In an attempt to be more responsible with my spending/shopping I've started using some new (to me) methods when it comes to purchases. I've unintentionally started following a couple of minimalist bloggers and I've come to notice that their intentional shopping and lifestyle in general is pretty inspiring. Do I think I could ever be a minimalist? Hell to the no. I like my stuff. I'm the kind of person who attaches meaning to objects which makes it hard for me to get rid of things. But the idea of simplifying at least some parts of my life is really appealing to me.
I think the main area of my life that I'd like to simplify is my closet. As you may or may not know, I've been working on downsizing my wardrobe for a while. I've been selling and donating clothes on a pretty regular basis for about 6-8 months now and I'm seeing the results. But somehow I still have way too many clothes. While I've been able to part with a good chunk of clothing I still find myself wanting to hold on to pieces that "I might want to wear someday." One of the main things I've heard repeated by minimalists is that this kind of thinking ultimately leads to clutter. If you haven't worn or used it recently, what are the chances that the circumstances will change any time soon? Like none chances, okay?! Obviously I'm having trouble using this logical approach and I'm using my emotions to dictate what objects I keep. It's annoying but I've accepted that it's a process. I can't expect my thinking patterns to change overnight (or even over a month, apparently).
So, while I'm still learning how to pare down my current situation I'm instead focusing on buying less. I've still been purchasing things on a regular basis but the difference is that now they're all intentional. Like what?! I go to a store with a list and I only buy the things on the list and then I leave. Some of you guys are probably like "DUH" but honestly it's helped me cut down on random spending so much. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into Target with the intention to buy paper towels and shampoo but I end up walking out with a couple of shirts that were on clearance and one (or two) new nail polishes. At the time it doesn't seem like much but it really starts to add up. If I'm going to Target 2-3 times per month and spending $10-15 extra each time that can be $30-$45 of unintentional spending a month! Maybe that's not a lot to some people but, uh, I'm down to have an extra $45 in my bank account any time. (If you're interested in the math that's up to $540 a year of unnecessary spending- yikes!) It's not like I didn't know how to make lists before but I always made them last minute and they weren't always accurate. Was I running out of shampoo or conditioner? I usually couldn't remember so I'd get both. Yeah, I would eventually use the shampoo but it just created clutter in my bathroom and affected my monthly budget. Or I would have a list but I would use it as more of a loose guideline rather than an actual list of things I needed (this is where those extra little purchases happened). Now I spend time making shopping lists and make sure that I'm not doubling up on something or missing an item that I actually need.
Those kind of lists are more for my regular shopping trips. But what about clothes shopping? That's where my bank account would take the biggest hits. I would often just decide I "felt" like going shopping and buy random (but still cute, btw!) clothes. If I had a bad day I would go shopping to cheer myself up. Or if I had a good day I would go shopping to "reward" myself. In both of these instances I had nothing in mind that I would actually want to buy. I would tell myself "just something small" which meant I would end up wandering around a store until I found something to throw money at. I wouldn't really budget or think about what I actually needed. Did my yoga pants have a hole in the crotch? Yeah, but look at this cute/cheap dress! That was shopping. Often times I would go for a while depriving myself of shopping because I had previously overspent, but then when I did end up shopping I had no self-control. It's like dieting and binge eating. Except instead of being terrible for your body it's terrible for your bank account. And unfortunately, your bank account is almost as important to your livelihood as having a healthy body.
So now, when it comes to clothes shopping I have a wish list, and it's worked pretty well so far. I keep it on my phone so I have it with me all the time. It only contains items that I've put serious thought into. I'm trying to build a sort of "capsule wardrobe" so I've been coming up with what my staples would be. Thinking of what I want my closet to end up like ahead of time requires lots of planning, researching, and most of all... waiting. So every time I wander into a clothing store and find myself yearning to buy something, I pull out my wish list and ask myself if I'd rather buy this one random piece of clothing (usually on sale) instead of something on my wish list. So far the answer has been no. This has helped me put my spending into perspective. A lot of items on my list are a little pricier than what I would have purchased in the past but that's because I'm trying to pick quality pieces that should last a while. I'd rather put $10 towards a nice bag rather than a cheap clearance wallet in Target. (DAMN YOU TARGET!)
This is a totally new way of spending for me, and if I do say so myself it's kind of ~adult~. I've only been doing it for a little over a month now but I've already noticed a difference in my bank account. Below are a few tips I use to keep my spending under control while building a capsule-ish wardrobe!
(Inspired by both Rachel Aust and Jenny Mustard)
- Start with your inbox: unsubscribe from retail store newsletters. Often when you see something is on sale, even if you don't need/want it, you justify spending the money on it because it's only "x" amount of money. But like I mentioned above, these little purchases add up. Unsubscribe, just do it.
- Don't window shop. Same concept as number one- if you don't see the sale, you're not going to be tempted to shop it. I've started shopping online more because of this. I'm a huge in-store browser which is how I always end up purchasing extra things I don't need. But when I'm shopping online I plan exactly what I need beforehand, add it to my cart, and make sure to go straight to checkout. (Now if you're a huge online browser then this probably won't work for you, so you do you!)
- STICK TO YOUR LISTS. I've learned the hard way, but this does reduce spending even in the smallest amounts. Take time to make them and then don't stray.
- Stay away from fast fashion. Places like Forever21 and H&M constantly have new merchandise because they're always trying to keep up with trends. There are often sales because they're trying to get rid of old merchandise to make room for the new stuff. I'd be lying if I told you I never have or never will shop at these places again, but for the amount of dresses I've bought from *cough* Forever21 *cough* that have either fallen apart or shrunk in the wash I could have bought a couple of relatively nicer dresses of a higher quality. Hindsight is 20/20.
- Be patient. Sticking to a wish list means that you're not going to buy something every time you go shopping. If you're looking for the perfect denim jacket and find one on sale that fits a little weird or has funky embroidery, it's not the perfect denim jacket so don't buy it. If you're going to have to "make it work" it's probably not worth it. Even if it's 50% off! Ask yourself if you'd ever pay full price for it. If the answer is yes then lucky you- it's on sale so go ahead and purchase your wish list item! If not, you're probably just thrilled by the sale price. Put it back on the rack and move on.
- Don't shop with your emotions. A.k.a. Be emotionally stable when shopping. This may sound extreme but don't go shopping to cheer yourself up or reward yourself like I used to. This leads to emotionally fueled spending and what later becomes closet clutter. Find other, healthier ways to comfort yourself. You (and your bank account) will thank yourself later!
Does anyone else have any shopping tips they use to stay on track? I'll be sure to share updates on the development of my wish list shopping! Happy shopping everyone!