Not one sock, shoe, sweater, shirt, shampoo, nail polish, tube of lipstick, stick of gum . . . nothing! Not. One. Thing. Three hundred sixty-five days of not buying one darn thing for myself.

It was a year of buying nothing and yet so many somethings happened. It was a year that I expected to be quite difficult—wanting, wishing, desiring, missing, depriving.

And yet, even in this world where bigger, better, “more, more, more” and “me, me, me” is rampant, I found the year to be quite rewarding—growth, peace, simplicity, contentment, joy. It was one of the richest and most abundant years of my life . . . without buying anything!

This wasn’t a grand gesture to raise awareness for a charitable organization or anything like that. It was just a simple act of obedience. 

I did struggle at first, especially after wrapping my mind around the fact that buying nothing for myself actually meant buying absolutely NOTHING for myself, but I quickly learned what God was up to. 

Not being able to pay the registration fee for a women’s conference meant I could only attend as a volunteer. At the conference I was able to serve and help out behind the scenes. I met a new friend and mentor and was even able to encourage another mom about her marriage. 

Just a week later, there was a Ladies’ Tea. Once again, since I couldn’t buy my ticket, I volunteered. While helping cook and setting up, I was able to encourage a teenager about her path in life. 

Yes, God was up to something. It wasn’t just about the freedom from things; it was about so much more.

Daily, my heart was filled with gratitude for what I already had. 

Daily, my eyes were opened to the little blessings all around me. 

Daily, my focus was shifted to what I could give instead of what I could get.

Every single day, I learned new things . . . silly things, profound things, and ultimately, I learned the only things I really needed in this life . . . 

  • Shampoo and deodorant can last for more than a year if used sparingly.
  • If I cut open my face cream container and scrape the sides, I can get at least 2 more face washes out of it.
  • If I buy chocolate cake for my husband, he will share it with me.
  • Christmas and my birthday are way more fun when I actually have things that I really truly need—eye cream and anti-aging face wash, please!
  • Waiting for a gift-giving holiday to get something makes me appreciate that something so much more!
  • If I buy a salted caramel truffle Blizzard for my husband, he will share it with me.
  • I really don’t need that shirt or those shoes or that adorable scarf.
  • I’m so grateful for the shirt, shoes, and scarf I already have.
  • I can donate many of my shirts, shoes, and scarves and still have plenty.
  • When my husband surprises me with a new nail file, you would think he bought me a plane ticket to Paris.
  • I have more time, money, and energy to think about what others need.
  • I enjoy giving and being thoughtful.
  • There is actually a lot of joy in receiving, too (something I didn’t use to let myself do).
  • When a friend buys me a face powder or my favorite brownie mix, it will be the best day!
  • Socks with holes are better than no socks at all.
  • Boy, I can’t wait to get some new socks for Christmas though.
  • Every little molecule of what I already have is precious and not to be wasted. Just like every little gift God has given me is precious and not to be wasted either.
  • When I mix two colors of lipsticks I don’t like, it can actually make a color I do like.
  • Sun-In or lemon juice can be used in place of a highlighting kit.
  • Even if my favorite lotion is out, I still have many more in a cabinet under the sink.
  • I have way too much stuff. How much more can I give?
  • What I want and what I need are much clearer.
  • What I need and what I really, really need are much clearer, too.
  • And what I really, really need are not things.
  • Things are of this world.
  • Things don’t make me any happier, or more blessed, or more fulfilled, or more content.
  • What matters most is what’s in my heart.
  • And in my heart lives my family, my friends, and my Jesus.

Three things I don’t have to buy . . . and those are the only things I really need. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Christine Leeb

Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline.  Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources.  Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies.  Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends".