The Year Without A Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller
Rating: 4 Stars
Description: The Year Without a Purchase is the story of one family's quest to stop shopping and start connecting. Scott Dannemiller and his wife, Gabby, are former missionaries who served in Guatemala. Ten years removed from their vow of simple living they found themselves on a never ending treadmill of consumption where each purchase created a desire for more and never led to true satisfaction. The difference between needs and wants had grown very fuzzy, and making that distinction clear again would require drastic action; no nonessential purchases for a whole year. No clothes, no books, no new toys for the kids. If they couldn't eat it or use it up within a year (toilet paper and shampoo, for example) they would buy it.
Filled with humorous wit, curious statistics, and poignant conclusions, the book examines modern America's spending habits and chronicles the highs and lows of dropping out of consumer culture. As the family bypasses the checkout line to wrestle with the challenges of gift giving, child rearing, and keeping up with the Joneses, they discover important truths about human nature and the secret to finding true joy. The Year Without a Purchase offers valuable food for thought for anyone who has ever wanted to reduce stress by shopping less and living more.
Why I Picked This Book:After paying two college tuition bills and all the regular beginning of school craziness I was feeling broke and stressed. Plus I love project books like this!
My Impression: A number of years ago I decided to go a whole year without buying anything personal. No clothes, no cosmetics or toiletries that weren't a replacement, and nothing else personal. It went well until about 8 months in I bottomed out and ended up just being miserable. I didn't really understand why. While I do like to shop and enjoy finding new things my life doesn't revolve around it and I actually shop very little. After reading this book I got a little more insight. It wasn't the not buying anything, it was doing all denial without adding any positives. I removed the purchasing which is fine but I didn't replace it with experiences or anything positive.
This book was an interesting look at going an entire year without making a purchase. Dannemiller and his family explored not just buying but giving and paying attention to each other and the community around them. I really enjoyed the humorous tone Dannemiller brought to the book. It was entertaining and interesting watching him work through the problems he encountered as the year went on. I loved how non-judgmental this book was. The attitude was very "this is what we did and this is what happened" without any "everyone really must do this the same way".
It really got me thinking about my own spending habits as well as figuring out more ways to bring joy to my everyday life. It also sparked several interesting conversations with my husband about buying stuff versus spending money for experiences. That to me is a win!
Going in I was expecting a decent amount of religious discussion and the bible passages that headed each chapter and relating the lessons learned from spending to lessons taught by God were interesting. However, periodically it felt like Dannemiller went on a long religious ramble - especially at the beginning. At these times it felt like this was a supplemental text for an adult bible study class and the subject of the book got a little lost.
Despite the flaws, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to figuring out my own no purchasing plan.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I definitely would - especially if the subject catches my eye like this one did.
Would I Recommend this Book?: If you're considering trying to simplify this is a great resource - especially if you have children.