Five Oprah “Aahaa” Lessons I Picked Up: Shopping In My Closet Update Weeks 4 and 5

January is officially over and the Shopping In My Closet Challenge has been 95% successful. On January 31st, I spent $20 on a couple of tops to replace the ones that I had to throw out because they were getting shabby.

Despite that trip, I feel completely renewed and I believe that my relationship with money has improved, but more importantly my relationship with myself has improved. I feel more confident, centered, and committed to even JUICIER living.

Here are my top five Oprah “Aahaa” Lessons

Aahaa Lesson #1: When you buy more clothes, you have more clothes to care for.

While I did not buy anything new, I dropped at least $90 this month to catch up on dry cleaning and clothing repairs so I can preserve the sexy of my favorite coats and spring dresses. So, I learned that just because I am not buying something new, I still have to spend on the clothes in my closet. I am looking into dry cleaning alternatives. Any suggestions?

Aahaa Lesson #2: Self-awareness takes the guesswork out of my spending habits.

There are certain times of the month where I just want more—more food, more affection, more of everything—you know. (I think I even cop more post-its and other random office supplies during this time of the month, too. J ) Basically, I want all of my senses engaged in a heightened way and since I know that about myself, I can talk myself through these crazy moments. Sometimes that means surrendering to the experience—meaning browsing but not buying. But if you KNOW that you can’t do that, finding other ways to engage like calling a girlfriend, doing a facial, or even taking a nap can keep your dollars in your wallet.

Aahaa Lesson #3: Groupons and Gift Cards Can be Money Savers (this is ONLY if you have them already)

We waste so much money on unused gift cards and expired Groupons and Living Social vouchers every year. On the months that you decide to do a financial cleanse, strategically schedule the use of your gift cards, Groupons, and Living Social deals if you need a consumption fix. Even if the Groupon, gift card, or Living Social deal have nothing to do with clothes, cashing them in during low-spending months will keep you from feeling deprived if this whole process is a challenge for you.

Aahaa Lesson #4: Broke People Sound The Same

Stepping out the of the spending whirlwind allowed me to be a detached observer of not only my own habits, but the habits of others. I received mixed responses to my closet challenge. What I found the most interesting were some of the responses from people that turned their noses down at me. What I noticed was that there is a  common language for those that aren’t mindful of their spending. Do any of these sound familiar to you?:

  1. You work hard for your money, so why not treat yourself to something? There is some definite validity to this statement if and only if this short-term “treating” does not bury deeper and deeper into debt.
  2. You only live once. Yeah, I know, but there are 365 days in year and many years to live, so how are you planning for that?
  3. If you want it, get it. There are a lot of things that I want when I see them. (I pass a car dealership and a pet store everyday on the way to work.) What’s equally important to understand is the converse: when I don’t see them, I don’t want them. So it is my job to figure out what I really, really want, which are the products, services, and experiences that are MOST aligned to my values, than to surrender to a fleeting impulse.

Aahaa Lesson #5: Money is to be used for celebration and personal development

I spend a lot of time on this blog preaching about creating an emergency fund. But what I learned from this shopping fast is that I need an emergency delight fund—I need to consistently stash away some cash for a “sunny day.” For the money that I saved not shopping in my closet is going to fund a jaunt to DC to catch-up with some friends and relax over president weekend.

Frugalistas: please share your “aahaa” moments!

If you’re waiting for a sign that it’s time to make a change, consider this it. Money Therapy may be just what you need to break through your financial blocks and release your money guilt and shame.   


  1. My aahaa moment was living overseas. Living out of my suitcase meant I had to downsize. And downsizing made me realize that half the stuff I had, I didn’t need or never wore. I was traveling with half the clothes in my closet and I was still only wearing a quarter of what I was lugging around- and I still looked good!!! (I’m a fashionista at heart!) Lesson: Save your money for the better things in life!

  2. I completely agree, Nancy. I think a lot of us think that having fewer things somehow means that we sacrifice style, which is far from true. From what you are saying, which is way inspiring, is that a lot of our “stuff” weighs us down and keeps us from really enjoying our lives. Lesson well said.

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