The War on Stuff

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

10 thoughts on “The War on Stuff”

  1. You’ll do well! I do it all the time, it’s a game and it’s fun. Haven’t paid for a hair cut in 3 years but still get my hair cut regularly by professional hairdressers for FREE!

  2. I like to attack one category at a time – just pick whichever one is bothering you the most and do it first! Be ruthless, get rid of anything you don’t truly love or use regularly.

  3. This is a cool challenge for sure! You seem to have a lot of exceptions – but I think that’s cool because it makes it more realistic and sets you up for success. Just don’t let the exceptions tempt you into crossing the line.

  4. I have the same problems as you. Also on the same types of items. Throw in magazines, and a lot of things you can purchase in a bottle or can. I think i could never buy another body wash again and still have some left over. (Mostly they are gifted to me). Really!

    How do you get rid of your stuff, do you take photo’s, write up an ad and post online somewhere. I would feel bad about just wrapping things up and putting them out at the curb… 🙁

  5. Good luck with the plan. Once you’re not addicted to getting stuff anymore, it’s rather easy I’ve found. I look at this post and think that I could do this no problem at all.

    For me, the cure to stuff addiction was simply the satisfaction of watching my ever decreasing mortgage balance. That and getting more involved with saving and investing. It was sort of the reverse effect. Sometimes it seems that watching my investments and savings account balances grow can be addicting. Hah.

    In the end, I’m not exactly writing off getting more stuff. I’m just going to be able to much more easily get some high cost and quality things I’ve been wanting for a long time. After that, who knows. I’ll probably do more traveling.

  6. Good luck and let us know how you do! I find it ironic that there is a blackberry (i.e. stuff) advertisement at the bottom of your post!

  7. I am sure you can do it! And yes, it is better to borrow books from the library than buying for yourself. For the books on your collection, have you thought of trading or renting them out? Browse the internet and you will see sites where you can offer them.

  8. Good Luck.
    Before I buy anything else I took a look around, I already have it some or something like it.
    Books & DVDs I purged went to the library as a donation.
    I still have lots of stuff and will keep it as I do not understand why I should get rid of it. I have a big basement. Oh and gifting…from my pile O stuff.
    It is still new and chances are I already have one, somewhere.I just need to go visit my pile and organize it. Shopping from my closet is easy.
    Ha ha

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