‘Cause I’ve stopped wearing them.
JOKE! Quite simply, I don’t need more clothes. But that’s never stopped me before. So why am I stopping now? I’m a thrift store maven and I have a bag of tricks on how to get a good deal at goodwill, but, still. Truth is, I love clothes. Can’t help it. Not going to lie. I love finding thrift store steals and pairing them up with garage sale belts, hand-me down cardigans, and shoes I’ve had since the late ’90s. I’m as frugal a dresser as they come, but still…
Every frugal tip in the world isn’t going to save as much money as simply not buying anything.
Bam. Said it. Yeah, I’ve frugalized my closet and optimized my threads-related expenses, but I was still dropping Benjamins (uh, Jacksons?) at the thrift store every month. I’d stroll in and invariably waltz out with $20-$40 worth of “adorable and necessary” clothes stuffs. Yes, yes, I’d get 5 outfits for that price, but still. When Mr. FW and I buckled up for our acceleration to financial independence earlier this year, I realized that I should put my clothes buying on hiatus. This is a self-imposed ban that I’m proud of sticking to.
To achieve this goal I follow the below process:
1) Do not enter a thrift store.
2) Do not think about entering a thrift store.
I so rarely buy new clothes that there’s no temptation to go into a “new” store. Kohl’s is my only weakness in that arena and fortunately, I’d have to drive way out of my way to get there, so it’s not an issue.
But, What Do I Wear?
Yes, we’ve had work events and special occasions and family gatherings and weddings this year, and we’ll have more before the year is out.
But, here’s the thing: I’ve been to weddings, special occasions, family gatherings, and work events before. Hence, I have clothes for them. I was perfectly fine wearing dresses I’d worn before (one was a re-used bridesmaid dress) to the glorious wedding we went to in May. And frankly, no one at work cares that I wear pretty much the same smart little black dress to every event we have. I mix things up with a different belt or necklace.
Cease the Closet Crowding
I’m all ooo “Do You Really Need That? Don’t be Owned By Your Stuff!” but truth is, I have too many clothes. It’s a fact. They all fit in the closet and drawers; however, I’m far from being pared down to a capsule wardrobe or the simple bear necessities. Yes I said bear necessities–I prefer bear to bare. It’s a personal thing.
In addition to my waryness of closet crowding, I’m also concerned about life crowding. I really do believe that people can be consumed by what they own and overwhelmed by their possessions. I have plenty of clothes and I should focus on donating things I don’t wear, not adding to my collection.
It’s All About the Fringe
Not purchasing new clothes has an unexpected fringe benefit: it’s a great motivator for me to maintain my current weight. My best collection of clothes are my smaller outfits and I really don’t want to have to stop wearing them. Because, it’s happened to me before.
When I was simultaneously a full-time graduate student and working full-time a few years ago, I gained 20 pounds. This might not sound like a lot, but let me tell you, none of my cute clothes fit during that time frame. I was so incredibly stressed that Mr. FW sweetly drove me to Kohl’s and helped me pick out a few larger sized outfits so I wasn’t uncomfortable and self-conscious in my overly-tight pants and dresses.
I knew I was unhealthy (I mean, I’d gained the weight by ceasing exercise and inhaling Oreos and Cheetos while I studied), but I just couldn’t handle it. I was working 9-5 and then going to class from 5:30-9pm or 11pm almost every night of the week and sometimes during the day on the weekends. In short, it was grueling.
I graduated with a free Master’s degree in 2 years since I was employed full-time at the university and they offered free tuition as a benefit. But, honestly, I’m not sure it was worth it.
Mr. FW helped us both lose weight by doing the Couch-to-5K challenge together (highly recommend it for kick-starting a weight loss program) and hiking. Our love of hiking was truly born out of this hyper-stressed period of time. I’m grateful for that, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone else try it.
Now that I’ve crested 30, I’ve got to tell you that I feel marvelous being the same size I was at 18.
And, now that I can’t buy new clothes, I am bound and determined to stay this weight! I’ve seen firsthand how easily the pounds can pack on and I really want to avoid falling into that trap again–help me stay accountable, folks!
Another motivator here is the fact that Mr. Frugalwoods and I hope to have a Frugal Baby before too long. I want my pre-pregnancy body to be as healthy as I can possibly manage in order to support a healthy pregnancy. I know there’s a lot I can’t control about conception or pregnancy, but I can be in charge of my own health.
Ok that was a minor (major?) tangent, but it’s all related to my goal of not buying any new clothes. What this tells me is that buying things is emotional, even for frugal people like me who decry emotional spending.
I think we all have something that triggers emotional spending. What I’ve realized in the course of writing this post is that, for me, it’s clothes. Something about my self-worth and body image was wrapped up in new clothes. I truly think I’m journeying towards a healthier body image and a better outlook on life by not having the option of buying new clothes.
I’m not sure if I’ll continue this challenge into 2015 or not, but, it feels manageable for the remainder of 2014. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
And since I aim for honesty, my failure so far in 2014:
1) One hot pink belt purchased for .50 cents at a garage sale. Ya’ll, I could not resist.
Since nothing is written in a vacuum, I want to share a few excellent posts on clothes and health that I’ve read recently:
- Common Sense Millennial’s “My Newest Savings Challenge: Thrift Shops Only”
- Budgets are Sexy’s (could this guy HAVE a better name?) “How to Score a Kick-Ass [Cheap] Wardrobe”
- Mr. Money Mustache forum thread: “No Clothes Shopping in 2014”
- Cashville Skyline’s “Doctor’s Orders: Time To Get Serious About Losing Weight”
- Evolving Personal Finance’s “How to Work Out without a Gym Membership”
- Indebted and In Debt’s “6 Ways to Earn Money For Being Fit”
- Financially Blonde’s “Sometimes You Do Not Want To Know“
Update: read about the evolution of this journey in What A Year Without Clothes Did For Me and Pregnancy Hasn’t Foiled My Clothes-Buying Ban: Here’s How.