I Went 60 Days Without Shopping and This Is What Happened

When thinking about my purchasing habits, I realized I was spending more money than I’d like on shopping. Not only that, but I was buying clothes I didn’t need (or even like), my makeup drawer was overflowing with useless products, and I was running out of closet space. Though my purchases were rarely extravagant, they were becoming more and more unnecessary.

So, what was my solution? I would go 60 days without any retail therapy.

The fact of the matter is: what you think you spend is very different than what you actually spend.

What does it mean to go 60 whole days without shopping? Can you wrap your head around that idea? Not to sound dramatic, but I, for one, could not. My mailbox is regularly flooded with Amazon packages and I frequent Shopbop.com as often as most people check their email. So in my mind, not shopping for two months was momentous. But let’s not go crazy, here. Did I still buy necessities like deodorant and toothpaste? Yes.

Before the 60 days began, I made sure to establish what was off-limits, and what was considered an everyday essential. Off-limit items included apparel and accessories (jewelry, purses, shoes, even socks), as well as superfluous beauty services, like manicures, waxes, and blowouts. Essentials were mostly narrowed down to toiletries and household items, like groceries and garbage bags.

So, what happened? Did avoiding the mall like the plague make me a changed woman? Not quite, but it did lead to some important realizations about how I was spending my hard earned money.

I made use of what I had.

Going 60 days without swiping my credit card drove me to dig deep into the back of my closet and salvage old items I once deemed un-wearable. The truth? There were plenty of really great pieces I had discarded too quickly. Old sweaters, dresses, and even shoes presented themselves as completely viable outfit options. I ended up discovering a whole new wardrobe inside my very own bedroom.

I cleaned out the rest.

I told myself that if (when) I shopped again, I wouldn’t buy anything until I cleaned out my closet. When I actually set out to do it (with the help and supervision of a trusted friend), I shockingly ended up with a relatively small donation pile. I realized I had a lot of really great clothes, and I started brainstorming new ways to wear each of them in ways that felt fresh and updated.

I separated “need” from “want.”

The sentence “I need that pair of shoes in my life” was basically my life motto. But when I restricted my spending during those 60 days, it was easier to identify the difference between “need” and “want.” I even made a list of things I actually did need, so that when the 60 days were up, I had a well-defined guide for any future shopping trips.

I looked at the numbers.

What you think you spend is very different than what you actually spend. Once I took a look at the numbers, I could no longer hide behind rationalizing my shopping habits. There was a noticeable, positive change to my bank account during those 60 days, one that I hope to maintain even now that the challenge has ended.

I realized the root of the problem.

Before this challenge, I never confronted my shopping habits. What really drove me to shop? Shopping – especially online shopping – is a source of immediate gratification. And if you’re feeling bored or uninspired, immediate gratification can be an easy temporary fix. Instead of shopping, I chose to focus more on professional projects and building my freelance writing portfolio. And I also used some of the time I normally spent browsing shopping websites to search for new recipes, which then drove me to cook at home much more often.

While reflecting throughout the 60 days, I remembered that I would shop to relieve stress, delay professional projects, and generally avoid life’s challenges. Not shopping for two full months allowed me to pinpoint areas in my life that needed focus and attention, and I now confront every purchase beforehand by asking: “Why do you want this, and what will this accomplish?”

Would it be hard for you to stop shopping? Tell us in the comments below.

  • I am proud of you for being able not to buy new fashion for a month. SO far I’ve been free from buying for about 2 weeks now. It is hard. But the reason why I’m trying not to buy fashion for up to month like you, is because one, we raise our fashion expectations and always looking for “the best”. At the end of the day it reallyyyy doesn’t matterrr what you wear, but how you wear what you already have. Insightful post.

    Joua to the Rescue

  • Very beautiful

    Thank you
    http://f-jasmine.com/evening-and-engagement-dresses/evening-dresses/

  • Katie

    I think this is a really interesting idea. I think one of the reasons we but so much is that’s is so easy now with the Internet – first to see something that you like and secondly to buy it. I really do applaud you, I think* I might struggle! Katie TheEclecticity.org (*know)

  • Great post! I need to do something like this.
    http://www.summeronwinterlane.com

