Why Tracking Purchases is Important & How to Do It

Last weekend, I spent several hours updating my purchase list for the year. This task took such a long time because I hadn’t done it in over four months and had to hunt around a lot for the pertinent information.  Since I had put off the update for so long, it ended up being a much more surprising – and depressing – experience than it should have been.  This has highlighted the importance of updating the list regularly, at least once a month, in order to increase awareness and hopefully prevent myself from getting out of control with my purchases.

purchase tracking

Tracking your purchases can help you control your shopping. 

Even though I update QuickBooks (what my husband and I use for our accounting) every one to two weeks, I still have a tendency to keep myself “in the dark” in terms of what’s going on with my shopping. I may know the financial numbers and even be able to stick to a budget, as I’ve done for three plus years now, but I often lose sight of how many items I’m buying and how they are or aren’t working for my wardrobe and life.

Why Regular Tracking is Important

My purchase list includes what I bought, where I bought it, when it was purchased, how much it cost, and how many times I have worn each item to date (see an example HERE, in the “item report” section). If I update the list at least monthly, I can see patterns and stop myself from continuing on a negative path. Because I didn’t do an update for a third of the year, all I can do at this point is prevent further damage. I’m kicking myself for this lapse in productive behavior and I’m not going to let it happen again. I have bought too much (more on this next week) and even though I did the KonMari Process last month and got rid of quite a bit, I still feel like there is too much in my closet. Lesson learned to keep on top of things and not let myself go unconscious.

I highly recommend that you keep track of what you’re buying in whatever way is easiest for you to manage.  Since I know that there are many different means of tracking and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, I decided to ask my private Facebook group members how they keep track of the clothing and related items they buy.  Here’s what I asked them:

  • Do you track your purchases?
  • If so, how do you do it and how often do you make updates?
  • Do you go unconscious when it comes to how much you’re buying (even if you manage to stick to a budget)?

As always, I received a lot of valuable feedback from the group.  I’m sharing their responses with you here in the hope that you will find a tracking methodology that resonates with you and which you’ll be able to maintain over the long-term.

Thoughts on Avoidance and Emotions

Before I delve into specific tracking methods, I want to share a few thoughts from group members.  This first one echoes what I wrote about going unconscious with shopping. What I like is that she has come up with a solution to overcome this challenge and learn to shop more intentionally moving forward.

  • My problem is that I avoided tracking exactly because I would have to confront my shopping head on. Keeping myself in the dark allowed me to continue the behavior. I’ve started a challenge for myself on solely intentionally shopping for the next year, which includes monthly tracking (I have been blogging about this – see HERE, HERE, and HERE)

The comment below highlights the role of emotions related to shopping.  I relate to her wish to be far more logical about her purchases.  I can do that some of the time, but not always.  I think that the questions created by the blogger above could be beneficial to many of us, in tandem with the “power pause.”

  • If only emotions didn’t come into play! If I could find a way to treat this like a business process, rather than an emotional process, I’d likely succeed. In order to do this, I’d have to stay away from all triggers, which for me, equates to locking myself away in solitary confinement… I’m not kidding. Even looking at photos of scenery, particularly fall foliage, gets me into a “wanty” state of mind.

A Tracking Success Story

I wrote above about how tracking can help to increase our wardrobe awareness and improve our purchasing track record, but nothing drives this point home as well as a success story.  This woman recently reviewed her 2015 purchases, which helped her to learn what types of items have stood the test of time, as well as some “gotchas” to avoid with future shopping.

“I track daily and I’m so glad I do! I am still within my budget and spending less than I spent last year. However, it feels like I am still adding (a lot) more things than I added last year. Thanks to tracking, I know I am actually not. I was working on analysis of what I bought last year to see what I still had and why things left.”

“Of the clothing items I bought last year, 16 things are already gone or almost 25% of my purchases. I looked at why things left and they fell into 4 categories:

  • 7 things were “make-do” purchases I should have returned. I knew immediately they were bad buys and 5 of them were actually purged in 2015.
  • 6 things were an obsession. Like a lot of us, I fixate on something; I lust after it and then buy it. Somehow, that doesn’t satisfy me, so I go back for more, and more, and more. Then I end up with bad purchases.
  • 2 things were bad quality. They pilled where I wore a long necklace and are now “wear around the house” items because I still like them.
  • 1 thing was a total impulse buy. I don’t know why I bought it, but it was just bad, so it was donated.”

