Frugal February: My Attempt to Stop Buying Shit I Don't Need

Current mantra.

Current mantra.

Confession: I like stuff. I just do. I have always loved the thrill of the hunt to find that perfect thing you never even knew you wanted, and for a killer deal! As an organizer, I also possess the ability to somewhat dispassionately let go of things that no longer serve a purpose or make me happy. It’s a unique blend of skills/afflictions. However, this past holiday season all the excessive advertisements for sales and shopping left me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and honestly kind of gross.

The excess of it all just felt like too much. Don’t get me wrong, I love gift giving and receiving as much as the next gal, but the inundation of “SALE! SALE! BUY THIS IT’S ON SALE!” from every angle started to wear me down. Why do I care about this sale? Why do I feel like I need this? Why do I want to buy even more stuff after an entire holiday period devoted to buying? Actually, I don’t.

So I didn’t. I decided in January that I was going on a self imposed purchasing embargo. My wallet and brain could use the break, so I set up a few parameters to guide me through the month. I did not buy anything for myself. No clothes, accessories, make-up, products, etc. Necessities were still allowed; I ran out of moisturizer and skincare is a high priority for me, so I bought the moisturizer. There were some things I picked up for our home (organizational projects are essentials to me!), but in terms of expanding my closet - nope.

To help curb impulse shopping I unsubscribed from store emailing lists. If a sale happens and I don’t know about it, did it really even exist? I mean, yes, the sale still happened, but in this instance, what I don’t know won’t hurt me. I also started keeping track of items that I normally would have picked up without much thought. I started a ‘closet goals’ Pinterest board and any time I saw something I really liked, or discovered a hole in my wardrobe, I pinned some images to the board. Keeping a little ‘shopping wants’ archive really helped me see the types of things I was gravitating toward and hone in on items I will actually use. (I know some people love to save images on Instagram too, or even just snap pics with your phone. Whatever method works for you!)

Looks like I’m jonesing for pink sneaks and florals for spring. Groundbreaking.

Looks like I’m jonesing for pink sneaks and florals for spring. Groundbreaking.

One of the benefits of pausing my purchasing was the opportunity to actually think about what I need (okay, let’s be serious - want. I don’t need new stuff, but new stuff is nice to have) or investments/upgrades I would want to make. While I thought it was going to be tough not indulging in post holiday sales, it was honestly easier than I expected. Turns out, I have plenty of stuff you guys!

But enter February, and the itch to pick up a few things for spring started creeping back in. (Spring! What a joke. It’s February in the Northeast.) But, I can’t help but get a little excited in anticipation of the approaching seasonal change. I didn’t want to undo my newfound buying restraint and end up with a one month delay on a bunch of new crap I don’t really need, so I modified for the second month of this project: Frugal February, the little sister of No Buy January. This month I would allow a few small purchases, so long as they filled one of the ‘needs’ I had outlined on my Pinterest board. I have been able to look back at my saved images and see the types of items I keep coming back to. If I’ve been thinking about it for a month, then it stays on the list. If I forgot it was even on there- delete.

Apparently this is my “but make it fashion” pose.

Apparently this is my “but make it fashion” pose.

Using these parameters, here is what I picked up this month:

  1. A relaxed white button down. Classic and versatile. A good transition-into-spring piece and I actually didn’t have one!

  2. A pair of dark jeans. I pretty much live in jeans and a t-shirt and anyone else who does the same knows that dark wash jeans wear out over time. I was due for a refresh. (Don’t worry, the expired ones got the boot. Organizer, remember? Out with the old, in with the new!)

  3. A long sleeve floral dress. I have been wanting a midi dress for outings that take place in transitional weather. I also wanted to inject a little femininity into my fairly utilitarian wardrobe. I found something that fit the bill (yes, it was on sale), and I didn’t feel impulsive about it all because I knew I found the number to fill that specific void!

And that concludes Frugal February. I know there is another week left in the month, but I have no intentions of buying anything else at the moment. Sure, there are some more items on my list that I will probably think about purchasing in the next few months, but at the moment I’m set. I think I’ll keep up with this strategy as much as possible this year. It feels good to slow down, examine my habits, use what I have, and only add things that I have really spent time considering. Plus, it puts a little more cash in the savings and/or wine-night-with-friends budgets!

Have you ever done a self imposed purchasing pause? Or do you have other strategies for taming your budget and spending habits? Lay em on me!

jaclyn KingComment