Monday, January 26, 2015

My one-out, one-in policy for clothes

An area of my budget that I often find myself struggling in is clothing. And it's funny, because I don't really enjoy shopping or clothing all that much. Actually, I really dislike shopping - I find the whole experience overwhelming. Regardless of that, I somehow end up buying clothes every month or so that I don't need, I don't wear, and I ultimately don't even want. Why do I keep doing that?

In an effort to continue my loan payments while also enjoying my life with occasional outings and trips, I took a look at my spending and my priorities, and it became really obvious what area I would be most willing to cut back or even cut out entirely: clothes.

I've never kept a lot of clothing around, and I recently did a pretty major purge of my wardrobe. I share a single closet with my boyfriend, so there simply isn't a lot of room for extra, unnecessary stuff.

Our closet
The rest of my wardrobe

These images sum up pretty much all of the clothing I own right now, with the exception of shoes, outerwear and underwear. There are a few items in the hamper, but otherwise, what you see is what I've got. It's not much.

When I first toyed with the idea of cutting back on my clothing spending, I thought maybe I could do what Mrs. Frugalwoods did - cut out clothes shopping for an entire year. I realized pretty quickly that that wouldn't work. My wardrobe is just the right size, but if something wears out, I don't have much of a choice but to replace it!

Instead, what I've decided to adopt is a "one-out, one-in" policy when it comes to clothes for the next year (and beyond!). That means if something has to go out, I'm allowed to bring something else in. Otherwise, I'll work with what I've got.

A couple of key rules:
  • If I can reasonable mend an item or do without it, it doesn't need to be replaced.
  • An unexpected "occasion" is not a reason to buy a new outfit - I can work with what I have, or borrow from a friends
    • The exception to this rule would be a job interview
  • I can replace my running shoes, once
  • Finally, if I do change jobs and need to step up my work wardrobe, it will be on an "as-needed" basis, with a very strict budget
I think that about sums it up! I'm hoping that this new rule will help give me some structure in my spending decisions, and allow me to free up the extra for loans, travel and enjoying myself!

How do you manage clothes spending? I've never really had a system before, but I know plenty of people budget monthly or annually for clothing.

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