When I started this blog in January, one of my first posts outlined a list of shopping rules to help me address my compulsive buying problem. Over the ensuing months, I found myself adhering well to some rules (the budget, one in one out, and tracking) while ignoring others completely (item purchase limits). Because I found the purchase limits too restrictive, I started adding a list of exceptions that only served to muddy the waters.
I feel it’s now time to revisit my initial rules and make some conscious and deliberate updates based upon what I’ve learned about myself, my wardrobe, and my shopping so far this year. This post details my revised shopping rules for the rest of 2013 and potentially into 2014 as well.
The Rules I’m Keeping
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done well in sticking to some of my original shopping rules. Since these rules have been serving me well, I’ve decided to carry them forward. Below are the rules I’m keeping, along with a few thoughts and clarifications.
I’m going to stick with my budget of $250 per month. This includes all clothing, shoes, and accessory purchases, as well as any necessary alterations. I will maintain this budget through the end of 2013 and revisit the number as I move into 2014.
One In, One Out
I’ve actually been trying to do one in, two – or even three – out this year, as I’ve been working to pare down my oversize wardrobe. I’ve definitely let go of far more items than I’ve brought into my closet this year, although I haven’t done a full accounting of the new pieces as of yet (coming soon…).
I see “one in, one out” as a minimum requirement for me at this point. While I’m not sure of my optimal wardrobe size, I know I’m not there yet. Until I feel comfortable and happy with the size of my wardrobe, I’ll continue to focus on letting go of more than I bring in. After I reach a state of peace with my closet size, I will adhere to “one in, one out” for the foreseeable future in order to prevent the dreaded phenomenon known as “closet creep” (I’m sure many of you know it well…).
I’ve been tracking everything I wear since the beginning of 2011 and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Tracking has been invaluable to me in learning about what I do and don’t wear as well as what I love and don’t love in my wardrobe.
As I’ve started tracking at the beginning of each year, I thought that perhaps I would stop at the end of that year, but I fully intend to keep tracking through at least the end of 2014. The time to stop tracking will be when I have no “wardrobe benchwarmers” and love and wear all of my clothes (that means all “8”s or higher!). Fingers crossed that I’ll achieve this goal next year!
This is the most important rule of all, so of course it’s staying! Not only do I promise to continue being honest with all of you, through my accountability updates and all other posts, I commit to staying honest with myself. This means no white lies, half-truths, or “weasel words.” I truly believe that the “truth shall set you free” and it’s working for me. As I write and speak my truth instead of engaging in subterfuge, I am recovering from my compulsive shopping addiction, slowly but surely. Honesty is a big part of the solution and I intend to stay on the straight and narrow!
The Rule I’m Letting Go Of – Purchase Limits
This rule sounded like a good idea, but it didn’t bear out well in actual practice. While I thought it would be a good idea to limit what I bought to only one garment and one accessory per month, this didn’t work so well in real life. So I added a bunch of exceptions – workout clothes, basic tees, undergarments, pants, exchanges, and gifts – as I found myself really needing such items. Things got far too complicated with this rule, so it’s out! But don’t worry; I’ve come up with a better rule to replace it…
The Only New Rule I’m Adding
In the interest of keeping things relatively simple (I’d like to be able to remember my rules without having to continually refer back to this post!), I’m only adding one new rule to my revised list. I actually came up with this rule during the teleseminar I co-led with Dr. April Benson, in response to a question about limiting overshopping when working in retail. I liked my suggestion so much, I decided to use it myself! Here’s my new rule:
I cannot buy a new item within a category until I’ve already worn all of the other new items within that category.”
Let me explain… Longtime readers know about my open cardigan overload. What happened was that I found a type of garment I liked and figured, “If one is good, five is better!” So I went out and bought a few other colors of the same or similar style to the first cardigan. I also did this with several other wardrobe categories, including knit blazers, tee shirts, and tank tops. The result was a very large wardrobe filled with lots of similar items, not exactly the type of closet I want.
Lest you think this type of behavior only occurred long ago, I have to admit that I bought several similar tee shirts and short cardigans earlier this month! While I can see the utility for these particular garments in my wardrobe, I also see the danger in continuing such practices. Hence the new rule.
From this point forward, if I buy a new skirt for example, I have to wear that skirt before I buy any new skirts. That means no buying in multiples or buying too many pieces at any given time. I will buy in small quantities and wear the new items before buying more.
What are the Categories?
The categories I’ve outlined are as follows:
- Cardigans – short
- Cardigans – long
- Casual jackets
- Sleeveless tops – long (for pants)
- Sleeveless tops – short (for skirts)
- Short-sleeved tops – long (for pants)
- Short and long-sleeved tops (for skirts)
- Long-sleeved tops (for pants)
I can only buy one at a time within a given category above, no matter how good a deal is being offered or any other justification I may try to make to myself. Of course, I also need to stick to my budget and the other shopping rules outlined above. All of the rules are good, but I think this one will be very helpful for me with my future shopping.
On the Subject of Returns…
What about returns, you may ask. Since I’m a serial returner, I had to put a policy in place to keep my returning at bay. I have a bad habit of buying something I like that puts me over my clothing budget, reasoning that I’ll later either return that item or another previously unworn garment.
No more! If I see something I like in a category which includes unworn new pieces, I have to leave the item in the store! If I later decide to return another unworn garment, I can then buy the new item I considered. The beauty of this is that the “power pause” will come into play and I’ll have time to consider my best plan of action.
Of course, the idea is to avoid returns altogether, so that’s where my advice in “Avoiding the 3 Most Common August Shopping Mistakes” is important. This advice applies to all months, not just August! If I follow all of my own suggestions, I’ll have fewer impulse buys and returns – and fewer purchases overall. Shopping consciously and wisely should result in a smaller number of smart purchases.
Feel Free to Copy My Rules and Share Yours!
So there you have it, my revised shopping rules for the remainder of 2013 and beyond. If you find my rules helpful, feel free to use them! If you’ve made alternate rules that are serving you well in your shopping, please share. While I’ve learned a lot along the way, I don’t profess to have all the answers, not by a long shot. I invite you to share your tips, suggestions, and insights with all of us so we can learn from your experience!