These 6 Shopping Challenges Will Keep You Stylish Without Breaking Your Budget


As a passionate yet frugal fashion connoisseur, I'm always looking for ways to keep the peace between my inner Chic Chandra and Frugal Fran. It isn't easy. One of my favorite ways to pacify both sides and exercise a bit of creativity is by engaging in shopping challenges. Some challenges I've found through social media, fashion blogs, and some my fellow spendthrift friends and I create ourselves.

No matter what you're trying to do — be "bougie on a budget," upgrade your wardrobe, try out different styles, or give yourself a complete makeover — shopping challenges help you simultaneously accomplish your fashion and finance goals. Below are a few of my favorites, but I challenge you to be creative and mix and modify these, or create your own.

1. No Shopping Challenge

The No Shopping Challenge is exactly like it sounds. You don't shop for a specific amount of time. It's one of my favorites. During the challenge, you don't buy clothes, shoes, or accessories of any kind. This challenge forces you to use what you have and re-envision your wardrobe. It stretches you past your comfort zone and it helps break your normal fashion thought pattern. (See also: How a Simple "Do Not Buy" List Keeps Money in Your Pocket)

I always institute this challenge during a spending fast, but it usually extends far beyond the end of the fast. My shopping fasts usually last anywhere from four to eight months. However, some people stretch the challenge a full year.

During my most recent fast, I noticed the most fascinating thing. Not once, during the entire six months, did I ever say to myself, "I have nothing to wear." The shopping fast actually keeps my Frugal Fran happy and Chic Chandra satisfied.

2. Adding Accessories Challenge

In the Adding Accessory Challenge, you set a very small budget and buy nothing but accessories for a set period of time. This challenge came about during a time, several years ago, when money was tight because I was aggressively saving for a big-ticket item. I had $25 per month allocated for shopping, entertainment, and miscellaneous items. I wanted to revamp my outfits a bit without going over budget. And I found a way to do just that by accessorizing. Even though I had very little money to spend, during the initial challenge, I was able to amass quite a collection of eclectic accessories. The trick is to pair an interesting and eccentric piece of jewelry or a great hat with a basic outfit, allowing the accessories to take center stage.

Accessories can be super cheap — if you have a keen eye and a bit of imagination. You can pick up scarves, hats, socks, jewelry, and even purses for very little money. I've paid as little as $.50 for some really great pieces. What you spend instead of money is time. Shop yard sales, thrift stores, sample sales, and keep an eye out for seasonal sales from your favorite brands, and you're sure to find some killer deals. (See also: 101 Ways to Save Money on Clothes)

3. One In, One Out Challenge

The One In, One Out Challenge is all about spending money strategically and combating excess and wastefulness. The object of this challenge is that for every item you purchase, you must get rid of a similar item, sell it, or donate it to charity. For example, if you buy a pair of black pumps, you must get rid of a pair of dress shoes. (See also: How I Make $800 on Month on eBay Selling Used Clothes)

This challenge can be extremely difficult, because when you pick something up, you have to choose to let go of something else. It combats hoarding tendencies, making you regularly take stock of what you already have, and only purchasing things you need. It also helps you break your attachment to material things and become a more mindful shopper.

4. A Week Without Challenge

The Week Without Challenge is truly a challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to assess the clothing items you love and chose one or two of those items to go without for the week. For example, if you're always wearing black shoes, you would go an entire seven days without wearing black shoes. This really shakes up your wardrobe and makes you think outside the box.

This challenge is especially helpful for people who have a very specific style and wear the same few items incessantly. If a T-shirt and jeans is your go-to outfit, you would go a week without wearing either one of those items. It's also a great challenge to do with a friend. Instead of you choosing the items to go without, you allow your friend to choose for you. It keeps you honest and it will provide you with a more objective perspective on your style. (See also: How to Master These 10 Shopping Skills Before You Hit 30)

5. The 10x10 Challenge

The 10x10 Challenge is when you select 10 clothing items and style those items into different outfits for the same number of days. The catch is you wear only those 10 items for the entire 10 days. Chic Chandra just had a mild panic attack.

This challenge really gets your creative juices flowing, and essentially helps you create a micro capsule closet. It will also highlight the fact that you can do a lot with very little. A boyfriend button down triples as a shirt, a dress, and a jacket. Tie it around your waste and you've got another look. It teaches you how to look at your clothes in a new way in lieu of always looking for new clothes. Some people do the challenge for 30 or even 60 days. Of course, the longer the time frame, the less challenging it becomes.

6. $30 Outfit Challenge

The $30 outfit challenge is all about learning how to shop on a budget. It makes you visit shops you may not otherwise visit. You are given a budget $30, and you must purchase an entire outfit — including shoes — without going over. I know you're reading this saying, "There's no way." It's not only possible, it's actually pretty easy once you learn where to look and how to shop.

If you're like most people, you have a handful of stores you frequent regularly. They are your tried and true. You know exactly how the clothes fit. You know the style, and you know the price range. This challenge pushes you to look beyond your traditional go-tos and visit stores and websites that may be outside your comfort zone. The best part about this challenge is that once you try it and succeed, you'll be hooked. And your inner Frugal Fran will rise to her feet and begin the slow clap that crescendos into thunderous applause.

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