  • Kristina

    Great article. And job well done, I know it’s not always easy to make a change like that. I feel like I need this right now, as I have been buying a little more than I would like lately. A few years back, my husband and I really buckled down to pay off my school loans. It was hard to make sacrifices on things I “wanted” sometimes. However, we became so much more resourceful in the process. I set my boundaries
    to what I would allow myself, hair coloring, my foundation, dinner out here and there, I was still able to buy clothes, shoes, jewelry if I really needed something. One would think it could make us feel like we were missing out, but quite the contrary. We paid of a huge amount of my school loans, and since have used what we learned to get ahead, to help us save more and get further ahead. My husband and I have accomplished so much since and its surprising how all those small things can really add up. Small things I used to do, like meal plan and go as far as calculating groceries, to make sure we stayed on track. Or even what I referred to as a “spending freeze” where I would do my best to stay out of stores that would distract me and find myself buying small things I didn’t need, actually taught me more about being disciplined in life. I actually feel so much more fulfilled now when I buy something I truly want as more of a treat than just because. Or when I search for coupons, wait for a sale and end up getting something for really cheap, rather than buying it just because I want it now and I have the money. We work hard for our money, so why just give so much of it away if you don’t have to.

  • JayFromJerz

    Not shopping for 60 days would be too easy for me. Most of my clothes are from the thrift (about 75% of my wardrobe) and I only go on 50% days or when I am in a new town. I think the challenge for me would be wearing more of the clothes I have. I tend to wear the same pieces all the time. This year I think I will try to utilize more of my wardrobe and shoe collection. Thanks for the inspo!

  • Nikki Laraja

    Wow, great insight, I would love try this myself sometime!

    http://www.shopthecoconutroom.com

  • I can relate to this! Shopping, i.e., more stuff, is usually a distraction from some type of unrest inside of me. Often, I convince myself that I “need” something, and in a way, I do! I need a distraction! But once you clear those distractions, you begin to see what’s really there and usually it’s not so bad or so bad that you can’t make it better. Thanks for a cool post!

  • Vanessa

    I’ve tried this for a shorter period of time with a high degree of success. A strategy I found helpful was writing down a list of anything you’d like to buy or think you need during your shopping fast. It put my mind at ease over forgetting about an awesome piece and it helped me reevaluate my purchases after the fast was over. If I was still thinking about the jacket, top, shoes, etc. after the fast, then it is likely a good item to buy.
    It also helps with identifying gaps in your wardrobe. If you have white t-shirt written down on your list multiple times, you probably need a white t-shirt!

  • Julia Kent

    My New Year’s Resolution was to stop shopping, and so far, it’s worked great! I was spiraling out of control between Sephora and the mall. It’s definitely a challenge!

  • missgetaway

    So interesting! I wanna do that too – after my birthday of course 😛 Maybe I’ll go April without shopping but then again there’s spring approaching and I really need some new clothes 😀

    Love, Kerstin
    http://www.missgetaway.com/

  • Nubia

    Thank you for writing this article. Yes, I can definitely relate, I think in general, we are bombarded with advertisement to shop, shop, shop, get the latest trend. Then you end up with an overflowing closet, full of things you didn’t need and it ends up being clutter. I am now more mindful of my shopping habits and to be honest, now when I am in a mall I feel uncomfortable because I really don’t need anything else. I need to focus on what’s really bothering me….on the inside (emotions).

  • Sara

    I did this for Lent a couple years back. Very hard but important to do every so often. Great reminder how superfluous many of our purchases are and that we actually already have everything we need.

  • I gave up shopping for an entire year (last year) and it was surprisingly easy. Sure there were the temptations, but I reminded myself of the bigger goal – quality over quantity once I started shopping again.

    I actually got rid of more clothes, accessories, shoes that year than I ever had before. It was really satisfying and allowed me to re-learn my wardrobe, style and how to mix & match.

    I did allow myself to replace a couple of really worn out items though, but that was the exception.

  • Cherryl

    Good job. It won’t be long before you join Project 33. Not only did that save me a ton of money, I now own less than 50 wardrobe items, total. That includes 3 pair of shoes, 1 purse, 1 tote, 1 coat, scarves, jewelry, and my clothing, not including socks and undies. In fact, I packed my entire wardrobe(minus the coat and 1 pair of shoes) into one carry-on bag for a month long cross country Amtrak train trip that included a luxury rowboat ride to Alaska. Being able to retire early and take month long trips was the lovely side effect of my “no shopping” minimalism. It may not be your goal to strive for, but I’m very happy traveling lighter. >^;^<

  • Cait

    My shopping habit is books. I currently have enough books I think to last me for the rest of year, but I keep buying more. Partly because it’s an instant gratification (ebooks), and partly because it’s relaxing to go into a bookstore and spend time.