“I did wear the things I tossed an average of 3.5 times before I got rid of them, so there was an effort to use them or make them work. My numbers tell me, I need to avoid obsession, return make-do items, not shop impulsively (like I did earlier this week), and consider quality.”

General Tips

I really love what this woman had to say about her process.  I think it can benefit all of us to have a shopping pause, which I think has a different tone to it than a shopping ban.  One is about reflection, whereas the other can feel like a punishment, which can lead to rebellion or a binge.

  • I take stock weekly and a few times per year I pause for 30 days and do not buy anything. I use the 30 day period to reflect, wear and enjoy what I have without thinking about whatever it is I’m starting to want next. I also keep an ongoing list of what I buy and review it weekly.  Otherwise, I tend to forget about what I bought and begin telling myself it’s not all that much, when in fact it is. Most of all, what helps me is to stay under budget each month. Just because I have it does not mean I need to spend it. It’s lots of work to do all of this, but trial and error over the past 5 years has taught me it’s the only system that works for me.

I can see this woman’s point, too, as I also have an obsessive nature.  Although she doesn’t specifically track what she buys, she does have limits in terms of her wardrobe size.

  • I stopped tracking because it made me obsessive about things. I’m happier to stay under 100 items because then everything gets worn and it all fits nicely in my hanging space. I can easily tell what’s not being worn, as I see everything every day.

I have a friend who has a certain number of hangers and when she has used them all, she can’t buy anything new until she purges one of her existing items. This friend doesn’t have a shopping problem, though.  For some of us, having such a system would lead to excessive “wardrobe churn” and we might cull perfectly good items just so we can shop more.  As with everything else, we need to evaluate potential solutions based upon our individual needs and tendencies and determine what’s a good fit for us.

Basic Lists

A tracking methodology doesn’t need to be sophisticated, nor do we need to be a computer whiz in order to get going.  Here are some low-tech (or no-tech) ideas that might work for you:

  • I write down purchases in a small notebook that I update every few days: I list the month, the item, and the cost. I’ve done this since 2011, and I go over each list at the end of the year to see what the good and bad purchases were so that I can analyze why. The good thing about doing it every couple of days (I try to record it the same day but don’t always keep up) is that I always know where I am in terms of my item total, so it’s harder to overshop accidentally.
  • I keep a basic list of what I purchase and I highly recommend it. I find it really helpful to see what my buying patterns are and to look back at what I bought a year ago. The list helps me avoid going unconscious about my spending.
  • I just have a notebook that I write everything down in as I get it. If I decided to return it, I subtract it. At the end of the month, I add the total expenditure to what I’ve bought in previous months for the year-to-date total. I can say that I’m never surprised anymore since I’ve been doing this.
  • I just have an email draft that I add to if I buy something.
  • I keep track of what I buy (in a simple Word-file, since January 2015). I note what I bought, where I purchased it, and how much it cost. At the end of each month, I count my expenditures and the number of items I bought that month (since I have created a budget and designated an item limit for myself).  I don’t track the number of wears, but I don’t have a huge wardrobe. I recently looked at everything I bought in 2015 and realized that I still have everything on that list. I also saw that there was one item that I have never worn: a striped maxi-skirt. So everything “maxi” goes on my “blacklist.”  Whenever I purge something on my list, I will put it in red. This process works very well for me. At the end of July, I had purchased 24 items, which is three more than I had planned for.  Thus, I can’t purchase anything this month, which has been difficult from time to time (especially last Friday at TJ Maxx, when I saw some great things: a scarf, a silk top, and a lovely yellow bag – thinking about my Word file, I managed to walk out of the store empty-handed).
  • I note down my purchases every month in an e-mail draft – what I bought and how much it cost. A couple of times a year, I update my wardrobe inventory spreadsheet to keep track of what I have.

Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets are a popular way to track purchases, but many people still keep it simple:

  • I use an excel spreadsheet and try to update it each time I purchase something, whether online or in person. I sometimes have to go back and delete when I make returns. I don’t go more than a week without updating or I’ll end up off somewhere.
  • I have a simple budget in Excel. I added a list on the same page of the clothing I have bought. I update it whenever I buy something since it only takes a few minutes. This way I can track the number of things I have bought. I make the item boldonce I have worn it so I can quickly see what has not yet been worn. Hopefully, there will be few items in this category! I have a separate sheet on which I track daily wears of all my clothing as well as other information.
  • Since January 2016, I have used a very simple Excel sheet on which I note down what I buy, when I bought it, and how much I spent. I also calculate the difference between my monthly expenses and last year’s monthly “budget” (the sum I roughly spent last year for clothes and accessories, which I think was reasonable). I total up these differences, so if I want to buy something expensive (like a handbag), I know how much I should spend to be in line with 2015. Strangely, this seems to motivate me to spend less, but this is an unconscious side effect.
  • I update daily on a spreadsheet that I have backed up everywhere, as I’d cry if I lost it! When I add a new purchase and fill in the relevant sections, it calculates everything for me. I keep a very close eye on how much I wear a new item. This may sound odd, but I make myself wear new pieces weekly in the first month after the purchase. I find that if I’m not really excited to rip the tags off and wear it, then it should go back.
  • I have a spreadsheet with purchase date, cost, and number of wears which I update daily. In my diary, I note my purchases in the year-at-a-glance section to give me a better sense of how often I shop, and I keep a running total for each month and the year.
  • I started tracking my purchases this year in a basic Excel spreadsheet. I’ve started this in previous years and quit when I got disgusted with myself, so I guess I’m making some progress as it’s August and I haven’t quit! Periodically, I go through thelist to see what I’m still wearing. I have a number of “bad” purchases this year, mainly due to my obsession with blush pink and the number of items I purchased in this color before having my color analysis! Light colors wash me out…why has it taken 52 years for me to face this fact? I’ve already purchased a number of things for fall/winter. I’d like to think I was being mindful in those purchases, but I still have a lot of work to do there.

Cell Phone Tracking Methods

Most of us carry our smartphones around with us all day long, so why not use them to track our purchases like these two ladies do?

  • My system of keeping a running list in the notes function of my phone is super simple and effective. I just write in what I bought after I buy it. And I can go back whenever I want and re-evaluate. I like to use emoji’s, which are always all positive when I first buy things, but sometimes that changes a few months in. Since I track wears and cost per wear in Stylebook (more on that below), I just use the notes to generally keep track of how much I’m bringing in each month. We always have our phones with us, whereas entering stuff in a spreadsheet can be a real chore, which is probably why you don’t do it right after each purchase.
  • I just type mine in the notes app on my phone. I organize it by month and by store or location, then I list the items purchased and the overall cost. I log all non-essential purchases (everything but groceries and other necessities like shampoo, etc.), but I am mainly concerned with clothing purchases. I go through the list every couple of weeks and add “X’s” next to items to show how many times I’ve worn the items. Some new pieces from this year have already become “workhorses” while others are rarely or never worn.   
phone purchase tracking

Here’s an example of tracking purchases on your phone. 

Smartphone and Tablet Apps

Of course, there are many applications out there to help us with tracking our purchases.  Here are the ones that were mentioned by the group:

