A New Experience – Shopping with Limits

Shopping with limitsLast Friday, I went shopping for the first time with my new purchase limitation.  For the entire year of 2013 (and maybe longer), I am only allowed to buy one item of clothing and one accessory per month.  The reason for this rule is so that I can learn to be more deliberate with my purchases, pare down my over-sized wardrobe, and better use what I have.  I also hope to cultivate more of a “quality over quantity” attitude.

Limits Over “Cold Turkey”

As I mentioned in my shopping rules for 2013, the reason I chose not to go “cold turkey” with shopping this year is that I feel it’s easier to stop doing something completely than to learn to work with reasonable limits.

I have done “shopping fasts” in the past, but they did not really help me to stop my compulsive shopping habit.  I have found that my approach is either feast or famine; I’m either not shopping at all or shopping compulsively and buying far too much.   I believe that allowing myself to shop but limiting how much I can buy (not just by dollar amount, but also by quantity) will do far more to heal my shopping problems than a complete shopping hiatus.

Pioneer Experience Under the New Rules

When I went to the mall on Friday, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to buy, but I had a few things in mind to look at.  I wanted to look for a new coat and perhaps a pair of shoes or a new handbag. The coat was the priority, so I made that the focus of my browsing the shops.

Since it’s January, virtually every store had coats on sale and surprisingly the selection had already dwindled in many places. I think I ventured into at least half of the stores at the mall on this trip, whereas I usually only visit two or three shops.

A Noticeable Change in My Attitude…

The main thing I noticed during Friday’s shopping trip was my change in attitude.  I was far more selective and objective than usual.  Knowing that if I purchased an item of clothing, it would be the only one for January made my standards much higher than usual.  I was also more willing to spend a larger amount of money than I normally would for a single item.

I found that I visited more stores but spent a much shorter period of time in each location.  I looked at fewer pieces and tried on only a small percentage of what I looked at.  I approached shopping with far more of a laser-like focus than usual. I wanted to make sure that what I purchased would be good enough to be my one and only January purchase.   I also wanted to make sure that I would want to wear my new item as soon as possible.

A Side Effect – Lack of Self-Trust

Overall, my shopping trip was positive, but there was one negative aspect to it.  I found that I didn’t trust myself to make the right decisions.  I felt very nervous that I would choose unwisely and “waste” one of my few purchase opportunities for the year. I suspect, however, that I will learn to trust myself more as time goes on.

The Outcome

In the end, I did make my two purchases for January.  I ordered a black and white coat from Nordstrom which I hope to receive later this week (UPDATE:  I ended up returning the coat due to poor fit…).  They didn’t have the proper size in the store, but I was able to try on the next size down and I believe the size I ordered will work with some minor alterations. As my accessory purchase, I selected a black cuff bracelet from Brighton.  I have a similar style bracelet in pewter that I wear frequently, so I believe my new bracelet will also appear often in my outfit rotation.

I am happy with my January purchases and will now concentrate on “shopping my closet” for the remainder of the month.  As I focus on wearing what I have, I will make note of potential gaps in my wardrobe which I may choose to fill in the coming months.

Recovery Tip

Try setting some limits for the next month or on your next shopping trip.  Notice how the presence of parameters around your shopping affects your attitude and behavior in the stores. I’d love to read about your experiences!