Before purchasing any new item, I ask myself a series of questions and practice limitations to ensure I do not purchase anything I do not need. If by the end of this you think “holy golden calf, this all seems ridiculous” you might be correct. However, there might be some aspects of my thought process that you can tweeze out and use yourself.
I Shop In My Closet and Home: I always start with the premise that I probably do not need more clothing or another thing. Before making a purchase or deciding on bringing in a new article of clothing, I shop in my closet and carefully evaluate what I presently own. What do I need a new piece of clothing to do for me? Is there already an item that could suit that purpose? How often will I wear or use it? 20 times a year? 30 times a year? If not, Could I borrow it? When will I wear it? Can I afford it without putting it on a credit card?
Be honest with yourself when answering these questions, and set limits for yourself. For example, if I know I will not use something more than 20 times a year, I typically will not purchase it. This goes for pretty much anything I buy.
Resource: Questions to Ask Before Buying a Thing.
I Wait 3-5 months: I typically wait 3-5 months before adding a new item to my home. This is not a hard and fast rule, but this has helped limit the amount of items I have added to my closet before truly considering the need. Now I know that there is someone out there saying, “But what about a coat for the winter tearing beyond repair?” The rules I set for myself are limitations not deprivation. I have a $1,000 emergency fund set aside in the event I need to make a purchase outside of my normal budget and cash-flow.
Save: Typically, I wait and save for 30 days if an item is more than $20 (I call it my $20/30 Rule). This has always presented me with the opportunity to weigh the cost of my spending and even helped me in killing the impulse buying habit. I plan to purchase clothing with a sinking fund. If I know I am going to need to purchase a new coat for the winter, I start saving for it several months before. Planning our purchases and saving for an item over a certain dollar amount is a responsible way to ensure we weigh the financial cost of the item.
Consider Not Buying It: There is an old saying by a man from St. Ambrose of Milan, “If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other belong to the man with no shirt.” I have more than two shirts, but I have determined how many shirts is enough for me. But if I were to purchase another winter coat, I would have an additional one that I would not need. So before making any purchase, I take honest consideration in not purchasing the item. It is astounding knowing that there are over 600,000 homeless people in the United States, I am sure many of them could use the extra clothes we do not wear.
Buy Used: I look for clothing used before I look for anything new. The world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing a year with the average American producing 82 pounds of textile waste each year (True Cost Movie). The last thing I want to do is contribute to these statistics, so I first look for items that have been used well, and sometimes even repaired. There are even some companies who encourage you to purchase used items.
Buy New: If I am unable to purchase anything used, (either because quality was not there, size was too small or too big etc.), I make the decision to purchase something new. But before I do that, I put the items through a series of scrutinization, something gone into further detail in the essay, “It’s Not About the Brand.” The items must be created in safe environments where workers are paid a fair wage, companies must be transparent in their business practices, no harmful chemicals used to either the environment or in the production process and the company makes a conscious effort to use sustainable or recyclable materials.