I just finished reading The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno. The book is about how he lived on less than 100 personal items for a full year and his learnings from the whole process. The challenge was a response to the rampant consumerism that is evident in American culture. He had been preaching anti-consumerism and materialism for years and he decided to walk the walk instead of just talk the talk.
Although I found the book interesting, I certainly didn’t find it life-altering for me. I changed my consumer habits many years ago when I first became a stay-at-home Mom. I was always good with my money and was able to save for what I wanted and live within my means, however, when our household income went from two incomes to one, I made some drastic changes. I learned how to make more dinners from scratch using inexpensive ingredients like lentils and chick peas or beans, I made homemade baby food, I used cloth diapers, I became a regular at the local library, and I read books and blogs on frugal living in order to reduce our bills as much as possible.
As I morphed from stay-at-home Mom to single working Mom, I kept the good habits that I had created. I managed to pay off bills, and even put some money away for a vacation all on one salary. Some things did change, we did start buying more convenience foods again as I was trading money for a lack of time. But I managed to kick the shopping habit in those years and it really has (for the most part) stayed kicked. I rarely go to the mall anymore although a few shops do still intrigue me enough to wander around them once in a while.
The reason why I say “for the most part” is I love a good bargain. Second hand clothing shops and yard sales are bad news for me. I often satisfy any consumer tendencies by buying used. In my defence, the stuff is often not for me but for the kids, perhaps that is how I justify things. I save money, stuff stays out of the landfill so it seems win-win… except for the fact that every once in a while I need to purge some of our treasures.
Even after pursuing a lifestyle of frugality (and not “being cheap” as my ex would claim) I still could never do a 100 thing challenge nor do I want to. I don’t feel a great need to live on less than 100 things but I am trying to downsize a bit and I am trying not to bring more stuff into the house. I think we could live with a lot less than we have so I am continuing to make changes and choices that are somewhat anti-consumerist in nature but not to the 100 thing extreme. If a 100 thing type challenge intrigues you, check out the 100TC blog, I’m sure they tell you how to start your own. Or get the book, that definitely explains things.