanted to spoil myself. In hindsight, my day could have been just as lovely by going to Panera, drinking a tea and treating myself to a pastry on their patio.
A successful one-year no shopping challenge
I was amazed at the money and time I saved by not buying any clothes for one year. My no shopping challenge was a success. I spent more time with my family, and there was more money in the bank account. My habits also bled over into other areas of my life. I built capsule wardrobes for my children. I started to declutter my home, and I stopped shopping for other things just for the sake of shopping. Life became less chaotic, and it all started with an overstuffed closet and a bad habit that got some much-needed attention.
Related posts to help you start living a simpler life: