Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about the other side of the activewear habit: practicing buying and having a reasonable amount of stuff, instead of getting carried away. Although the latest and greatest fitness gear is great fun, moderation and balance are still crucial. I already spent some time talking about how to trim down your existing collection, but another facet of that is that you might be feeling the need to simply buy less. If you feel like you need to put a damper on your shopping habits, here are 5 ways you can rein it in.
1 | Love it or leave it
Just like when you’re trying to decide what to keep, set stricter rules for yourself when choosing what to buy. If you have to debate whether to buy/return something, you should probably let it go. If your reaction isn’t “OMG YES”, then don’t be afraid to say no. I know I’ve been guilty of buying lots of “likes” and not sticking with “loves”.
2 | Implement a “one in, one out” rule
Odds are, if you know you’re trying to cut back, it’s because you already have plenty. If you have enough clothes to meet your needs but you still want to enjoy new things, try this rule: for every item you buy, you need to find one item in your closet to get rid of.
This rule has two benefits. The first and most obvious benefit is that it keeps your numbers from ballooning out of control. The other less obvious benefit is that it forces you to ask yourself: do I love this new thing more than what I already have? If you’re not willing to give something up for it, that means it’s not better than what you already have. If it’s not a step up, why dilute your closet with things that are less awesome? More often than not, you probably won’t end up showing it enough for it to be worth it.
3 | Track your spending
Sometimes all it takes is that little bit of accountability to keep you in check, even if it’s just accountability to yourself. This strategy is really effective not just for spending, but for lots of things, like your eating habits. If you have to put pen to paper every time you make a purchase, it forces you to admit to yourself what’s actually going on. Every time you go out shopping or place an order online, write down what you spent on a page in a notebook or record it in a spreadsheet. Make sure you record everything in the same place so you can see what’s happening in the long view. Seeing those numbers all in one place might be surprising! If you’ve been turning a blind eye to how much you spend, this is a simple but effective way of reality checking yourself. Knowing you have to write down that transaction later might make you think twice before handing over your credit card.
4 | Set a budget
The natural extension of #3 is to take the next step and set a budget. Of course, once you decide on a number, you’ve got to find a way to stick to it! One popular approach is to use the envelope method. This means that you set aside actual cash in an envelope each month. Every time you spend, you have to use the cash from that envelope. Then, when the envelope is empty, no more buying til the next month! Another strategy is to use an online service like Mint to help you track your spending and stick to your limits. By the way, a good way to find out where your limit should be is to first track where your money is going like in #3. That will help you set a limit that’s reasonable for your individual situation.
5 | Do a spending freeze
If you’ve been reading the past couple of weeks, I bet you saw this one coming. :) I’m just a few days away from finishing my 1-month freeze for the year, and I’m already happy with the results. Pausing your spending for a while can be a great way not only to save some money, but also to reset your mindset when it comes to buying.
To get the most out of a freeze, I recommend stopping all unnecessary spending for one month. In my opinion, a week or two isn’t quite long enough, but any longer than a month may not be doable for most people. Read this post for more reasons why I think spending freezes are awesome. Doing a month-long freeze once a year (or more!) and practicing discipline with your spending really pays off–literally and metaphorically.