The rules are simple: only buy items that can be used within a year, like groceries, toiletries, and gasoline. All nonessential purchases, like clothing and gifts for the kids, are off limits. After a year of living within these rules, Scott Dannemiller tells about the highs and lows of becoming a consumer culture drop-out in his new book, The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting (Westminster John Knox Press).
Scott and Gabby Dannemiller came up with this challenge in the living room of their middle-class suburban home. The couple, who had once quit their corporate jobs for a year of missionary work in Guatemala, realized their lives were filled with more stuff than they could ever need. Ten years and two kids after their missionary days, the Dannemillers had fallen back into the stressful pattern of trying to get ahead. A Christian, Dannemiller used the challenge as a way become more charitable and strengthen his relationship with God.
“This has been a beautiful experience,” said Scott Dannemiller. “It is not that we were unhappy before we started the challenge; but divorced from buying stuff, we can honestly say that life has a lightness it did not have before.” Hoping to share this joy with others, Dannemiller includes a practical guide to the year without a purchase challenge. He also gives advice on how to grow in faith and charity along the way.
The Year without a Purchase arrives at a time when many Americans are growing tired of keeping up with the Joneses. There is a renewed interest in mindful purchasing and decluttering, as Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up makes its way to the New York Times best-selling list. The Year without a Purchase joins this conversation, adding humor and religious perspective to this growing movement.
The Year without a Purchase is available for purchase through Westminster John Knox Press and other major retailers.
Scott Dannemiller is a writer, blogger, worship leader, and former missionary with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He and his wife, Gabby, reside in Nashville, Tennessee with their two very loud children.