simply stopping shopping

Blue & white ginger jar recently found in basement

Lilac branches from the garden

Last weekend we cleaned out our small basement. I was mortified by the amount of stuff we had. It seems that if I have a place to put things - I will. You know my house is small. I have only one closet. I have a couple of shelves in the laundry room for towels and necessities. So my basement is where things wind up. But where did all this stuff come from and why have I kept it? I guess I like to shop more than I like to admit. Recently after a spring cleaning day I drove to PB and picked up a couple of pillow covers for the living room. Not a big deal really, but after cleaning out the basement I found at least 2 dozen pillow covers AND fabric to make at least a dozen more. I found dozens of vases, knickknacks and the like comfortably sitting in Rubbermaid tubs. I guess I couldn't let these things go when we moved here because they either had sentiment attached to them or they cost too much. There was also a big container that had clothes and shoes in it that I had forgotten about. So after a deep purge to charity the only things remaining in the basement are ski clothes, sporting equipment, family photo albums and garden tools. I kept one container with fabric for future projects and a few pillow covers that I know I will use again. So this brings me to the question, "when is enough, enough?" I know in my head I already have enough and truly do not want any more stuff around me. I will continue to take the 100 items challenge (removing 100 items a month from your home) and as of today I will be embarking on a "simply stopping shopping" experience. The rules for this experience are as follows:
1. No shopping for non-essentials for one year

2. No new clothes, handbags, shoes, jewelery

3. Nothing new for the house (knickknacks, kitchen tools, accessories, etc.)

4. No new beauty items (I have a ton of unused product b/c I work for Aveda)

5. Purchasing gifts for others will be allowed

What I hope to gain from this experience is a new appreciation for all I have, and a way to stop looking outside myself for happiness. I know this is not a new experiment. Lots of other people have done this and written about it. I don't consider myself a minimalist. And I'm not trying to get my belongings down to only a few so that I am free to travel whenever, wherever. I just want to see what it would be like to use what I have and see how creative I can get when I do feel that I need something. So wish me luck and maybe even join me!

41 comments

  1. Wow... I am impressed and inspired. This really resonates with me right now. It has been awhile for me since I bought things I don't need, and it is liberating to get out of that cycle. I have been planning a yard sale to start the clearing out phase. We simply have too much stuff. The older I get, the more I am becoming overstimulatd by too much around me. Like you said, I'm not a minimalist, but I want more space to breathe and rest my eyes (and less things to have to dust). It is always cool for me when things that have been on my mind are verbalized by someone else. I am going to try to do this along with you. Best of luck to you!
    xo,
    Anne

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  2. Boy, this one really hits close to home. It's hard not to acquire and it's harder to get rid of things. TV, magazines and probably these blogs all make us want to have nicer places, nicer and more things. It's tough to be happy with what we have. Why do I want a new front porch? I have stairs to my front door that work perfectly fine. Why do I want a new kitchen with a vintage apron sink? I have sink that works perfectly well. These are good questions and I don't really know the answers. Good food for thought.

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  3. wow! I don't know if I could do a year without buying things for the house, clothes and shoes. I have been purging lately and it is very liberating to get rid of stuff. I try not to buy anything on a whim anymore. I've thought about a shopping sabatical before, maybe 30 days to start? You have seriously given me something to think about......I only recently discovered your blog from Melissa at Seagrass Interiors - it makes me happy. Thank you for sharing! xoAlicia

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  4. Oh dear I really need to be doing this challenge too! I rent a 70 cubic metre space which contains most of my household at the moment ( I was embarrassed when the movers could only just close the doors on their largest shipping container, it was the household of only one person!). While that is in storage of course I have acquired more items even though I'm living with family - it's easier to go buy something than hunt through hundreds of boxes. So my purge challenge I have decided shall be two boxes a week from storage until it's halved and I can relocate it to a smaller space. Good luck with yours and keep us posted on how you manage and the challenges you face along the way :-) Julia

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  5. Oddly enough I had just decided to do pretty much the same thing a few days ago, so when I read your post it resonated. My reasons are mainly financial ones, things are tight right now and it worries me that if anything major happened I would have nothing to fall back on. So that is my reason for trying to Live With What I Have, to save a bit more.

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  6. I too have had this type of turning point.An ah ha eye opening moment!
    When we moved out to the cottage 4 years ago... (to begin renovation)
    I went from about 1700 sq. feet to even smaller...464sq. ft!
    I now (after 4 years) have a new look on my life!
    I have only 42 inches in my closet! It is very refreshing knowing that if I buy anything new...something I had must be donated...
    We now live with much less...and I love it!
    I honestly don't miss all of the clutter...And the money we save...goes to the renovation of our main home.
    I wish you much luck with this...I know it can be a challenge!
    Blessings,
    donna

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  7. I, too,have been purging lately. I thought it was an "age" thing. My youngest just bought a house and I tell her I'm bringing her everything in her closet! She shudders, but I just might! It is HER stuff.
    I went through a bunch of things, gave away anything that my friends and family wanted and am donating the rest. I have lots of closets, but would like to open one and find it empty.
    My goal is to get both seasons of my clothes in one closet - which only has one rod. Who needs more than that??
    My problem is not that I need/want MORE stuff - I just want different stuff. Usually, I can move things around to satisfy my need for a different look.
    My best hint for not buying: Stay out of the stores. Just don't go look.

    My question is this: If we stop buying, will our house just look exactly like it does now in 10 years? Will we still like it?
    Connie

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  8. So funny that you should post "when is it enough?" I thought the same thing this morning during worship. "When all that you've been blessed with is not enough" a song from Newsboys-Stay Strong. I was thinking, how much is enough, how high do we want to achieve, how much possessions are enough. We are not a content society. I am taking this challenge with you my friend. The goal of my life is to simplify. Thanks!

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  9. Good Evening! I am with you on this challenge and I am so excited about it! I have literally been purging for months now but I seem to still have the same amount of stuff and the thing is, I don't want any of it. It's so freeing to get rid of things and to have no visually clutter. I'm following the same rules -I've even written them down on the chalkboard so I am reminded everyday. :)
    We'll all have to check in in a few months to see how it's going ~
    Sarah
    *I am going to buy a couple rose bushes tomorrow though. :)

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  10. Hi Janet - just got your message - yes that is our red (legs anyway) dining table. The top has been left timber with a marine varnish and hubby painted the legs red. He surprised me! I would have painted the whole thing white but now just LOVE the red..really pops!
    Good on you re your challenge...its scary how much "stuff" we accumulate! Mel xxx

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  11. Good luck! I should really do this. Actually I was on the sort of no shopping path for a while and then I found out I was pregnant- and since then it's been nonstop shopping! I am having a lot of fun with it though :) Love the ginger jar...

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  12. Janet- This seems to be very popular with our generation....most are downsizing and moving into condos or retirement homes...smaller, less room for extraneous stuff...I need to purge regularly because of my tiny bungalow but I am aware that there could be more for the local charity shop...maybe even a garage sale, although we do not actually have a garage!
    A year of not buying...I am not sure I could do that...maybe a month or 2...I am weak.

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  13. I am interested in how you fare with this experiment. I find it strange how much I have managed to buy over the years without even looking at properly. Books, magazines, DVDs still in their covers etc. When i was growing up, we had much less and everything was really appreciated. I read an interview with Cindy Crawford recently who said, she feels uncomfortable when she gets too much stuff. I am the same. I am really trying to cut back a lot. Good luck! xx

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  14. This is a great post, Janet. I'm trying to really stop and think about purchases for my home and self these days. If there is something I want, I try not to buy it right away and go home and think about it first. As someone said once (not sure who) "every want is not a need." For me, it seems best to avoid things like Pottery Barn purchases which have items that come in and out of fashion and instead wait and buy one special thing when I can afford it (quality vs. quantity). Thanks for the food for thought.
    Deborah

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  15. 'Because it cost too much' is almost always my reason for keeping stuff I don't use. Old computer parts, unloved games, clothes, jewelry, platters etc. received as gifts, and sunscreen ... oh my goodness, the number of half-used sunscreen bottles that were abandoned in favour of a new product that would deliver more effective protection. I have to realise that I am not getting value for money by having something and not using it. Better that it go to the Salvo's, or in the case of sunscreen, in the bin.

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  16. One whole year !! not buying things??

    Now WAY !!! I CAN'T !!

    But i wish you good luck !! my dear !!

    Tha basement looks very nice !! good woork !!

    Have a nice day !! enjoy !! hugs from me Ria

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  17. OH, good for you!! I've done so much purging lately that it is now time to personalize my space a bit. I'm also in desperate need of a more professional wardrobe (thrift-store style) but I'm with you in spirit. Sure wish I had a ginger jar in my basement. Nothing of the sort :).
    D.

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  18. I do wish you a huge amount of luck... you are my hero!!!!... but I don`t think I can join you... fleamerkets are always waiting for me!!!! eventhough I have soooo many stuff around, to me is always not enough!!! But don´t get me wrong, I love, love, love your home and it`s fresh and airy and perfectly perfect!!!
    Many hugs dear Janet,
    Maria Cecilia

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  19. reduce,reuse,recyle is my mantra but after reading your blog I'm adding another re- word to the list.... restrain! Thanks for the reminder about what is really important in life.... it really is the little things not the stuff!!

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  20. We too have been cleaning out...the garage, the basement and wow! Lots of stuff! I love what your doing and I have been thinking about getting rid of 100 things. It sounds like it would be difficult to do but I know I have too much for our little house and it would make things easier.
    I love your dining table by the way! Heck I love everything about the whole room!

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  21. I have got to say I am intrigued by this.. could I do it? I wonder - I am very very tempted... thank you for making me think about this Janet at the very least, x

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  22. All the pictures of your home are so inspiring. They evoke cool breeziness and restrained chic. I am with you in stopping shopping. It is so satisfying only to purchase if an item has run out or is worn out. And I do gain a new appreciation for what I have when I stick to this. Not to mention when I have big clean-outs to the Salvation Army like I have been doing over the past six or so months I feel like I have more, as I only keep my favourite and best things.

