100 Thing Challenge {Part 2}

This concept was written about in David Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge, and is catching on across the country.  To sum it up, Bruno writes about the excess in American culture, consumerism, and how Americans have seen more stress in their lives since we started to accumulate more than 100 Things.  If you are an organized person living a simplified life with a lot of self-control you may have no idea why this can be so life changing.  As an unorganized person, I have to admit that putting the hard work into de-cluttering has given my family and me a new life. Less doesn’t mean nothing and because this is about quality of life, it’s important that you let this idea work for you.  

In part one of this article, I discussed ways to live joyfully with less and how to get motivated to start getting rid of the stuff you don’t need.  To read the entire article you can go to 100 Thing Challenge {Part 1}.

When One Is Enough

Here’s a challenge for you that has really helped us get focused.  Look around your home and ask yourself what items you have multiples of, but of those multiples, you really only need one.  Do you really need 25 pens or is the excess making you less resourceful (since you only end up with one anyway)?  How many pairs of scissors, finger nail clippers, screw drivers or scarves do you really need?  (I added scarves as an example of my own obsession!)  The truth is that we often have more than we need because those items are simply cheap, easily accessible and often lost because of our own disorganization.  If this is the only part of the challenge you do I would encourage you to consider asking yourself “when is one enough?”

Holidays & Birthdays

Christmas and other holidays are opportunities to humble ourselves and realize that gift giving is a blessing and brings much joy to the giver and the recipient.  As long as you are celebrating with others who are different from yourself (and I hope you are), you will receive gifts that you wouldn’t have necessarily purchased.  Be patient.  Be gracious.  Be open to others and encourage others to consider your feelings on this issue.

Ideas to Simplify Gift Giving:

  • Reach out to those in your life that have an appreciation for simplifying.  Ask them if you can give the gift of time through a shared meal or experience.
  • Spread the word of the joy of handmade gifts.  If you gently plant the seed that you would like to add more locally, handmade items to your home, others will catch on.
  • Request specific gifts for the kids like books, pajamas, educational items, and relational gifts.  
  • Request a single, family gift that everyone can enjoy together

Stacks of Paper

I knew that paper was a major issue in my home, but I couldn’t figure out what was keeping us completely out of control when it came to stacks of paper.  I decided to pile everything up and then take an inventory at the end of a week.  This is what we had accumulated:

4 catalogs
18 pieces of artwork/handouts/schoolwork
12 pieces of junk mail
8 bills/invitations/letters of importance
6 names/phone numbers/things to remember (written on random pieces of paper)
5 business cards
3 books on loan

If you total all those up, we had 56 items collected in one week.  Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year, and you are talking about 2,912 items living rent free in my home!  Canceling subscriptions, saying no to freebies, and developing a system to handle paper as it comes in have made a huge difference.

The Deal Trap

You know what I’m talking about…the $1 section, the 80% off after-holiday sales, and free shipping (“Today Only”).  As we got serious about the 100 Thing Challenge, these were the first items to go.   We had a garage, drawers, and closets full of things that we had purchased with the intention of putting to good use.  These items pile up, get in the way, and take too much of our time and joy to really be considered “deals”.

Tips for Avoiding the “Deal” Trap:

  • Before you go shopping, write down the items that you really need and stick to only the items on your list.
  • If you are out and find an item that you would like to purchase, simply wait 24 hours and see if you still feel so strongly about it.
  • Don’t be trapped by “the last one,” “sale ends at 2 pm,” or other tactics that increase our adrenaline and impulse buying.

De-Clutter Closets

We were committed to greatly decreasing the amount of clothing we have.  We set a limit of 50 items of clothing, including shoes, for each season.  As spring rolls around, I am realizing how my excitement and enthusiasm of catching good deals combined with the overwhelming feat of shopping for four kids has allowed me to over shop in the past.  This year I’ve taken the extra effort to inventory every item we have so that I am only purchasing items we absolutely need.  Setting a number on each person’s wardrobe and trying to wear items multiple times can decrease your spending and laundry!

Excess Food

This was a problem that I didn’t see clearly until we had tackled the other areas of clutter in our home.  Growing up I experienced times without food.  Experiencing an empty fridge is something that I never want my kids to have to go through, and I have learned that I can be a sort of hoarder in the kitchen.   By simplifying my grocery list and meal planning, I’ve been able to get some control over this, but I’d say that this is still my area of weakness.

Living With Enough

If living with only 100 items per person in your home seems like too difficult of a feat, consider getting rid of 100 items instead.  Forget the 100 and focus on enjoying the items that you own and have a deep desire to keep. Spend time appreciating what you have.  Start a list of all the simple blessings in your life.  Enjoy more time outdoors.  We have found that living with enough has opened up time and opportunities for us to do more of the things for which we have passions.  The point is to get a handle on your stuff so you can stop dwelling on it.

Give Freely

Letting go of buying new things will leave you with more peace and less debt.  Take this opportunity to see how you may bless others with your time and money.  You may find that the money you can save on those monthly magazines or Saturday deal shopping can be put to better use such as:

  • Providing food, shelter, education and safety for a child (www.compassion.com / $38 a month).
  • Empower people from around the world with a $25 loan (www.kiva.com).
  • Partner with us to combat water issues here at home and around the globe (www.needmoreacres.com).