On January 1, 2014, I decided to stop buying clothes. And I mean fully stop. I didn't have a list of items I was allowed to purchase and I didn't make exceptions for anything – not even during my nine months of pregnancy.
The rules of my self-imposed ban were as follows: No buying any clothing, which includes shoes, coats, jewelry, accessories, socks, hats, belts, underwear, and of course, any and all clothes! Really I could've just said "no buying clothes," but I felt like making a list.
Three years later, I finally capitulated to pressing need and bought a new pair of winter boots.
Am I going to buy a bunch of clothes now? Nope. I bought one item out of necessity, but my plan is to continue on with the ban for as long as possible. I imagine I'll need to buy something else pressing at some point. But until that day comes, consider me re-banned. Perhaps I can go another three years!
Here's what I've learned you should do if you want to cut back on shopping or on spending in general.
1. DON'T SET AN END DATE
When I undertook this self-imposed, all-encompassing clothing ban lo those three years ago, I didn't set an end date. Much like my lifelong frugality, which I have no intention of ceasing, I entered my clothes-buying-ban with the same mindset. If I'd had an end date, I know I would've hoarded a list of clothing "necessities" to buy the minute my prescribed time-frame ended.
End dates encourage us to view our efforts as deprivation. If whatever new enterprise we're undertaking (a diet, a budget, a clothing ban) has a pre-determined end date, that must mean it's not sustainable and enjoyable for the long-term.
Conversely, if we tell ourselves that it's simply a new aspect of how we live, we'll look for ways to make the change permanent and tenable. Perhaps I'm merely playing psychological tricks on myself, but I really don't care because it works.