Contentment Challenge: No Shopping for a Year

Leading up to the new year I have been thinking about growing in contentment. I wanted to try an experiment of not buying stuff for a whole year. Perhaps it was the purchasing of Christmas things that had me thinking about it. I think that is part of it. I love buying gifts for others. But I really want the items to be things they will truly use or love. I don’t want to add to the amount of stuff in our small home.

Perhaps it was all the influx of stuff that came with Christmas. Our kids are loved and receive gifts from others. Our youngest not only gets stuff from our family but also his biological family. All the stuff can feel very overwhelming and is it truly adding to our joy and peace? With all the stuff my love of minimalism was reignited. ;). Minimalism is so much more than what many can think it is: bare, blank white walls with not an item in sight. The More of Less, this book reminded me about the freedom that comes with being grateful with what we have. And the freedom of only keeping what truly is loved or used. Recently I also listened to The Year of Less and her journey of going a year without buying stuff. When I first considered this contentment challenge, I thought there has to be books out there of people trying to do this. And that is how I discovered her book. I have loved the hoopla app through my local library where I can listen to books for free!!! The library is one beautiful way to learn and grow without necessarily bringing in another book into your home. Books are my weakness. I love to read. I love the smell of old books. I loved this hidden place of my university’s library where they housed older books. I would often study in there just because of the smell.

I added a whole bunch of minimalist books to my hoopla favs to inspire me throughout the year. There is also a great documentary called The Minimalists on Netflix. The sequel came out yesterday and I am so excited to watch and be further inspired.

So this challenge is not just to stop buying stuff but also to really look at what we already own and see if it is bringing us joy. Is the unfinished project or unread books just bringing regret and guilt because I have not yet finished them? Will I truly reread that book? A fav author, Shauna Niequist, in her book Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living says she only keeps books that she can wholeheartedly recommend to a friend or will reread again. I have already read her book twice and it is a keeper that I know I will return to when things get hectic.

I think back to the last 2 times we sold a house and how we staged it so it would sell faster. The process leading up to it was fun. Everything was put away and tidy. Paintings were hung and decorative pieces were added to pop and bring attention. True we had to take down all personal pics(so missed those) but the space was clean, inviting and peaceful. During the month it was on the market, it was stressful to keep it this way. But mostly because I had 3 kids and a dog to get out of the house before they dropped in for showings. But during that time I had so much space/margin to do the things I loved. Our home was in order so I spent more time writing on my blog, reading, journaling, taking walks, and playing with my kids. My stuff and home did not take the majority of my time. I just looked at the old for sale pics and it felt so peaceful. There is something about order and space that is so inviting. Cluttered counters, overflowing bookshelves, and covered surfaces do not scream peace. I like to walk into a space and it causes me to inhale deeply not exhale with exasperation and dread. So I am working towards that.

So here are the “rules” for this made up game/experiment of mine:

  • Not buying books. Books are on the top of my list because they are my love. I will check library, read what I have (I have many that I have wanted to read but haven’t yet), or borrow books. I admit I did buy one today but that was an work expense.
  • Not buying decorative things for the home or yard
  • Not buying clothes, shoes or accessories
  • Not buying clothes, shoes for kids unless it is truly a need like a giant hole in sole of shoe
  • Not buying personal items for myself like exercise equipment, journals, make-up etc unless my eyeliner is all out 😉

Here’s what I can purchase:

  • Groceries
  • consumables like T.P, personal hygiene etc
  • gifts for others but even this I want to make sure that it is not an impulse buy but something I have thought on for a few days
  • memberships/passes that will help create memories like a museum annual membership. I had 2 last year that I just bought then COVID hit and so I basically just donated money to them instead of using the passes.
  • experiences like vacations, movies etc for the family
  • a few canvases from Michaels (using their 50% coupon) because I want to add family pictures to our beach wall
  • Photo enlargements or prints to decorate our home

So here’s to the adventure of no spending. I am excited for it and what it can and will teach me.


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