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A Year With No Personal Purchases

By Cody Galloway, TULA Chief Experience Officer

Each year for as long as I can remember- I do a full, intensive closet clean-out.  I re-organize by color and type, make sure everything hangs in the same direction and donate any item that falls into one of these three categories: 

1. I never seem to gravitate towards the item when I get dressed or never want to wear it for whatever reason (in most cases I like the piece but I don’t LOVE the piece on me due to the fit, or the feel, or the color etc.)

2. Doesn’t fit (hello favorite jeans from high school…)

3. I haven’t worn the item in the last 6 months to a year

During this latest annual process- I felt an overwhelming urge to take it one step further.  It was nutty to me that each time I would end up with trash bags of clothes I was ready to part with.  Each year, I was proud of myself for committing and letting go and frustrated at the same time- how do I continually have this much STUFF to donate?  Does that mean I purchase trash bags of clothes to replace those items each year? My closet should feel real roomy….and yet, it didn’t. 

I wouldn’t classify myself as a big shopper, shopping is not a hobby of mine (unless we are talking home decor...that is a whole different conversation)...but somehow I was refilling my closet up to the brim without knowingly doing it.  I was very much the- ‘I have an event...I need a new outfit, I have a trip, I need a new outfit- kinda shopper’.  So...I challenged myself…and vowed:


I told my friends, my husband, and my business partners so I couldn’t back out, and it started the very next day.  There are plenty of people out there that have taken on this journey (or experiment) however you see it, and documented it- I chose not to read about their experiences, and instead focus on my own.   So...please note, there is certainly more than one way to ‘do this’ and embark on a no-spend year (mine was personal) and not necessarily financially or environmentally motivated - however, that perspective was certainly a positive outcome.

1.  No items purchased by me for me personally

2.  Gifts and gift cards were exceptions

3.  Necessary household purchases were exceptions (**20 new throw pillows would not qualify as necessary.  If you know me, you know this is a problem.)

One year’d I do?! Drummmmmmmm roll….. I did it! Well...mostly.  

Here were my two ‘cheats’: 

1. I purchased a pair of pants on a business trip after I literally accidentally ripped the entire seam of my pants in the middle of a site visit with a client (I put that in the ‘necessary’ bucket- yes, this really happened.) 

2.  I purchased a pair of yoga pants and yoga top using a gift card my mom gave me but technically the gift card didn’t cover the entire purchase (I put that one in the ‘doesn’t count’ bucket?) :)


  1. I had WAY more than enough options to satisfy every occasion & mood 
  2. My perspective shifted & I felt an urge to get rid of even more (a capsule wardrobe STARTED to make a whole lotta sense to me.) 
  3. I started to see my closet and all the clothes in it as brand new & choosing an outfit started to feel like shopping
  4. I got way more creative with my styling 
  5. I realized I wear about 10% of my wardrobe 100% of the time
  6. I shopped way more prior to this experiment than I thought
  7. For the most part, I realized that my closet was full of two categories- items that I either had bought spontaneously, or pieces I love and had been holding on to for a long time (my staples) 
  8. I realized I had been purchasing low budget and unfortunately also low quality items spontaneously that didn't wear well. Those pieces were the items that almost always made the 'giveaway' pile the same year they were purchased.
  9. Taking the act of looking for and purchasing things for me off the table made me more conscious of what I was spending on and made me hyper aware of what I wanted to spend $ on and what I was willing to save for (Which for me was: my kids, experiences with friends and family, traveling, gifting annnnnd I am pretty sure if it existed at the time- TULA would have definitely made that list...because I definitely can assert that I value time over money- and this little experiment made that even more clear.)

1. I filled up a LOT of carts (yep, I admit it...I shopped...without actually pulling the trigger)

2. Perri and Ollie (my kiddos) may or may not have gotten a few extra clothing ‘gifts’ ;)

3. Gifting… I love any year, it is definitely part of my love language. However this particular year, I MAY have turned up my gifting up a notch (doesn’t count if it’s not for me right? :)) 


Did I go on a crazy shopping spree after the year ended? Funny  If I am being honest though, I had a few days in the beginning of the experiment thinking through which carts (online) I would go into and hit that magical ‘purchase’ button for, first.  However, to my surprise- after the year was over- I truly found myself thinking about everything I purchased a little bit differently.  I asked myself:  Do I actually really like this?  Do I need something like this? Will purchasing this make me happy? Is it worth the space and the dollars it will take up?  As a result of making all these formerly simple/spontaneous purchase decisions a little more analytical than I was used to, I actually ended up going about 14 months before purchasing something personal for myself. 

Did I save money, sure! Did my closet stay nice and clean, yes! For me however, the necessary shift in perspective was the biggest gain of all. 

Pro-Tip/Shameless Plug:  Let TULA help you edit your closet AND drop the bags off for donation so they don't just ride around in your trunk for a month!  We’ll even list your items for sale for you (think poshmark, FB Marketplace etc.) if you want to double down on not only saving money but making money too.  We also LOVE styling and would love to help you create a capsule seasonal wardrobe using pieces you already have!