November 2014 Accountability Update

December is well underway, so it’s high time for me to share my November accountability update. For those who are new to “Recovering Shopaholic,” these monthly reports are where I share what came into and left my closet during the previous month, what I wore, and how I did with my shopping budget and rules.  It’s my way of keeping myself honest and on track with my goals.

Shopping Accountability Updates

What Left My Wardrobe and Why

I always start these reports with what left my closet during the previous month.  In November, I focused on purging some unused and unloved jewelry pieces from my collection.   Although I’ve already met my jewelry pare-down goal for the year (goal #10 here), the new jewelry tracking system I started this fall has really helped me continue to downsize.

I recently decided to let go of the following jewelry pieces:

  • 3 rings
  • 2 necklaces
  • 4 pendants
  • 7 pairs of earrings
  • 2 bracelets

Over half of these items fit into the category of “fine jewelry.”  I had been holding on to these unworn pieces because I wasn’t sure what to do with them.  I knew I would receive very little money for them through consignment, and most of the charity shops in my area typically sell their jewelry at very low prices.   Fortunately, one of the readers of this blog, Paula, offered me a better solution.  She told me about Jewels for Hope, a committee that’s part of The Children’s Diabetes Foundation in Denver, CO.   Jewels for Hope specializes in collecting jewelry donations to help raise funds in the fight against juvenile diabetes.

I plan to send the following jewelry pieces to Jewels for Hope this week:

November 2014 Fine Jewelry Purge

I’m passing these jewelry pieces on to Jewels for Hope to help fund juvenile diabetes research.

If you’d like to learn about how your jewelry cast-offs could possibly help raise money for diabetes research, click here for more information.

In addition to the items I’m sending to Jewels for Hope, I also decided to pass on some unworn costume jewelry pieces, shown below.

November 2014 Costume Jewelry Purges

I’m going to consign or donate these five jewelry pieces.

Why I Purged These Items

My reason for purging the jewelry items pictured above is basically the same for all of them.   They are not a match for my current personal style aesthetic and I don’t feel called to wear them.  The majority of the purged pieces are quite old and some have been in my collection for over twenty years.  However, one pair of earrings and one bracelet were acquired this year:

  • Tassel earrings (top row, center, above) – I purchased these earrings in June, thinking they were a different style for me that I would enjoy wearing. However, I haven’t liked the way they looked on me when I tried to push myself to incorporate them into an outfit.  They were very inexpensive, so I don’t feel bad passing them on at this time.
  • Pink and purple beaded bracelet (bottom row, right, above) – This bracelet was a gift from a friend in August. Although it’s a nice bracelet, I didn’t really feel it was my style, but I wanted to give it a chance, especially after Bridgette Raes said she liked it.   I wore it last month, but still didn’t feel like it was “me.”   It also felt too big and fussy on my wrist.  I feel bad about passing on a gift, but it was a “just because” gift I don’t think was very expensive.   I hope my friend doesn’t see this blog post!   I almost didn’t include the bracelet for that reason, but I want to honor my commitment to be honest in my accountability updates.

Future Purging Plans

I’m going to continue culling my jewelry collection as I notice what I am and am not wearing.   It’s getting down to a much more manageable level these days even though I’ve brought some new pieces in on a regular basis.  My jewelry collection is becoming much more cohesive, too, just like my wardrobe.  Speaking of my wardrobe, I didn’t really make an effort to pare it down last month.  However, the weather has recently shifted and I’m now wearing warmer clothing that hasn’t been worn since spring.  So I’m sure I will come across some garments that are either past their prime or are no longer in line with my style.

I’d like to keep my wardrobe around the same size and possibly do some more downsizing.  I plan to basically adhere to a one-in, one-out policy, but I find it works better for me to do that on a seasonal basis rather than monthly.  My method of wearing what I want, seeing how I feel in the things I wear, and noticing what isn’t getting worn has helped me to gradually let things go this year.  Since this process is serving me well, that’s how I plan to proceed for the foreseeable future.

What Came Into My Closet

I bought more than I was intending to buy during November.  I fell somewhat prey to all of the holiday sales and deals that seem to start earlier and earlier each year.   I tried to take advantage of such sales to purchase some of the items on my shopping priorities list, but I was only somewhat successful in that regard.  Lately I’ve been doing more shopping online than in stores and such shopping often results in a lot of returns.   I was fortunate to be able to find two pairs of pants last month, however, which I count as a big win given my shopping challenges in that arena.

I also shopped with a friend once and visited one consignment store.  Fortunately, I didn’t do too much damage in either situation and found one of my favorite pieces of the year while I was with my friend.   All in all, I devoted a lot more time and energy to shopping than I wanted to during November, which shows me that my recovery is still tenuous and that I need to be mindful of my actions at all times.   I’m sure I will elaborate more on this in future posts, but for now let’s move on to what I bought last month.

During November, I added seven new items to my closet, as shown in the photo below:

  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 jacket
  • 2 long-sleeved tops
  • 1 purse
November 2014 - New Items

I added these seven items to my closet in November 2014.

Why I Added These Items to My Wardrobe

Here are my reasons for selecting my November items:

