Monday, April 6, 2009

End of the shopping hiatus - thoughts

I've now completed 12 full weeks of the shopping hiatus inspired by Joslyn. It was such a good exercise, and I'm really glad I participated. This post is a little wordy, so settle in and relax. Or drift away and come back tomorrow for something more exciting. I promise I won't be offended.

Reflections: I learned a lot about how I shop (impulsively). I am by no means a crazy shopper, but I am easily swayed by a good sale. When I cleaned out my closet during the first week, I realized that I tend to buy things on sale that aren't quite right in terms of fit, color, or purpose. I also tend to stock up when things are on sale (if one sweater is good, three are better!) which is only sometimes justified.

Cheats: Pretty minimal. The boots, which are utterly fabulous in person and I haven't had an ounce of regret since purchasing them. The tea cup, which I still maintain is not a real cheat because it was vintage. A few yards of new fabric, which is a cheat and which I haven't shared with you quite yet, but I will, I promise.

{1. Ceres Testa 2. Orthosie Royal 3. 17306 4. Crio}

{tea cup!}

Non cheating, but still shopping: Some thrift store/Craigslist purchases including sheets (for sewing projects), picture frames (for crafting) and wine crates (for planters). Some supplies including three cans of spray paint, one sheet of metal, two sheets of wood, two packages of brass hooks, some needles and thread, some bias tape. Hair product.

Moving forward: I'd like to target my impulsivity to cut down on my silly spending. Shop mindfully is my new mantra. This means viewing my money as a resource that I want to use and spread wisely. I'd like to increase my Etsy/independent designer shopping and decrease (not cut out altogether) my Forever 21 binges. I'm also working on keeping a list that categorizes things I notice and want, rather than buying them immediately. The idea is to look for patterns in my desires and then find options that work for me, rather than buying random pieces whenever they catch my eye.

My current list includes layering tanks, good cardigans, good jeans, good flats/sandals, super soft tees, and anything with stripes, ruffles, or in gray and ivory.

Specific strategies:
1. Keep a list of things that catch my eye. This serves two purposes, because writing it down helps with not actually buying, and it also lets me analyze my cravings.
2. Avoid stores when possible.
3. Look for alternative options on Etsy and in independent stores.

I will still stock up on sales when it's worth it (once every couple years I need to invest in sweaters and cardigans, because I wear them every single day), but I'll try not to let myself get too caught up in the frenzy.

Things to ask myself:
1. Do I love it?
2. Can I use it/think of a place to wear it (imaginary balls or cocktail parties don't count)/find a place to put it?
3. Do I feel good about buying it? I've found that buying things where I have a personal connection with the artist makes me feel happiest.

The best part was that, even knowing my twelve weeks were up, I felt no compulsion to go buy anything this weekend. I think that the urge to go shopping decreases significantly if you cut yourself off for a bit. It's like I've rewired my brain! I've also realized that researching what you want to buy is almost as much fun as actually purchasing it. And when you eventually do purchase something that you've fully researched, you feel much happier about it.

If you missed out and want to see my progression through the hiatus you can see weeks one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven right here.


  1. CONGRATS! You are one strong woman!
    Very good point about the desire to decrease over time. BTW... the rice pudding was incredible!

  2. Hurray, you made it! I love the reevaluation of the shopping impulse. Go, you. I'm definitely on board with checking in the craving and using my money to support local businesses.

  3. I'm so impressed! I loved this post of discovery :)

  4. You did a great job. What a wonderful post. You've made me look at my shopping a a new way. Thanks. Congrats.

  5. congratulations and i really enjoyed reading this informative post. if you only knew how many ball gowns i own...

  6. WOW! I am so dang impressed. I could not do this. I did it for one month and nearly drove myself to insanity. I need more self control! Bravo.

  7. Rachel- you made it and learn something along the way. I think this is neat post. Enjoy! xoxo

  8. This is incredibly helpful, Rachel. I'm going to incorporate some of these methods into my own shopping trips.

    Oh, and hurray! You did it!

  9. Such a great summary. Inspired by you, I went through March only buying one pair of shoes(!). I want to do a longer stint like you did, hopefully sometime soon.

    Congrats and keep up the great work!

  10. Good for you! I have the same problem with binging on cheap items, which I didn't realize I was doing until recently when I went through my closet and wondered how I came to own so many things that I never wear. Bottom line: cheap is not always better.

  11. Wow, this sounds like a huge accomplishment! Congrats on being so successful and keeping strong!

    I love your new rules,I think they're very sensible and that you won't regret setting those standards.

