For those who are new to my blog, I’ve committed to posting monthly accountability summaries in which I share what came into my wardrobe, what left, and how well I adhered to my shopping budget. Knowing that I’ll be sharing this information with my readers every month helps to keep me on track.
I generally do these updates at the beginning of each month, but I got a bit off-track during July, as I was closing out Project 333, doing my mid-year closet inventory, and posting an update on my “wardrobe benchwarmer project.” As a result, today’s update covers both June and July. I’ll get back on track next month and post my August accountability update in early September.
What Left My Closet
I’ll start with some great news… While I did not audit my closet during June, I was able to purge 34 items from my wardrobe in July! Since doing Project 333, it’s become much easier for me to let go of sub-standard items in my closet. In fact, my standards have become much higher since I now know I don’t need nearly as many clothes as I once thought. I’m proud of myself and feel I’m making excellent progress toward my goal of a pared down and carefully curated wardrobe.
In looking at my July “rejects,” I determined that many of those pieces were originally purchased at consignment stores or on sale. Not only am I a recovering shopaholic, I’m also recovering from my previous “quantity over quality” mindset. Because I felt compelled to shop pretty much all the time, I was always searching for the best “deals” so I could keep buying. This led to many, many purchasing mistakes that are now leaving my closet, many of them unworn or rarely worn.
Some Sobering Statistics…
You all know about my love of statistics. Here are a few sobering numbers I came up with yesterday:
- Of the 34 items that left my closet last month, 14 were purchased at resale stores and 8 were bought on sale. In essence, 65% of my July rejects were originally bought for “a song.”
- Only 8 of the items I released last month were actually worn a number of times and thus “earned their keep” in my wardrobe. Only one of those pieces was bought on consignment – all the others were purchased at full price!
Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson about the lure of the deal and I will now stick with my new resolution of “quality over quantity.” While I’m not bashing sales or resale buys, my history shows that I must proceed with extreme caution in such situations. If I do venture into a consignment store, I definitely need to take my own advice!
Here’s a snapshot of the items that left my closet during July.
What Came Into My Closet
This part of the equation is not quite as rosy as what I reported above… I did too much shopping during June (fortunately, July was infinitely better) and most of what I bought came from resale shops.
All in all, I purchased 17 new items during June and July. Yes, I realize that’s too much and minimizes the positive impact of all of the great wardrobe culling I’ve been doing in recent months. I feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back and that’s making it take much longer to reach my minimalism goals.
The Impact of My May Shopping Hiatus
Those who have been reading my blog for a while may remember that I took a shopping hiatus during May. That pause in shopping was both beneficial and difficult for me. It benefitted me in that I was able to focus more on what I have in my closet instead of what I wanted to bring in. I was also able to focus time and attention on other things.
What made the hiatus difficult is that I had not cultivated new hobbies to replace my long-term and all-consuming hobby of shopping. As several readers appropriately pointed out, I was “white-knuckling” it through May and biding my time until I could shop again.
As soon as June rolled around, I was back in the shops. My first stop was my favorite consignment store, where I redeemed the credit I had there for pieces I had consigned. Although it’s possible to be paid in cash instead of store credit, I’ve always opted to use the store credit. While the store offers a higher percentage in store credit over cash, my main reason for selecting that option was so I can shop more. I won’t lie about that. I am still a shopaholic. I’ve made some great strides, but I still have a long way to go.
June/July Purchases – By the Numbers
Here are the stats on my June and July purchases:
- Items Bought in June: 14
- Items Bought in July: 3
- Total Number of Items Bought: 17
- Clothing Items Bought: 10
- Shoes/Accessories Bought: 7
- Items Bought at Consignment Stores: 14 (82%)
Clearly, I need to break my resale addiction, especially if I’m not only committed to spending less, but also to buying fewer pieces. Now, if I absolutely loved every item I bought and couldn’t wait to wear it, perhaps my resale predilection wouldn’t be so bad. But most of what I bought during June and July hasn’t even been worn yet! Here are some more numbers:
- June/July Purchases Already Worn: 6 (35%)
- June/July Purchase “All-Stars” (worn many times): 2
The Advantage of Buying Accessories Over Clothing
Only two of the already worn items are pieces of clothing; all of the others are accessories. Both “all-stars” are also accessories (a handbag and a pair of sunglasses). This tells me I’m better off buying accessories over clothing, as I’m more compelled to use those items right away.
In response to my recent “Answering My Own Questions” post, reader Tonya suggested I purchase accessories to cultivate the sophisticated and edgy vibe I want to add to my outfits. She reasoned that accessories take up less space and can be combined with closet basics to create different types of looks. Definitely very wise advice and all the better since I seem to have more success with my accessory buys anyway.
Here’s a quick look at the new pieces I brought into my wardrobe during June and July:
June / July Budget Report
Now on to my budget report… My monthly budget for clothing, shoes, accessories, and alterations is $250. Some have commented that this amount is too high and they may be right, although I feel a clothing budget is a very individual thing.
My clothing budget has been the same for a number of years, but I have far exceeded my budget each year for the past ten years! I wanted to actually stick to it for one year, then look at whether an adjustment is needed. I didn’t want to choose a lower number and set myself up for potential failure, so I kept the budget where it was and aimed to stick to it this year!
I’m Actually On Target this Year!
As of the end of July, I am basically on target for my 2013 clothing budget. In truth, I’m slightly over, but only to the tune of $16.36. In previous years, we might add a thousand dollars or more to my excess amount! This year, I should have been under $1750 as July came to a close, but my spending level was at $1766.36. It should be very easy to get back on track during August.
I feel confident that 2013 will be the year when I finally stick to my clothing budget! It hasn’t been easy, but I am committed to changing and being a woman of my word instead of someone who hides purchases, tells “white lies,” and practices “creative accounting.” I wasn’t proud of my past behavior, so it feels good to be staying on the up and up with my husband – and all of you!
Some Closing Thoughts…
It really helps me to do these accountability updates and I hope you enjoy reading them. For those of you who feel out of control with your shopping, I hope the progress I’m making helps you realize recovery is possible for you, too! Of course, there can be lots of ups and downs and stops and starts on the road to recovery. It’s not just about how many clothes we have, how much we buy, and whether or not we keep to a predetermined clothing budget. There is more to it than the external facts and figures.
Many of us who struggle with compulsive shopping have had periods when we were able to keep things under control, whether out of necessity, “white-knuckling” it, or sheer busyness with other activities and pursuits. We may have even thought we had put our shopaholic days behind us. I have to admit that I’ve gotten a little cocky on and off this year. I felt that perhaps I was moving into the “recovered” territory.
But not so fast! Then a difficult challenge, relationship, or emotion rears its ugly head and sends us back to the stores, be they brick and mortar or the all too easy and tempting online types. This is when it’s important to remember the tagline for this blog, “Trade your full closet for a full life.” I still feel gaping holes in my life and my heart and although I know no amount of clothing can truly fill them, I’m not sure what else to do. So I resort to the coping mechanism that’s been there since I was a teenager, shopping.
I need to find new coping mechanisms and new ways to fill my soul. I don’t write about that all the time because it’s harder to write about and sometimes the words elude me. But I will continue to explore these issues, for myself and others out there who wrestle with the dragon of compulsive shopping. I’m still “recovering” and it may be a long process, but I can – and you can – place shopping into its proper role in life. I will continue searching, and writing, to help us all get there!