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  23. Hi J
    Good for you! I don't know if I could do it. A woman on Oprah did it for a year and saved thousands of $$$. Good luck! Will you find it difficult?

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  24. Hi Everybody!

    Thank you so much for your support and well wishes. Yes, I think it will be hard. I don't think I'll save thousands, but maybe I will! Thanks to all who are joining me. I really never thought anyone would do that. I'm pretty excited about this.

    ~janet

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  25. This post is wonderful. I will be joining you. I realized I did some retail therapy over the winter and I am in the process of returning what I can, purging the rest and reducing our belongings by 350 items by May. I only have 3 smallish closets and with 3 people in my family, that space fills quickly. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  26. Glad I found your blog. I love your idea of not purchasing anything for one year. I would love to follow you, but not just yet, although I have everything I need! You are inspiring me to at least try.

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  27. guilt is hard to avoid if i buy things i don't need in the house. but it is in my blood to go treasure hunting. so i got into vintage resell business to erase that guilt just so i can shop and stay creative...just another excuse, but i am loving it. i have also invited you as one of the 10 bloggers to join in the #6 photo game. more info on my blog. have a great week! maryann

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  28. Hi... I came from Maria Cecilia... you have a lovely blog....

    Cielo

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  29. Good luck in this achievement that you're proposed. It is true, we buy much more than we need. Kisses, Ana

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  30. Ok you inspire me to do the same thing... I keep saying I’m going to but then fall off the wagon the next day. WOW... I wish you good luck, strength & happiness on your great adventure.

    By the way I Love the blue & white you found in your basement & love your table. Fab!!!

    I think I'm going to try it for one month. I'm having a garage sale to get rid of stuff {with the blogging girls, Melissa & Grace} then all remaining goodies off to charity. Then I feel I should start a 30 day no buying pledge! I will let you know...

    Good luck Janette!!!
    Xoxo,
    Alexandra

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  31. I keep thinking about what you are doing - I know I am not ready to do this, but I have, for a while now, been cutting back and thinking hard about what I bring into my home. I give stuff away ALL the time, but I have been keeping count & will try to do the 100 items challenge.
    @Alex, when is the garage sale?? See, I told you I'm not ready!!

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  32. Ha Ha Alicia,

    That's the first thing I thought of too! When is that fabulous garage sale gonna be.

    ~janet

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  33. Hi! I think the packed basement is not the result of shopping too much but moving too little. I decluttered my basement last week - the 3rd time in 15 years. The 2nd time (5 years ago) I was not able not let go things I was able to give away today. Everthing takes its time. I would never stop shopping due to a stuffed basement I had to work through. Only if I start living on my savings (spend more than I earn), that would be a good reason.

    I am looking forward how you are going to substitute the need for a new raspberry/purple/lila/whatevercolor t-shirt/blouse that your/mine wardrobe is missing.

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  34. PS: I spent an afternoon at IKEa, first time after a decade and I bought nice knickknacks, a new grater. I still have a grater, but it became blunt and is uncomfy to fix. Those little knickknacks make me happy, immediately.

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  35. Hi Paula,

    I just moved here 2 years ago from a much larger home. So my basement was full of things I thought I needed. The problem is that I forget what I have because there is so much! Then I run out and buy something new that I already have.

    I really am looking forward to seeing how I will deal with wanting/needing new things.

    I have not been to IKEA in at least 10 years! I'm finding that at this point in my life little knickknacks do not make me happy anymore.

    ~janet

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  36. Hi Janet-
    Like many of your readers I am both humbled and amazed at your commitment to do this for a whole year! Not even 1/2 year, 90 days...oh my...God bless! I am in love with the idea though, and I hope you will chronicle all the highs and lows of your decision. For me, not acquiring would be far easier than "purging"... I am hopelessly sentimental and secretly sympathize with the Collyer Brothers in a teeny tiny, hopefully non-crazy way :)
    Wishing you complete success- I'm going to live vicariously through your experiment!
    xx
    SP

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  37. SP - thanks for your encouragement. a whole year is a veeeerrrry long time.

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  38. Just found your beautiful blog and will be back often. Our 200 yo old farmhouse had no closets or basement, yet I've filled an armoire with unneeded, dusty, treasures I should sell on Ebay... (No yard sales here in the boonies & I've already overwhelmed the local thrift.) I crave less stuff and more space to breathe (and a yoga room). I'll study up here!
    Thanks for providing me another good kick of motivation,
    Leslie

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  39. Thank you for the reminder - I need to get on board with this idea too. Maybe I should take it in baby steps and try it for one month. BTW - your house and garden are beautiful - I'm just adding this blog to my daily list.

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  40. You should read Not Buying It. It's a great book...I've read it a few times.

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  41. Holy cannoli, the mere thought of this makes me anxious - which I take as a pretty good sign that I probably ought to do the same thing!

    xox,
    Susan

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kindness is never out of style.

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