Sarah Deveau: Money Matters


100 Things Challenge

Could You Live With Just 100 Things?

There’s this project called the 100 Thing Challenge that has everyone abuzz, which I first read about in this Time magazine article called How to live with just 100 things.

In 2008, Dave Bruno set out to blog about his challenge to himself – to pare his possessions down to 100 things and live with just those 100 things for a year. You can read about his challenge here. His quest has inspired others and it’s been the topic of much discussion, especially amongst those trying to trim their consumerism.

I think the idea behind the 100 Thing Challenge is interesting. Bruno writes that “living without an abundance of personal possessions for an extended period of time is the first step we ought to take in order to realize that we don’t need ever-more stuff.” In my book, Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting I talk about how decluttering can help you realize how wasteful you’ve been with your spending (unused appliances, never-played-with-toys, etc.).

However, I just can’t get on board with this. First, how to count those 100 things? Some people count shoes as one item, even if they have 50 pairs, while others count each pair individually. A browse through my closet finds the following for shoes alone:

Flat dressy shoes
Black high heels
Brown high heels
Black knee high boots
Winter boots, functional
Winter boots, fashionable
Traditional cowboy boots
Funky cowboy boots
Rubber boots
Everyday sneakers
Running sneakers
Water/hiking sandals
Everyday sandals
Dress sandals

I honestly don’t think I have too many shoes. So would I count them as one item? What about Christmas decorations? Furniture? Hobby tools? I’m a scrapbooker, but all of my supplies fit in one single rolling tote. Would that count as one item? My canner and canning jars?

In our house we lean towards minimalism. Partly that’s because we try not to spend on unnecessary things, and partly because it makes cleaning and tidying to much easier where there are empty drawers and room in the closets! It doesn’t take as much time to tidy the toys after a playdate if there aren’t hundreds of them for the kids to toss around.

At the same time, I don’t like getting rid of something we might use in the foreseeable future. I save egg cartons and plastic lids and all manner of wrap and strings for crafts. Empty ice cream buckets for gardening. Old towels for future rags, even if we have enough rags at this very minute.

The 100 day challenge seems at odds with the old fashioned “waste nothing” mentality of our grandparents. What do you think?