  1. Black knit pants:  My life is very casual, but I don’t like to wear workout/yoga pants when I’m out and about if I can avoid it.  I already have one pair of black knit pants that I wear with boots or shoes with a moderate heel.  I decided to purchase another pair of the same pants to wear with flats.  I’m happy to now have nicer-looking but equally comfortable yoga pant alternatives regardless of whether I want to wear heels or flats.  Plus, I can sit for hours in these pants without suffering through the painful “pins and needles” nerve pain that I experience with a lot of other pants.
  2. Black lace upscale sweatshirt with exposed back zipper:  I have to admit that this top was basically an impulse buy.  When I was shopping with my friend, she tried it on and I loved the way it looked on her.  I opted to try it on as well and thought it also looked good on me.  It’s possible that I may return this top, though, as I don’t really need it.  However, my husband likes it, so I’m going to see if I reach for it during December before I decide on its fate.
  3. Black mixed media jacket: This jacket was part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  I liked it, but it was sold out before I had a chance to try it on.   I was pleased to see that it had been re-released last month and was thrilled that it fit me like a glove.  Since it’s faux leather, the price was very reasonable.  This jacket just may be one of my best purchases of 2014.  I love it and it has the edgy vibe I’m looking to incorporate into my style.  I look forward to wearing it now that it finally feels like fall here (just in time for the first day of winter!).
  4. Black purse: I really liked the look of this purse. I have another solid black purse, but it’s a much more conservative style.   I like to change out my purses every month or so and will enjoy carrying this one with my cool weather outfits, which tend to include a lot of black and other dark colors.
  5. Dark wash “boyfriend” jeans: These jeans are billed as having a slouchier fit, but they pretty much resemble skinny jeans on me.  They’re not skin tight, though, and are in a stretchy fabric that is very comfortable to wear.   I tried the jeans on in the store but had to order a tall size online.  They actually need to be hemmed about an inch, but I look forward to wearing them soon.
  6. Grey print silk skirt: This is the first consignment garment I’ve bought since August.  I haven’t really missed resale shopping, especially since my track record has been so poor.   However, when I brought my last round of cast-offs in to consign, I looked around and tried a few things on.  This skirt still had the tags attached and fit me beautifully.  It’s shorter and narrower than a lot of my other skirts and I like that it’s a neutral print with a grey background.  I think it was a good consignment purchase, but time will tell.  I think I’ll stick to very rare resale shopping and just one garment at a time until I see if I’ve improved my second-hand shopping skills.
  7. Red waffle top with grey trim:  This top is basically the same as the purple top I bought last month.  I’m not doing “multiples” much anymore and when I do, I stop at two colors (instead of four or five like I used to do!).  These types of tops work well for my lifestyle, as I wear them both at home and for casual activities.

And Then There’s the Accessories…

While I was at the consignment store last month, I purchased three jewelry pieces with my store credit in addition to the skirt and purse shown above.  I also bought a pair of earrings when I shopped with my friend.  My new items are pictured below, followed by my reasons for buying each of them.

November 2014 - New Jewelry

I bought these four new jewelry pieces in November 2014.

  • Silver dangly earrings: I love the somewhat edgy vibe of these earrings, plus they are lightweight and unlike anything I already have.
  • Silver bangles: I like bangles, but they are almost always too large for my wrists.  This set includes elastic in between the silver sections, so I can fit the bracelets over my hand without them “swimming” on my wrist.  I like that I can choose to wear one, two, or three bangles depending on my mood.  Believe it or not, I didn’t already own any silver bangles.
  • Green turquoise earrings: I love the color and I don’t have any other earrings like this in my collection.   They aren’t too heavy and are quite striking against my skin tone and hair color.
  • Purple stone pendant: The color doesn’t show up all that well in the photo, but this pendant includes two different types of purple stones.  The first and third stones have a sparkle to them that is quite lovely.   Most of my necklaces are plain silver, so this pendant is a nice addition.

2014 Item Limit Update

When I originally laid out my shopping and wardrobe goals for the year back in January, I decided to purchase only half the number of items I bought in 2013.  Although I initially set an item limit of 38 for 2014, I opted to raise it to 53 back in August.  The revised limit still represented a 30% reduction over my 2013 acquisitions but was more doable for me than my initial item limit.  My shopping budget remained unchanged.

As of the end of October, I had purchased 47 qualifying items (workout clothing, accessories, undergarments, and gifts don’t count).   During November, I added seven new items, for a yearly total of 54 items, which exceeds my limit by one item.   I actually didn’t realize I had exceeded my limit until I was writing up this post.  That shows that I really wasn’t being mindful of my shopping during November, which is not a good thing.   I know I am improving in terms of my compulsive shopping habit, but I can’t allow myself to become cocky or complacent about the fact that I still have a problem.

While I haven’t done any shopping thus far in December, I still have two online orders which have yet to arrive.  So it’s possible that I may exceed the limit by more than one item.   However, I know that I definitely won’t come close to the 76 items I bought last year (not to mention the 200+ that I purchased in previous years).

Although I didn’t meet my goal, I still feel good about the progress I’ve made this year.  I’ve bought less and I have made fewer mistakes overall.  I continue to learn more about how to be a smart shopper and how to buy what I will actually use.  I feel confident that I will buy a lot less next year, especially since I have a much clearer vision of my style direction and lifestyle needs.

I plan to do another purchase analysis (see previous ones here, here, and here) at the end of the year and it will be interesting to see what my percentages of good, bad, and questionable buys are.   The proof of how much my shopping has improved will be in the numbers and that will help me decide on my plans for 2015.

November Budget Report

My budget for clothing and related purchases (shoes, accessories, alterations) for 2014 is $3000, which is $250 per month.  However, since I overspent my budget during July, I lowered my monthly allocation to $200 for the remainder of the year.

During November, I spent a total of $280.58 on garments and accessories, which exceeded my monthly budget by $80.58.  However, as I was under my budget for the year by $44.79 at the close of October, I was only over by $35.79 as of the end of November.  As long as I don’t spend more than $164.21 on clothing and related purchases between now and December 31st, I will finish 2014 under budget for the second year in a row.

I can definitely do it, but I don’t like cutting it so close at the end.   The fact that I overspent in July and August made it hard for me to keep to my budget in the later months of the year.  I had originally planned to have more money to spend in November and December, as there are so many sales and shopping temptations during the holidays.  I definitely plan to do things differently next year.  My ultimate goal is to stop shopping each and every month and move more toward seasonal buying.  In order to be successful in that pursuit, however, I have to quell my emotional need to shop and replace my shopping hobby with equally or more fulfilling endeavors.  Easier said than done, but I’m committed to making it happen!   More on that in future posts…

What I Wore

For the past year and a half, I’ve been keeping track of the garments and shoes I wear each month and how many times they get worn.   This helps me to better understand which items are my favorites and which ones should perhaps be passed on for donation or consignment.

During November, I wore 28 garments and 8 pairs of shoes, which is very close to the same number of items I wore in October.  It may seem impressive that I’m wearing so few things, but it’s really not.  I spend a lot of my days at home in lounge wear, which isn’t included in my total.  Now that the weather has cooled down, I’ve started to wear more of my “regular” tops at home, but I’m still in yoga-style pants most of the time.  I enjoy being comfortable, but I plan to continue to upgrade my at-home wear in the coming year.   I also hope to get out more so I can enjoy wearing more of my clothes.

