More Than Enough Stuff // A Year Without Buying Anything

We have so much stuff. More than enough stuff, and I am fairly certain that we can live without more for a long time. So, this year we aren’t going to buy any more. No clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, sporting goods, kitchen gadgets, furniture, or anything else that can’t be used up completely. No cute little office supplies and jars that suck me in completely in the Target Dollar Spot every time. We’ll buy food and household items that are truly consumables like toothpaste and laundry detergent. It will be an experiment in creativity and an exercise in using what we own. Practicing abundance by living with our abundance, USING our abundance. And I am so excited.The idea of minimalism and  living with less is not new to me. I’ve been working with a capsule wardrobe for over two years and really loving the way I appreciate my clothes, it’s easy to get dressed, and when I wear something out it’s actually been used up. Over the last couple years the ideas of slowing down, focusing on what is important, and removing the excess have become central to the way I try to make choices. Intentionally, deliberately, and thoughtfully bringing things into our lives.

Of course, I make lots of random, impulsive purchases as well, and hang on too long to some things that I don’t love. But what hit me the other day as I cleaned out my kitchen office cabinets, and went back and forth to the store to buy more baskets and bins to organize my stuff (the irony) was that I have so much that I don’t use. Things I’ve had for years and never pulled out. Cards unsent, pens uncapped, movies unwatched. We keep buying and layering without thoughtfully using the things we already own. More than enough stuff.

A couple days later we sat and watched The Minimalists on Netflix, and what really resonated with me was to use what you have. I think a lot of people think of minimizing by decluttering, organizing, and creating space in their homes and lives–which certainly feels like a big piece of the process to me, and something we do here at our home pretty often. But what usually happens after the purge?

Maybe a little binge to fill up that emptiness?

Getting rid of all that we don’t love to turn around and fill ourselves back up with new, shiny stuff that we do love…at least for awhile.

As I watched, and read, and read, and pondered, and remembered the feeling I get often when walk into stores filled to the brim with beautiful things that no one really, truly needs. That feeling of overwhelm combined with an unexplained twinge of sadness. And this quote that hit me so hard a couple years ago that it pops into my head weekly when I’m faced with choices of to add or not to add to our stuff: “There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough.” (source)

We have more than enough stuff. 

I’m really excited to jump in and experiment with the idea that we already have everything that we’ll need for this year. It will stretch us to look through, organize, and be aware of everything we have, be creative with what we have, and also be patient for things that we might find we don’t have and also don’t need immediately. We’re starting with this idea and will continue to work out the details as situations arise.

I do know that I have a unique set of skills and materials that make this challenge feel not totally insane. For example, I know how to sew and have hundreds of yards of fabric, so as my kids need new clothes this year I can make them using what I have. More than enough stuff. Our garage is filled with bikes and coolers and camping gear, so we will be able to comfortably adventure as we love this year. More than enough stuff. I have piles of paints, craft supplies, scrap wood, even brick in the same color to match our house, so I will be able to continue doing projects and making things the way I love to. More than enough stuff.When we talked to the kids about this experiment and challenge, Eliot asked “So what if we want a new toy when we go to Target?” I asked him if he could think of anything we have at home we could use to make a toy. “We could make some little guys with that clay you have in your studio!” Yes, my sweet child, and that way we both get the toy and the experience of making it together and the value of that goes beyond a new little guy. More than enough stuff.

Of course there are certain challenges unique to our situation that we’ll face. Most obviously that I am a blogger and my work often is subsidized by companies who send me stuff to style, photograph, use, love and promote. It’s a fine line, promoting things I love without wanting to add to the pervasive idea that you always need more.  I already have a couple really fun partnerships in the works for 2017, arranged beforehand, that I’ll carry out as planned. I really do love sharing favorite products that I sincerely use and love, and also don’t ever want people to feel that they need something they don’t. As far as future partnerships my idea is this: I’ll seek out collaborations that provide value beyond the products, and in the cases that I receive some cool stuff for a project I will give the stuff away. That includes all the piles of awesome swag from conference bags (that ends up in my kitchen cabinets never to be seen again.) I’m also excited to work with some more food companies this year, where the products are true consumables, and where we can find joy in making and eating, rather than simply accumulating. Other obstacles and solutions we have considered are that I run a handmade shop where I will need to continue buying materials to make my products. That intentional buying and making will remain separate from our home and family life, and be operated with the same thoughtfulness that we are bringing to daily life through his experiment. My shop intention is to add inspiration, adventure, and creativity into people’s lives, not just stuff. I feel like selling these handmade products at the same time as not buying anything this year is a compatible situation.

