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? The universe is giving you a clear sign that you need to grab it. Right?
Despite your best efforts to stop buying clothes and get your spending under control, it just seems to happen. You’ve spent too much money on clothes again… 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 probably a good time to make change.
If you want to learn more about how to overcome a shopping problem, check out my free audio training.
Signs you might be spending too much money on clothes:
- 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 fashionable and to show off designer goods
- 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 spending money on clothes is not a big deal or you may tell yourself, “it’s not as bad as drugs or other addictions”.
But if emotional spending is causing a financial burden in your life and you’re struggling to regain control of your money, then this might be a good time to get back on track.
You can do this!
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 or void in their life.
It’s not easy to self-analyze ourselves, and sometimes we require professional assistance. However, understanding the psychological need that’s driving the urge to shop can help you learn how to stop buying clothes.
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 was tired of wasting money on clothes. That’s when I 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 learn how to stop shopping for clothes. For more guidance, check out my new e-book, The Intentional Spender.
Here’s a list of the best ways to help you kick the shopping habit and stop spending money on unnecessary things.
- I can’t stop spending money on clothes – 5 ways to stop shopping
- How to stop impulse buying for good
- How to stop buying clothes you never wear
Try the no new clothing challenge
How to stop buying clothes
The quickest and most effective way to stop spending money on clothes is to go cold turkey.
This means no online shopping, no window shopping, no browsing stores to pass the time, and no scrolling through shopping apps to see what’s new. You won’t be tempted to get that new dress if you didn’t know it exists.
I can appreciate that going cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone though. If you prefer, start by doing a low-buy month or a no-spend weekend.
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.
Read Next: How to do a low-buy year successfully
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.
This step is one of the easiest ways to help you stop spending money on clothes.
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.
PRO TIP: To help you get better mileage from your wardrobe, I’ve created this free 30-Day Shop Your Closet Challenge.
Each day (for 30 days) you can follow the different prompts to help you put together new and exciting outfit combinations. The best part is, this challenge is completely free to do. You’ll be using items you already have!
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. This can help you stop spending money on clothes.
To help you get started, you can grab my printable Wardrobe Declutter checklist 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: 6 steps to declutter your clothes
Create a budget
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.
If you want to stop spending money on clothes, creating a plan for your money is the first step in taking responsibility for your finances.
You can use a budgeting app or a pen and paper to help you create a budget. I like to use this printable Budget Planner. Writing everything down helps keep me accountable.
These are the same budgeting worksheets I used to help me break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, stop buying unnecessary things, and save my first $100,000 in my twenties. If you’re interested, you can grab them here.
It includes everything you need to help take the stress out of budgeting so you can save more money and live a life you love!
New to budgeting? Check out my free step-by-step guides to help you create a budget that works for your lifestyle.
- How to make a zero-based budget (Great for those who get paid once a month)
- How to budget when you get paid bi-weekly (Great for those who get paid twice a month)
- 50/30/20 budget rule (Great for those who like to budget by percentages)
If going cold turkey isn’t a viable option for you, try setting a weekly (or monthly) clothing budget for yourself. Use cash envelopes to make it easy.
You won’t feel deprived because you can still go shopping, you’ll save money, and it’ll prevent you from overspending.
For example, you can set a clothing budget of $50 per month, depending on your financial goals.
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 Shopping Wish 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 stop spending money on clothes. It also makes me more intentional about the purchases I make.
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.
- I like using this natural laundry detergent.
- 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.
Read Next: 20 ways to make your clothes last longer
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.
If you’re not sure which colors and clothing items look best on you, invite your fashionable friend over. Ask them to help you create outfits with items you already have.
Or check Pinterest for outfit inspiration. Even if you don’t have the exact item in the photo, try to use what you already have to recreate the outfit.
This can help you save time when getting dressed in the morning because it will be easier to mix and match outfits.
You’ll also 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 arrive 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 3 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
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. This can be a great way to stop spending money on clothes.
Check out local thrift stores
If borrowing, swapping, or renting clothes isn’t a good option for you, consider checking out your local thrift store if you need to buy something.
Thrift stores are usually cheaper than regular retail stores and it can be an eco-friendly way to practice sustainable fashion.
However, I encourage you to still set a monthly clothing budget for yourself to avoid overspending. Shopping at thrift stores can become addicting because it feels like a personal treasure hunt since you never know what you’ll find.
Read Next: Why I stopped thrifting – Tips for second hand shopping
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.
Use cash back apps
If you NEED to buy something (and ONLY if you really need to buy something), then I recommend using a cash back app such as Rakuten.
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 actually need something and it fits within your budget.
Rakuten currently has a TrustScore rating of 8.4/10 on Trust Pilot, which makes them one of the highest rated cash back websites.
Rakuten saves you money by following this simple business model: when you shop through Rakuten, stores will pay Rakuten a commission. Rakuten then splits this commission with you, in the form of cash back. It’s a win-win for everyone!
How to earn cashback through Rakuten:
- Sign Up for Free: Click here to join Rakuten.
- Shop Through Rakuten.com: Find your favorite store on Rakuten next time you need to buy something. Click “Shop Now” and shop like normal on the store website.
