Could You Go an Entire Year Without Buying Clothes?

…Or a cup of coffee, or going to the movies? Smart spender Betty Linneman made the ultimate New Year’s resolution in 2013. Could you do the same?

Credit: Betty Linneman
Credit: Betty Linneman

Written by Sarah Cocchimiglio

Betty Linneman is a mindful spender and a crafty saver, but she has one weakness: clothing.

Although the St. Charles, Mo., resident is frugal with her fashion choices—she loves to hunt through thrift shops and discount stores—Linneman, 54, found herself last year with more stuff than she could fit in two closets. Then, something she read struck a chord with her: Most people can go a year without buying any clothes.

“I wondered if I could do that,” Linneman said. “I already had lots of clothes. I thought it would be a good way to save money, and put to good use what I already had.”

So, over Christmas dinner last year, she announced her New Year’s Resolution to not buy any clothes in 2013.

It wasn’t easy, and she admits she slipped up once or twice, but Linneman is proud to have accomplished a year with almost no clothes shopping. Here’s how she did it—and how you can, too.

Where do you need to scale back?

It’s simple, and it doesn’t have to just be about clothes. Determine where the most of your expendable income is spent, and resolve to cut back on that item for one year. Ditch your Starbucks habit, steer clear of your favorite department store, or give up buying shoes—for 365 days.

Prep for success

If you need to, stock up ahead of time. Linneman had three sizes of everything before she started her no-clothes buying challenge, but she needed socks and undergarments. She also took stock of her wardrobe and planned to reverse the all-too-common trend of wearing 20 percent of the things in her closet 80 percent of the time.

If you’re cutting back on coffee shop visits, buy supplies to brew coffee at home. Freeze your charge card in a block of ice. Pick up a new pair of sneakers if you know yours will wear out before the coming year is up. Ask yourself: What will you really need to get through a year?

Resist the spending urge

Instead of shopping for new clothes to change up her wardrobe, Linneman mixed things up using items she already owned. “I made an effort to vary my outfits,” she said. “In the past, I would have just made some new purchases and gotten variety that way. So I was more creative in choosing my attire.”

Linneman also used to spend a lot of her downtime shopping, so this year she had to find other ways to fill her time.

“When I announced my resolution to my husband-to-be, he looked at me, quite supportively, and asked, ‘What are you going to do on your days off?’” Linneman said. “So I did figured out some other activities.”

She spent one whole day cropping old jeans into shorts—not just a good way to spend her day off, but also a creative use of clothing she already had. Now, she has five perfectly fitting pairs of jean shorts instead of five pairs of jeans she no longer wears.

Was it worth it?

“This past year, I was able to pay down $5,000 in debt,” Linneman said. She and her fiancé Dan also took two vacations this year, and fitted the windows in their home with new blinds, all of which they paid for in cash. Linneman estimates she probably saved at least $600 just by not buying clothes this year.

“For one year, try a different New Year’s Resolution,” she said. “Rather than the usual lose weight, save more money, be better organized, [choose] a concrete, specific resolution.”

By the end of the year you may just find yourself richer—financially and emotionally.

TELL US: What's your New Year's resolution? Could you give up an indulgence for an entire year?


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