retail therapy {and a budget update}

Duro Olowu Wood-Handled Tapestry Tote; Target clearance top; Lucky Brand jeans; 

Last October, I decided my shopping habits needed a reboot; so I embarked on a four-month journey to spend just $100 per month on clothes, accessories, and beauty products. It went so well for those four months, I proclaimed, “Hey, Internets! I’m going to keep this biz-ness up for a whole year!” To which my husband cocked an eyebrow and gently asked if I was really up for such a task, and I was all, “where’s your faith, dude?! I got this!

Have I told you before that for a type-A control freak, I can be really impulsive? When I get excited about something, I must do it now! Planning be damned! Leap and the net will appear! It’s going to be awesome! Like the time I decided to become a Stella & Dot independent stylist, and spent an ungodly sum of my husband’s money on samples, just to quit in the red less than a year later. Or, most recently, when I almost accidentally murdered this blog trying to move it to a self-hosted platform one afternoon after deciding that morning to make the switch (a Google search and a credit card does not a tech-savvy blogger make, friends.) This impulsivity gets me in trouble now and then, and sometimes my “mouth writes a check that my @ss can’t cash.”


By now, you may have deduced that this is a confessional post about the status of that overzealous budget proclamation of yore, as well as a reluctant admission that my husband was {cough} right. It felt weird to take such a stance on the issue on my blog, and then just forget about it and let it fade into oblivion, you know? It felt like I had some ‘splainin’ to do…

This is not to say that I’ve been out making it rain in my favorite outlet stores; but the truth is, in the last couple of months, I haven’t been as meticulous in tracking my spending as I was in the beginning. It started with a girl’s trip last month, for which I needed at least two new bathing suits, and then it was new sandals for warmer weather, and then an overhaul of my spring/summer makeup routine. Then a couple of nights ago, after a brutally exhausting holiday week, I needed a little “me time” to relax and unwind and ain’t no therapy like retail therapy, and I thought I’d earned a teeny spree! Call this ridiculous justification, or epic failure, or just jumping the gun on a goal without really thinking it all the way through — I haven’t figured out what to call it yet myself…


Despite a derailing, I’m not naming the whole budget experiment a wash; it really did help me push the reset button on my spending, cleared up my prior confusion of needs vs. wants, and made me a smarter shopper. I achieved about 6 months of solid commitment, and for a girl who’s never budgeted in her life, I’m proud of what I accomplished! However, I’m cutting myself a little slack and saying maybe this experiment has run its course for me. 

So what’s worse: being a big quitter, or setting yourself up for failure with a lofty 12-month goal you didn’t think through? Either way, sometimes you have to know when to say uncle.



P.S. I have a whole new level of respect for the self control of the people who’ve accomplished a year-long shop fast! Like my friend, Cathy, who’s in the midst of one now and sharing her journey on her blog. Go cheer her on, will you?

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  1. 6.18.13

    I really do need to begin some sort of budgeting. When it comes to clothes i always feel like i don’t have enough, but makeup… just because everything is so tiny and takes up such little space it gives me the illusion of being less in numbers too!
    Its been a month since i claimed i would cut down on the makeup shopping but about 2 weeks since i last hogged :P
    Its not easy! So hats of to you for having pulled it of for 4 months :o

    Great post!

  2. 6.1.13

    Reblogged this on smashleedawnn.

  3. 6.1.13

    This post is amazing. It’s soo hard to set a budget when it comes to shopping. I always find myself spending almost my whole paycheck in just a few days on clothes and makeup… food as well. But congratulations on even going that long! I don’t think I could do it.

    btw love the outfit, you have such greaaaaat style!

  4. 5.24.13
    Lauren said:

    That’s a big commitment… especially for someone who loves shopping. That is one promise I could never make! This outfit is fantastic… I love it so much that i am following you now because it this haha. You sound like a cool girl, and your writing actually made me laugh out loud in this post… Excited to see what you have coming up!!


  5. 5.24.13
    Melissa said:

    😊 I can totally understand, there’s no better therapy than retail therapy for me. I will say that you did good, my shopping fast lasted about a month, it’s hard to pass up a clearance rack full of clothing in my size.

  6. 5.18.13

    I think it’s awesome that you at least gave it a shot and tried your best. 6 months is still a long time and I congrat you. :)

  7. 5.16.13

    i think since you outlasted your original goal you should be proud, and i absolutely LOVE this clutch!
    xo, aiyanajane ||

  8. 5.16.13

    Hey, I say props to you for a solid run! Sometimes when it comes to making a change, what’s important more so than sticking to every last detail is learning a thing or two that you can apply practically in the future, which you seem to have accomplished! I also love someone’s comparison between shopping and diet cheat days…so true! Sometimes deprivation turns out to be the first major cause of relapse, so we all need to loosten up every few days to stay on track.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. 5.15.13

    I don’t think I could go an entire year, in fact I KNOW I couldn’t! Kudos to you for trying! Love the yellow top & that clutch is fab by the way :)

  10. 5.15.13

    To help pay for my wedding, I didn’t shop for a year…probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done :P Now, I shop ridiculously…I should rework my budget as well :)
    BTW, what a fabulous bag! I love the color combinations! And JCP…how awesome!

