Hi, my name is Tim and I’m a stuff addict. If you have any doubts I do get irrational cravings to go buy stuff even when I know I don’t really need (and sometimes even want) the item in question all that much.
Stuff fills my home in all sorts of ways the primary guilty parties are books, movies, and tools. While I’m ok with getting rid of some stuff, like clothes. I’m horrible about getting rid of books and I found it almost painful to purge my book shelves a while back. So that is the problem and I’ve got a solution for it: stop buying stuff.
Simple, eh? But actually doing it is going to be a hell of a lot harder. So I’ve devised a challenge to help me break the stuff habit. From today until the end of the year (Dec 31, 2011 at midnight) I can’t buy stuff for myself. No more DVD’s, books, or even a single screwdriver. Does this mean I won’t be spending any money? No, I can still buy experiences (dinner out, attending a play or attending a home tour) and consumables that I can reasonable expect to use up during my experiment (so yes I can buy food, the odd coffee out or shampoo).
Yet like all good challenges I’m putting in a few safety valves to cover myself on a few particular issues that are going to come up during the rest of the year.
- I can still buy presents. While I’m going to make an effort to at least consider alternative gifts that aren’t stuff I’m still allowed to break down and buy stuff for others. Try to image shopping for your three year old’s Christmas present and excluding stuff…I’m having a hard time coming up with any ideas.
- I won’t force my family to join me. While my wife has some interest in this experiment she isn’t entirely sure about the idea, so she won’t be formally joining this challenge. Also my kids are excluded on their allowance money as I’m just trying to get the idea of savings in their heads so I don’t want to introduce too much at once.
- I can still accept presents. I won’t be so brutal as to reject any Christmas present I normally get in because it is stuff. I will encourage people to get my consumables or experiences, but if I get a book from my kids I’m not going to yell at them.
- I can borrow stuff. So yes I can borrow books from the library or DVD’s. I can also borrow tools from other people if I need to.
- I get a get out jail free card. While I have tried to cover off any issues that could come up on this challenge I’m thinking I’ve missed something. So I get one free pass on buying a single item of stuff during the challenge. It will only apply once so I better be damn sure I NEED to buy it for some reason.
So while this challenge will keep stuff from coming in to my house, I still have to get some of the extra crap I already have out of my house. In this regard I will be trying to review what I’m currently own for stuff and sell, give a way or just toss it in the garbage. The end goal is to have more actual space in my house and less distractions in my life. To that end I will be purging one major area a month: my books and DVD collection, my garage and…drumroll please…the dreaded basement which includes the majority of my tools and other crap I’ve kept in storage over the years.
So now you can comment on just how crazy of an idea this is going to be or perhaps offer some tips on dealing with your own war on stuff.