Minimalism no spending challenge Flavia Bernardes Art

Have you ever felt suffocated by your own environment? Like you’re surrounded by things and they’re slowly draining you? Like you’re slowly drowning in a sea of things? No? Just me? No, that can’t be just me.

I didn't grow up with a lot, in fact we were pretty poor. We’ve always had the basics and on the outside it looked like we had plenty, and to an extent we did, but I felt poor. I’m sure my memory is a little fuzzy and totally biased by my own perception of things, but what I remember is that every time I asked for something the answer was always a variation of “That’s for rich people.” And this othering led me to believe that I didn’t deserve nice things, that I wasn’t enough, because if I were I could get those “things.”

And I’m sure that contributed to me trying to get things, holding on to things and treating my things with the respect that most people in my life didn’t get. I’m sure it was a way of showing to myself that I deserved nice things too, a way to try to feel enough. But I never did. Soon after the new thing's "newness" wore off I would feel a rush of guilt and would go back to the state of emptiness I felt before.

This is just self awareness, not depression or sadness. In fact there's a sense of power in knowing myself and recognizing my shortcomings. It's sobering. And it's not like it would take a stranger long to figure this all out - We are usually a little blind when it comes to ourselves, aren’t we? But just because I noticed these things about myself doesn’t mean I was able to actually do much about them. One thing is intellectually knowing, the other (and the much tougher one) is to actually do something about it.

I’ve read brilliant books along the way that helped me tremendously and I’ve made some progress, but I would always revert to old patterns. I read Marie Kondo’s "Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up" so many times I could probably recite it word by word by heart. After each time I read it, my closet and house would look spick and span, but after a little while "things" would slowly creep in again. “How did this happen?” I would wonder. Somebody must have done it. I must have done it. I was stuck in a loop. Of buying, feeling a rush of adrenaline, followed by massive guilt and detachment. 

That’s why I decided to try something a little different, something to break the pattern and help me understand and change things. I decided to spend the whole year without buying things. I’m still going to pay my bills, buy groceries and replace items that break and are necessary for my day-to-day life, but other than necessities (and I do mean necessities), I’m not going to buy any more “things.”


This was inspired by my uneasiness and a few great books I read this year, one of them is “The Year of Less,” by Cait Flanders, but unlike Cait, I’m choosing to call my year, "The Year of More." Because that’s what I want. I want to get more out of what I already have, I want more time with my loved ones, more connection, more meaningful things in my life. And I want to feel enough. Because guess what? What I do have? It’s already enough.


no spending year minimalism flavia bernardes art

And I’m going to document the whole process on my blog (accountability works wonders for me). To start off, here’s a list of what I can and can’t buy:

What I’m allowed to shop for:

  • Groceries and basic kitchen supplies;
  • Cosmetics and toiletries (only when I run out);
  • Cleaning products (only the basics and when they run out);
  • Gifts for others;
  • Items on the approved shopping list.

What I’m not allowed to shop for:

  • Take away food or coffee;
  • Clothes, shoes and accessories;
  • Books, magazines, notebooks and stationary;
  • Art supplies (I can only buy the stuff I run out of and absolutely need, like paper or paint);
  • Courses, workshops, online subscriptions;
  • Household items (candles, décor, furniture, etc);
  • Electronics

Approved shopping list:

  • I can purchase anything that must be replaced, but the original item has to be tossed or donated;
  • Hair dresser (up to 4 times a year);
  • Current bills and business related subscriptions;
  • Health related items and treatments (vitamins and supplements, kinesiology, therapy, etc) - only the necessary, prescribed ones and I’m only allowed to do one treatment at a time (I hope I can discern the real ones from the snake oil ones.
  • Business relate purchases necessary to fulfill orders (supplies, shipping, etc) 

And I must stay accountable on my blog.

How about you? Got an opinion? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the comments below. And I'd love to know if you have any plans or projects for this year :-)