Here’s a photo of the items I wore during November 2014:

November 2014 - Items Worn

These are the 28 garments and 8 pairs of shoes I wore during November 2014.

Believe it or not, November was still pretty warm in my neck of the woods, so I continued to wear summer clothing most days.  However, I often did need to wear a topper, especially in the evenings. The predominant colors I wore were black, blue, and purple, with a few other colors thrown in.  I also wore a few striped pieces and some leopard print.

I’m sure my December wardrobe will look a lot different and there will be more pants and long-sleeved tops in the mix.  I’d still like to wear skirts and dresses more often in cooler weather, but that will be a gradual process, as I need to add some new pieces to my wardrobe in order to make it happen.   Maybe I’ll be able to take advantage of the January sales to pick up some boots and tights, as well as a warmer dress or two.

Conclusion and Your Thoughts

I don’t really enjoy writing these accountability updates, as they can be tedious and take a long time to put together.  However, I do feel they’ve been helpful in increasing my awareness and keeping myself on track.  In cases where I’ve veered off course, having to share the facts with all of you has enabled me to find my way back to sanity.   In the past, I just kept repeating bad behaviors and lying to myself and others about what I was doing.   Telling the truth each month about how much I’ve shopped has been instrumental in my recovery.   If you’re struggling with compulsive shopping, I highly recommend finding an accountability partner.   You can also report your progress in the comments section of my monthly posts, as others have elected to do.

Now it’s your turn to chime in.  How did you do with your shopping and wardrobe during November?  Did you end the month on a high note, or were you challenged with overshopping or other issues?   What are your plans for finishing 2014 powerfully?   Please let me and your fellow readers know how we can support you in honoring your goals and commitments.  Feel free to share your wins, challenges, and questions in the comments section of this post.

55 thoughts on “November 2014 Accountability Update

  1. Debbie, as always I enjoyed your accountability post very much. What you said about your recovery being tenuous really resonated with me. I’ve been feeling very much the same lately. I had planned to buy nothing in November as I was spending two weeks visiting family in Australia and thought that would be enough distraction to keep me away from the shops. Well, a few days before leaving I purchased two items of clothing and a pair of shoes for the trip. During the trip I purchased a pair of jeans and was given a t-shirt (chosen by me) as a gift. Then the day after getting home I bought a sweater. I didn’t feel like I’d bought much as I hadn’t put a lot of time and effort into the purchases, so it was a shock to look at my tally for November on paper. Five were, fortunately, good purchases. The other wasn’t a bad purchase but I didn’t really need it. I’m currently a little under my budget for the year (I don’t have an item limit), but I have several things on order so will likely exceed my budget.
    Your comment about finding more fulfilling endeavors to quell the emotional need to shop is also something I really felt this month. Despite the fairly limited selection of clothes I took on my trip, I wasn’t bored with them at all, presumably because I was occupied with other things. This quelled the urge to shop to quite an extent. It reiterated in my mind the need to work on the “full life” side of things, and I plan to make this a priority in 2015.

    • Congrats on being under budget for the year (at least at the moment) and making mostly good purchases during November, Kayla. I hope you enjoyed your time in Australia. I really hope to get there to visit sometime soon. Like you, I really need to work on the “full life” side of things next year. I made some progress this year in that I made some important realizations, but it’s time to take more action. I have really made the connection between my desire to shop and/or obsess about my wardrobe and my being dissatisfied/unfulfilled with aspects of my life. Hopefully, we will both make good progress in the full life arena in 2015.

  2. It can be hard to ‘come clean’ but I think it’s a useful endeavor. I’m past my item and budget limit, myself. Yes, most of my overages are due to needing to update a uniform for work, but still, cutting it so close (same as you) is not where I want to be come next December.
    I did pretty much stop on accessories. I found I wear the same dozen or so over and over. I do want a wool fedora later this winter but jewelry seems more a temperate thing to me. Winter layers bundle over any cuff bracelets or dainty necklaces.
    Speaking of winter, I found all of my recent purchases to be winter layers – sweatshirts, sweaters, coats. So I don’t feel bad getting them after over a year in FL buying entirely different clothing. I do think I’ve turned the corner to smarter, and more seasonal, shopping. Like you, I’m not ‘there’ yet but sooooo much closer 🙂 I’m wiping my slate clean on Dec 21 (first day of winter) as the start of my shopping year. I have 3 items put in next year’s column under gift $$ coming for xmas and then it’s go-time.
    I’m confident that I’m in a place where I’m buying what I will wear. A big part of that is tuning out the voices online about no hoodies if you aren’t in college and no this and no that. I think I was the only person, male or female, young or old, without a bona fide hoodie in Lake Tahoe. Why, because someone online who lives in a city and dishes about fashion says so??? DUMB. I was dumb to take it all too much to heart. Anyway, one of my pre purchased gifts is a fur lined hoodie for only $15. Bet I’ll wear it 5 times as much as a white BF blazer I own 😉 To thine own self be true!
    Hope next year gets better and better with each lesson we learn! 😀

    • I tend to vary my accessories more in the warmer months, too, but didn’t really think about it until you mentioned it, Mo. It sounds like the buying you are doing is really in line with your lifestyle needs, which is great. You last paragraph really resonated with me. As someone who lived in Lake Tahoe for a while, I know that hoodies are very popular there. Even my mom has one! Yes, it’s tricky to take fashion advice from those with very different lives than we have. That’s the problem with style forums in which there are participants from all over the world. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to please an online audience. I’m glad you’re being more true to yourself and buying what you love and will wear. Enjoy wearing that faux fur hoodie and stay warm!

  3. Hi! I live north of you in the SF/East Bay Area and am taking this opportunity to wish you a happy holiday season as we bring this year to a close. I read all of your posts with interest and am truly impressed with your willingness to share your journey with all of us out here in the world. It’s very courageous and I admire your courage (besides that, your writing is really good, too). I’ve never stopped to analyze my shopping behavior before finding your blog. Now I’m much more conscious of what I buy, what I wear, what suits me, etc… all the stuff you’ve covered over the months I’ve been secretly following you. So thanks and keep on… you just never know who you may be influencing in a positive way!

