Monday, September 19, 2011

lessons from the 100 day challenge...

The 100 day don't buy anything I don't really need challenge is over. Here is my first post about the challenge where I tell you why I started this madness and here is the halfway point post where I 'fess up to a couple of small purchases in Bali. And I bet you're wondering what I've learned from the experience. Yes, I am too. But first, a's what I said I would give up buying for 100 days:
  • magazines 
  • books 
  • appliances
  • clothing, shoes and accessories
  • music
  • craft materials
  • anything decorative for my house
  • linen and towels
  • cosmetics
  • iPad applications
  • anything from an op shop that I don't need even if it is an absolute bargain and I'm helping a charity. 
  • wine (just kidding...!)
So how did I go?
  • Magazines: 2 in 100 days, but I did renew my subscription to Real Living last month and I feel fine about that. Magazines are what I thought I would miss most, but I haven't. Not really. Occasionally I'd linger over the magazines in the supermarket but the feeling soon went away. And there are always blogs, and a lovely friend did buy me a few as a gift, and I still haven't finished reading them :)
  • Books: ok, moving right along. I didn't buy books for maybe the first month but I couldn't manage for 100 days. I love books. Always have. Always will. Can't live without them. Therefore they fall into the category of 'need'. No guilt. Not a bit.
  • Appliances: apart from the kettle that blew up, a little electric mini chopper/blender/whizzy thing. I've used it and it only cost $20 so I think that's ok.
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories: nope, nothing. Now that's what I call impressive, although with spring and summer upon us that may change a little over the next few months.
  • Music: no
  • Craft materials: only the bits I needed for gifts I was making, which still aren't finished. Yep, I'm a great starter but finishing is sometimes a challenge :)
  • anything decorative for my house: no, except for the occasional bunch of flowers and I'd say that was perfectly justified!
  • Linen and towels: no
  • Cosmetics: well, it's like this. I was going incredibly well with this until a friend invited me to a cosmetics party last weekend. I think the products I bought will be brilliant but it's a bit too early to tell yet...I'll let you know
  • iPad apps: just the Blogpress one which I haven't used, so that may be justified in going into the things I didn't really need category
  • stuff from op shops: I went into a few when we went to Ballarat, but apart from a couple of books (see above) I've bought nothing!
  • wine: don't be crazy. 
And, what have I learned (and I'm not about to write an essay on consumerism...although I probably don't worry!):
  • that I definitely have enough 'things' and I'm not in the least bit deprived (nor do I feel deprived, there's a difference) if I don't have more/the latest/or in some cases the replacement
  • that I'm becoming less interested in 'stuff' (except book type stuff...see above!)
  • that while I'm happy to go shopping with others I really don't have all that much interest in buying for myself these days (is this a sign of age I wonder or just an acceptance of enough?)
  • that in the early days of the challenge I used avoidance as a strategy (i.e. didn't go anywhere near shops, didn't open emails from shops, didn't follow links to shops on blogs). Now I don't need to avoid, but I'm just not all that interested to be honest
  • that when I do buy I think about it much more carefully. I ask myself do I really, really need it or do I love it so much that I will forever kick myself if I don't get it? And importantly if I do need it is this the best option, because for sure I have a lot of things in my house that haven't been the best choice. And if the answer is yes, then of course I'm going to buy it, provided it's affordable. It's not about not buying for the sake of not buying. 
  • that I've been surprised at the things I've said no to...they've mostly been things for the house...this has always been my weak spot (along with books!)...and unsuitable men ;)
  • that I really, truly love having a zero balance on the credit card statement
  • that 'things' don't make you happy (but we all knew that) and that some things make you smile every time you look at them...and that they are the things you know you've bought well...they are the things you would be quite correct in saying you really need :)
And during it all I found this quote, which sums up the experience quite nicely I think.
"Enough is abundance to the wise."
Someone indicated to me that Euripides also said "where there is no wine, there is no love".  I suspect that may not be an accurate quote, but I'm happy to go with it!
 Now, what will I try next I wonder :)
images: my clever girl; flickr; google images


  1. Well done Kerry. Learning when enough is enough must be so good for your soul. xx

  2. Great job Kerry, such an interesting exercise. I am most impressed that during your 100 days you even managed not to buy stuff in Bali.

