A Tennessee family says the year they challenged themselves to “stop shopping” changed their lives forever.
“We just had a better understanding of the things that mattered,” Scott Dannemiller told ABC News.
Dannemiller and his wife, Gaby Dannemiller, of Nashville, spent one year without buying any new clothes, gadgets, electronics, toys, books or home décor for themselves or their two children, ages 9 and 7.
"The things that were on the list that we could buy [were] food items, also an experience,” said Dannemiller, a corporate trainer. “Hygiene items were okay, but if it wasn’t something we couldn’t use up within a year, we couldn’t buy it.”
The experience of the Dannemillers, who served as missionaries in Guatemala a decade ago, is chronicled in Dannemiller's book, “The Year Without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting.”
"The challenge stripped away the clutter," Dannemiller said. "For us it was focusing less on stuff and focusing on each other."
“It was about getting back to what’s really important,' he said.
The family says they survived the year by relying on these three tips: avoiding stores they didn’t really need anything from; unsubscribing from email marketing lists and throwing away mail circulars.
“It did feel freeing not to buy anything, it did,” Gabby said. “At first it was hard and then it was just great.”
Dannemiller says even though the family benefited from the challenge, it was not without its hiccups, including one memorable work trip.
"I have to travel a lot for my job and so a suitcase is really important," he said. "My suitcase broke and I was unable to fix it so she [Gabby] pulls out of the closet my daughter’s little lavender, child-sized rolling suitcase."
"It was hard for me because I thought, ‘Gosh, this doesn’t match who I am,'" Dannemiller said.