On surviving a shopping ban

Published Categorized as Style
Last round of purchases, from my trip to Singapore in March

It seems like almost everyone I know (myself included) is trying to save up for something. I suppose we’re just at that age – everyone wants to either get into the housing market (if they haven’t already) or take the chance to do some extended travel before settling down to being a proper ‘grown-up’. For most of my friends and I, this has come down to seriously cutting back on unnecessary purchases of clothes, shoes, accessories and cosmetics. Which actually is harder than you would think!

I’m not on a ‘ban’ per say, but this year I’ve been trying really hard to simplify my wardrobe and work more towards minimalism. I’ve managed to stick to only buying a few things so far this year (all shown in the photo above), and am considering my next few purchases quite seriously before making them. It probably also helps that I’m being so vigorous with my saving that I don’t really have anything left over for new clothes! So anyway, here’s a few things that worked for me:

  • Doing Project333 helped heaps – what’s the point in buying new things if you can’t wear them for another 3 months?
  • Unsubscribing from all the (many) shop mailing lists I had invading my mailbox every day. Email and shopping minimalism in one go.
  • Deciding to no longer buy shoes or clothes online – I seem to have a 50/50 rate of getting something that both fits and looks good on me, and I used to waste a lot of time browsing online stores. It’s also much easier to spend on a credit card than spending cash.
  • Mending, altering or dyeing items from my current wardrobe to give them a bit more life.
  • Sorting through my current wardrobe and finding things that I’d forgotten about, or new combinations of items to try out.
  • Really carefully considering purchases. I’ve bought things in the past that have turned out to not really be flattering, fitted badly, made of problematic fabric or just don’t really suit my style or lifestyle. I’ve heard people say they like to think of at least three different outfits they could use an item in before purchasing it, and I think that’s a great idea!
  • Not going shopping. Sounds obvious, but I think some people find this difficult. Window shopping is like sniffing a donut and thinking you’re not going to want to eat it. If you don’t seek out the donut then it’s less tempting.
  • Having a tangible goal to work towards – I don’t think I’d be able to be anywhere near as good if I was saving just for the sake of it.
  • Setting a limit rather than a ban – I used to set aside $50 per week for ‘frivolous’ things, like dining out, drinks at bars, coffees, clothes, cosmetics etc – everyone apart from everyday bills and expenses. I find this more useful than going completely cold turkey, and it also made me think about priorities – do I want to have drinks with friends or buy a new top? Do I want to buy a coffee every day, or have a nice dinner with The Boy?
  • Finding a different hobby. Not an issue for me, I have more hobbies than I know what to do with!
  • Gathering momentum. I think it gets easier over time, and now that I have a bit of savings I’m clinging to it and feeling very reluctant to let go of any money that I could put in there.

Currently I have a little wishlist of items but have been too lazy, too busy and too stingy to go searching for them at the right price, which I’ve taken to mean that really I’m fine without them for now. My last little shopping stint in Singapore (oh come on, you can’t go to Singapore and not buy stuff!) has satisfied me for now, and I’m working on making a few things to get through autumn and winter. I feel like I have much more willpower in resisting shopping than resisting food. I wonder if I could make it through the rest of the year without buying stuff?

Got any other good tips for surviving a shopping ban for me?


  1. Hi Teresa, a great post! Even if I’m not one of those types who always had a big wardrobe as I used to give away lots of my clothes to my sister and before moving to Australia I got rid of even more clothes and came just with one luggage, I still sometimes find myself buying something on impulse and then don’t know what to do with that piece of clothing. Now when I still don’t have a job I have some rules to buy only what I really really need, save and buy something of good quality that would last for some time and I also do some amendments on what I have and I’m knitting a jumper. To satisfy that wish of getting something new I think I’ll try clothes swaps as well.

  2. Are you in my brain?? I’ve drafted up a post on the same topic! I broke my shopping weakness about 3 years ago now. One other thing that helped in addition to your list is making promises to someone else. It’s harder to let someone else down that yourself sometimes. So I would promise my husband that I wasn’t going to spend above x dollars, or not shop for x time. I wanted to keep that promise and so was successful.

  3. Wow, so helpful! I am not very good at banning myself from shopping. I am saving up for a holiday at the moment and trying to stop myself picking up impulse purchases is really hard!

    Project 333 sounds great, I keep meaning to do something like that. Maybe I should, it might help me stop shopping!

  4. Aww thanks guys!

    Vik – It must have been really hard to travel over with just one suitcase! I’m impressed that you’re knitting a jumper – is it hard? I’m just graduating from knitting basic scarves haha. All the best with the job search!

    Lucent – Great minds eh? Can’t wait to see your post on the topic!

    Jennifer – I’m a big advocate of Project 333, or at least doing it as a thought experiment to really think about what clothing items are the most important and suitable for you :) I’m saving up for a holiday too, and it’s really hard to stop myself from buying things that I ‘need’ for the trip!

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