Embarking on a No New Stuff year-long challenge to keep me motivated on the journey towards longer term goals

Regular readers of my blog will recognize a number of repeating themes appearing in posts over recent months:

  • A desire for “freedom” from the weight of personal possessions and from the need for paid work (especially in an unfulfilling corporate job).
  • Acknowledgment of the value and importance of time, that we normally trade for things of little true value.
  • The lack of sustainable balance in most of our lives and in society at large. At a personal level, recalibration is needed around things like technology and social media use, TV, diet, exercise and consumerism. The bigger picture is equally out of equilibrium, with ever increasing social inequity and a willful ignorance about the ongoing damage we are inflicting on our planet and home.
  • Recognition of the need for challenge and voluntary discomfort to drive personal growth and lighten my ecological footprint.

Intellectual understanding and knowing are not enough. For change to occur, we need to take positive action and do something!

The journey towards Financial Independence can be a long, disciplined grind and we’ve set in place processes to hit our targets. We’ve also made great progress downsizing our possessions and housing. I’m still researching what effective mitigants I can put in place to reduce my personal contribution to global warming. Things are moving in the right direction but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So how to keep motivated in the short term?

In the spirit of consuming less, spending less and hopefully learning to live with less, I’ve decided to undertake a year long challenge of No New Stuff!

The shopping ban will require avoiding sales, special offers, amazing discounts and other marketing gimmicks encouraging us to buy, buy, buy!

This idea was inspired by Cait Flanders’ book The Year of Less, where she documents the twelve months experience of only buying day to day consumables (groceries, toiletries and petrol) and getting rid of 70 percent of her belongings. While the book is very much a personal memoir, the concept is appealing and a challenge very aligned to my goal of being a more mindful consumer.

My ground rules for what I’m NOT allowed to buy in the next year of the No New Stuff Challenge.

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Books, magazines or comics
  • Exercise gear
  • Household items
  • Electronics, gadgets or camera equipment

During the No Stuff Challenge we are essentially going to be allowed to only shop for the basics – groceries, cleaning products and gifts for others. Other than that, we shouldn’t be buying more things.

Excluded from this shopping ban is a new acoustic guitar. Yes, I know this should fall under the banner of “new stuff”, but I’ve been planning for a while to get it later this year. I’ll also be selling two other guitars to help fund the purchase, so I’ll really be downsizing my possessions. That’s my self-justification anyway :). Also excluded is travel, replacing essentials that have worn out/broken and eating out occasionally with friends.

It’s a bit gimmicky but I’m hoping the No Stuff Challenge will be motivating, enlightening and good for my wallet. Importantly, it’s aligned to my longer term goal of Financial Independence Live Lightly and Simply (FILLS).

Thanks for reading and wish me luck.

Mr Simple Life

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15 thoughts on “Embarking on a No New Stuff year-long challenge to keep me motivated on the journey towards longer term goals

  1. I like this! I was challenged to a Year of No Spending, but that is truly impossible because of empty ink cartridges and a quarter-full shampoo bottle. Your guitar is very much mindful spending, especially if it’s a high-quality one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow I think a year of no spending would be almost impossible. My self imposed challenge is really about being more mindful and not buying things beyond the essential basics. It still won’t be easy but I’m looking forward to the experience and what I’ll learn over the 12 months

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Good stuff! Well, no stuff, hehe. All the best with the challenge! Two weeks in
    …how’s it going? I hope you’re not feeling denied! If it was me, I’d be checking out my mental small print concerning replacement of essentials. I’d probably gain a new joy in gift and grocery shopping too! Fortunately you’re not me. Enjoy ur downgrade guitar!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love your bravado in committing to this for a year. I recently did a no spend September and rather than feeling restricted, I felt freed. Once the new year begins, I’m keen to do another month and it may well evolve into a year long adventure. We panic about losing that addictive shopping endorphin hit, but a no spend period helps us find a deeper, more meaningful contentment. Best of success to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bravado or stupidity? It was possibly not the best thought through commitment I’ve ever made but something I feel passionate about. Only time will tell if 12 months is too long. Glad to hear that you had such positive results with your no spend September. You should join me when the new year comes !!

      Liked by 1 person

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