6 People Who Own 100 Things or Less (and why we're not counting)

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series Exploring Minimalism

When I first became aware of the minimalist movement at the beginning of 2012, one of the things that really intrigued me was people who actually took pictures of ALL of the stuff they owned. I believe one of them I came across was Adam Baker and his wife, from Man Vs. Debt. Their wardrobes in particular felt quite confining and boring to me, but the concept seemed so liberating.

The 100 Thing Challenge was started by David Bruno years ago, as a personal experiment to live with 100 or fewer personal things for a year. It gained momentum as other people decided to take the challenge, too.

6 People Who Own 100 Things or Less - itemized lists | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | minimalist living, simple living,

Another of the first people I came across in my reading was Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle. I don’t know if he was aware of David’s challenge or not, but Colin’s list included 72 items.

Here are 5 other people I’ve run across listing 100 or fewer possessions.

  • Jessica of Minimal Student – 100 things
  • Courtney Carver of Be More with Less – 100 things
  • Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens – 72 things
  • Leo Babauta of Mnmlist and Zen Habits – 50 things
  • Andrew Hyde of AndrewHy.de – 39 Things (up from 15 😉 )

Honorable mention to Joshua Fields Millburn who unapologetically owns closer to 300 than 100 things. I’m really not an extremist, so this is more my style.

Something important to note – taking a challenge like this to own 100 things is more about getting yourself to carefully consider what you own and why, and to discover what editing that could mean for you, more so than getting legalistic about it. Becoming a slave to numbers is no healthier than living with extreme excess – balance, my friends 🙂

So with that in mind, remember that each of these people made the challenge work best for them – and some of those with smaller numbers have arrived there after re-editing multiple times over the years.

No matter whether this seems entirely too extreme to you or not, I think we can probably still agree that it’s not healthy for one’s identity or worth to be tied to their possessions, and this type of challenge is very good for discovering things about yourself that you might never realize any other way.

Why we’re not counting our stuff:

Honestly, there is part of me that finds the whole method of counting only personal items in a family situation a bit of a cop-out – only because there are ever so many things that could be considered communal property. However, I did just say it’s not about the numbers, right?

If someone is bothering to count their things, they care enough about quality of life that they’re not attached to the 10 pens they counted as 1 item. And that’s really our goal.

I feel like we still have way too much stuff to want to tackle counting at this point, although we would probably have around 100 things just in our perfect minimalist kitchen, if that gives you any idea.

I’m sure we will someday do a count and probably a picture list, because for us it’s a great way to force ourselves to really evaluate and edit more purposefully – but we won’t be legalistic about it.

UPDATE: We started the process in 2015 with our wardrobes. Being gone half the year away from the majority of our “stuff” makes it harder to get “cataloged” as we’d like to finish doing, but this is where you can see what we have so far.

Becoming minimalist is very, very, very much a process… one that is very worth considering.

Here are some of our favorite “minimalist” posessions. (We own a different knife rack, but I want this one when we get a new house.)

Some of our favorite minimalist products:

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Exploring Minimalism

Want to explore more of what it means to be minimalist and the resulting space and freedom it creates in your life? Let’s take simple living from something you wish for to something you actually do!

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  • Cheyenne Dawson

    Hey Tina, I love your 31 days to minimalism. We just started our journey about 3 months ago and are loving it! It changes you in ways you couldn’t imagine, and for the better! I totally agree on not counting! I like practicality and functionality. Keep going strong because as we know, it’s a process and a journey not a final destination.

    • thanks Cheyenne! love connecting with people who really get it! 🙂

  • Michelle

    I think I’m a minimalist at heart. I’m constantly throwing things out & am not terribly sentimental about objects. Yet on the other hand, I am an impulse buyer and find that I own a number of things that I don’t need. Recently we had a change in financial circumstance and I’ve found myself reflecting on the fact that if I had been more frugal with my spending in the past, we may not be struggling quite as much as we are now. It’s made me really consider why I have 20 towels in the bathroom rather than the five that are essential or how my cupboards have become overflowing with “stuff. ” I would love to experience the feeling of freedom that comes about from reducing our possessions. While I feel it’s unrealistic for our family of five, to own 100 things, I have made a commitment to myself to start ‘paring back’ our belongings and making sure the item I fall in love with in the store, is actually an essential item once I get it home

    • It’s a wonderful journey to start on and so very freeing, yes! While I know that plenty of families do live with less than 100 things in 3rd world countries, the point of minimalism isn’t to create a 3rd world lifestyle, so I definitely don’t think it’s realistic to attempt that. However, 100 per person may be feasible. Family minimalism is becoming more of a thing, but it’s certainly been more popular with singles and couples with good reason – it’s harder and more complicated for families! That’s one reason we share about what the journey looks like more practically for a family 🙂 ultimately, though, it’s not about how many things you own, but how thoughtful you are about what you own and why – like you said. Good luck with moving forward, and be sure to let me know if you have any questions!