Earlier this year, I wrote a post titled “Oops Minimalism” about how I spent $0 on clothing for the first 6 months of 2017. I attributed the success to:
- Wanting to minimize decision fatigue — Having less clothing means needing to think less about what to wear everyday
- Eliminating cues so I could break shopping habits — Deleting shopping apps, unsubscribing from shopping emails, and unfollowing brands on social media meant out of sight, out of mind (after awhile, I just forgot to shop and stopped thinking about shopping)
- Redirecting the time I used to spend shopping — The most underrated byproduct of minimalism is having more time; by eliminating escapism through shopping, you free up time for the things that matter most to you
I decided to dig a little deeper to see if there was more at play than just those three things above. I revisited our finances for the last 16 months. Previously, I only noticed the $0 on clothing spent for the first 6 months of 2017. After reviewing the last 16 months, I realized that I had spent $0 on clothing in 12 of the last 16 months!
And, all of this happened while I was still working full-time at an apparel company before I quit my job. How did this happen?
How minimalism helped me stop buying clothes
It all starts with awareness and intention:
- I intentionally decided to start separating wants from needs — Minimalism isn’t solely related to clothing; it’s often associated with just stuff in general. By downshifting and trying to adopt minimalism in all aspects of my life, it happened to impact my views and behaviors related to clothing and shopping (and led to a fun thought experiment on experiences vs. things).
- I intentionally started tracking our monthly expenses at a transactional level — I’ve been tracking our monthly cash flow for years, but I only started tracking everything at a transactional level at the beginning of 2017. This has allowed for a whole new level of data and insights about where our money goes each month and over the course of a year. My wife and I now have a new level of awareness that we didn’t have in prior years. And, as Eckhart Tolle says, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” If you’re curious about what I use to track money, I use Personal Capital for net worth tracking (see this post on FIRE: Financial Independence Retire Early to sign up) and a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet for manual transaction tracking (you could also automate this by using Personal Capital or Mint). I use an Excel spreadsheet because I have years of prior data and also want to customize how I track and analyze everything.
- I intentionally grouped my shopping needs around key events — My wife and I (especially my wife) are deal hunters. We shop deals and sales, price compare, negotiate, and look for cash back opportunities. I saved most of my 2017 shopping for the time period around Black Friday and Cyber Monday to maximize savings. We also use credit cards that offer cash back rewards which has helped us save even more. For instance, our Discover credit card allows you to redeem rewards in the form of gift cards. We often redeem $40 in rewards to get a $50 Nike gift card. For every $80 we redeem, we get $20 free. We then shop the Nike clearance section on Nike.com, and use Ebates.com to get even more money back. All my workout and running gear is from Nike, but we haven’t actually paid for anything in years.
While I’m not at the point of owning a true capsule wardrobe yet, I’ve managed to stop the influx of new clothing that enters our home. That’s half the battle!
Have you had any success with minimizing the clothing that enters your home or decluttering your closet? I’d love to hear about your story in the comments. And if you’re already on board with minimalism, use that as momentum into slow and simple living.
Also published on Medium.