  3. I love the sums up your experience perfectly. I doubted that I could do the challenge but I think I would have gone about things pretty much as you did, i.e., avoiding shops and email ads. And of course, questioning if I wanted it or needed it. I have played a little game of picking out several items that I want to order from a catalog, setting it aside and then asking myself later what the items were. Couldn't remember!!

    Well, hooray for you. I'm glad this came out less painful than you thought!


  4. I remember when you began this as I was semi forced into the same project due to our super tight budget. I also have found that you can do without a lot of things. When I see something I like i ask myself if I really need it and the answer is mostly no. I have even resisted buying books! Now that is tricky!
    I do rather like both of the quotes above :)
    Have a great week x

  5. Well done, it sounds fantastic. I do fantasize about being like this when we have our homestead & farm, right down to groceries, so we grow even more. Now i'm off to buy things i didn't expect today - torn sports shorts which even i can't repair & a replacement sports shirt - i don't think my option will be so much anti consumerism rather than having 4 children in private high school at the same time, their uniforms alone will be my exciting clothing & accessory purchases for a long chunk of time. Love Posie

  6. I think you did terribly well my luv! I am very impressed!
    I can't walk past a crafting store without buying supplies for a dreamed up (spontaneous) project.. that of course never happens.. sigh. for the house.. can one even live without these for 100 hours..?!?

    Congratulations on a great achievement!

    xx Charlotta

  7. Congratulations! I'm particularly impressed not only by the fact that you reduced your consumerism, but you also used the whole process as a learning/life changing one.

    I'm going to need to read your post a few times because you really have put a great deal of thought into it.

    Do you keep all your books when you've read them? You may need to buy shelves.

  8. Oh my, I congratulate you Kerry...very impressed. Don't think I would have been able to do that...particularly where the homewares are involved. Amazing X

  9. very cool, Kerry. It's interesting that you've now changed your shopping habits because of this, rather than feeling the need to spree at the end. Books and wine are on my must-have list, as well, but I would like to challenge myself to eliminate the extra clothing and house stuff, how much do we truly need?

  10. Good job, girl :) I think that you did just the right thing. I'm trýing to buy the things I need or really, really want and I believe that my shopping is different now.


  11. Hello Kerry:
    Congratulations, and a salutary lesson to us all. In fact, we are really heartened to read all of this for our greatest fear is that the world is slowly sinking under the weight of 'stuff', the vast majority of which is, quite frankly, rubbish and is promoted to appeal to the ever growing number of very gullible people whose values, if they have any, really do appear to be totally distorted. That is NOT to say, nor do we believe, that you were ever one of them. But your modest experiment has certainly shown that one actually needs very little to get by and yet still enjoy life.

    But, like you, we regard books as one of life's greatest joys, almost an essential, and flowers in the house do add daily cheer.

  12. A very successful project I think Kerry. It really does show us that most of the things that we buy, we really don't need. I didn't do quite as well as you !! I had to buy a couple of outfits for two weddings and, a trip to the Antiques Fair made me buy a couple of things, although they only cost a couple of pounds. Wine was never going to come into the equation !! haha.
    I think that it's a great thing to do, now and again and it really puts things into perspective, doesn't it ?
    I am so impressed with how you managed on this 100 day challenge....good job and a high five to you !!
    .....and, Euripides knew what he was talking about....I shall use his quote as my mantra from now on !! haha

  13. Well done, Kerry. My priorites and results would have been the same as yours, though I always find cushion covers hard to resist. Books are different: unlike Stuff, they become a part of yourself.

  14. Good job Kerry, I now am feeling a tad guilty about the 3 tops I bought on the weekend but I will put them down as necessities. Necessities bought on by extreme climatic change. ie it got unexpectedly hot on the weekend and I thought I had nothing to wear. I does make me think though.

  15. I am thoroughly impressed with your fiscal rectitude, Kerry! That is some achievement. I am constantly on a similar path due to the single income situation but must admit to now keeping away from Booko and its myriad temptations! J x

  16. Well done Kerry. I'm not so sure I would have the fortitude to achieve this challenge like you, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about the things that make you smile every time you see them, and I so agree with this. These are the things you know you were 'right' to buy. And flowers and wine both go without saying!

  17. How interesting this exercise is! I have an on-again, off-again back-to-basics push, and whether it is a 'perfect score' or not, it is always thought- provoking.

    Maybe now I should try to give up hyphens in punctuation...

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