    • Welcome, Cori, and thanks for your comment! I grew up in the SF Bay Area, San Carlos to be exact. I appreciate your kind words and am very happy that my blog is helping you to be more conscious of what you’re buying and wearing. I love to get comments like yours and am pleased to be making a positive difference in people’s lives. Best holiday wishes to you, too!

  4. Hey!!! Oh my gosh, I am so thrilled you decided to donate your jewelry to Jewels of Hope!! I can’t wait to tell the group, they will so appreciate your generosity. I have cut my collection at least in half and they got everything. Thank you so much and thank you for sharing the resource!

    You continue to inspire me with your journey. I have recently checked out Bridgette Raes’ website and videos, holy cow she is amazing! I love her advice, where are you going in that? I can see why you enjoyed working with her so much. I am so, so glad I found your blog!!

    • I was very happy to learn of Jewels of Hope, Paula, and will likely send more things to them in the future. I hope some readers choose to donate to them, too. Thanks for sharing this wonderful resource with us! Yes, Bridgette IS amazing and has so much knowledge and wisdom to share! Her questions are very often in my mind when I shop these days, which is a very positive thing. I am featured on her blog today, which is truly an honor.

  5. Debbie, you may find the accountability posts tedious to write, but I do find them enjoyable to read and very helpful. I find that reading your thoughts about why you buy things or purge things can often spark ideas in my own head about what I do and don’t want to keep. Although, perhaps if you’re finding it very tedious you could give yourself permission to write them differently in 2015 – perhaps each section could be just highlights and then you can delve deeper into things that are resonating with you for that month. Thanks for the jewelry donation info – I will check it out!

    I did quite well in November, although am employing a bit of fuzzy math. I bought a sweater at the beginning of the month that was an expensive purchase for me, and used up all of October’s remaining budget and November’s budget as well. But it was made in the USA by a small company, is eco-friendly, and I think fits very well into both my evolving style and my wish to be more conscious of what I am buying. I also picked up a pair of black pants and a pair of black shoes for “free”. The black pants I paid for with a gift card that I have been carrying around for 3 years. I had kept going into the store and not being inspired, but finally found some perfect pants. The shoes were paid for by my boyfriend who decided that he wanted them to be part of my Christmas present. Of course, I fully intended to release older, worn black pants (2 pairs) and black shoes (again, 2 pairs) as part of my 1-in, 2-out rule, but somehow they are all still in rotation. I’ll have to investigate whatever is blocking me from letting those items go!

    I purged a few items, cardigans and sweaters mostly, and reorganized my closet and dresser a little bit. All in all, I am happy with last month’s and this whole year’s progress. It has been slow but steady. I have kept to my item limit, and my budget limit. I’m still not where I want to be with wardrobe size or organization as the purging has been slow, but maybe I’ll make it in 2015.

    • I keep writing these posts because I know they are helpful to people, Sarah, even if they take a long time to put together. I guess they’re not as fun to write as some things, but I learn a lot from doing it, too. I may change the format somewhat in the New Year and I appreciate your suggestions.

      I think it’s great that you’re making eco-friendly purchases. If you are open to sharing the brand, that might be helpful to others who want to shift their shopping in a similar way. I’d love to compile a list of such resources, as I know many of us would be willing to pay more for items that are ethically produced. It’s good that you were able to use that 3-years old gift card. I always thought they expired after a year, but I’m glad yours didn’t.

      Congrats on purging some things last month. I have trouble purging some items, too, especially pants and shoes. Maybe I need to write a post about that topic! I don’t know why I do it, either, but I’m guessing I would learn some things if I just starting typing my thoughts on the subject…

      • Thanks for following up, Sarah. What an interesting name for a brand! I agree that the photos on the site aren’t the best, but I like some of the clothes. I’m glad that more ethical and sustainable retailers are cropping up. I hope you enjoy your new sweater!

  6. I haven’t commented here in some time! I also bought a couple things on sale the Sunday after Thanksgiving and can’t deny the guilty feelings. But I am trying to get over them because both items that I kept are exactly what I’d been needing for some time and have been worn multiple times already. I returned two that weren’t what I expected (which were also the more impulsive buys hmmm…).

    Overall this year, I have probably shopped just as much as I did last year before I ever really reflected on it. Online shopping is the problem for me. I have noticed I’m doing more what I did last month: instead of keeping things that aren’t what I hoped or expected but are “still pretty/kinda cute enough,” I ruthlessly return. And I’ve cast off A LOT of what I already had. Luckily by selling some of those castoffs, I also made a bit of my (still blown) budget back. I have more than enough clothes, but it’s SO much more reasonable now. So overall I believe I am getting better.

    I am also hoping next year I will be able to shop more seasonally instead of perpetually browsing. I know that is a necessary step for me to really cut down and stop the cycle of buying and purging. I am definitely addicted to how easy it is to find constant novelty through clothing and style, though. All my other hobbies require some kind of effort or brainpower, so clothing/blogs/shopping is still that mindless place. But that mindless place leads to spending and that’s silly! I need to mindlessly grab my library books after work instead!

    Debbies, thanks as always for your wonderful blog, which I always enjoy along with the many comments!

    • I’m glad you decided to comment again, Sophie. It sounds like you’re making some progress in that you’re returning sub-par purchases and letting go of some things that weren’t working for you. I agree that online shopping can be a problem, as it’s just so easy to do any time of the day or night. Your point about hobbies is quite thought-provoking. So true that most hobbies require more brainpower and energy than shopping. Perhaps that’s a big reason why shopping is so compelling for many of us. Good plan to try reading instead of shopping. I’m sure there are some other hobbies that are easier to do, too. I need to work on that aspect of my life, too. I’m glad you like my blog, and I get a lot from the comments, too (including yours!).

  7. I have also tracked my key purchases and expenditure on clothes and shoes this year, partly in response to your blog, which I read regularly. I bought 44 items (including 8 accessories) but I spent $8969! (including $1020 on accessories!). It is a bit shocking to find I spent almost $9000 in total (or $8000 compared to your $3000 on the same categories). I did buy some expensive replacement items like winter coats and boots this year, but still….my next challenge is to actually set a budget for 2015, because it sure does add up!

    Congratulations on your own success in bringing your figures down to reasonable proportions.

