For all of my close friends reading this, you must be thinking, “OMG! Kumiko can’t be saying this!” It’s true my friends, it’s true. This is going to be a hard post for me because I am the one who is supposed to give you the best advice I can on budgeting, money-saving tips, and ways to lead a wealthy life. But just like everyone else out there on the planet, I am not perfect. Clothes shopping is my weakness, it always has been.
This is my one weak spot where I put everything I have learned on my financial journey right into the trash. It is a hard thing to admit, and an even harder thing to share with you, but it is a reality I am aware of. If I am not honest with you about my bad habits and things I am struggling with – how am I supposed to help people who have the same issues, and are in the same situation I am? We are in this fight together. So the one thing I am going to say to you right now ladies (and maybe some gents) is….STEP AWAY FROM THAT SHIRT RACK!!
My shopping habit started when I was in high school. I saw all the “popular” girls wearing all these nifty brands and awesome clothes – I wanted to fit in. I think a lot of us have been here. This habit and “need” really manifested when I graduated high school and started to make my own money. This is also where my credit card debt first showed it nasty head and later became joint baggage when I married my husband (7 credit cards later). To this day, when I step out of the house and go shopping for ONE blouse for work, I find myself coming home with 2 full bags of clothes. The worse thing about it – I know I don’t have the money to get them. They rack up on my credit card that I find myself struggling to pay off at the end of the month. So why do I do this? This is a hard question to answer. I know why I personally do it – because it feels so good! It feels good to wear new clothes and something different every day. I love the feeling of getting up in the morning and seeing my meticulously laid out outfits for the week – filled with things I have never worn before. It makes me feel like I look my best, like I’m special.
When Tony and I got married and we had to fight to get out of the debt I created, I didn’t shop for clothes for a whole year. I hardly ever stepped inside a department store or a mall because I wanted every extra dollar to go towards paying off our debt – I was on a mission! After our mission was over, and we finally did succeed I found myself lost. What do I do with all this extra money that we were no longer filtering towards debt? This is what I used as an excuse. “Well, we paid off that debt…so I can afford to spend a little extra money on clothes.” This was leading me right back to old habits – so here is what I am doing about it.
I am taking the pledge and creating another mission for myself – no new clothes for the entire year. This is going to be a challenging thing for me. It’s hard to break habits – especially habits we truly enjoy. The first thing to be tackled on this mission was to figure out what clothes I actually had. Every closet in my house was stuffed full. I had plastic bins separated into seasonal items – some of which I had not opened in over a year. It was time to do some serious clothes sifting. I literally took every article of clothing I had and threw it on my bed. I then categorized them into different piles. One pile was for T-shirts, another pile was for sweaters and so on. I then focused all of my attention on one category at a time. I analyzed every piece and threw it into 1 of 4 piles – keep, donate, sell, and throw out. Once every category was sifted through, I hung the clothes I wanted to keep back into my closet – color coded of course. I read a great way to limit my clothes keeping even further. I hang all of my hangers backwards, when I wear an article of clothing and hang it back up in my closet, I will flip the hanger. By the end of the year, every hanger that is still backward, I will donate, sell or throw out. The idea behind this is – if you don’t wear an article of clothing for an entire year, it’s just taking up space.
So here I am today. A month in and I feel great. It was hard at first but I think I have mastered “shopping” from my own closet. I am now coming up with great outfits I love, from clothes I already own. The one thing I am learning – something I should have learned a long time ago is you don’t need the most expensive and most fashionable clothes on the market to feel good about yourself. Be creative, match patterns and colors you love and feel great wearing them – who freaking cares what other people think. All that matters is how you feel, so if you want to match green poka-dots with bright pink strips – go for it and rock it!
I will update you along the way and continue to share things I have learned. If this is something you also struggle with try the 3 day rule before making a clothing purchase. You may have the impulse to buy it NOW and want that instant satisfaction, but most of the time our clothing purchases are impulse buys. Give it three days and think about it, and usually on the third day you will realize that you really don’t want it anymore. I hope sharing my real life struggle with you helps you rethink your shopping habit. Remember, it’s all about how you feel in your clothes – other people don’t have to wear them so their opinion shouldn’t matter – most of the time they can't tell if your clothes are a year old or if you just pulled them off the rack yesterday.
Tell me how you manage the never-ending need for wanting new clothes. Leave comments below.