  • I have a budget app called Daily Budget and I totally love it. I put every purchase in it right after I’ve bought it, and then it tells me how much money I have left to spend that day or if I’ve gone over. When I was traveling and very stressed, I stopped doing it and my spending got out of control. Now that I’m doing it again, my spending has gone way down. It has helped me so much; I think it’s something about the interactive quality of it that works for me. At the beginning, you enter your income, all of your expenses, and how much you want to save, and then it tells you every day how much money you have to spend based on that. Each time you buy something, you choose a category for it like clothes, groceries, pets, household, etc. Then the app recalculates how much money you have left to spend. If you don’t spend it all, it rolls it over to the next day, and if you go over it takes it off the next day so you can see how long it will take you to get back to where you’re not overspending. It also has graphs so that you can check where your spending is going and on what. I find it very easy to use.
  • I stopped tracking individual items because I was obsessing too much about my clothes. What is helping me is YNAB (You Need a Budget). With the app, you assign every dollar that comes in to a job. It may not work for everyone (they’ll just keep moving their money around), but for me, I know where I’m spending my money. So far, I’ve been pretty strict and only allowing money in the clothing budget for what I need. This might change when I assess my fall/winter wardrobe. This group has really helped me re-prioritize my life. I would not have even considered budgeting before!
  • I started out just keeping a list on a random piece of paper. You can guess how well that went; I can’t keep track of random pieces of paper. Next I tried a notebook. Then I tried using a spreadsheet on Google. Finally, I am trying Evernote, since I dowell tracking using apps. I’m still trying to figure out the whole Evernote thing, but I’m encouraged. I have lists for purchases, items donated (and why), and accessories. I am really hoping that I’ve finally found a system I will use. I tend to go unconscious about how much money I’m spending and how many items I’m bringing in to my closet, so I have tracked since 2013, but not in a way that satisfies me, if that makes sense.
  • I just got the Stylebook app two weeks ago, so I’m now starting to track my wardrobe and what I wear that way. I don’t know if I will need to keep updating my wardrobe inventory spreadsheet when I have an app that contains all the same information (except when I bought things and how – online or in a shop). Anyway, just the basic statistics of that app are very enlightening (What is the value of my wardrobe? What is most used? What is the cost-per-wear of my items?) It’s a huge job entering your wardrobe in the app, but it is also very enlightening!
  • I put every purchase into Stylebook right away, then set up outfits, just to ensure that the new items will coordinate with something in my wardrobe. I consider this a step forward, but I still don’t have a handle on planning my purchases so that everything coordinates and can be worn multiple ways. As I was setting up my fall/winter options in Stylebook, it’s clear that I continue to have many outfits, but every one is distinct in that the top can only be worn with a certain skirt, etc.Now that I know via Stylebook that I have at least 20 distinct outfits, I’m hoping that will impact my ongoing want to have more. After all, that’s a whole month of no-repeats in my work wardrobe, which makes it impossible to maximize the number of wears and get value from my investment. Based on this information, I should not have to buy anything all fall/winter, as I have more than enough options. I need to focus on developing several combinations for the pieces I have.

Group Accountability Threads

The Facebook group itself was mentioned as a tracking modality.  It actually serves the same purpose as the monthly accountability updates that I posted on this blog for over three years (you can see them all here).  A number of members chime in every quarter (and some do it every month and even mid-month) about what they bought and how much they spent.

  • I have also found this group very useful – in particular the quarterly accountability updates where we all evaluate what we bought and how much we got out of the purchases. I used to do an annual evaluation when I had my blog, but doing an evaluation every 3 months makes it easier to prevent mistakes.

While I agree that the group accountability threads are very helpful and I usually participate in them myself, I still feel that it’s a good idea to maintain my own tracking and update it often.  Facebook threads can be great, but given the speed that things move over there, it’s easy to lose sight of threads and not be able to find them again later.   I think using a “both and” approach here is the best way to go.

One Final Useful Method

Before I sign off for today, I want to share one last method that was mentioned by a group member. While this method is very individual for her purposes, it can easily be modified for your needs if it resonates for you.  It’s similar to the “100 items” limit that was mentioned above, but it also includes some additional rules that are helpful for keeping shopping in check.  I especially like her rule #1, as it contributes to more mindful buying.

I have a method I devised for myself called Project 198. The premise is that I’m allowed to have no more than 198 pieces of clothing for the entire year. (This may sound like a lot to some, but 3 years ago I had about 700 pieces, so this is approaching minimalism for me!) My 198 does not include shoes, handbags, underwear, or layering tees. 

Within the 198 pieces (or less) I am allowed to do whatever I want, but I have several shopping rules that I also follow. 

  1. If I purchase something, it is preferable that it replaces something I already have. If it’s a trend item, an older trend item that I have gotten tired of is encouraged to go to consignment
  2. I am not allowed to go over 198 garments.
  3. I have a monthly budget of up to 200.00, and I’m allowed to spend it however I wish. I don’t hold myself to a specific number of garments that I can buy (but see #1).

I am not much into spreadsheets, but I keep a seasonal Word doc that lists how many items are in rotation for that season and then a month-by-month accounting of what I purchased to keep tabs on my budget. It’s all right to spend more one month and less another month as long as it balances out over the year. 

Lastly, I seldom buy anything that isn’t on sale. The only time I will pay full price is if there is no other way to get it and it’s a “must” item. I wear a handful of brands that fit me without alterations and I pay attention to what they are showing for the season and when my watched items are going on sale.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you enjoyed reading all of these tips and found them both interesting and beneficial.  I’m sure you found at least a few in the mix that can help you to better keep track of your purchases.  If you have any tips to add, I invite you to share them with me and your fellow readers.  The more the merrier!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Some upcoming posts include my long overdue wardrobe and shopping goals update, another purchase review, and my August “useful links” post.