Another detail we’ve considered is when we use something up completely, we will weigh options for buying a replacement. For example, my kids already have capsule wardrobes, so they don’t have much excess clothing. Each has about four pairs of shoes, and when one has holes in the soles (like Eliot’s beloved cowboy boots that he wears almost daily) I’ll feel comfortable, thoughtful, and intentional about buying a replacement and throwing the used up pair out. I briefly considered trying to anticipate all of this ahead of time and sort of “prepare” for the year of without buying by buying a bunch of stuff I thought we might need or want. I quickly realized that idea totally negated the idea of using what we have, so we’ve decided to approach replacement on a case by case basis.

Lastly, we have a couple of home renovation projects we want to complete this year, and will operate on the idea that if it becomes part of the home (tile on the walls of the boys bathroom, cabinets in the laundry room) we will not count it as stuff, but as improvement and investment. Styling the redone bathroom with a shower curtain, towels, little hooks and toothbrush cups and a floor mat for sharing on the blog however, will need to be done completely with items we already own. Because, we have more than enough stuff.

And there it is. The challenge: not buy any stuff this year. The goal: become aware of what we already own, use our stuff more thoughtfully, stall the cycle of buying for buying sake, stretch our creative muscles as we make things work, save time, money, energy as we cultivate a culture of gratitude and abundance at home.

I’ll be sharing about the More than Enough Stuff journey here on Mondays, along with other ideas about intentional living and over on instagram with the hashtag #morethanenoughstuff. Feel free to play along sharing when you resist adding something new to your life because you already have enough by using that hashtag as well.

Cheer to a year of abundance and gratitude.

 

23 Comments

  1. Posted January 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m very excited to follow you through this! I know that we, too, have all we need, even though I don’t love everything in my home. It’s about contentment and gratitude.

    • Miranda
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m excited too! I feel like there will be a process of still organizing and getting rid of things we don’t use or love, and then really appreciating what remains.

  2. Amie
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE this Miranda!! This whole concept is something I’ve been struggling with and thinking about lately! So much stuff! And it seems like we are always adding to it just to add to it. It seems to go against the values of gratitude, humility and inherent self worth that I want so badly to teach my children. I can’t wait to follow along with what you and your family are learning and how you are making this process work for you!

    • Miranda
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      So much stuff! I’m glad that the idea resonates with you and I am excited to see how it goes and share along the way! It will be fun to have you along for the ride!

  3. Kieran
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea! I’m really excited for your blog this year, I think you have some cool plans I am excited to read.

    Are you still planning on buying your kids birthday and Christmas presents? and birthday/other occasion presents for loved ones who live outside of your home?

    • Miranda
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! It has felt good to set some concrete goals and feel more intentional than ever.

      As far as gifts, we will definitely give them and will likely stick to handmade using materials that I already have. I actually already have a little shelf of gifts stocked up because I often see something cute and on sale that I think would make a great gift so I buy it. And then at gift time I forget about them! So this will help us use what we already have for gifts, then some handmade gifts, and if we decide to give something additional I think we’ll stick to gifts of experience like movie tickets, a gift card for a fun restaurant, or a night away!

      • Kieran
        Posted January 12, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        That actually sounds like a great idea, and quite similar to what I do for gifts anyway! I love giving a small handmade element along with a movie voucher, or something else similar.

  4. Stefanie hathaway
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow, so brave and intentional! That sounds so freeing! I’m very intrigued and can’t wait to follow your journey! Good job getting the fam on board. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Miranda
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      I feel like it is freeing right now too. I’m actually really interested to see how we feel 3 or 6 months in (or weeks 😉 I’m lucky Dave and the kids were as excited as I am (the boys already say things like “In 2018 can I get a new lego set?” haha! Teaching them patience!)