  11. 5.15.13

    wow I’m impressed, I know that I too suffer from retailitius and find myself buying things I don’t “need”. A coworker made a wager with me that I wouldn’t make a frivolous purchase in 30 days (I failed) but I learned how to prioritize needs versus wants. So kudos to you!

  12. 5.15.13

    Reblogged this on keepyouressence.

  13. 5.15.13

    Nothing to be ashamed of. You did a great job for 6 months! Much better than a lot of people could do (shopaholic people, that is).

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

  14. 5.15.13
    kelsey said:

    goodness. you did so well! i have not ever done that for longer than a month or so. i am on a spending freeze right now and it’s killing me. i really need to get my credit card back down to a healthy 0 and some spending money back in the bank!
    kw ladies in navy
    enter our giveaway!

    • 5.15.13

      Thanks, Kelsey! Try it for 3 months, and maybe take the extra cash and put it toward that credit card. It’s easier to sacrifice the shopping when you can see you’re making progress on something else, Iike reducing your debt. During the last 6 months, I was able to take care of some unexpected expenses that popped up without having to dip into my savings. That’s when I knew it was worth it :)

  15. 5.15.13
    mairzeebp said:

    Be proud of the four months and know that if you need to, you can stick to a budget! Sometimes even people who diet, or try to eat healthy, have a cheat day. It makes life manageable….and keeps things balanced and happy :). Well done on the four months!!

    • 5.15.13

      I loved your comparison of a splurge to a cheat day! It reminds me of my friend Lisa, who once told me that it’s okay to enjoy a cupcake now and then, and not to beat yourself up when you slip. Just try to make more good decisions than bad, and before you know it it’s a lifestyle. That’s how I’m going to try and approach shopping going forward!

  16. 5.15.13
    twelves said:

    “a girl’s trip last month, for which I needed at least two new bathing suits”

    At least two, really?

    You didn’t set yourself up for failure for committing to a 12-month budget. You can still go another 6 months, and be proud that you got back up and completed your project.

    You know how people say that a person shouldn’t go on a diet temporarily, they should re-examine how they eat regularly and make a lifestyle change? Giving up and going back to your old (over-)spending ways really devalues your success, just as someone who’s been eating well for 6 months says “ok I’m done now” and stocks the fridge with frozen pizzas again.

    It’s not just about spending less, it’s about investing in more versatile items that you can remix with ease. Like one basic swim suit.

    • 5.15.13

      I can see how the two bathing suits line can read a little excessive and ridiculous. Let me try to explain that one. I haven’t purchased new swimsuits in years, and sadly, the teeny bikinis of my early-to-mid 20’s just don’t fit like they used to. I’m much more comfortable with the idea of a cute one-piece these days, so I was on the hunt. As for needing two, after spending a day in the sand and ocean all day, I’d rather have a second clean option than pull on the same dirty one-piece for day 2. With that said, I found them at Marshall’s, so I spent less for 2 designer suits than I would for one retail (under $50 each). I love when that happens! :-)

      I wholeheartedly agree on all other points you shared here, and really appreciate the feedback. I definitely look at shopping differently after the last 6 months, and I don’t want to go back to those dark days! Your comparison to dieting hits the nail right on the head.

  17. 5.15.13
    Terri said:

    Good for you on going six months! That’s about six months longer than I’ve ever gone! My husband set a budget up for me (because I’m an idiot) and based it off a realistic reduction compared to what I was already spending. It’s still big compared to $100, but I come in under every month, and that makes the hubby happy.

    • 5.15.13

      Hey, if you’re sticking to a budget that you and your mister agreed upon, that’s great in my book! Budgets are relative.

  18. 5.15.13
    Valerie said:

    Everyone falls off the wagon once in a while. Just dust yourself off and get back on! Good luck.

    • 5.15.13

      It’s true! The important thing is that you keep learning. Besides, everyone needs to splurge sometimes ;)

    • 5.15.13

      Thank you, Valerie!

  19. 5.15.13

    I think it’s better to have tried – recognizing you have an problem is the first step toward fixing it :) I would know since I’m pretty sure I have the same shopping addiction! I’ve been trying a new thing where I window shop online and if I find myself being drawn towards the same type of item over and over, I’ll finally the purchase! Sometimes I miss out on the deal if it ends up sold out, but it’s really reigned in my spending so I can’t complain!


    • 5.15.13

      I think this is really smart! So much of shopping is compulsive for me, so I’ve made a similar rule for myself. If I think I want something, I leave it in the store (or the cart, if I’m shopping online) and if I still want it a few days later and it’s within my budget I’ll pull the trigger. Most of the time, I forget all about it!