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Comments

  1. Tracking my purchases is the only way to keep myself accountable for my shopping addiction. I think it is necessary for someone like me who has strong addiction tendencies and constantly needs to make a concerted effort to control it to track everything I buy. A couple of months ago, I went back 7 years to my credit card statements and listed everything that I have purchased for myself. I remembered most things that were purchased but at least a half page worth of items, I didn’t remember buying. They were either bought on ebay or with a retailer that is no longer in business. Seeing the pages upon pages of purchaes I have made over the course of 7 years really puts the magnitute of my shopping addiction into perpective. The height of my shopping addiction was 2012 and 2013. I had about 3 pages worth of purchase in those two years alone. We’re talking single space, 2 columns per side on a A4 looseleaf piece of lined paper! That’s A LOT of purchases just for myself. 90% were fashion related, whether it be clothes, shoes or accessories. I couldn’t even go on adding all the numbers, it was too much. As much as I hate seeing that notebook full of waste, guilt and shame, it’s good to see the extensiveness of my addiction in plain view to be reminded that I never want to get out of control like that again. I think that in itself, is worth the effort to tracking your purchases.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so impressed that you went back seven years and listed all of your purchases, Wendy. That must have been a daunting and depressing endeavor, but I can see how it would be useful to do so. I have never done that exact activity, but the type of tracking and reporting I have done on this blog has been very eye-opening, to say the least. I agree with you that tracking is necessary for those of us who struggle with compulsive shopping. My failing to do so for over four months played a large role in my experiencing a relapse. I may not need to track forever (but I may…), but I at least need to do it for another couple of years while I continue to work on my recovery. I wish you all the best and I thank you for your honesty here.

  2. I’m discovering the idea of capsule wardrobes is my downfall. A corollary would be the familiar question How many (3? 5?) ways can you think to wear it? Well, I can never think up all those extra ways. So how come, since so many of my items naturally fall into capsules?

    I read Mejorar’s blog posts that you linked to. She includes the idea that Bridgette Raes has of guarding against splitting your wears. Mejorar says, “Do I already own something I would choose over this item?” I could always easily employ this strategy with special occasion clothes but frankly, I don’t have many of those occasions so when I think of daily wear well, sure, I could wear this or I could wear that…. And that’s where it all falls down.

    What I had started doing was putting any outfit I wore that I really liked on a separate three arm hanger stand that I have in the sewing room. That’s where I have room for that stand and I kind of like the idea of going next door to “visit” my wardrobe. 😀 I’m wanting to see what colors and patterns and textures please me most (sometimes I feel like I like everything) and are GoTo items.

    Now here’s something I noticed yesterday: I have a thin rayon chambray type skirt whose fabric has almost an iridescence. It’s one of the few items I bought retail. At first I didn’t feel I had anything to wear with it that I really liked. Eventually I popped a favorite top out of my drawer and bingo! I’ve worn those two together several times and been very comfortable psychologically and physically. Yesterday I took several more tops from my closet – the preferred item was a printed tee and these were all shirts. Was that the problem? I don’t know yet but I did see that even if all of them looked fine with the skirt, I really liked the printed tee best with it. I believe I’m content to just wear the same combo repeatedly and stick with that.

    So what I’m thinking is that I can make better use of one of the half dozen strategies of One from Simple Isn’t Easy book. They go into one signature color, one designer, one silhouette. What seems to appeal to me is One (best) outfit/outcome.

    This doesn’t apply to shoes or handbags or coats for me. Particularly with shoes and bags, I tend to wish I had just one or two and marvel at and admire people who do (that’s what served my mother well) and I don’t know whether I really want the variety or I just can’t find my one or two. I did an experiment last month where I took a handbag I particularly liked using out of the closet shelves where I keep them. I placed it on top of a cedar chest. But pretty soon it was joined by another one that worked better with a different outfit and by the end of several weeks, I already had more bags on the cedar chest than in my closet. And you know I always have that old refrain going through my head when acquiring a bag, “Now *this* is the one I can wear with everything!” Complete delusion. The last bag I acquired like that I haven’t even worn once yet!