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, Win. It sounds like you purchased some quality items this year which will hopefully serve you well for a number of years. Clothing budgets are very individual and there is no one right amount to spend, but it sounds like you feel you spent too much. You’re right that things can add up very fast! Having a budget that you review every month can help to keep spending in check. I had a budget for years but didn’t review it often enough or take it seriously, but I’m happy to have turned that around over the past two years. Best wishes to you with setting and sticking to a budget next year. If I can do it, you can, too!

  8. I find the accountability posts very interesting, partly because my starting point this summer was very close to yours at the beginning of this blog, and my budget is similar, so I can relate well to your stats – and also because I love numbers!
    I counted Sep/Oct/Nov as autumn so can do a quick season update: bought 10, threw away 16. I’m trying to throw around 5 more per season than I buy, to achieve a slow, steady downsize. This all sounds good, but in total so far this year I’ve bought 47 items, and spent about 25% over my budget, plus as the sales start well before January in the UK, this is likely to go up!
    My dream for next year would be to follow the 5-piece French wardrobe plan, i.e. 5 really great key new pieces per season, on a similar budget – this would be a huge change. The sobering thought that prompted this is that if I continue buying 50 things a year, that’s around 200 more by the time I’m 60 – way, way too much. I’d much rather have 80 quality pieces (of course not all will still be in my wardrobe after 4 years, but I’d like to think that many will be).
    I’m in a big work rush at the moment, but will try to do a proper analysis of the year over the break when I have more time.

    • Excellent plan to let go of 5 more items per season than you bring in, Alice. For many of us, a slow, steady downsize is the best way to go. I am intrigued by the 5-piece French wardrobe plan, too. I have struggled a lot with buying too many things and even though I’ve cut back a lot, it’s still probably too much. I have gotten rid of a lot, too, but my purging has slowed down and so should my buying. The numbers you shared at the close of your comment are quite sobering and many of us don’t think about how our purchases really add up (both in terms of money and just a too large wardrobe). I would love to read your more in-depth analysis. I guess I can understand why people like to read my numbers posts, as I always get excited when others share such things.

  9. Oh Debbie, I’m so surprised to see you bought more jewellery after decluttering loads just a while ago! I realise it’s all different stuff but it’s just adding to your haul again. Have you worn all the pieces yet?

    My new mantra is to ask myself when will I wear the new item and if it’s not that week then it doesn’t come home with me.

    I bought lots of knitwear last month from Woolovers, it’s such good quality and value that I bought twice as much as I needed. I then enter shopping with a girlfriend and bought 6 items but took 4 back. I bought those because she said they made me look younger and edgy but in truth it wasn’t really my style and I felt uncomfortable.

    • I love your new mantra, Saltbox. We often buy things for possible occasions or “just in case,” rather than for our actual lives. Your question will help to mitigate that. Congrats on returning the items that weren’t your style. Shopping with friends can be dangerous, as they tend to push us more toward things that are THEIR style rather than ours. I’ve had to watch out for that, too.

      About the jewelry, I have to be honest and say that they were all pretty much impulse buys. I wasn’t shopping for jewelry but saw things I liked and bought them. No, I haven’t worn any of them yet. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t have passed your new mantra, would I? I think I am still just compelled to buy things and find ways to justify to myself that it’s okay to do so. With the jewelry, it was, “I don’t have anything similar at home,” but that didn’t mean that I NEEDED any of it. I made some progress in that it wasn’t just more of the same, but my purchases weren’t DELIBERATE. I didn’t go on a specific hunt for such pieces. Time will tell if they were good buys or now, but I’m going to keep your mantra in mind when I’m shopping in the future!

      • Debbie, I am so happy with the way you reacted to Saltbox’s comment on the jewelry. I was thinking the same thing. Why add things, when you have just purged so much? But I am so pleased with your reaction. You do not seem to feel ‘attacked’ as I know you might have felt in the past, even though it is not an attack! More progress, go Debbie 🙂

      • Thanks so much, Jessica. I always consider the feedback and challenges I am given by readers and I often learn from it. I try not to feel attacked because I know that actual mean comments are few and far between here (and I am very grateful for that). I think that my recent jewelry buys highlight a few things: that I need to shop with a list and be very purposeful and conscious about what I’m buying and I need to work harder on cultivating new interests and other ways of dealing with stress and negative emotions. I’m learning all the time and the input I get from readers is instrumental in my growth and recovery!

      • I would have been mortified if I thought for one minute I had insulted you Debbie! I trust you know I’m on your side 🙂

        Your response to my concern about the jewellery tells me that you’re really trying hard and that sometimes things slip but mostly you’ve come a really long way. I’m proud of you and every now and again it’s good to question your behaviour.

        Jessica, it made me smile that you were thinking the same about the new purchases. Debbie can’t write an accountability post without her readers thinking ‘hmmm, why did she do that I wonder?’ x

      • One thing I’ve developed recently with the impulse buys is to think in your head you’re going wherever you think you’ll wear something. Then think of you favorite thing that you normally would grab. If you won’t grab this new thing over that one it will never be worn.

      • I like that all of you help to keep me accountable, Saltbox! Sometimes I need that little nudge to get me to admit that I’m still engaging in bad behavior. I definitely know that you’re on my side, so no worries there.

        Great tip, Anon! I think that if many of us use this tip all the time, we’ll really buy a lot less. I have often bought things that were very similar to something I already owned. Why have a virtual duplicate when I already have something I love wearing? Thanks for sharing your wisdom here.

  10. As always, Debbie, your accountability posts prove so interesting to read and are so inspiring to me to check out my own numbers for the month. I did start off the month with a shopping binge, which I regret immensely but am trying not to focus on. I did a lot of online shopping, something that I’ve realized is not a good idea for me personally. I made some impulse purchases on sites with no return policy (NEVER a good idea, obviously wasn’t using my brain!) so now I have a couple of pieces that I don’t really like. I’m going to try to style them different ways in an attempt to make them useful. Anyway, by the end of the month I had done a lot of introspection and managed to make it through Black Friday without going too crazy. Got a great new pair of black pants for work (very needed!!). I didn’t have a set budget, but had been saving for a few months (just hadn’t had the urge to buy anything over the summer) so I blew right through that and then fudged the numbers a bit so I had a few more dollars than I should have allotted. Luckily I was able to stop myself before the binge got too out of hand…also took four bags of clothes to Goodwill and managed to sell a skirt on eBay so at least I have an organized and compact wardrobe right now!