    I’m thinking that maybe for the next 60 days I’ll try not buying any except for 2 key authors who have books coming out that I’m expecting. I’m going to dub those as my essentials.

  • I’ve gone a month without shopping, and like you, I came out feeling much better about the clothes I already owned, as well as the impact that it made on my credit cards. I think a lot of people have complicated relationships with shopping, and too often it can feel good to ‘treat yo’ self’ to a new skin mask from Sephora or buy a new dress for a work dinner that you really don’t need. A shopping ban helps you to remember that you can make yourself feel good in ways that don’t involve an online shopping basket or a trip to the mall.

    http://www.chic-or-geek.com

  • Meredith

    This is awesome Lauren! I commend you for your 60-Day shopping cleanse! I think we could all use a little break 🙂 (Ps. SO great to see you writing for The Everygirl!!!!)

    • Lauren

      Thanks, Meredith! Hope all is well with you!

  • Joana Castro

    Challenge accepted! I think the problem will be my birthday in 42 days (OMG)
    Well… wish me luck 🙂

  • What a great post! While I haven’t gone so far as to give up shopping, I have tried to be more conscientious of the purchases I make. You’re inspiring me to try it though. Thanks so much for sharing!

    http://www.midtownmagnoliablog.com/2016/02/how-to-streamline-your-closet-build.html

  • as a woman was created to shop. Shopping is a haven for a woman.
    But once we realize that, we realize that the things we buy goods which are not useful, so be careful – careful woman should be able to control the eye, and also need to know which one is a need or desire ..
    The above article is very helpful at all,,, thanks

    http://bajumurahonline.net/main/news_detail/10-pusat-grosir-baju-online-shop

    http://www.lgsgeneration.com/products/category/women/celana-2

  • Rachael Louise Ball

    Being a student again at the age of 25 is hard because all i want to do is hang out with girlfriends as we NEVER have enough time anymore, or buy take out food because I’ve ‘worked hard and deserve it’. I’m worst when meeting up for things like meals out, spa weekends, coffee with friends and my boyfriend or family as we normally go over board with everything or it turns into looking around the local shops. Or even on my way home from placement, I pop into the local supermarket to pick up some goodies and so much food that my diet, nor my purse need. I will definitely be trying a ‘Spending detox’ as I could be putting all those extra pennies (which, like you said, soon add up and you have no idea what you’re actually spending until you look at the facts) towards a holiday or keep adding them to my savings account, which one day day will go towards buying a house!! I think for me, it is almost an addiction and to boost myself when feeling low and unconfident.

  • I am having such detox from time to time and it’s perfect occassion to look closely on what I have in my wardrobe. I alawys buy too much clothes and cosmetics and if I can live for a one month without buying new one it means that maybe new things are not so necessary.

  • I came to the startling realisation the other day that I have gotten into a cycle of stress impulse buying and I should really stop doing that. The insight you’ve given in this article is really interesting and I’m curious to see what I would deem a ‘necessity’ because right now that line is very blurred. I might give a challenge like this a shot soon, just to see how I fare. I think the conclusions you’ve drawn from are fascinating and definitely true.

  • Olivia Tennant

    I was saving up for some big vacations at the beginning of this year and knew that I couldn’t be shopping for clothes anymore until the end of March – I’ve made a few exceptions, but overall I’ve only bought 6 total items that have all gotten a lot of use! It’s tough, but I totally agree that it’s worth it! I cleaned out my closet too and it was so refreshing!

    xo
    Olivia
    PrepEssentials

  • This would be so challenging for me, which is precisely why I should do it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anna

    Wonderful insights! I love the idea of cutting out shopping altogether for a period of time to refocus. I think that keying into why you shop— to offset boredom or lift a mood, etc.— is crucial to discovering where you’re going awry. These days it’s way too easy to give into the quick fix, but it can definitely get in the way of long-term goals!
    http://www.shadesoflovely.com

  • Zaza

    i lost my job two months ago and i havent shopped since then. i honestly think that once im back at work i will still try to keep it to a bare minimum because i realize that i have way too many clothes!

  • Sandra Fermin

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve done this and it does work. I’ve done this for 3 months now I don’t even bother shopping. What I do is the moment my clothes starts feeling snugged, I get my act together w/ watching what I eat. I then fit right into all my clothes. Some people go shopping just cause they do not want to watch their eating habits.