Rights & Money

Are You a Shopaholic?

Here’s one way to rein in bad spending habits

By Katrina Caruso


We all have those things that we love to spend money on. For me, it’s clothes, although I’ve been working hard to cut down on that.

For the last few years, I’ve been buying almost exclusively second-hand clothes. While that helps with my guilt over buying cheap clothes made in sweatshops that fall apart after a few washes, it doesn’t save me that much money—because I can buy more clothes for the amount I would have spent buying retail. I end up having too many clothes, including a lot I just don’t wear. Which is why, when I read an online article by Melissa McEwan—“How Self-Tracking Helped Me Conquer My Bad Shopping Habits”—I knew I had found something that might help me and also satisfy my own personal love for spreadsheets.

McEwan’s concept was to create an Excel Spreadsheet, list everything in her closet, and over the course of a year, track how often she wore which clothes. When she found a reason to get rid of something—it was too itchy, the fit wasn’t working for her—she got rid of it and noted the reason.

Itemizing your wardrobe doesn’t have to be done in a spreadsheet. If you’re more visual, you can take photos of all the clothes you own using an app such as Stylebook (available through iTunes) or Closet Space (available through iTunes or Google Play). These apps can also help you create outfits and plan for the work week ahead of time. If you’re more of a pen-and-paper kind of person, itemize clothing and track wear in a wardrobe journal.

Tracking can not only help you to downsize your current wardrobe but also show you how to shop smarter, because you’ll be noticing the trends in your preferences for certain fabrics, fits, and styles. In addtion, the spreadsheet or the app provides a helpful inventory to help prevent duplication and make it easier to buy things that will complement something else in your wardrobe instead of randomly buying things that don’t go with anything.

The same system works for things other than clothing. If you want to curb your spending on makeup, shoes, or even handy household gadgets, you can track how much use you’re getting out of an item and identify trends. Over time, you’ll gain a better idea of your spending.

Photo: SuperStock.