  12. Good job, you're very strong! I have to really buckle down and follow your lead. I crumbled at Topshop and the Camper store this weekend. My wallet said "ouch."

  13. Congratulations, this is such a great post. I love your comment about imaginary balls and cocktail parties :)

  14. Congrats! You sound like such a grown-up, hooray! Um, in the best way possible -- i always celebrate my "grown-up" moments :D One question my best friend + I would ask each other when we'd go shopping (especially sales) is, "How much do you think this is worth?" Usually, that question comes in handy when we think it's a steal but maybe not exactly us, but we could make it work -- and the other person inevitably names some ridiculous (but serious) price-- like $6.99 for a blouse or skirt :D So, it's kind of fun, and maybe doesn't work if you're truly shopping mindfully -- but it helps when you still waver on a fun item :D And you feel good putting down :D! Hee -- back to you -- great post!


    Seriously, you are so funny. I love that you listed the things you resisted. We just came out of the Period of Austerity and realized it wasn't as difficult as we thought it would be...

  16. Great post and congrats on making it through the 12 weeks. I'm impressed! I'm really trying to focus myself of quality not quantity. I've fallen vicitim to the sale rack one too many times. I should carry this post with me in my pocket when I feel a splurge coming on! It's a good reminder of doing what feels right and making better choices.

  17. Great work Rach! I think your experience and insights are fantastic, and I hope that it will help others to spend mindfully and support the local / independent economy.

    I used to be a crazy sucker for sales, but then I realized I would rather have one amazing piece than 5 others that did not fit well or were poorly made. Now, if I buy something, I make sure I absolutely am in love with it, or I undeniably need it.

    Great work Rach!

  18. i agree it's true that if you stop shopping it rewires your brain. it certainly happened to me. i realize there are so many fun things i can do rather than shopping in my free time.

  19. Well done. I've been on a budget-imposed shopping hiatus, and I find the less often I go into stores, the less often I think about shopping....

    Kind of like eating sugar?

  20. awesome strategies...thanks for sharing them!

  21. nice job...the lessons learned are so valuable. thanks for sharing.

  22. Really great...thanks for sharing + congrats!

    And I'm definitely going to try to apply your great advice + shop mindfully...great mantra.

  23. congratulations!! your post is inspiring, and makes me feel better about not having too many new things lately.

    good job, i loved reading about it.

  24. congrats on your achievement!

    i couldn't agree with you more about the buying multiples thing. i used to always buy multiples of something i loved (in five different colours) and then have to go out to shop for more (different) things 'cause i'd end up feeling like i wore the same thing all the time.

    (yeah - i wonder why?)

    even though i haven't gone a full 12 weeks without shopping, i love the sense of freedom that you can feel when you're not constantly searching the malls + stores for that *just right* item.

    (conversely, i also know that driving impulse that can overcome you where you just. need. to. buy. something!)

    anyhow - huge congrats to you. even just by reading along with you throughout your journey, i analyze what *i'm* looking at buying just that lil bit more now.

  25. Great shopping mantra. I adore the tea cup, so "Alice in Wonderland"!

  26. Congratulations! Really impressive. And a great evaluation of what you learned- I can definitely relate to the impulsive shopping but am also working to shop more mindfully. Thanks for sharing!

  27. I too am going to try to spend more mindfully. I also feel it helps when I stay out of stores. I am happy we all did it together.

  28. I can sure relate to your "reflections". I'm a very selective and choosy shopper, but also often buy things because it's a great buy rather than really being something I need or want. The purchases {especially clothing} rarely get used and tend to find their way into the donation pile. Hope to follow in your footsteps with some of your goals.

  29. You're brilliant!!

    It's funny... reading this a lot of the messages were familar. And then I realized I've heard it from my nutritionist about people who are emotional eaters too... rewiring the brain, and understanding why you're craving etc. I guess women can use food and shopping in the same way (not to suggest you're some mad over-indulger), but I do also notice those tendencies in myself, especially when stressed. It's like a little hit to perk me up and completely gloss over the real source of stress.

    Wow - long comment... and all to say I admire you very much!

  30. Wow, it sounds like a lot of us have similar experiences with shopping. And yes, shopping is a lot like indulging in sweets for me! I've tried cutting out sugar cold turkey, but it was not nearly as successful as the shopping hiatus. And the thought of going without sugar for three months makes me want to cry, so I won't be doing it anytime soon.


Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!