Home > Spending > No Spending Challenge-No Buying Clothes in 2013

No Spending Challenge-No Buying Clothes in 2013

file000665986548The average American household spends about $2000 on clothes annually. I’ve certainly cut back in the last few years, but I’ve never gone 12 months without buying some article of clothing. Since I’m working less now and trying to save more, it’s the perfect time for me to take a no spending challenge. I am not going to buy any clothes or shoes for myself in 2013.

How Can You Not Buy Clothes?

Its very simple. If you don’t want to spend money on clothes, stay out of your favorite stores. It’s almost impossible to get through a whole twelve months without buying clothing for my daughter,who grows faster than Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends. I can choose to buy her clothes from stores that won’t tempt me. They don’t sell tons of things I’d be interested in at Children’s Place. I can also order things for her online. She doesn’t have to turn around in front of the mirror and make sure that pants don’t make her butt look big before buying.

I can go through my closet and drawers. If you are like me, you probably wear the same 5-10 items in rotation. Things get pushed to the back of the closet, and we forget about them. I bet I can find enough stuff hiding out in my closet to feel like I went shopping.

I also don’t need anything. I got socks and underwear for Christmas and a new pair of jeans right before, so I should be set unless I set something on fire. You can make your work clothes last longer by hanging them up instead of drying in the dryer. I’m pretty sure I can make it twelve months.

Psychological Shopping?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on retail therapy if I’ve been in a bad mood or was stressed for some reason. Buying new clothes or shoes was a little pick me up. I deserved it for all of my hard work.

I’ll tell you what feels better than buying new clothes, being out of debt. Hands down, no contest. Buying clothes you don’t need and getting a credit card bill a month later is not good for mental health in any way.

What Might Trip Me Up

My running shoes are six months old. Can they hold out for another 12 months? My knees won’t allow me to run as much as I used to, but I will pick it up pretty regularly as it gets warmer. There are two triathlons I want to do this summer, and I won’t kill my feet with bad shoes. Maybe if I need some before the end of the year, I can sell enough stuff on Ebay to cover the cost of buying a pair there, but I won’t give up my exercise to avoid buying new shoes.

A no spending challenge is a great way to save money if it is something you can reasonably live without. For 2013, I can live without new clothes. Hopefully, you can find your own no spending challenge.

What are you going to challenge yourself to spend less on?



About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Jamie Dickinson @ YourSavingAngels

    How about getting new shoes from someone as a birthday present?

    I rarely buy clothes and like you try to rotate my wardrobe regularly. I also ask for clothes or money towards clothes for birthday and Christmas presents.

  2. For us, it’s food. With clothing we’re pretty good about knowing the difference between need and want… with food, not so much.

    • I think it’s OK to have some wants with your food choices, but that has to be compensated by cutting other things. We have dramatically lowered our budget for groceries, but still buy some snacks and Diet Pepsi, which are certainly not needs. With a small child, there are also some smaller size items I buy to put in her lunchbox that might be cheaper to buy in bulk, but it just makes it easier for her to have a drink box of milk rather than having some sort of thermos that she would probably spill. The trade off is that we might have to eat more leftovers or less meat. I refuse to go over budget unless is is an absolute necessity.

  3. So happy we can co-host another giveaway together! Spending money on lunches and breakfast is a goal of mine in 2013.

  4. Kim, great post! I love the idea about selling stuff on Ebay to make up for the cost of the running shoes.

    Also, check your local running shoe store for clearance shoes. My favorite running shoes went on clearance in August so I picked up two pair for 60% off!

    • I will certainly check that out if I have to get some. With our growing daughter and all the clothes my Mom sends her, we usually have a pretty good supply to Ebay or consign, so I bet that will cover it if needed. Otherwise, we’ll put that money toward our vacation this summer.

  5. Wow, $2000 on clothes! I could not imagine if we were to spend that much on clothes. Our goal this year is to stick to our meal plan more so we don’t eat out as much.

    • I bet is is pretty expensive to go out with three kids. Do you find yourself not wanting to buy clothes since you work at home? I’m thinking if I’m working part time, I will hardly ever have to buy work clothes.

  6. We’re trying to spend less on food by eating from the pantry and only buying fresh meat and produce. We’re also trying to eat out less, but it’s been a hard change for us because it’s become a habit.

    • I love to go out to eat, and it seems like more of a treat if you can only do it occasionally. It is tempting to get to the end of the day and want someone to wait on you, though. Good luck!

  7. My goal is to spend less on almost everything. I think I have been overspending on many items and this challenge is going to allow me to rein in my spending on everything!

  8. I tend to shop for clothes every few years. I buy a lot of clothes over a course of a year then rarely buy anything for the next three or four. I essentially just wear out what I have until most of it is threadbare or has holes. Half of my current wardrobe is full of clothes that I bought between 2004-2006.

    This year, I’m trying to stay away from video games. I don’t buy too many to begin with, but they’re getting expensive, and I know that I’ll experience more joy putting that extra money towards debt than playing games in the long run.

