Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Creating a Shopping Budget and the No-Buy January

Sometimes an idea pops into your head and then suddenly it seems everywhere you turn, you keep seeing or hearing things related to that idea. It just seems to be in the air, like the universe is telling you something. That's been happening for me lately, and the idea is simple: girl, you need a shopping budget.

So why a budget, and why now? To explain, I'll first say that I love a good routine, and lately I find that I've fallen into a routine that makes my heart happy but my wallet a bit sad. I start out most Saturday mornings with my favorite yoga class, which happens to be a 30 minute drive from my house. I finish by 10am and feel happy and energized and ready for the day! And I take advantage of the energy, the early hour, and my location to run some errands and get things done.

And maybe I start thinking, I've done something good for my body, I deserve a treat! On the way home from yoga, I have to pass 2 enormous malls, 2 fantastic outlet malls, a massive outdoor shopping plaza, and about a dozen Targets. And I think, ooh, the stores will be empty -- I should pop into Old Navy and just see what's new! I need to get a birthday present...I'll stop at the mall and hit the sale racks at Anthro. Hey, a new TJ Maxx just opened -- wonder what treasures they have?

By about 3 o'clock, I'm walking through the door loaded down with about half a dozen different bags. And I can justify all of it:

I had to pick up a few things at Target and this sweater caught my eye!

Everything at Old Navy is 40% off!

I really needed some new jeans and I'll get an extra 15% off if I spend $75, so these sweaters are practically free!

I've been doing this for a few months, and while I haven't gotten myself into any debt or purchased anything I'm unhappy with, I just feel like this is an unhealthy habit that I need to break. I love to shop, but I want to do it mindfully. I love a deal, but I want to build a wardrobe full of pieces that I absolutely love.

I'm looking for a closet full of Mr. Rights, and I'm getting distracted by clearance stickers, which are the Mr. Right-Nows.

All of this has been swirling in my mind and I've realized that a lot of my friends and some of my favorite bloggers work hard to stick to a shopping budget. I've learned that I may not be the best at natural self-discipline, but I know am excellent at setting goals and sticking to a plan.

Shopping budget: let's do this!

I've decided to give myself a monthly budget of $200. This feels comfortable right now -- not extravagant, not restrictive. I like to shop, so I don't want to be frustrated all month long...but I also want to focus on building my wardrobe and buying beautiful pieces that I'll wear for years. I'm hoping this budget will give me the right mix of quality and quantity...we'll see!

In addition to my budget, I decided to take a month off of shopping: this is officially a no-buy January. I bought a lot (= too much) in December, seemingly unable to resist all of the holiday sales. I overdid it, and I need a break. So just as Gwyneth Paltrow starts a new year with a miserable, restrictive juice cleanse (so she can rid her body of that extra cheese cube she ate on Christmas), I wanted to kick off the new year with a (slightly-less-painful) wallet cleanse. No clothes*, no makeup, no jewelry...not easy, but necessary. (*I did make one exception, allowing myself to buy workout clothes -- January is usually the best month to find deals, and my daily workouts mean I need a lot of sweat-wicking garments in my life).

We're about halfway through the month and I'm doing well! I've had some temptation, but I haven't given in. Everything is on sale, but I'm kind of tired of looking at the old winter collections anyway...my $200 and I can't wait to see what spring goodies arrive next month!

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