Listen, this is one of the hardest things I've done. No joke! Shedding excess possessions became easy once I got going. The momentum helped me see the task through, and even though it's still a work in progress, I feel that I've had a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. Job well done, Lauren.
I would venture to say we - you and I - are big online shoppers. I really know very few people that don't shop online at all (though my husband falls into that category) and most people I know regularly buy clothes, things for their homes, even groceries online.
To keep it real, I never thought this was problematic. Honestly. The parade of boxes to our home each week was rationalized to myself as "well I buy a lot, but I return 90% of it." And that was true. Online sales are irresistible, but if I buy several things and only keep what I need, that's not bad. Or at least that's what I told myself.
Then, as I was letting go of lots of items out of my closet, I noticed a pattern.
Nearly 90% of what I was letting go of was bought online, and the majority of what I was keeping was bought in store.
It turns out, my rationalization was really a lie to myself. Turns out that 10% of items I kept after all those returns added up to boxes upon boxes of goods that were donated. I never needed them in the first place. Or, they didn't really fit that great but I kept them because they were a good deal. Maybe they were bought on impulse, and I was convinced they would be that ONE item that changes my style. Worse, maybe it should have been returned, but I was too lazy to take it back to the store.
Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.
It was a punch in the gut, really. But one of the chapters in this book talks about not attaching guilt to items, including the ones that were mistakes. Because the object has served its purpose - it's taught you that even though it was a mistake, its given you awareness to make a better decision before purchasing the next time.
I knew I needed to "stop the leak" before I could really have both the closet and the life I want, and that leak was the box parade. With that knowledge, I decided to stop shopping online completely.
I started my shopping fast at Thanksgiving. I knew that Black Friday deals online tempted me in the past, and I felt a strong conviction to put a stop to that habit immediately. If I could resist the lure of the day of sales, I would be off to a great start. Besides, I knew everything I bought last year on that day ended up in the donation box.
It was a success! I spent the day with my family in Seattle and while I did purchase one great deal, I did so in person, and it was a jacket I've worn at least twice a week since the day I bought it. At 80% off, I got a jacket lined in shearling that's keeping me cozy this winter.
My next step was telling myself I would not give in to all of the "countdown to Christmas" sales. I allowed myself to purchase Christmas gifts online from two companies that are online only, for friends and family. That was it. No shopping for Lauren. And wouldn't you know - I had more funds to give thoughtful gifts that I knew they would love.
Now, I only buy something online when it's truly a need, and if it's a better deal online than it is in person. For example, I've been working on projects around our house and I can get a better price on things like paint rollers, hardware, and cleaning supplies online. Those are the only things I've allowed myself to buy.
This is not an easy habit to maintain. Honestly, I had no idea the amount of online shopping I was doing until I stopped. Suddenly, I have a lot more free time. Without realizing it, I was devoting a good bit of time to browsing the web, looking for the greatest deals.
4 REASONS TO SHOP IN PERSON INSTEAD
Fit. If you truly care about getting the best fit, it is impossible to do that online unless you are purchasing an item that you've already purchased before, in the same size. I've found that even in brands I am familiar with, I can find the garment that fits me better by trying it on in store so I can try on three sizes - the one I think I wear, one bigger, one smaller. Sometimes, the shirt I have my eye on looks better if I go up a size so that I can get a slouchy fit. Or, my normal size is too boxy and the size smaller plays up my shape better.
Expectation vs. Reality. This is a biggie. Companies make sure that garment looks irresistible online. They pin it behind the model so that it fits just so, shave her arm down in Photoshop to make the sleeves look more trim, and never let you zoom close enough to see the tiniest details. You expect to receive what you see, but the reality is often very different. Maybe the stitching is lopsided, or the fabric texture is not great. You can only judge this in person.
Time - Part Two. Let's say you do cave and buy a few items. But one of them works, three of them don't. Now what do you do? Most companies allow you to send returns back directly, but often at your expense - via a $8 deduction from your credit for that SmartLabel. If you're like me, you usually head to the brick and mortar store instead, to return it in person. Y'all. I wish I could have back all of the hours I spent doing this. I now realize what a giant time suck this was in my life. I'm not proud to say I had weekly runs to make these returns and it kept me from choosing what I wanted to do by forcing me to do what I had to do to get my money back.
What about you? Have you ever tried to stop online shopping? Or do you feel like it's the smartest way for you to shop? Sound off - I want to hear your thoughts. When I discussed this with one friend, she said she shops exclusively online because she's able to see a cart total and get a better understanding of the investment she's making. But she also keeps the majority of what she buys. I'm interested to hear how the online shopping process works for you.
But, if you're in the same boat as me, I'll share tomorrow some of the ways I'm kicking the habit.