shopping fast

not shopping fast, but a shopping fast.

recently, i read the story of dara and jon kurtz who just completed a one-year shopping fast.  you can read more of their story here or in the september 2009 edition of redbook magazine. 

the family of four (husband, wife, 9-year old daughter, 6-year old daughter) developed five rules for their one-year shopping freeze which began on february 15, 2008.  the rules included: 1) no purchases for one year, 2) back to school clothes for the girls were allowed, 3) gifts could only be books, giftcards, or homemade items, 4) purchasing make-up was allowed, and 5) any form of family entertainment was allowed – and encouraged.

my hat’s off to the kurz family.  our family has made similar commitments in the past, but never for one year.  we once committed to a 2-week shopping freeze (groceries and all) until the credit card billing cycle ended.  we once went for a 3-week commitment (groceries exempt) until the end of a month.  and we have completed numerous other short-term commitments in the past.  but for the kurtz family to commit to a full-year freeze and complete the task is very impressive.

i’m not drawing attention to their journey for the sake of challenging you to do the same.  instead, i am commenting on their journey to draw attention to the results that they listed: 

  • “not being consumed with shopping gave me time to think about what i most valued in life”
  • “i realized that there were external distractions that took my time away from my family”
  • “both kids are more appreciative”
  • “it made our family closer and happier”
  • “life feels simpler and sweeter”

and anyone who has traveled the journey to a less materialistic life will attest to the same.  maybe there really is something magical to this idea of becoming minimalist…

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    While I support the idea of people taking a break from materialism and looking for a more fulfilling internal life, I don’t think I’d call what these folks did as minimalism.

    I only read the blog article, but what I’m getting is that they were profligate spenders who maybe reduced their spending down to what people in reduced circumstances (I would use myself as a person unemployed for 9 months as an example and others who have to stop spending because they *don’t have the money*) do as a matter of course. I am trying to being careful with judgement here, but I read mention of TV’s in kids rooms and a cruise. (Also, when did buying makeup become an essential life need?)

    So, it’s good that they are looking at their lives, but this does feel a bit like a writer getting on the “look, I can be in touch with the recessionary times” bandwagon.

    Thanks, of course, for your post. Even if I disagreed a bit with your acclaim of these folks, I appreciate you bringing this info out where I can read it and think about it.

  2. says

    @noelle – thanks for contributing to the conversation. it is true – if i were to embark on a year-long shopping fast, my family would come up with different rules than the kurtz family, just like you… and ours would be different than yours.

    but regardless of their rules or specific lifestyle, i do applaud them for their commitment. and my goal was to draw attention to the benefits of their experiment… not just the experiment.

    • di says

      Many of us are forced to be minimalists throughout some part of our lives. The varied approaches are interesting.

  3. LittleFish says

    Hello, I found your site a few days ago and I’m reading all of the posts slowly using an article/information processing program (I have way too much stuff to read, so a program structures the chaos). Anyways, reading this smacks of something I’ve been trying to implement for the past few months:

    I classify myself as an autodidact, and at the center of my intellectual life is a flashcard program “on steroids.” Without ‘nerding out’ on you, I can sum it up in this way: The more I use it, the more proficient I become in whatever field of knowledge I am studying (Right now Chinese is one big priority). In connection with that program, I have set up my own “self-reward” program to help minimize consuming and spend more time learning, from which I gain the greatest “selfish” happiness (“Selfish” in that it doesn’t immediately benefit others), at least compared to other non-productive pursuits like games, TV, etc. The formula is fairly simple: Every time my flashcard count goes up by 1,000 flashcards, I reward myself with something. It takes about one month to add 1,000 flashcards. Therefore, even if I can financially afford something, I am forced to ask myself, “is it worth the amount of time I’ve spent “earning” it?” I must reevaluate whether something is truly worth my money and energy (Why would I buy this if I’m only going to use it for a week, or if it will only sit on a shelf forever, being moved from one spot to the next?). After all, if this object will simply become another distraction, it can do nothing but detract from my autodidactic lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that I can’t buy cool gadgets and whatnot (I bought one of those Nike+ things that tracks my jogging runs recently), but the system necessitates that what I get is truly useful and “valuable” to me; this “hurtle” has helped stop a great deal of unnecessary consumption.

    • di says

      I keep a list of what I need in my wallet. As time goes by, I usually discover an alternative or realize I can go without.

      My process is not based upon reward, but I still think things over for a while. I don’t buy everything I see.

  4. LittleFish says

    Also, keep up with the cool site, reading about other people’s efforts imparts a surprising amount of motivation. Thank you!

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