Have you ever told yourself that you’re going to stop spending money on clothes, then you suddenly see a cute dress online that would be perfect for summer and you just have to buy it?
Oh look — it’s on sale too. And this dress is going to look so good with those sandals you bought last week? It’s pretty much a sign that you need to grab it. Am I right?
Despite your best efforts to save money and get your spending under control, it just seems to happen. You’ve spent more money than you wanted to. Oops!
Don’t beat yourself up. It happens to many of us. From a young age, we are taught to be consumers. It’s all around us: on the TV, social media, and the material stuff you need for everyday life.
This can make it difficult to resist the urge to spend money on clothes, especially when shopping has become the socially “acceptable” addiction.
But if your love for shopping is causing financial distress, problems at work, relationship difficulties, or feelings of depression and anxiety, it’s time to make change.
Not sure if you or a loved one is addicted to shopping? Here are some common signs to look out for:
- You hide your purchases and spending from loved ones
- You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet
- You often buy things you didn’t need or didn’t plan to buy
- You buy items you didn’t need simply because they were on sale (For example, bargain shoppers)
- You experience a rush of excitement when you buy
- You regret purchases or feel guilty once you get home
- You shop when you’re feeling depressed or after an argument to boost your mood
- You’re a collector and don’t feel complete until you have every piece of a set (For example, many women love collecting Rae Dunn pottery)
- You want others to think you’re a big spender and to show off flashy items
- You’re spending more money than you can afford (I can’t afford these new shoes, but f*ck it, I NEED it! I deserve it!)
It’s easy to think that having a shopping addiction is not a big deal or you may tell yourself, “it’s not as bad as drugs”. But if you’re spending behavior is causing a financial burden in your life and you’re struggling to regain control of your money, then this is an addiction.
I used to think my shopping addiction was harmless, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Even though a shopaholic’s habits may appear irrational to an outsider, it’s not. Those with an addiction to shopping believe that they are entirely rational and they are shopping for a reason – usually to fulfill a need.
It’s not easy to self-analyze ourselves, and sometimes we do require professional assistance. However, understanding the psychological need that’s driving the urge to shop can help you overcome your addiction. This means you need to determine the root cause of your shopping habit.
For me, it was because I was unhappy and had low self-esteem. I bought products to make me feel better about myself, such as clothes, shoes, and handbags. I was uninspired by my job and didn’t have any goals for myself.
Then one day, I reached my breaking point and made a solid commitment to change my life. I set a big goal for myself to save money to go back to school, which meant I had no choice but to get my spending under control.
That’s when I started experimenting with different strategies to stop spending money on clothes. Here’s a list of the best ways to help you kick the shopping habit!
- What I learned from not buying clothes for a year
- 7 ways to stop impulse spending
- 10 ways to save money fast
1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails / Delete all shopping apps
This was the hardest step for me. I loved being subscribed to all my favorite retailers because I wanted to be the first to know about new products and sales.
But if you find yourself being tempted to spend money every time a sales email pops up in your inbox, then it’s time to click “unsubscribe”. I recommend unsubscribing from ALL retailer emails to avoid the urge to impulse spend. This also includes deleting any shopping apps you have on your phone.
2. Take inventory of your closet
Have you ever opened your closet and felt like you have nothing to wear? Even though many shopaholics have an overflowing wardrobe, it can still feel like they have nothing to wear, which causes them to buy more stuff.
If you have a cluttered or disorganized wardrobe (like I used to have), it can actually cost you money. I would often buy new clothes and not realize that I already owned something similar. This is because my closet used to be a mess and when items are out of sight, they’re out of mind.
Taking inventory of your closet is the best way to discover what you already own, and to clear out items you don’t wear anymore. To help you get started, you can grab my printable Wardrobe Declutter cheat sheet here. Or you can create your own.
Step 1: Remove Everything
Yes, this means you need to take everything out of your closet (including clothing in your drawers, under your bed, and any other spots you’re hiding clothes).
