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Could you live with just 100 things?

'100 Thing Challenge' advocates liberation from the consumer lifestyle. It might even save you some money.

By Teresa Mears Feb 18, 2010 5:58PM

How many “things” do you need in your life? Could you live with just 100 things?


A blogger named David Michael Bruno at GuyNamedDave nearly two years ago started what he called the “100 Thing Challenge,” an attempt to pare his stuff (not counting shared household items such as furniture) down to 100 items. He ended up classifying his considerable book collection as one item, making the challenge more manageable. But he did pare down.


His motivation wasn’t to de-clutter, or to reduce debt, or even to live simply, though he thinks his 100 Thing Challenge fits into all those goals. He wrote:

The 100 Thing Challenge is about breaking free from the spurious message of American-style consumerism that has turned many of us into habitual shoppers. It is about the humble admission that we cannot buy perfection no matter how many times we visit the mall, because we humans cannot be perfect. The 100 Thing Challenge is about removing our facade of consumer stuff to reveal our real selves. And it is about the finding joy.

The 100 Thing Challenge now has its own Facebook page advocating the three Rs: Reduce your stuff, refuse more stuff and rejigger your priorities.

The joys of living with less have been discussed for years, of course, including in the classic 1992  book “Your Money or Your Life." MSN Money’s Living With Less columnist Donna Freedman writes about that topic frequently.

As people have been forced to buy less stuff during the recession, more have realized that yes, they can be happier with less.


Steven at Hundred Goals, whose blog subtitle is “Achieve your goals while managing your finances,” made cutting down on stuff Goal No. 106 (he’s up to 122 goals).


“Once I understood the affect that Stuff had on my life I knew I needed to do something,” he wrote. “I began sorting through my Stuff, looking for things that would be easy for me to get rid of. Anything that no longer provided purpose & meaning to my life was on its way out.” He was surprised by the results: “This process of selling, donating & trashing had a huge impact on me. It made me realize exactly how much I was living a life of excess.”


J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy doesn’t think he could pare his stuff down to 100 items, but he sees the attraction of a minimalist lifestyle.


“As I get older, I'm realizing that the more stuff I have the more stuff I have to WORRY about,” he wrote. “I really hate that. I could honestly say that I love 75% of the items I own, but I'm starting to wonder if it's worth the mental price tag. I mean, how could I appreciate what I really own when I'm in front of the TV or laptop all the time anyways?”


But he does derive happiness from some of his stuff. “I LOVE all the artwork and pictures watching over us as we roam the halls. They scream LIFE, HAPPINESS, CREATIVITY -- so what's bad about that? Nothing I don't think, as long as I keep and appreciate *those* belongings and instead rid myself of the other junk lying around. I guess that's the first step here -- dividing your stuff up into things you absolutely enjoy, and then all others under it. No real gray areas -- either you love it or it's "so-so" and it's taking up space.”


Amy at The Finer Things doesn’t aspire to pare her belongings down to just 100 items, but she does want to get rid of things that she doesn’t use. Her goal is to get rid of 730 items this year, an average of two a day. She plans to sell some things, and regift or donate others. She has issued a challenge to other bloggers to join her.

She vows: “2010 will be the end of the unneeded stuff in my home. If we don’t use it regularly, love it, or know we want to keep it for some valid reason, it’s outta here!”


What about you? Do you feel enslaved by your stuff? Are you intrigued by the challenge of paring your life down to the 100 things you value most? Or would you be happy if, like Amy, you could just get rid of the things you never use?


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