I’m overwhelmed with stuff! Packages. Boxes. Bags. Trying on. Decisions. Repackaging. Returning. It’s all too much, and I’m quitting…for a month or two. 😉 If you’re committing to a month-long spending freeze, too, I’ve got a bunch of strategies and tips for a successful spending freeze.
Every January, I challenge myself to do a spending freeze on clothing purchases, and then again, in the summer, I do a No-Buy July. I’ve written posts about my reasons and the outcomes of taking a shopping break. I have done a series in the past and saved it in my Instagram Stories for accountability and encouragement for those who joined me on the challenge.
But I’ve never compiled a complete list of the strategies I’ve used to help me make it through when the temptation to “check out now” becomes too strong. Today, I’m sharing some tips, as much for me as for you, because, for as many times as I’ve done this shopping fast, it doesn’t always get easier.
So, if you’re up for the challenge, here are the strategies and tips for a successful spending freeze.
**This post may contain affiliate links that may result in me making a commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you.
Write Down Your Reasons
I’ve written an entire post on why you need to know why you’re embarking on a spending freeze. Whether you’re not spending on clothes or you are not buying anything except necessities, much like a diet, you will be challenged when you’re trying to part with a habit. So writing your reasons down is super important, and keep it in view; it will help when you feel tempted to give in.
Do you have too much stuff and want to stop the influx for a while? Are you trying to save for a vacation? Perhaps it’s bigger than that, and you want to establish better money habits so you can retire early.
Whatever your reasons, don’t be surprised if they change somewhat during this spending freeze and become something much more profound. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
DETERMINE YOUR YES’S
This exercise goes along with the above but will build a foundation for a successful clothes spending freeze.
When I did my first spending freeze, I thought it was all about saving money and not buying clothes, but in the process, God used it to make me aware of where I was placing my priorities. When we have less, God becomes more.
In secular terms, consider that everything we say yes to is a no to something else.
This statement gets me every time so let me repeat it: “Every YES is a NO to something else.”
Perhaps you’re saying yes to more closet space or a more peaceful, uncluttered home. Or you could be saying yes to more savings, financial freedom, or a simplified life.
For me, I’m choosing that simplified life and also more time. When I’m shopping so much, between the try-ons, decision-making, and packing up and shipping stuff back, I have way too much time invested in shopping, and I’d like it back.
What do you want to be saying yes to instead of the stuff?
Use this time to define your style by shopping your closet instead of needing what looks cute on someone else. Focus on this as an exercise of honing in on your style so that when you do start shopping again, you can be more deliberate in what you buy.
What are you reaching for over and over again? Do you feel great in that soft v-neck sweater and jeans? Have you discovered that you never reach for that blazer you had to have? Do you look terrible in peplum tops by great in tees and a cardigan?
Next, use this time to figure out why you’re shopping so much. There’s that WHY again!
Are you bored? Is it avoidance of other issues? Self-esteem issues? Or is it, bigger yet, a shopping addiction?
As you try not to shop, pay attention to what triggers you to want more. Then use that information to find replacements for those triggers.
Okay, all these might be great things, but I did promise you some practical strategies to help you say no to shopping.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SPENDING FREEZE
UNLOAD, DELETE, UNSUBSCRIBE
This is a great time to clean up your phone screen and emails and eliminate the temptation to shop. If you’re a sucker for Facebook ads, delete the app. Want everything a particular influencer is wearing? Delete Instagram.
Clean up your email account and unsubscribe from merchant emails.
Perhaps this sounds a little over the top, but we must GET RID OF TEMPTATION!
This doesn’t have to be a forever thing, but we’ve become an instant gratification society, and we don’t have to wait for anything anymore. We have been trained to have anything and usually get it right now. Like rats at a self-feeder, press the lever, and it’s ours.
But out of sight is out of mind; if we’re not seeing it, it will be easier to wait.
ADD TO CART
This one might be a tiny bit dangerous, but if you can’t stop looking, this is my best strategy, and it can work.
Add what you want to your cart, then walk away. Know that it’s safe and happy in your cart and waiting for you to return at the end of your spending freeze.
There will be a couple of things that can happen during the waiting period:
You might come back, and it will be sold out. Don’t freak out! I like to say that if this happens, it wasn’t meant to be.
But you also might come back and look at the things in your cart and wonder what you were thinking.
Remember the JCP and Sears Christmas catalogs when you were a kid? My brother and I loved when our mom gave it to us and said, “Put a checkmark on everything you want.” We went through it for days, checking things off and dreaming. We rarely got anything from the catalog, maybe one special gift.
But here’s what happened, I would go back through and either not remember picking the things I picked or wonder why I thought it was so great in the first place. The same thing will happen with those things in your cart.
PLAN A REWARD
Think of a way to reward yourself at the end of the challenge; or even every week if that would work better for you. You could reward yourself with a purchase, but I think it’s better to reward yourself with an experience like a manicure or hair blowout. Or, with all the money you saved, go on a weekend getaway.
ALLOW YOURSELF SOMETHING
If you don’t think you can do a complete no-buy month, make a list of the things, you’ll allow yourself to buy. Perhaps it’s something you’ve been looking for for a long time or an actual need.
I have been having terrible issues with my knee, which has led to an issue with my Achilles, so one of my “can buy” items is a particular pair of sneakers IF I get out to try them on in a brick-and-mortar store.
See? I have not only an allowable item but also some guidelines for the shop. That way, I’m not ordering tons to try on at home, which also keeps me from browsing online.
LOOK AT IT AS A GAME
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game” Mary Poppins.
Sometimes a slight change of perspective is all we need to turn something hard into something we look forward to.
- Instead of shopping in stores for this month, set a goal to create as many outfits as you can with your clothes. Put them together and take photos of them so you can remember the.
- This may be the best saved for the month after the spending freeze (or if you can’t commit 100% to a zero-dollar budget), but give yourself a specific dollar amount to spend on clothes for the month and challenge yourself to what you can get without going over.
INTERNAL & ETERNAL WORK
Do it for a deeper reason – Maybe you have realized that shopping is more of a spiritual or emotional battle for you.
I’ll let you in on a secret, much like my Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper addiction, when I try to give up shopping, it becomes a much more spiritual journey than I realize it will look at the outset.
You see, the deepest yearnings of our hearts are for intimacy with God. We’re designed to desire God. We all are born with a God-sized void, and we try to fill it with so much other stuff instead. Yup, even Christians do this.
Don’t get me wrong; stuff isn’t inherently bad. But once we start to fill the void with God, the stuff will come, but it becomes much less important to us.
Listen, this isn’t an all-or-nothing or perfection-based exercise. It’s a journey, so don’t beat yourself up if you try not to buy stuff and end up doing it anyway. Learn something from your mistake and move on.
But I know you can do this; you know why? Because I’m over here having withdrawal symptoms right along with you. But I will employ all these strategies sometime in the next month or so and let God work in me while I rest from the influx of stuff into our home.
Do you have any tips for how you avoid shopping? Let me know in the comments.