    • I am terrible at video games, so that has never been a temptation for me, but they are expensive. My husband has a few, but he hasn’t bought any in a while unless someone gave him a gift card.

  9. I am focusing on food as well. Having all my life fit in one suitcase 3 months ago limited the clothing anyway. Now the food is more complicated, we still need to eat but we could cut on snacks, alcohol, and other expensive products.

    • I would imagine having to scale down your clothing that much makes you realize you really don’t need very much. Maybe I should pretend like I’m moving to a tropical island!

  10. Wow, what a goal! I can’t wait to hear how this goes. Best of luck!

    • It will actually be easier than most would imagine. I don’t love buying clothes that much. If it was a challenge to not eat out for a year, that would be much, much harder.

  11. As teachers, my husband and I only get paychecks during the school year. We do save for summer, but we go on a no spend on processed foods challenge every July and August. It helps that the farmers’ markets are plentiful then. too.

    • Wow, are you with a private school. My husband is a teacher also, but they get checks year round. I guess it would be the same amount, you’d just get bigger checks during the school year. It must take discipline in saving for the off months.

  12. I love this idea! I did a ten-item challenge this summer where I only wore ten pieces for thirty days and i LOVED it. It really worked out. I don’t know if I could go a whole twelve months, I go through shoes quickly (bc I walk so heavy on my feet) and all of my leggings are 5 years old and have so many tatters. Keep us posted on how it goes, Kim!

    • When you live in the boonies, it’s much easier. We have to have the worst dressed population on earth. I can get away with almost anything when not at work, but I draw the line at wearing pajama pants in public. That drives me nuts.

  13. I have to stay out of Target, my favorite store for every day stuff and even clothes. I lose all self-control there. I’m pretty good about not buying new clothes unless I need them. I agree that running shoes is something you don’t want to mess with. That’s a worthwhile purchase if you use them.

    • It helps that the only real store we have to buy clothes in our town is Walmart and I would wear leaves and twigs before I bought clothes there.

  14. I’ve spent a lot on clothes (for me) in recent years as I pared down my wardrobe. I have less clothes, but better quality and only things that I actually wear. But I have plenty enough for now, so I had already planned to spend less on clothing this year. I won’t say no spend, but at least low spend.

    • If I get holes in all my socks, I’ll have to rethink, but it’s kind of fun to see if I can make it. Congrats on paring down your wardrobe.

  15. I could easily not shop for a year or two. I currently only replace worn out items. I will only buy on sale or heavily discounted. I just bought some socks (retail $13) for $4.

  16. “It’s almost impossible to get through a whole twelve months without buying clothing for my daughter,who grows faster than Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends.” Ha, ha, ha, 🙂 Good one Kim!

    This is a great challenge. Good luck!!

  17. As an avid runner, I say buy the shoes!!! The risk of damage to your legs/knees/ankles/shins is too great to risk it. Other than that, good luck with this challenge!

  18. For a guy like me this goal is easy. For my wife, not sure she could do it. Only clothing I might need to buy is socks in a 12 month period. Unless I just wore them with holes…which I totally would much to my kids delight!

  19. SNAP! My kind of challenge. Usually, I go 6-10 months at a time without buying clothes, so this should be a sinch! QQ: Will you send a $100 if I don’t buy clothes? Is that how this works? 😉

  20. A couple of years ago, I lost a lot of weight. Thus necessitating buying new clothes. Which I will not complain about, because I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or more eager to part with that much money.

    But, since I was always scared that I might gain the weight back I only bought the basic set of clothes. One week’s worth of summer clothes for work. One week’s worth of winter clothes. And maybe another week’s worth of casual clothes. I’ve worn the same set for the last two years.

    Now, I am not a fashion plate. I picked conservative men’s clothes in colors and styles that look good on me. This seems to be working out fine. Admittedly, I’d like to buy some additional clothes. Maybe enough to start a two week rotation. I’m just being held back by my own laziness and cheapness.

    • I think you need to reward yourself after achieving a big goal. I like how Derek at Free at 33 describes the attitude that worked when he quit smoking. He thought of himself as a non-smoker who smoked for a while, rather than a reformed smoker who might relapse. I think that applies to weight loss as well. Congratulations, and I would certainly buy some clothes that fit and give away the bigger ones.

  21. Food for us… we’d be able to put money we usually spend on a meal out or whatever and put it somewhere where it’s really needed — like bills.

  22. I don’t need a no spend challenge not to buy clothes – I do it already…
    My wife is always on at me to buy more as some are starting to show signs of good use. I figure as long as they don’t show anything off that I’m not supposed to, then it can’t be too bad 😀

  23. I’ve never done a no spending challenge, but I’m sure I would learn that I probably spend a lot of money on things I don’t really need.

  24. What I’ll gain is some savings to give me peace of mind. I really limit what I buy and always try to buy items on sale or clearance.

  25. I challenge myself to not spend all the time. I find that it keeps me out of debt and that I don’t always need the latest and greatest.

  26. I hope i will gain peace of mind, because debt is something that seriously weighs me down.

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