I was writing a comment on Debbie Roe’s blog Recovering Shopaholic in regards to her post about her worst buys of 2014, when I felt the need to write this post! I made a lot of mistakes last year. I went over budget for the year (post soon to come) and also purchased far more items than my original limit of 45. December in particular was bad, which should not be the case. How can I be successful in 2015 with the new French Wardrobe Challenge, if I couldn't be successful even recently with controlling my impulse to shop? If I were a reader of my own blog, I would doubt my resolve and doubt I would be very successful. So, I've decided to share my plan to making 2015 a success!
Why the French Wardrobe Challenge?
The first thing I think that will help me succeed with my 2015 goals is my commitment to the idea of the French Wardrobe Challenge and my 2015 Budget. I plan to spend $1500 or less on clothing and accessories next year (underclothing and sleepwear do not count, but I have no needs in these areas for the next year save hosiery that may wear out, which comes out of a separate budget). I also plan to purchase 20 items or less next year, approximately 5 items each season (I live in a 4-season climate).
Why did I choose $1500? I chose a smaller amount than my original goal last year, which I wasn't even able to meet because I overspent. While I did set some goals for saving and for debt-reduction last year, I did not track my progress. I did not do a monthly budget after a couple of months, and I was blissfully ignorant about the total expenditures in most categories. The biggest problems were that my goals were not aggressive, and I did not have full commitment to them because I didn't really have a defined reason WHY I should meet them. I also failed to make myself accountable. I did strangely enough over-accomplish my goal for debt-reduction and met some of my goals, but this happened naturally rather than intelligently. I believe I have fixed these mistakes for this year. I've set aggressive and comprehensive goals, I've made my husband my accountability partner for the monthly budgets, and I have set concrete reasons why I want to accomplish each of my financial goals! Lastly, at $1500, I should be able to acquire some very nice items while still being cost-conscious.
Why did I choose 20 items? Again, I chose a very small number- particularly when you compare it to the amount of items I purchased this year. While I enjoy acquiring new clothing and accessories, I really dislike waste. Bringing in more items at this point is wasteful! I have enough things in my closet, and the fact is that any kind of shopping for myself is not a need- it’s a want! A $1500 want- what a luxury! I also am truly committed to the idea of minimalism in my heart. I need to start acting upon it in all aspects of life, not just a few. The continual parade of items out of my home have made an impression on me that I don’t want to forget. I would have set the limit and budget lower, but I am afraid of failing if I am too restricting, given that I do have a shopping compulsion that I have been working on.
How I plan to avoid failure
Other than relying on my declared commitment and my dis-interested husband for accountability (as long as the bills are paid and debt is going down, which are never problems, he is happy), I have set other ‘fail-safes’ as to motivate me to stay on track.
Cleaning up what I read: I deleted from my bookmarks all my sources of weakness- all the fashion blogs that inspired me to purchase more and more clothing/accessories. It’s easy to get sucked into materialism when you expose yourself to it! I also removed myself from a lot of retailers’ mailing lists, leaving only a couple favorites that I will likely use when I am ready to purchase something.
Focus on Minimalism: I've found several mini-challenges related to minimalism to participate in and to inspire me all year and keep me motivated. I also am doing one big challenge: De-cluttering using the Konmari Method (see post here) that is likely to take a long time to complete. I have outlined many little steps I plan to take in order to accomplish this in my own time.
House remodeling: I have some big plans this year which include ripping out and replacing my kitchen and fixing many minor things throughout my home. I also plan to upgrade some of my household items slowly (and I have a list!) and I am planning on making the outside of my home more beautiful. All of this will take time and funds away from me shopping!
Self-improvement: I also plan to focus more on my physical and mental health this year, including exercise and meditation- something I did not accomplish in 2014 though it was part of my goals. The details on these are still a little vague but I am working on it!
Meal planning: I made some forays into meal planning that were highly successful in terms of time spent and budgeting this past year. I failed to make it a true habit, which I am going to work on much more this coming year. This is another thing that will give me something to spend my creative energy on, which will help take away the focus on my wardrobe. I also have set goals for each category of spending in my budget, not just shopping- and my grocery budget going forward will be much tighter.
Debt Reduction and Savings Building: Not only have I set aggressive goals for each of these as I do every year, but I am also charting my progress monthly and plan to follow through with focusing on these goals and perhaps even reaching past my goals with penny pinching! I also have monthly goals (the budget) which I never really set before. My old budget technique last year was to set aside enough money out of earnings for bills, track all expenses, and spend the 'leftover' as I wish. Now I have specific places money will go, even if there is 'leftover'!
The big picture: One of my biggest driving forces to following the item limit and budget this year is a little dream I have for the next year. I have a 2 year old child, and I'd love to have another one when she is 4 and in preschool (2016). To afford another child, I need to meet my financial goals. As for my wardrobe- both to avoid waste and to better afford a capsule maternity wardrobe (my old one is mostly too casual for my current job) sticking to minimal purchases this year will help in both aspects. While this may not work out like I plan (as these things are hard to plan), I can put myself into a better position to follow through!
Wish me luck!