The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting – Scott Dannemiller
My Rating – Put it on the List – if you struggle with spending/consumerism, Probably Not Worth Your Time – if you don’t
Level – Short, easy.
Title pretty much sums it up. Dannemiller comes to a realization that he and his wife and children have too much junk. They think back to their missionary days in Guatemala and how happy they were with very little. They decide to not spend any money other than what they had to, with a few exceptions, over the upcoming year. They allowed for essentials, groceries and bills, but then no more things. For gifts, they decided they would have to be homemade or an ‘experience.’
Chronicling the year, he writes humorously about the ups and downs of their challenge – from kids birthday parties, major holidays, and even learning how to sew and repair (darn?) socks. In the end, he realizes he doesn’t even miss the money, and in fact, didn’t believe his wife when she showed him how much they had saved. Shockingly, his children never even new of the challenge. They made a decision not to tell them what was happening, and in the end, with gifts of experience instead of junk or the next new toy, they were just as happy (or happier) as before.
As Erasmus wrote (technically, this has be mistranslated to English): When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. Except I’d replace clothes with fishing gear/tackle. My point being, me and Mrs. MMT don’t really buy a whole lot. There were certainly times we wanted to, but we either didn’t have the money, were paying off debt, saving for a house, or saving for a baby. Now, it is just kind of the way we are. She has always been big on experiences and travels over material things. In fact, we’ve never even given each other anniversary gifts, choosing instead to take a four or five day getaway.
That being said, the book is a good reminder of the perils of consumerism. Dannemiller does a good job with his research in pointing out the amount the average American spends and wastes in a year. Now, if you are on the hedonic treadmill of buy, and buy, and buy, this book is for you. It is almost a how-to in it’s insightfulness. The author is quite funny, though his shtick can get a bit old or too frequent.
This book is published by a Christian publishing company, and he does speak broadly of his reasons being based on his faith. However, it isn’t exclusively for Christians, and I don’t mean that in the Christiany way of universal truth or whatever. With the exception of the epigraphs being verses from the Bible, there isn’t much religiousosity to it. That’s not a criticism of him. My point is a review a good bit of Christian living and Theology books, and this is not that. It really is about a guy trying not to buy things, and is a good example for anyone who struggles with budgeting.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.