Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Year Without a Purchase - Review

The Year Without A Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

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.

Genre: Nonfiction

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.

Challenges Met?


  1. I've been eyeing this book and wondering about it. That too bad about the religious ramblings but it sounds like a good book overall. I might see if my library has it.

    I can definitely see where cutting out shopping without replacing it with something positive would make it difficult to follow through and not be unhappy. Do you think you'll try again?

  2. That is an interesting challenge. Kudos to that family.

  3. You make a good point with adding something positive as a counterpart. Too bad for the religious talk, yet I'm interested in that experience and would like to read that book :)

  4. Oh money. If I only I could win the lottery... Unlike you, I only have myself to support. But like you I'm not one to shop. I like clothes, but only really buy them when I need something new or there's a good sale on at the few stores I love. I love make-up(drug store) and nail polish. I know I definitely buy too much there(not a ridiculous amount more that I buy more than I'll ever wear). My vice is definitely books. But now that I've got a more established relationships with a lot of publishers I'm buying less books. I still buy them(no one can stop me), but it's less than I was last year. And I can go into a book store and walk out without something in my hands. That's a bit of success, I'd say. Lol!
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

  5. I've been interested in this book too. I think I'll see if my library has it and if not, I might get it anyway. I've got a gift card that has been begging to be used. Because of the fact that the family served in the mission field, the religious discussion is not unexpected. And I wouldn't mind that anyway. Enjoyed your sharing your personal experience with the 'no buy' philosophy and I suspect you are on to something regarding replacing it with positive experience and giving. Thanks for sharing about this one, Katherine!

  6. I could go without buying cloths or makeup for a year, but not sure about books. :) That might make me go crazy given that personal item Sound like an interesting book though. :)

  7. An interesting way to spend a year. As you say the key is to make sure you have other positives in your life. It's a bit like dieting - cutting all the yummy stuff out completely just doesn't work.

  8. I hate to shop, aside from books..and I can see where you would need to replace it so you didn't feel denied. I think I would enjoy reading this.

  9. These days I really don't spend all that much. Books and stuff for the herd mainly lol I do like the idea of this one. It's easy to get caught up in the I wannas.

  10. Hey Katherine! Saw your review come across my feed. Thanks so much for reading, and I appreciate the honest feedback. Glad you enjoyed the book. All the best to you and your family with your own challenge. The intent is more important than the outcome. Peace, Scott

  11. It sounds so impossible! I think I might be able to do it for myself and my husband, but I'm not sure for my daughter.

  12. This sounds like an interesting book, Katherine. I don't do a lot of shopping either--except for books--lol. I think your insight into why this didn't work for you when you did something similar was interesting and on-point. I don't think I could do this, but I do think it's a good idea to look at the things we buy and why we buy them.

  13. I've been looking at this book too. Like Bea, I might see if the library has it... in keeping with the not-buying-things idea. I think the hardest thing for me would be not buying gifts. I love giving gifts. Actually, I love making them, too, but I can't always figure out something that I'm capable of making that the other person would enjoy, and I don't always have time to do all the creating I would like to do!