    I have kept a log of acquisitions, including items from a years long pass along clothing swap I participate in, for several years. I know without going back to compare that I have a lot of churn. I’m hoping this method of finding the One outfits will eventually cause that rate to drop. One other thing I notice is that since I do my own alterations, the ones I hate the most are the “simplest” ones of pants and jacket/top hem lengths. What is so agonizing to me? How can you determine either of those without seeing the item in an outfit? Would seem easy with pants, say, but what if I preferred them ankle length or cropped? If cropped, how high? So after years of struggling with this it hits me like a ton of bricks that everything must be made part of an outfit and only then will it be easy to know how to hem something and, not so incidentally, how to wear it and to actually wear it and not keep it as potential for some dream world.

    • Vildy, thank you for this comment. You have helped me tremendously. I’m happiest finding a combination I love wearing and sticking with the same combos repeatedly. Yet somehow I feel like I’ve failed if I neglect to discover all those extra ways my clothing can be combined. With a small wardrobe I do find that somehow new combinations are revealed effortlessly, and this is always a joy. Yet I love having reliable outfits I love and depend on, and from this moment forward I’m giving myself the gift of just wearing the combinations I love best, and let go of the struggle to be more creative when I’m not feeling it.

      • Terra, thank *you*! I struggled with allowing myself to post those thoughts because I didn’t want to be disruptive in any way. You’re someone I greatly admire for discovering her process and then sharing it so generously and gracefully. I’m so happy to be any part of your further liberation!

      • I agree, i find it easier to work with outfits. In fact individual pieces of clothing only have value as part of an outfit. I keep a spreadsheet of combinations I wear and flag up the ones I like the best. At the end of each season I make a shortlist of the favourites and keep it for the following year, so eg next summer I have a handful of favourites ready. Of course it’s fun to try new combinations but I don’t always have the time or energy!
        Alice

      • I agree with Terra too. I have found I have favourite outfit combos that I love to wear. I don’t seem to get tired of them either. I will sometimes mix them up for fun, but I can fall back on the ‘best’ one and know I will be comfortable and feel happy. There is no rule that we have to mix and match everything (although a lot of that seems to be out there and I can feel pressured by that), so I say wear what works for you and makes you feel at peace with your clothes.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love this discussion here! Vildy, what you share here always causes me to think and I feel that you are onto something valuable. I go through periods when I want to mix and match a lot with my outfits, but there are also times (many) when I would just be quite happy to have some “go to” outfits that I can easily reach for, especially when I’m in a hurry or not feeling inspired.

      I remember one wise woman from a fashion forum I used to read (now defunct). She said that she always shopped in outfits because that way, she knew she would wear her new clothes. I have never done that, but I’m starting to at least THINK in outfits when I shop. I have had a lot of issues with “orphans” because I just bought things I thought were “cool” without thinking of HOW I would wear them. Now I often try to wear (or at least bring) the item I want to try to find things to wear with when I shop. This is especially useful with shoes, as I would frequently purchase great shoes that had no place in my wardrobe.

      I like Alice’s idea of an outfit spreadsheet. I usually take photos and store them in folders, but I think my problem is that I come up with TOO MANY combos and then it gets overwhelming. Why not just come up with two or three and leave it at that? I think I will try that and see if it serves me better.

  3. This post is really interesting! It gave me some new ideas on how to track my wears! I didn’t really like the idea of tracking everything I wore every single time, but tracking new purchases just by adding an X is a sure way of seeing if what I bought is working or not, without getting anxious because I feel like I have to wear everything I have at least 30 times or I’m not making the most out of my clothes!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked the post and got ideas from it, Maria. I like that idea of tracking the wear of new purchases, too, and it’s so easy to do via notes on our phones. I think that if we just did that one thing, we could learn a lot and become smarter with our purchases. I’m going to give it a go and I hope others will, too.

  4. I track my purchases in a day planner and then transfer the monthly totals into an excel spreadsheet. When I first started doing it I was horrified to see how fast it added up and how much I was spending. That helped me put the brakes on, but of course didn’t stop me completely.

    At the moment I am deliberating what to do with a lot of clothing that I like but rarely have the occasion to wear as I no longer work and tend to wear just casual clothes. I have in the past purged a lot of stuff and then regretted it because my style seems to rotate every few years, so for now I’m not doing anything about it, but I dislike the look of the overfull drawers and closet.

