Sunday, April 19, 2015

A practical step-by-step guide to no-shopping challenge

Posted by Amanda Villaruel |
Has someone challenged you with no-shopping for three months? Six months? One year? Or have you decided yourself that enough is enough, and decided to stop shopping clothing for a while?

Whatever your reason, here are my personal tips that will make it easier for you to stop shopping :-)
Inside a shopping store - guide on how to quit shopping for clothing for a while
Guide: How to stop shopping for clothing 
Copyright: / fiphoto - 123RF Stock Photo

The last no-shopping period I went through lasted for 7 months! Before that I've gone through shorter periods that lasted 17 weeks, 11 weeks and 6 weeks. It's easier to stop shopping when you're a student, like I was - a couple of years ago.

But I will show you that even if you can afford shopping clothing, there are ways to resist the urge of spending money.

1) Firstly, no-shopping is a new habit

How to stop shopping for clothes
How to stop shopping for clothes

Humans are creatures of habit. There's no doubt about that. If you're a frequent shopper, the challenge lies in making a new habit - which is quit shopping.

Did you know that it takes at least 18 days to form a new habit?

According to a study at University College London, it takes 66 days (on average) before a new behavior becomes automatic.

In the study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit depending on the person, the circumstances and the behavior.

What I am trying to tell you? I won't lie. Quitting shopping for a while will be hard. But like any other habit, quitting shopping is within everyone's reach.

Read: How to make a ring necklace from existing jewelry.

2) No-shopping - what is the plan?

Before diving into the challenge, ask yourself these questions:

A) What does the no-shopping plan involve? Does it include only clothes? What about shoes and accessories? No new underwear or socks either?

B) How long are you going to refrain from shopping new clothing? Be realistic and start with two months. If it goes well, you can always extend the period ;-)

3) Unsubscribe from any shopping catalogue, discount newsletter and SMS

To avoid the temptation of purchasing, I would suggest to unsubscribe from shopping catalogues, discount newsletters and SMS.

Shops say that they want to 'keep in touch' with their customers and will regularly send newsletters to promote new products, and advertise for sales and discounts. I've experienced that a shop will send several SMS to 'remind' me about their sale. It's scary that I've actually thought that I needed this product - even if I didn't. 

I'm not a marketing expert, but I have worked in retail. I know that continuity of exposure is crucial for acquiring new customers and convincing old customers to return.

Every newsletter should have an "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of the e-mail. If not, contact the company and ask them to remove you from their list.

4) Channelize the energy towards something else

Women can spend hours in the stores, looking at and trying out clothes and we love the emotional rush when we find something we love.

It's adrenalin. Maybe a feeling of happiness. Whatever it is, the feeling does not last. So, we go on another shopping spree to feel the high again.

My experience is that when I get bored - I tend to go shopping.
How to stop shopping - window shopping at Gina Tricot
How to stop shopping: only window-shopping ;-)

So, we need to replace the activity of shopping with something else when we get bored, feel resigned or lightly depressed.

"Before starting the challenge of no-shopping, set a plan of things to do to occupy yourself." 

I've noticed that the risk of going shopping is higher in the afternoons (after work or school) because you're tired, need a break and it's easier to justify that a 'happy' shopping trip will fix this.

Here are some ideas:
Maybe you can start working out at the gym right after work, join a yoga class in the afternoon or other courses you've been considering taking (sewing, dancing, a new language, whatever gets you going).

How did I do it?
The first two weeks of my no-shopping experience went pretty well.

I occupied myself with longer working hours, tough work-outs at the gym, read articles on fitness exercises and nutrition, collected vegetarian recipes, went to art exhibitions and seminars, spent money on massage and spa, spent more money on food and delicacies, made a scrapbook and spent more time on writing articles for this blog :-)

And I started an urban farming project for myself.
More grocery shopping and delicacies instead of shopping clothes
How to stop shopping: I spent more money on fine grocery shopping and take-away
A trip to the spa instead of  going shopping
A trip to the spa instead of
going shopping for clothes

But after three weeks (when I received my salary), I started to feel the abstinence. The urge to spend money on clothing. The urge to renew the wardrobe. I only thought about going shopping and I couldn't shake it off.

So, I went window shopping, sometimes I went inside just to look but fortunately I didn't buy anything because I thought: "Come on, Amanda. You've come this far. Don't give in."

It might sound awkward, but I would gather the things I liked in the online shopping cart, but I never clicked the 'buy now' button :-) Sadist behavior! I know! I kept going like this a couple of times in the first two months.

After three months it got better. Yes, a lot better. And it will for you too :-)

5) Plan B

Experiencing setbacks is normal ;-) The point of a no-shopping challenge is to reduce our consumption of clothes and re-use what we have in your existing closet.

Whenever you feel you're on the verge of relapsing, a tip is to: 
  1. Think about why you're doing this. Why did you quit shopping? The reason is your motivation to keep going and refrain from shopping new clothes.

  2. Take a close look at the clothes you have, the huge amount of clothes you already own. 'Really? New clothes?' Hopefully, you'll think 'Ok, ok, I don't need any new clothes'.

  3. Shopping is sometimes a social activity. You go shopping with friends, and then grab dinner at a nice place. If you feel that you're not ready to go shopping with your friends, I suggest that you come up with another activity.

    Maybe visit an art exhibition, festival or another event? 

  4. If you need something 'new', consider borrowing clothes from friends, family or colleagues. I needed to renew my outfits and borrowed barely used clothes from my mom! Yep, my mom who likes to dress hip and modern (some people think that she's my sister).
If none of the above works and you really need to shop clothes, at least consider second-hand :-)

Read: 5 questions you need to ask yourself before considering going shopping.

Flea market guide for newbies.

6) Wash your clothes carefully

When you're not going to shop for a while, it's important that you take care of your existing clothes and shoes. Fragile (or expensive) garments should be washed carefully at a low temperature, preferably taken to the dry cleaner if it's an expensive piece of clothing. The garment will feel like new! ;-)

Continue to read:
Click here to read 5 practical eco-friendly laundry tips.

How to build a sustainable wardrobe.

  • Huffingtonpost: "How long does it actually take to form a new habit? (Baked by science)"

Have your say about what you just read :)

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