Last week I shared my decision to take a three year break from purchasing new things. I haven’t come to it lightly; I’ve thought long and hard about my reasons. It’s not about punishing myself or living like a hipster pilgrim. It’s about eliciting specific change and growth in myself. I’ve loved and desired material possessions too much for most of my life, and with God’s help I plan to change that permanently.
So, this post is my public pledge! Rather than listing the material things I can’t purchase within this time (which would be far too long), I’ll list the exceptions to my otherwise-total ban. A guy’s gotta live!
Health and Medical
Goes without saying, but if I need replacement glasses or a new face after a freak gasoline fight accident, I’m allowed to pony up the cash. Stuff happens. Also, health matters! I like to take care of myself, so I’m even allowing the purchase of small things that improve my fitness up to the value of $100 each (no new bikes or fancy equipment – think resistance bands, gym mat… the occasional aid where needed.) I’m slowly recovering from a back injury I experienced at 19 and don’t intend to halt my improvement. I won’t abuse this and buy a new fitness doodad every week for $99.
If you see me posting cafe meals on Instagram, lay your pitchfork down. I’m allowed to eat food. Even nice food. It’s not a vice, so it’s not banned. Also, my wife has a deep love for all things edible and it’s one of the main ways we enjoy time together. I’ll take her on nice dates and go to events with friends – this is about possessions, not consumables or experiences.
I’m a reader. When I stop learning and growing, life gets boring. I won’t buy fiction or recreational books, but nonfiction and biographies are my friend. I’m also a keen student of theology at Ridley Theological College and pay for access to their awesome vault of spiritual works. This, and anything else study-related (or work-related) is allowed.
Tools of my Trade
I love my work. I want to increase the value of what I do at Liberty People every day. If I discover things that can help me improve my efficiency or effectiveness, I’ll buy them. This doesn’t mean I’ll purchase fancy devices for myself under the guise of productivity. It means that if I find that ten dollar app that addresses a problem or improves a workflow, I’ll buy it.
Broken Stuff and Subscriptions
I’m allowed to replace stuff that breaks. But I won’t take it as an opportunity to upgrade to a shinier, more awesome thing. I’ll only replace with something of equal or lesser value.
A few subscription services like Netflix and Apple Music will continue – they’re used by more people than just me.
(Maybe) A House!
This one might seem crazy. Isn’t a house the most expensive of all ‘things’? Yes. But this whole experiment is mine and mine alone, and I don’t want my wife or future family to suffer for the sake of my personal and spiritual growth.
We moved to Port Stephens this year to take on our new work and we’d love to buy into the area. We’re saving for a deposit and when the time is right, we’ll probably buy. I’m very comfortable with this, since houses aren’t something I get too personally attached to or greedy about. I’ve bought before and was shocked to experience God’s clear guidance through the process. When it comes to real estate I like to buy with my head, not my heart. We won’t buy fancy, but for investment.
Things will get tricky when the time comes to fit and furnish a house… It’s every wife’s dream; she’ll probably get to do all the buying! I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Birthdays and Christmas are tricky. I don’t want to magically be given everything I want twice a year, so I’ve told my wife to limit gifts to a set amount. Also, I’m not allowed to drop constant hints about what I want – that would be cheating. If I happen to get money or vouchers at these times, I’ll spend them on whatever I want (especially vouchers – they expire!)
That’s about it. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? It almost seems like I can still live a full and happy life without buying new things all the time! I have friends who naturally live like this without the need for a grand experiment to make it happen (Darren, I’m looking at you). I salute them. However long it takes, that’s my destination. Greed be damned!
My next post will be about our financial responsibility as Christians, in light of Jesus’ teachings. How much should we keep, and how much should we give? It’s a tough subject. Bring popcorn.