Step 2: Try on Everything
Depending on the size of your wardrobe, this can take a couple of hours. As you try each item on, ask yourself “how does this item make me feel?”. If it fits well, looks nice on you, and makes you feel good, then keep it.
If an item doesn’t make you feel good, then consider donating or selling it.
Another question to ask is, “if I were shopping right now, would I buy this item?” If you answer “yes”, then keep it. If you answer “no”, then consider donating or selling it.
The goal of this step is to help you see what you own, which items you enjoy wearing, and which items you can get rid of.
By getting rid of items you no longer wear, need, or love, it gives you a chance to feel good about the items you choose to keep. Decluttering teaches you how to be more decisive when choosing what to wear each day, and in other areas of your life too.
Read Next: How to build a wardrobe you love
3. Create a budget
I know creating a budget can be overwhelming, but it’s the BEST way to change your spending habits.
Why? Because budgeting is simply the process of creating a plan of how to spend and save your money.
Without a spending plan in place, it’s going to be hard to improve your spending habits and reach your goals, such as paying off debt. When you create a spending plan, this lets you know in advance whether you’ll have enough money to do the thing you need or want to do.
When I was trying to stop spending money on clothes, creating a budget was the best way for me to feel more confident with my finances.
To get started, you can grab a copy of my printable Budget Binder here. It’s available for purchase or you can create your own budget worksheets.
New to budgeting? No worries. You can follow my step-by-step guide here to help you create a budget and stick to it.
4. Force yourself to wait
Resisting the urge to impulse spend is not easy. And it feels even worse when you buy something unplanned and it ends up sitting in your closet collecting dust.
Not only do we feel buyer’s remorse when we get home, but that purchase costs us money that didn’t fit into our budget.
To prevent impulse spending, here’s an easy solution: Force yourself to wait before making a purchase.
This means every time you want to buy something (these are impulse wants), put it on a list with today’s date and make yourself to wait a certain amount of time before purchasing it.
For example, I usually make myself wait at least six months. If six months seems too long, then make yourself wait at least two weeks. You know yourself best, so choose an appropriate waiting period for you.
Many times the urge to buy this item will pass and you can just cross it off the list.
After your “waiting period” has passed and you still want that particular item, then consider finding the most cost-effective way to buy it.
I’ve been following this rule for a few years now and it’s helped me save so much money. It also makes me more intentional about the purchases I make.
5. Wash your clothes properly
I know many of us dislike doing laundry. I used to fall into this group too.
But once I learned how to properly wash my clothes, it’s helped me save money, time, and makes my clothes last longer. Doing laundry doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. Now I see it as a way to give my clothes extra love and appreciation.
Here are some tips for washing your clothes:
- Read the label
I know it sounds obvious, but many of us forget to read the label on how to care for our garments. Or worse, we remove the tag before reading it! Knowing if something is dry-clean only or needs to be washed on the delicate cycle is important for making your clothes last longer.
- Use a delicates bag
When I first started doing laundry, I learned the hard way that some items need to be washed in a delicates bag. These mesh bags help protect delicate fabrics in the wash, such as intimates.
- Wash your clothes less often
I know this sounds gross and I’m not suggesting you wear dirty clothes. The idea here is to only wash something that is visibly dirty or smells. For example, wearing a sweater layered over a shirt or tank top can probably be worn a few times (as long as it doesn’t smell). This will help your clothes last longer.
- Use the right amount of detergent
Using too much detergent can make your clothes more dull and stiff. It can also discolor your clothes or leave a residue on them, which isn’t good.
- Use the right water temperature
Always use the coolest water temperature possible when washing dark clothing. This is because hot water can fade dark colors faster and cause more dye bleeding than cold water.
6. Choose a color scheme you love and stick to it
A major insight I noticed when taking inventory of my closet is that I rarely wore my bright-colored items. Instead I tended to gravitate towards neutral colors, such as black, white, and grey.
