Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On not shopping so much

The hardest part of my aggressive loan repayment plan is the dramatic difference in my spending budget. Before, my shopping budget was almost entirely discretionary, and that discretion often amounted to most of the extra money I had beyond my minimum student loan payments. (See here for examples.)

Now, I've cut my spending back to $100 a week --- on everything. Food, transportation, entertainment, the whole shebang. I realize this is still more than some people have to work with, but it's been a big change for me.

My food expenses are slim to none because so many meals are being provided for me at work (yay summer associates) but those of you who have been around here for a while know that I did a LOT of shopping before setting these new restrictions. In the last month, I have not purchased one item of clothing, jewelry, accessories, etc.

A few of the new behaviors that have helped curb my spending:

1. Don't read that blog entry.
A bunch of the blogs in my google reader are VERY shopping-focused. I still love looking at people's outfits for inspiration, but whenever someone posts an entry entirely about current sales or promotions or fitting room reviews, I either skim the entry or skip it. Why torment myself?

2. Don't click on that link.
I appreciate that bloggers often post links to items that are or resemble what they are wearing. It's a helpful resource. However, I've stopped clicking on those links because I don't need to find myself staring in the face of a $35 dress from ASOS that I could easily justify but don't need. Instead, I try to think about the items I already have that could create a similar look. This is somewhat easier when I rarely ever allow myself the possibility of buying the actual item.

3. Don't browse.
Oh, how many items did I end up buying online because I just wanted to innocently peruse the sale section at J.Crew or Kate Spade? That money seriously adds up, and while I love the clothes I bought I also recognize that at this point I DON'T NEED MORE CLOTHES. Are you hearing me, brain? There is nothing else we need. Therefore browsing the sale section on Madewell, for example, is at best a small act of self-torture and at worst an activity that will result in the loss of a few hundred dollars. (although curse you, 25% off sale. This is what happens when I don't skim blogs fast enough. Small torture, not hundreds of dollars.)

Don't browse! Save yourselves!

4. Don't subscribe.
Do I need to be getting twenty daily emails from sample sale websites, J.Crew, Anthro, Gap, Old Navy, Seychelles, etc? No I do not. Those emails are quite obviously designed to prompt you to buy something you otherwise wouldn't have. When I barely have enough money to make it through the week, there's little room for an impulse buy.  I spent a few days unsubscribing from every single retail email that came into my inbox.  Email from a store?  Blindly scroll to the bottom to unsubscribe.  One of the nice bonuses of this act is that now when I get an email notification, it's almost always a personal email I want to read!

Where I don't unsubscribe, I delete. Sorry, Anthro summer looks.

The "don't browse" rule works for brick and mortar stores as well. When I find myself with spare time to wander about nowadays, I try to use that time to read, ride my bike, or relax outside somewhere instead of meandering around Georgetown.

What are your defensive shopping strategies?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My biggest strategy against shopping is online shopping. It sounds counter-intuitive, but returning clothes is way easier this way and it helps me spend less overall. First, I don't spend money on gas to get myself to the mall. I also don't have to go through a whole store just to see what skirts they have, stand in line for a fitting room, then wonder about what I have at home that will work with it, stand in line to pay, and drive back home. If I go through all of that and end up hating the purchase with my wardrobe, I have to drive back to the mall, stand in line again, and drive home again. With online shopping, I stay home, try things on with my own clothes to see how they work together, and make one trip to the post office to return what I don't like. I've spent much less by returning a lot more.

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