    I think the biggest breakthrough for me was finally realizing that with overshopping, there isn’t ever going to be a point where I think “I have everything I need!” There’s no set point where I have just the right amount of clothes and the desire to shop just POOF! disappears. Realizing that helped me to see that this is a problem I need to attack more head-on than I have been. I also analyzed a lot of my purchases and came to some great conclusions (i.e. defined my personal style FINALLY, figured out that most of my hits are found in-store and not online, and figured out a work “uniform” so that I am not just buying random items that don’t work in my wardrobe. So overall, the out-of-control beginning of the month yielded some good things for my future ongoing recovery. I feel a lot more in control and at peace at the moment. I also do want to move towards shopping more seasonally so it’ll be fun to follow you on that journey and try to emulate it myself!

    Thanks again for making this a friendly forum to talk about our shopping issues. It is so very helpful to me and I’m sure to everyone else who has found solace here. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing about your shopping and realizations, Ry. It sounds like you learned a lot over the past month! I’m glad you have been able to see the silver lining in what started off as a bad month. You’ve really made some powerful realizations that I feel will be helpful to you in the future.

      You are so right that overshoppers don’t ever think, “I have everything I need.” If we ever did think that, we’d have to deal with our emotional issues in another way. Shopping for many of us is like food, gambling, or drugs for other people. It’s the way we deal with what is bothering us in life, the way we “check out.” We have to address our issues head on and find more productive ways of coping. Easier said than done and I will be focusing more on that in the coming year!

  11. I think we are different temperamentally, so this may not work for you or others….but, here it is. I tend to be a “saver” and “save” my budget for December and January. Perhaps you can “roll over” excess from the early months of the year and spend more in December, when there are so many tempting offers.

    • I develop an annual clothes plan and budget and work from there. I don’t use a monthly budget because it gives me “permission” to shop more frequently than I need to. Also by planning on an annual basis, I can splurge on a few large purchases or spend seasonally but always with the idea that everything I buy has to work with stuff I already have. so if I need to replace a winter coat (big ticket item) I stay out of the stores (real or virtual) the rest of the year — and maybe for 2 years.

      I am trying not to be jealous of the fact that Debbie can wear sandals in November.

    • How wonderful to be a “saver,” Frugalscholar. I am not naturally that way, as you’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn and adapt. I definitely think it would be better for me to save more of my budget to spend in certain months of the year. I had intended to do that this year, but I failed. Time to try again…

      Dottie, I can see the value in an annual budget over a monthly one. I wanted to do that this year, but my husband was hesitant (with good reason given my track record). I may opt for quarterly over monthly in 2015 as a compromise. We’ll see… As for wearing sandals in November, that’s not typical, even here (October, yes, but usually not November). We’ve had a very warm year.

  12. As always I love your accountability posts Debbie! I agree with others that it’s super helpful to hear your thought process about buying and purging clothes. Love your new jewelry pieces, particularly the green earrings. Thanks for the heads up about Jewels for Hope. I’d never heard of it and I may have a few pieces for them.

    I was supposed to be on a shopping hiatus from July 1 – Dec 31. Total fail for me. I did well initially but then I started reading blogs and looking online and that was it. Somehow I also got into the mindset when buying xmas gifts that it should be “1 for you, 1 for me.” I didn’t buy much but what I did buy was expensive. I’ve been looking for at least 3 years for a pair of waterproof, low-heel, warm, comfortable ankle boots. I found and purchased a pair of $350 La Canadienne ankle boots that fit the bill and I adore them. We don’t get too much snow where I live but do have some rainy spells and my most comfy shoes before these boots were suede. I did take these boots to a cobbler and had heel taps placed because I tend to wear down the outside heel quickly. These were so expensive I want to take exceptionally good care of them so I can wear them for years. They will be a good ROI. I also bought a Missoni scarf for $180 because my entire color palette is represented, it’s 100% wool and gorgeous. Have already worn it a lot. Did I need it? Absolutely not. I’m trying to only buy things I truly love and the scarf is something I loved the moment I saw it. Also bought (finally something on sale) a cardigan and 2 basic tank tops in my colors. They were a hole in my wardrobe which is now filled. I’m unhappy that I couldn’t stick to my guns about the shopping hiatus but I’m happy with what I did buy.

    • I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself about the failed shopping hiatus, Kim. The way I see it is that you bought less than you would have otherwise and you made smarter decisions. It sounds like you did well with your purchases and learn some things along the way. Looks like a win in my book. Shopping hiatuses work really well for some people and not as well for others. We are all different. I haven’t done well with shopping hiatuses myself, but Jill Chivers did amazing with it. We all have to figure out what works best for us and it will likely vary over time. I hope you’re enjoying your new items, which all sound great. I love Missoni scarves and I’m sure yours is beautiful. How fortunate to have it represent your whole color palette!

    • I haven’t any experience with shopping breaks, so pardon me for jumping in. And I don’t want to encourage you to overspend or thwart your goals, which are admirable.

      Now, with all those caveats out of the way–WAY TO GO Kim! What you did was exactly the kind of shopping that will pay off for you long term. Getting those one or two perfect items means that you will probably be happy with them for a long time and not find yourself pining over them and trying to make yourself feel better by buying so-so substitutes. And getting quality basics in your colors will extend those special pieces in many many ways.

      So while the timing may have been lousy for you, you seem to be doing a great job of adding only those things that are thought-through, needful, and give you delight. Bravo!

      • I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote, Amy. I concur that Kim has made a lot of excellent progress. I know that whenever I take the leap and buy pricier items that I truly love, I’m not sorry. It’s those cheap items that I think are “good deals” that are most often problematic. I agree that Kim should pat herself on the back for her positive changes!

  13. Debbie:

    You seem to have made a lot of progress. I am wondering, however, why you are still buying quite a lot and quite often.

    I am in similar situation, in fact. My addiction is ebay and I spent most of my clothing money on ebay. I am getting to a point that I no longer enjoy it, yet I am still drawn to the thrill of finding something nice for a cheap price. I bought three used items over the past two months from ebay, which is a significantly lower number compared to previous months. I was unhappy with one item, that makes 33% failure rate for the two months (usually it is about 10% for the whole year). It was something that I did not need, and $13 that I did not need to spend.