    Living in a small condo I can’t just store it elsewhere, so sooner or later I am going to have to take action though.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, the cold hard facts in front of can certainly be eye-opening (and sometimes shocking), Tara. I have struggled with clothes from a former life, too. I haven’t done any extreme purging at any given time, but have felt better in letting more go as time has gone by. I don’t have a lot of storage space where I live, either, but I do store some “on the fence” items in our second closet (yes, we only have two!). That “holding zone” has helped me to ease into letting things go and I am often ready to pass them on after a month or two has gone by.

  5. Debbie, excellent post! Thank you.

  6. Do you track your purchases?
    If so, how do you do it and how often do you make updates?
    Do you go unconscious when it comes to how much you’re buying (even if you manage to stick to a budget)?

    Everyone has very interesting comments on this subject. Part of my issue is that I have gained several pounds since I went back to school and stopped working out. It isn’t a lot of weight but enough to make me the zipper on my pants complain. I have been trying to eat healthier and move more during the summer vacation so I can see how my pants fit in a few weeks. (If I had gone up a full size, I would just buy pants in the larger size and be done with it.)

    Because of my size fluctuation, I am waiting a little while to buy more comfortable pants. I have bought two necklaces in the past month and am returning one by mail to QVC. I did buy two scarves from Poshmark. (Scarves are my go-to purchase and a trigger for me so I really have to watch this category!) I did switch gears a week ago and started looking at revamping my skin care and updating my makeup. This has been my splurge in the last two weeks. I bought a new eyebrow pencil, tinted moisturizer with SPF for the days that I am at home, and a new lipstick.

    • I forgot to mention that I switched to looking at skincare/makeup products since I have a strong urge to buy things when I have downtime. I guess it is my way of treating myself. I did start going t o a large thrift store in another town every two weeks to give myself the experience of shopping without breaking the bank. I limit myself to a maximum of one thing for myself, one book or DVD, and one small item for the house. Last week, I bought a bracelet and a book which totaled less than $6. I did buy a pair of Diane Gilman flexstretch jeggings off of Ebay for under $15 which included shipping to see if the pants could work as an affordable substitute to my NYDJ pants. I have been wearing the jeggings nonstop around the house to test them out and they are amazingly comfortable. (Since they are woven, they look like jeans and not leggings.) I can always order more from HSN.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      As I have written about before, Maggie, I have also struggled with some weight gain as of late, so I understand where you’re coming from. My fear around it led me to shop more, as I get scared that I won’t have anything to wear, even though my weight has gone up and down many times over the years (nothing too extreme, but my pants can definitely get too tight). It sounds like you’re being smart and practical about your purchases and not doing anything too rash. Even your “splurges” don’t sound extreme. I like your idea of controlled thrift shopping and it seems to be working well for you. The jeggings also sound like a good purchase. How great if they can substitute for the NYDJ pants, which I know can be quite pricey.

  7. I track my clothing using Excel. I have a sheet which I update more or less daily with what I wore, the activity and the weather (I don’t usually include accessories unless I want to remember the particular combination) On a separate excel sheet I list each item bought, the price and why I bought it. Periodically I look at what I wore then update the what I bought sheet with ‘review’ comments so I can see what has been a good purchase and what hasn’t and why ( also I can see what I actually wear and need). This year my spending sheet has had columns added to see what the spending running total is, and how much of my budget I have left because I reduced my budget for the third year running and I wanted to be able to see the information easily every time I buy something. I was doing well and staying on budget until July but then managed to find a few items I had been searching for all at once and all but spent the rest of the years’ budget. I don’t regret buying these items, but on review realize that some of my earlier purchases were not as good and I could have saved some money. I am now economizing and planning outfits based on what I have, rather than looking for what is ‘missing’. I am reminding myself that I have lots of suitable outfits for a variety of activities and I don’t need to add ‘a new twist’ or any fresh outfits. I’m not sure whether I will get to the end of the year within budget, and going a bit over won’t cause any financial problems, but trying to stay within it is helping me to think twice about purchases and what I really need.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your tracking spreadsheets sound great, Lynn! I wish I could see them… but I did get some good ideas for improving my own tracking based upon what you wrote. I especially like that you indicate WHY you bought something as well as a column to track whether or not something was a good purchase. It sounds like your tracking sheets are really keeping you on track. Your plan for the rest of the year seems to be quite sound as well. It’s always helpful and enlightening to shop our own closets instead of the stores.

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