Getting my clothing spending down to 5%

I think it was the lovely Adina J that told me clothing should be 5% of your spending (or maybe it was 3%?). Not sure if she heard this rule somewhere or if she made it up herself, but regardless, she is a frugal and fashionable woman so I trust her judgement. And thus my new personal spending rule is this:

Clothing should be 5% or less of your overall spending.

Why this is a good idea:

  • instead of being a fixed amount, a percentage is proportional to my income. Therefore, the more money I make, the more I’m allowed to spend.
  • limiting my spending on clothing will result in more money elsewhere, which means more for debt payments, savings, or important items like furniture.
  • limits will force you to evaluate your choices. If you know you can’t have it all, you will instead select what’s most important. I’m all for prioritizing my wardrobe to keep junk out!

I’ve been tracking my spending for a few years now, and I know I spend more than 5% of my money on clothes. It never feels like I do, because I don’t own a lot of clothes. When I become bored with something, I give it to my sisters or donate it to Goodwill without a second thought.

I remain really dedicated to a minimalist wardrobe. I can just feel when I have too much stuff and it gives me anxiety until I cut back. If my entire closet amounts to more than 4 loads of laundry, it’s time to get rid of stuff.

However, owning fewer items frequently gives me the illusion that I spend less on clothing than I really do. In reality, I spend a ton of money on clothes.

I like expensive items. Fabrics like leather, silk and cashmere aren’t cheap to buy OR keep, but they’re my favorites. Sweatshop-free cotton tees are 3x the price of those at H&M or Forever XXI, and denim made within North American borders will have a price tag that reflects a North American minimum wages.

My clothing budget also reflects regular tailoring, dry-cleaning, and shoe repair expenses, which count towards the 5% total.

For 2013, I was heavy on clothing shopping early in the year. I bought a pair of leather boots early in January and stocked up on my favorite jeans when I went to visit my parents in Utah. These two shopping trips alone account for at least 1/3 of what I’ve spent on new clothes this year! Since then I’ve slowed my clothing spending down, save for a recent stock up on basic t-shirts from American Apparel for summer (using my spending account, so I shopped guilt-free!), I’m hoping to see the percentage drop. To date this is how my spending looks:


Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 7.44.31 PM

total spending so far for 2013

Eep! Nearly 8% on clothes and I still need a new pair of sandals =( How can I bring my clothing spending down to 5% of the pie? Two ways:

1) Cut down spending on clothing (obvious, right?)

2) Increase spending elsewhere.

Now, I don’t want bigger bills to pay and I shouldn’t go crazy and spend more on food, but if I increase my debt payments and investment spending, each of those categories will grow thus shrinking the clothing spending slice of the pie. All around source of win!

So my plan going forward is to slow down — but not eliminate! — my spending on clothing while increasing my debt payments and buying some more stocks. Can’t go wrong there ;)