    I have a full time professional job that is very stressful. I use internet shopping as a way to relax. Now I am realizing there are so many other ways to relax, that does not require spending and accumulating. My closet is so full, I am running out of hangers. I usually put clothes that I have worn for the week in one area to be steamed at the end of the week. It is amazing to see how small this pile is as compared to the rest of my wardrobe. I probably have enough clothes to not to repeat outfits for 6 months.

    I am struggling as you are. I try intermittent fast from shopping and it helps. I think maybe the trick is to direct my attention to something else, I have many other interests. Shopping is just the easiest thing to do and maybe the hardest to give up.

    • Welcome, Lynn, and thanks for your comment. As for why I’m still buying so much and so often, it sounds like you understand why since you’re in a similar situation. We may have different lives, but we both use shopping as a way to relax and escape. I have other reasons for doing it, as I’m sure you do, too. I think that cultivating new interests and finding other ways to cope with life’s stresses is key. I am still working on that and didn’t progress as much as I’d hoped to this year. I really need to find other things that are as compelling for me as shopping. I tell myself I need the things I buy, but in many instances, I don’t and would be totally fine without them. At least half of what I bought last month could have easily remained in the store, if not more. I needed the pants and loved the jacket. I’ve already worn the red top and think I’ll wear it a lot, but I’m not so sure about everything else. I’m still a recovering shopaholic and I’m still learning. I wish you the best for the rest of the year and in 2015.

  14. I bought one shirt in November, and if I don’t buy anything in December (which I don’t anticipate doing) I will be about 8% over my spending target for the year. I go through periods of not being very interested in shopping or what’s in the stores and I think this happens to be one of them. I actually bought the shirt mentioned above in mid-October – it took forever to ship – and I haven’t seen a single thing I’m interested in since then. So while I’m pleased I came so close to my target spending goal it wasn’t thanks to personal restraint or anything other than dissatisfaction over what’s available in stores.

    These monthly posts, along with the comments they get, are one of my favorite features on the blog. I’m sorry to hear that they’re tedious for you to write; I do hope they’ll continue next year! But, I’m with Dottie…this is the time of year where I have to skip over the “What I Wore” section of these posts because your tanks and sandals make me resent my snow boots and sweaters just a little bit more than I already do. 🙂

    • I’m glad you like these posts, Sara, and thank you for sharing your progress and insights. I think you should still feel proud of yourself for how well you’ve done for the year. I can understand the dissatisfaction with what’s in the stores, though, as I go through that myself (although I sometimes try too hard to find something I like because I feel compelled to buy).

      I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that these posts are tedious to write! I guess I’m just struggling this week to try to get all of the edits done on my book and was dismayed at how long the post took to finish. I’m glad that people get a lot out of these posts and I learn a great deal, too, from writing them. I will likely continue the accountability posts in 2015, although I may change the format a bit. I didn’t mean to boast about the tanks and sandals – sorry! I can’t usually wear such things in November, but the weather was wacky this year. When you have warm weather in May, feel free to tell me all about it, as we have “May Gray” and “June Gloom” here and I will still be wearing jackets and close-toed shoes 🙂

  15. November was an expensive month for me, clothing-wise. I spent $677 on 14 pieces. The pieces consisted of: two pairs of tropical wool dress pants (Ann Taylor), three cashmere sweaters (Talbots), four casual tops (Talbots & LOFT), three long-sleeve workout T-shirts (Gap), a pair of leggings (LOFT), and a silk/cashmere scarf (Nordstrom). Everything but the scarf was 50% off. Given the quality and longevity of the nicer items (pants, sweaters and scarf), I think I did well for the money I spent.

    Like you, I keep track of everything I wear and everything I purchase. I tally each month’s purchases, then track quarterly and finally, annually. In 2014 I spent $2,887 for 75 items (includes pieces such as tanks and T-shirts, but not undergarments or shoes). I bought only one bag for about $150 (at the Kate Spade Outlet) and no jewelry. In 2013 I spent $3,761 for 86 pieces, and in 2012 I spent $5,417 for 115 pieces. As you can tell, my annual expenditures and pieces acquired are decreasing. I am very proud of this fact. It is my goal to keep this up.

    I donate regularly, but do not have a final count of items donated for the year. It is probably 100 or more items.

    • I appreciate your sharing your accountability here, Maddie. It sounds like you did quite well in November for the money you spent. Perhaps like me, you need to budget more money to spend at the holiday sales, especially if you do well with your shopping there. You are doing a great job at decreasing your spending over the past three years and I’m glad you feel proud of yourself for your great progress. How wonderful that you’ve been able to pare down your wardrobe so much this year, too. Interesting that you do quarterly tallies as well as monthly and yearly. I’ll have to try that and see what I come up with for the past few years. That will help me to better plan my spending in 2015. Keep up the great work!

  16. Wow, this is great to see. I really need to do monthly accountability! I hoard receipts so if I do a gut check at the end of the month it’s not too late to return things. November was a real backslide month for me. I turned a legitimate need, holes in both my pairs of jeans as an excuse to buy 4 replacement pairs, which led to 3 t shirts, a sweatshirt, 2 sweaters, several pairs of underwear, a bra, new shoes and a pair of boots. So I am on the wagon and focused on end of the year purging in December! Thank goodness I am done with my holiday shopping and I can avoid the sales and ads. Thanks for the tip about giving away jewelry, I have a lot of stuff I have kept only for lack of knowing how to get rid of it.

    • I appreciate your honesty, Misty. Being honest about backsliding is an important first step in turning it around. I think it’s great that you hold on to your receipts and try to return things that you haven’t used by the end of the month. It’s always been my intention to return things I haven’t worn after a month, but I don’t always do it. Maybe you can set a time at the end of each month to review the receipts AND do an accounting of what you bought and why. I know that doing the accountability updates really helps to keep me honest and questioning my behavior, and it will likely do the same for you. Best wishes for your end of the year purge. Good for you for being done with holiday shopping and not having to visit the stores!