Understanding what colors look best on you and make you feel good can be a huge time and money saver.
First, you’ll save time when getting dressed in the morning because it will be easier to mix and match outfits. And second, you’ll save money because you won’t be tempted to buy that hot pink jacket at the store, only to realize you have nothing to wear with it when you return home.
Don’t want to choose a color scheme? If you feel that sticking to a color scheme is too restrictive, then follow the rule of three instead. This means you only buy something if you can mix and match it with three items of clothing you already own. Following this rule can help you spend less money on clothes.
Read Next: How to create a capsule wardrobe
7. Borrow clothes from family and friends
For shopaholics, it feels natural to buy new clothes for every event or occasion.
For example, I used to buy several new outfits whenever I was going on vacation. I convinced myself that it was necessary and I was being rational.
But the thing is, these thoughts weren’t rational at all.
Now before vacations or special events, I shop my closet or borrow clothing from family and friends. If I’m not able to find what I need there, then I’ll consider purchasing a new outfit, provided that I can see myself wearing it for years to come.
If you feel the urge to spend money on clothing, consider hosting a swap with friends. Clothing swaps can be a lot of fun and it’s a great way to recycle and give items new life.
8. Only buy items that match your lifestyle
Sometimes it feels like we have nothing to wear because our current wardrobe doesn’t match our lifestyle.
For example, when I made the transition from college to an office job, I needed to update my wardrobe to reflect this new lifestyle.
To get the most out of your closet, you’ll want to think about how often you engage in certain activities vs. what items you have in your wardrobe. For example, do you have a lot of activewear in your closet, but you rarely exercise or participate in sports? Then you may want to consider donating or selling these items.
Clothing companies are also really good at convincing us that we need certain items in our wardrobe. For example, I bought a beige trench coat because I remember reading an article in a magazine that said it’s a “necessary staple item” in every woman’s wardrobe.
The funny things is, I hated the way trench coats looked on me. And every time I wore it, I couldn’t wait to get home and take it off! What a waste of money!
Now I only buy items that complement my lifestyle. This helps me avoid getting distracted by things that don’t fit my current life.
9. Use cash back apps
If you NEED to buy something, I recommend using a cash back app such as Ebates. This is my favorite cash back app and the one I use the most when shopping. It’s free to use and you’ll even get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up today.
Keep in mind this is not an excuse to spend money on clothes. Only shop if you need something and it fits within your budget.
Ebates currently has a TrustScore rating of 8.4/10 on Trust Pilot, which makes them one of the highest rated cash back websites.
Ebates saves you money by following this simple business model: when you shop through Ebates, stores will pay Ebates a commission. Ebates then splits this commission with you, in the form of cash back. It’s a win-win for everyone!
How to claim your free $10
- Sign Up for Free: Click here to join Ebates.
- Shop Through Ebates.com: Find your favorite store on Ebates next time you need to buy something. Click “Shop Now” and shop like normal on the store website. You’ll need to spend at least $25 on your first purchase within 90 days.
- Get Paid: Your Ebates account will be credited with cash back. Get this cash sent to a PayPal account or receive a check from Ebates. Cash back payments are sent every three months.
For Canadian shoppers, you can click here to sign up for Ebates (free $5 welcome bonus).
10. Try the no new clothing challenge
If you’ve been trying to stop spending money on clothes, but are still struggling with your shopping triggers, then you might need to ditch shopping completely.
Going cold turkey isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary if you want to change your poor spending habits. In this case, I recommend doing the no new clothing challenge for 30 days. The rules are simple: don’t buy any clothing, shoes, or accessories for an entire 30 days (or longer).
I did the no new clothing challenge for a full year. It was tough, especially in the beginning, but I truly believe it’s the reason I’m no longer addicted to shopping. You can read more about my experience doing the no new clothing challenge here.
PRO TIP: Keep yourself motivated by tracking your process. Grab my free printable No New Clothing Challenge sheet below!