Year Without A Purchase

Not long ago, we noticed ourselves getting caught up in the great American Hamster Wheel of “more is better,” and straying from the family mission statement we created during our year of service.  So, in an effort to refocus on the important things in life, we vowed to go an entire year without buying any “stuff.”  Here’s a video to explain a bit more.  And, to see how we did, check our book The Year without a Purchase (ironically available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) that’ll be released in August 2015 via WJK Press.

Finally, if you’re up for trying your own challenge, here are the rules we followed:

The Rules – Simplified

  1. Don’t buy “stuff”

The Rules – Detailed

  1. We can buy stuff that can be “used up” within a year.  Groceries and gas.
  2. We can’t buy clothes.  We have plenty.  If there truly is a “need” (ex: not a single pair of our kids’ shoes fit without causing irreversible toe damage), we will find hand-me-downs.
  3. We can fix stuff that breaks, unless it costs more than a replacement.
  4. We can use cell phones and internet, since they are both (conveniently) required for our work-from-home jobs.
  5. Gifts must be in the form of charitable donation or “experience gifts” to build connections and memories (i.e. go to dinner together, visit the zoo, travel to visit friends/family etc.)

Remember: this challenge isn’t so much about saving money, but focusing on the important things in life.  Family.  Relationships.  And giving back.  Let us know how it goes for you!

14 responses to “Year Without A Purchase

  1. Pingback: Our Challenge: A Year Without Buying More Stuff | War Retreat

  2. Kanani Fong

    We’ve written our reply over on WarRetreat!

  3. My son, Mark Smith, told me about this and i Just HAD to check it out. After looking at your list above, I might just print that out and see how I might be able to work something like that into my year. Thanks for sharing your experience….now that your year is over, Martha Boland

  4. This is very inspiring!

  5. I just stumbled across your blog today on Freshly Pressed and when I saw your previous post about not purchasing anything for a year, I nearly fell out. The day that I turned 30 (July 23, 2012) I did the EXACT same thing! Though my “rules” were slightly different from yours (we did not exclude things like eating out), the overall concept for my challenge was almost identical. I called it a 365 day materialism detox and we did not purchase any material goods (not even books) for a whole year. Like you mentioned in your video, we also included our four children in the process and the only things that they received that year were their 3 Christmas gifts and their birthday gifts. I was not blogging during this time and I have never shared the experience with anyone beyond our close friends and the people in our small group at church. Many people thought we were insane but it was one of the best experiences of my life. When I put aside the quest to accumulate “stuff” I developed an insatiable hunger for knowledge and I learned so much that year. I also stopped spending my limited free time doing meaningless things like mindlessly strolling the aisles at Target and started intentionally investing quality time with people instead. Your video made me laugh because we also had numerous critical items break that year (we had to drill our broom handle to the base after the broom broke and I spent most of the year without a hair-dryer to name a couple.) I cannot believe that during this time your family was having such a parallel journey. Is there a movement that I wasn’t aware of? My guess is that God is stirring his people’s hearts to bring us to a deeper understanding of what really matters- and when we are freed from the burdensome distraction of materialism I think that we are more sensitive to his callings on our lives. Thanks for sharing!!

    • This is awesome! Thank you Kelly for sharing your story. We were definitely living parallel lives. My wife had to duct tape her slippers back together. I spent the year using a tiny lavender suitcase for my business travel. And I wouldn’t change a thing! Well… wait a minute… I think if I were to change something, I might have made it harder. A few more rules. More “no technology days, etc.” I am with you – I think folks are gradually realizing (as we are) that stuff can be a distraction. We’re not “cured” by any means, but we do think more about what we buy. Freeing (and irritating) 😉 Peace to you and your family!

  6. Mel

    Very cool indeed 🙂 are you still doing this? I remembered stumbling on to another blog of a family who did this and thought to my self: what a great thing to do! Looking forward to reading more of your journeys 🙂 blessings

  7. Mrs Fisher

    it’s called “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”

  8. I wonder if I can do this for a month much less a year? Some deep thinking needed; And praying.

  9. Glenys

    I did a ‘no new clothes for a year’ (including from the Op Shop. No probs. Then no haircut for 2 years ie by a professional. I enjoyed snipping here and there. Just kinda happened. Now it’s noeating on Thursdays. Turns out to be good for the health ans well as the soul (and the budget(.

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