- Get Paid: Your Rakuten account will be credited with cash back. Get this cash sent to a PayPal account or receive a check from Rakuten. Cash back payments are sent every three months.
For Canadian shoppers, you can click here to sign up for Rakuten (free $5 welcome bonus).
Read Next: 10 best cash back apps to save money when shopping
Beware of these common excuses to justify your purchases
When I use to buy a lot of clothes, I was the Queen of excuses. I could justify almost any purchase, even if I didn’t need the item. Have you caught yourself using any of these excuses?
- “It’s on sale“. – Would you have bought this item if it was full price?
- “It’s so cheap“. – Can you see yourself wearing this item at least 30 times? Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s a good purchase.
- “It’s the trend right now“. – Will you wear this next season?
- “It’s almost pay day“. – Can you afford to pay cash for it today?
- “I just got paid“. – Did you create a plan for your money when you get paid? Did you set a clothing budget that you can afford?
- “I deserve it“. – There are lots of ways to treat yourself without spending money. Transfer the money you would have spent on clothes to your savings account instead.
- “I’ve been so good lately“. – That’s awesome. You’re doing great. Keep it going! Why ruin all the hard work you’ve been doing?
- “I can always return it“. – Chances are you probably won’t return it.
- “I can always resell it“. – You might not be able resell it for as much as you hoped for.
Stop spending money on clothes FAQs
Is it bad to spend money on clothes?
It’s not bad to spend money on clothes, as long as you can afford it while meeting your other financial obligations, it doesn’t cause you to go into debt, and you enjoying using the clothes that you buy.
Spending money on clothes can become problematic when…
- You’re spending all your money on clothes and can’t afford to cover your bills and other essential living costs.
- You feel like you can’t stop buying new clothes and it’s making you feel guilty about your spending.
- You’re buying more clothes than you could possibly wear and many of the items are sitting with the price tag still attached in your closet.
How do I stop thinking about buying clothes?
According to “ironic process theory” in psychology, when you deliberately try to suppress certain thoughts (such as buying clothes), it actually makes them more likely to surface.
So if you want to stop thinking about buying clothes and shoppin, below are some strategies to help with this.
Distract yourself – This is one of the best ways to stop thinking about buying clothes. The key is to find something that requires enough mental or physical energy that can help occupy your mind so won’t be thinking about shopping. This may include physical exercise, dancing, playing an instrument, decluttering your home, engaging in a hobby, or talking to a friend about a different subject.
Journaling – Sometimes it can be helpful to get your thoughts down on paper. This is an opportunity to dig deep and discover why you can’t stop thinking about buying clothes.
- What’s driving you to want to buy clothes?
- What do you fear most if you stop spending money on clothes?
- If the worst-case scenario did happen (your worst fear came true if you didn’t buy new clothes), write down all the reasons why you would still be okay.
- Identify your shopping triggers and how you can find appreciation for the clothes you already have.
Challenge the thought – Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not true and are just the story we tell ourselves. Ask yourself if the thought is meaningful, valid, or necessary.
Practice changing the thought into something that is more useful.
Is it normal to spend a lot of money on clothes?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American women spends nearly $170 per month on clothes. This varies slightly per age group and income bracket, but most women spend at least 5% of their annual salary on clothing.
This number is high because nearly half of all women feel self-conscious about repeating outfits at work and events.
How can I shop for clothes and not spend a lot of money?
- Determine if you actually need to buy new clothes. Questions yourself these questions to help you decide before buying anything.
- Sell items that you don’t wear / use. This is a great way to declutter and make money from clothes that are just taking up space.
- Pause before making a purchase – Think about if you actually need to buy the item or if it’s just a fleeting wish in the heat of the moment.
- Try fixing instead of replacing items.
- Shop at thrift stores to see what’s available before buying new clothes.
- Search for clearance or sale items to save more money. But avoid buying things just because they’re on sale.
How do I train myself to stop spending money?
- Identify your spending triggers.
- Set boundaries to prevent putting yourself in an environment that encourages you to spend money (delete shopping apps, unsubscribe from store emails, avoid going to the mall).
- Switch to a cash budget – Use cash envelopes for problem spending categories. Avoid using your credit card to pay for purchases. People tend to spend less when paying with cash.
- Set short-term money goals for yourself – Think of goals that you can accomplish in one week or one month. This may include saving a specific amount of money, paying off debt, doing a no-spend challenge, or building a starter emergency fund.
- Track your spending – This can help you get a better handle on where your money is going and become more mindful with your purchases.
Introducing: The Intentional Spender
In The Intentional Spender, you’ll learn insider secrets on how to conquer your impulse spending for good. As a former shopaholic, I know all too well how emotions can easily influence your spending.
Studies show that is takes 21 days to form a habit. That’s why I’ve put together this 21-day program to help you form and implement healthy spending habits. This includes shopping with intention, living within your means while still having fun, and feeling comfortable and confident with your personal style.
I don’t believe in depriving yourself or living on a bare bones budget! I believe that you are 100% capable of transforming your mindset by discovering the root cause behind your spending habit and developing a game-plan that actually works.