  5. Mikelle
    Posted January 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Over the past two years my husband and I have tried doing something similar- we tried no purchases at first, but it didn’t really work for us, so we have just been more mindful and intentional about our purchases, we spend a lot less now, and everything we have has it’s purpose. Good luck this year! I will be following along 🙂

  6. Posted January 11, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m so impressed by this. You inspired me- I almost bought new shelves today at IKEA for my desk area but then I remembered we already had some that my husband had pulled out of his office a while back. No new shelves for me! Just plant babies 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted January 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Go Kayla! I love that example because it’s exactly what I have been thinking of. Using the things we already have in scenarios when it feels maybe easier to just go buy something new. You nailed it.

  7. Posted January 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    The thought you have put into this is so inspiring along with your transparency about the unknown situations that may come up. It’s something to think about Forsure!

    My husband and I moved into our home four years ago, and so so slowly have purchased items. So my approach is to buy what I need and do it with thought and intention. Usually a very special thrifted item that is meaningful and beautiful and functional.

    This year I hope to purchase a dresser, we’ve never owned one and use our college t shirt bins to store clothes. So I’m at a place in my life where I’m slowly but surely making our house a home! (By buying stuff yes, but not random crap. Well sometimes lol but you know!)

    Can’t wait to hear how this goes!

    Xo
    Lauren

  8. Posted January 11, 2017 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    This is a very inspiring idea! Over the years I have often found that it is easy to make do with what you have if you give yourself little time to think and be creative. It’s funny how often I can see some product online and think that it will solve all of my household organization/clutter problems. Usually I dodn’t run out and buy the product because I am on a tight budget, but always within a few weeks I am able to solve the problem creatively by repurposing something that we already have that is not being utilized to the fullest potential. I am excited to follow along with how it goes this year. Also wanted to say that I discovered your blog about a year ago and I love it. It is so refreshing to read a blog that is full of creative ideas, is down to earth, and doesn’t feel like I’m being sold to with every single post.

  9. Posted January 11, 2017 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Can I just start off with how much I love your instabfeed I don’t know how I came across it but I’m doing a happy dance about it! Oh and I love this and I can’t wait to fallow along! I’m a family of five soon to be six and we lived in a 500 square foot apartment for 12 years. I learned (not intentionally) how to Minimalize my life, if we were going to make it in our apartment for my husbands school years. People kept telling us we couldn’t do it and we needed more space, but that just put a fire in me to show them no we don’t and we can be happy and have a cute 500 sq foot house! I loved it! I had to think a lot about what I loved and what I didn’t. We just moved into our first home… not big but needing some work other wise I would jump on this wagon but I’m going to try and do a capsule wardrobe and I can’t wait I want to love what I have and use it! Good luck! 🙂 mandeeheward

    • Miranda
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      You’re so nice! I’m thrilled you enjoy the journey here with me! xoxo

  10. Abigail
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    We have been talking about this lately–especially since adding a 4th child to our 1800 sq. ft house and that not only does stuff need to go, but we don’t need to buy more. Pretty sure we’ll be attempting this same thing so I’ll be eager to see/hear your ideas. Thanks for always being such a great source of inspiration/motivation!
    PS. I already stole your word of the year from last year or the year before…abundance. That’s my focus this year and this challenge will go right along with that!

    • Miranda
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      I loved those years of creativity and making it work, too! We had our own small apartments and what a joy it was to be peacefully content within the walls of our tiny, sparse home!

  11. Meghan P
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I was skimming to find out if you mentioned kids shoes. I have 3 kids, 3, 4, and 7 the oldest two are boys and they are super tough on their shoes! Love this idea! I want to try too!

  12. Kristie
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    I love this challenge. I wish I could be as brave as you. But I know I am impulsive. But I do love the idea of being more mindful of what I bring into my house. I have been trying to get rid of all the extra stuff we have, because there is someone else who needs it more than I do. I can’t wait for your updates. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    This is such an amazing goal. I’m excited to read about hot experience throughout the year. We just moved (again), our 11th move in 10 years – every move makes me realize how much stuff we have! It’s been therapeutic getting rid of the excess with each move.

  14. Posted January 18, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I am so impressed and beyond excited to cheer you on! What an amazing goal for you and your family!!! xoxo

    • Miranda
      Posted January 20, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      It’s been great so far! Only 50 weeks to go! haha

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>