Why I decided not to shop for clothes for one year

Women and money |

Wanting to be a better steward, I resolved not to buy clothes for a year and purge my closet.

Two years ago, I decided not to buy any clothes for a year. For those friends who know me well, shopping has always been a fun activity for me - particularly shopping for clothes. I used to pride myself in finding a good bargain and justified my shopping expeditions because I seldom paid full price for an item. After coming home from a shopping trip, my then-husband, Ron, used to ask me, "So how much did you save me this time?"

One day, my friend and I had started discussing our obsessions with shopping for clothes and how it was getting out of hand. We both recognized that we had plenty of clothes and jewelry and that maybe it was time to take a break. Not only did shopping affect our budgets, we were not being good stewards of God's gifts to us. That conversation gave me the courage to try not to buy clothes for a year.

How did I do it? I found a new joy in getting rid of things and leaned on my accountability partner

First, I realized how often I had been going to a store because I had received a catalog or a flyer about a sale. I was not shopping because I needed a particular item. Instead, the act of buying something on sale felt like an accomplishment. I started throwing out those endless catalogs and sale flyers which came so frequently in the mail, and I stopped going to websites that featured clothing and jewelry.

Instead of asking myself, "What do I need?" I started asking myself, "What do I need less?"

I discovered when I stopped going shopping that I could find other ways to give myself a sense of accomplishment. I began cleaning out my closet and it felt cleansing to give those items away.

I'll admit that my friend and I weren't always successful at meeting our goal. But when I faltered, I knew I could call my accountability partner. We would talk about the triggers for shopping and why we didn't always stick to our plan. Then we would start over with new determination.

It has been a year since I completed my "year of not shopping for clothes" and I have changed much of my earlier habits. I am more intentional about what I buy, and I buy with the idea of mixing and matching my wardrobe. This means I buy less clothing, but have more options for different outfits. Instead of buying items I do not need just because they are on sale, I try to think more intentionally about clothing which might cost more, but will last longer.

I recently read an Opinion piece in the New York Times titled My Year of No Shopping written by Ann Patchett, a favorite author of mine who most recently published the novel Commonwealth and is co-owner of Parnassus Books. After sharing about her experience of not buying clothes, shoes and jewelry for a year, Patchett wrote the following paragraph:

"For the record, I still have more than plenty. I know there is a vast difference between not buying things and not being able to buy things. Not shopping for a year hardly makes me one with the poor, but it has put me on the path of figuring out what I can do to help. I understand that buying things is the backbone of the economy and job growth. I appreciate all the people who shop in the bookstore. But taking some time off from consumerism isn't going to make the financial markets collapse. If you're looking for a New Year's resolution, I have to tell you: This one's great."

This opinion piece inspired me to make this my New Year's resolution. For six months beginning February, I plan not to make any purchases of clothes, jewelry and shoes. Would you like to join me?

If you have an interest in being part of a group of women who are intentional about not shopping for clothes, jewelry and shoes for six months, send me an email at rhoda.blough@everence.com. At the end of the six-month period, we can share our findings with others in this forum. Please consider joining me.

To read more articles in our Women and Money series, visit the Articles and stories page, and search for "Women and Money" under Topics.

Rhoda Blough, Stewardship Consultant


Rhoda Blough
Stewardship Consultant

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