  17. I like reading your monthly recaps, even if for you they are tedious.
    I bought a dress and a sweater in Nov, for a total of about 60€. It’s very easy for me this year to avoid overspending, since a newborn doesn’t leave much time for shopping…
    I am meditating on letting go of two pairs of jeans I no longer like (husband doesn’t like them either on me!), but I keep just in case I need to wear jeans and all the others are in the laundry – which is pretty much impossible! And I got rid of a dress that no longer fits me – hope it fits my sister.

    • I’m glad you like these updates, Chiara. I kind of wish I hadn’t written the “tedious” part, as I don’t always feel that way. I’m happy to do the updates if they help other people, plus they help me, too. I know it’s hard to get rid of things and for some reason pants/jeans can be pretty tough. I have some jeans I really should get rid of, too, but I want to make sure I’m really happy with my newer ones first. Perhaps move the jeans to a sort of “holding zone” for a month or two and let them go if you find you never reach for them.

  18. I spent more than I planned to in November also. I got 4 necklaces, a black top, a black and tan blouse, a taupe cardigan, a grey sweater with 2 birds on it, a black short sleeve dress, and a grey short sleeve dress. I spent 426.88 so that leaves me with 139.00 or less to spend in December if I’m going to make my budget for the year. I made a number of mistakes in what I bought this year and bought more things than I needed, but overall I’ve seen solid improvement every year since I have been trying to reduce my shopping.

    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, Tonya. I always feel less alone when are others are accountable each month, too. You are doing well for the year overall, Tonya. I think your last sentence is what’s most important. As long as we continue to improve, we’re on the right path! Our shopping didn’t get out of control overnight, so it won’t turn around immediately, either. In the almost two years since I started this blog, I know I’ve made a lot of progress. Sometimes I get frustrated that things aren’t happening faster, but slow and steady changes tend to be the most lasting overall. Best of luck with meeting your budget for the year! We’re both cutting it close, but we can do it.

    • Thanks, Stacey. I hope others will donate to Jewels of Hope, too, as they are doing very good work. I will probably find more things to pass on to them in the coming months.

  19. Black Friday was a disaster for me, I completely went overboard and have been struggling to come to terms with this lapse in judgement for the past 2 weeks. But as they say , tomorrow is another day, and I am resolved to do better going forward. I like your idea of both dollar and item limits and plan to implement both of them in the coming year. I spent way too much money and mental energy on shopping in the past year and I want 2015 to be very different.

    • I have been in your shoes many times, Tara, and I know how it feels to reflect on overspending and feeling out of control. But I think your attitude of looking FORWARD instead of backward is a good one. You can’t change what is past, but you can learn from it. Setting goals and rules for myself has been very helpful, so I highly recommend it. Of course, your goals and rules will likely be different from mine and that’s okay. One thing I do suggest, though, is that you not overreach in either area. Try to make progress, but remember that you didn’t get to where you are overnight. It will take time to turn things around, but you can do it. I wish you the very best of luck!

  20. Hi Debbie – I discovered your blog about a week ago through Mo (one of my on-line friends!) and I’ve been skimming over your posts this past week. I must say that I am so inspired by the process that you are going through and very impressed with your ability to so succinctly express what many people experience in their relationship with their clothes, shopping, self-esteem, body image, etc.

    I have been feeling very convicted lately to start paying attention to, as well as to face the monsters that lurk just under the surface of my own behaviors and feelings around shopping and spending. My toughest battle so far has been to actually take inventory of everything that is currently in my closet! It is overwhelming to me just to open the doors, let alone to actually record everything that is in there. I feel as though I am a long ways away from being able to do what you just did in your most current post by actually keeping track, recording, and figuring out the why’s of what I have bought and/or purged. I understand the importance of going doing it, so it’s not a matter of needing to convince myself that it might be helpful to me. At this point it is more just about the sheer quantity of items in my wardrobe and the actual time it would take to go through all of it! I think that the fact that I would rather just get rid of a lot of the “stuff” (rather than feeling the anxiety that I would feel when looking at and recording each piece individually) is a strong signal that something is not right with my clothes shopping and spending habits! May I ask, did you feel this in the beginning – and if so, how did you deal with the anxiety, the shame, the guilt, etc. around it?

    Thank you Debbie!

    • Welcome, Marley, and thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you’re finding my posts inspiring and helpful. In answer to your question, yes I felt anxiety, shame, and guilt around my shopping and wardrobe and I still get those feelings. How I have dealt with it isn’t a simple answer, but I’ll do my best to encapsulate it here. I think it’s important to try to be as kind, gentle, and forgiving with ourselves as we would be for a loved one. Feeling terrible about ourselves does not help us to change. I beat myself up for years about my shopping behavior and a whole host of others things. That didn’t help me to change. It only led to more of the same. I still can be hard on myself, but I am trying to look more at the good instead of the bad. We have to remember that we didn’t get to where we are overnight and that it will take some time to change our behavior. Many of us who overshop have a lot of emotional things driving it, so it’s more complex than just, “Shop less often.”

      I think you need to proceed slowly and take things one day at a time. If doing a full inventory feels too daunting (it would have been for me back when I had 500+ items, which was a couple of years before I started the blog), start with just one category. Or start using “the hanger trick,” whereby you turn the hangers around on things after you wear them. You can also re-hang pieces you’ve worn on the left side of your closet. Either of these methods will help to give you a visual representation of what you are actually wearing. In time, it will become easier to let other things go. Consigning items can sometimes be helpful, as you will be able to recoup a portion of what you spent. If you have a lot of higher-end designer pieces, the amount you can receive will be higher.

      I think that having even one person with whom you can be completely honest about your behavior and feelings can be very helpful. Some people don’t have that, so they use the comments section of my blog to be open and honest. We all understand and it helps us to feel less alone when we share with each other. It’s also a safe place because most people aren’t using their full or real names (except me, of course). Writing this blog has been very cathartic for me. I like that I am no longer hiding and that has helped with the guilt and shame. Also, taking even baby steps to turn things around has helped me to feel less anxious, guilty, and shameful. Perhaps you can set very small steps to take each week or month that will add up over time.

      I hope this has been helpful. If you have more questions, feel free to ask. Not only will I answer, but others probably will as well. We are here to help and it’s been incredibly rewarding for me to help other compulsive shoppers to change their behavior. I still make mistakes, but fewer than I did before. It’s a journey with lots of ups and downs, but it can and does get better!

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