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!
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.
- 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