As a bit of a personal challenge, I decided to go the month of January "without buying anything." I put that in quotes because there were obvious exceptions. Case in point, groceries. Beer counts as a grocery, if bought at a grocery store.
I guess it would be better to say I went the month without buying anything frivolous. The main thing I wanted to focus on was clothing, because I've been doing a mini wardrobe overhaul for the past few months (still ongoing), and it was starting to add up. Additionally, I've been spending more at restaurants than I would like to lately, so I wanted to limit that as well.
It was interesting. For one thing, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Since I knew I wasn't going to be buying anything, I spent a lot less time browsing, both online and in stores, than I have in past months. This proved challenging when I went to Nordstrom Rack to help Joe exchange a shirt. I found this cape, at an amazing price of only $60 or so, marked down from well over $200. I love the color, it felt very nice/soft, and I've wanted a cape for months now. But I told myself, "Self, you already have a nice coat and you don't actually need a cape. If you're going to spend money, it would be best spent on something else."
I'll be honest, I spent about an hour that day in a funk. But I got over it. Besides, I'm secretly hoping Nordstrom Rack will have a "Clear the Rack" sale so I can go see if they still have it, for an additional 25% off...
Beyond that, I never found myself upset that I couldn't buy something. And it's not like I went on a major shopping spree once February came. After spending a month of not really looking for things to buy, I don't feel the urge to compulsively browse online stores as much anymore. Doesn't mean I'm done buying things forever, of course. I still have some serious issues with my wardrobe and I'm looking for new pieces to replace the ones I don't like, or that just don't go with anything else I own. But taking a month off gave me a chance to actually think about what I have and what I want, and where I have major gaps in my wardrobe. So now I can focus on filling the gaps, rather than just buying things because I think I might need it.
I will admit, the month wasn't perfect. I've been on a massive Sims 2 kick lately, so I decided to buy the remaining expansions that I didn't already have. It probably could have waited, but I was also buying the games used, so there was a chance that if I waited longer, the cheap ones would be sold and I'd have to buy a more expensive one. That's the defense (excuse) I'm giving, but I will say I don't regret it because I've had a lot of fun messing around with the new games.
Additionally, Joe and I went out for dinner twice. The first was before I even decided to do this challenge, and it was something we had been planning since December anyway. I had a $10 gift card from my birthday, as well as a second, stackable coupon for a free appetizer. I like almost $20 of free food. The second time, we went out with a bunch of our friends to watch a football game. I think it's important to have a balance between saving money and being social. Even if I go out to eat on occasion, I can still put aside a decent amount of money each month. I'm not trying to be cheap; just frugal.
So overall, I would say the challenge was a success. No, I wasn't perfect. But I was able to cut down on absentminded browsing of online stores, which will undoubtably cut down on future spending if I keep it up. I was able to think more critically about what it is specifically that I don't like about my current wardrobe. As an added bonus, I received a nice boost to my net worth. And that, to me, is a lot more satisfying than buying a cape. (Though I still really, really hope it's not sold out at my Nordstrom Rack...)