Edited by Patricia Taylor

After two months of doing the 100 Thing Challenge, I’ve run into some…well…challenges. My initial 97 items have ballooned into 112. It wasn’t even until I went through my things in preparation for this article that I noticed how many new items I had actually acquired.

How does this happen? How do we accumulate so much stuff without even noticing? I asked around and did some research and discovered that we are all susceptible to a few common traps.

The Trap of Justification

Whenever we think about making a purchase, there are little justifications we use to convince ourselves the item we want is really and truly the item we need. If you are anything like me the internal monolog of retail rationalizing sounds a little bit like this:

“Do I need it? It’s a bit pricey, is it really worth it? Can I get it cheaper? Well, I’m here now and I have that money coming in next week from X, Y, and Z. I deserve a little treat anyway, and I think I’d use it. Imagine all the stuff I could do with it. Yeah, I should get it.”

Next thing you know you’re bouncing home, purchase in hand, confident you made the right decision and have enriched your life with this new trinket. Fast forward a week or two later, where is that item you were so sure you couldn’t live without?? In a closet? In a drawer? Or in the trash?

The Trap of “I Deserve It”

At the beginning of May, around my birthday, two interesting ‘stuff’ related things were happening. First, I was feeling very grateful that most of my friends were giving me digital gifts, or taking me to dinner or a show for my birthday. Nearly no one bought me physical items that would count towards my list. I felt warm and fuzzy when I thought of how this reflected the support of my friends and family, though part of me suspected it may have actually more to do with convenience since I am notoriously hard to buy for.

I also found myself unable to resist a few birthday purchases. It was so easy to tell myself “well it’s my birthday, I deserve it” and buy a new iPhone and other gadgets guilt free.

I suspect this trap of rewarding ourselves with new stuff is a huge contributor to our mass consumption, crippling credit card debts and overstuffed houses and minds. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your successes, in fact doing so can contribute to the overall better quality of life; but what about taking a nice bike ride, having a lazy afternoon or curling up at your favorite coffee shop with a good book from the library. Why not start a habit of rewarding ourselves with experiences rather than things, it’s at least as satisfying, usually cheaper and better for the planet.

The Trap of Things as Crutches

Whether it’s retail therapy issues, buying things to reinforce identity or being unable to resist a sale, it helps to know the ‘why’ behind the things you buy. Take some time to do a little soul searching and ask yourself why you keep buying all that unnecessary flotsam and jetsam.

In the last couple months, I have fallen prey to many of these traps and I realize now that I’ll have to try a lot harder if I want to keep to 100 items.

My Too Many Items


  1. Sun Glasses – Clic Googles
  2. Hat – Fedora
  3. Hat – Fox Tuque
  4. ***New*** Hat – Ball Cap
  5. Belt – For Pants
  6. Belt – For Dresses
  7. Shirt – Warm Weather / Spaghetti Strap
  8. Shirt – Warm Weather / Spaghetti Strap
  9. Shirt – Warm Weather / Spaghetti Strap
  10. Shirt – Warm Weather / Tank Top
  11. Shirt – Warm Weather / Tank Top
  12. Shirt – Warm Weather / Tank Top
  13. Shirt – Warm Weather / T-shirt (Fightlinker)
  14. ***New*** Shirt – Warm Weather / T-shirt (Firepedia)
  15. Shirt – Warm Weather / Red Jacob T-shirt
  16. Shirt – Warm Weather
  17. Shirt – Warm Weather
  18. Shirt – Warm Weather
  19. Shirt – Button up
  20. Shirt – Cold Weather / Invader Zim
  21. Shirt – Cold Weather / Black
  22. Shirt – Cold Weather / Black
  23. Shirt – Cold Weather / Black and Grey Striped long
  24. Shirt – Cold Weather
  25. Shirt – Cold Weather
  26. Sweater – Lulu Lemon
  27. Sweater – Long & Grey
  28. Sweater – Work Out
  29. Vest – Leather
  30. Pants – Jeans
  31. Pants – Pin Strip Black Formal
  32. Pants – Lulu Lemon
  33. Pants – Lulu Lemon
  34. Pants – Work Out
  35. Pants – Work Out
  36. Pants
  37. Pants
  38. Pants
  39. Shorts
  40. Leggings
  41. Leggings
  42. Skirt – Long / Red
  43. Skirt – Long / Blue
  44. Skirt – Long / Partnered
  45. Skirt – Long / Black
  46. Skirt – Short / Black
  47. Skirt – Short / Grey
  48. Dress – Evening
  49. Dress – Sun
  50. Dress – Cocktail
  51. Suit – Grey Pinstripe
  52. House Coat – Kimono
  53. Socks – 10 Pair
  54. Bathing Suit – Pokka dot one piece
  55. Bathing Suit – Bikini
  56. Bathing Suit – Bikini
  57. Underwear – 10 pairs
  58. Shoes – Flats
  59. Shoes – Converse
  60. Shoes – Heels
  61. Long Coat
  62. ***New*** Black Jacket
  63. ***New*** Hip Sack – Blue


  1. Small Jewelry and Costume Pieces (12 items)
  2. Make Up Palette – Mac Palette
  3. Make Up Brush / Grooming Kit
  4. Hair Straightener
  5. Hair Brush
  6. Hair Clip
  7. Hair Clip
  8. Comb
  9. Toothbrush – Electric
  10. Face Cloth
  11. First Aid Kit

Office and Electronics

  1. Laptop – Macbook
  2. Video Camera – Flip
  3. ***Replaced*** Camera – Point and Shoot / Olympus Water Proof Digital
  4. Old Camera Broken- Point and Shoot
  5. ***Replaced*** Phone – iPhone
  6. Old Broken Phone – iPhone
  7. Hard Drive – 500 GB
  8. Hard Drive – 100 GB
  9. Thumb Drive 10 GB
  10. Headphone – Roots
  11. ***New*** Headphone – Ear Buds
  12. ***New*** Headphone Splitter
  13. Podcast Microphone
  14. Battery Charger
  15. ***New*** Solar Powered Battery Charger
  16. Label Maker
  17. Notebook – MoleSkine
  18. Filing Portfolio


  1. Book – Non-fiction
  2. Book – Fiction
  3. Bike – Hampton Cruiser

Every Day Items

  1. Keys
  2. Money Clip (Bulldog clip)
  3. ***New*** Business Card Holder
  4. Water Bottle – Nalgene
  5. ***New*** Reusable Coffee Mug
  6. ***New*** Aeropress Coffee Maker

Travel and Repair

  1. Passport
  2. Suit Case – Carry On
  3. Suit Case – Blue, Air Canada, Medium Sized
  4. Suit Case – Day Pack / Hydro pack
  5. ***New*** Flight Case -Blue
  6. Sewing Kit

Home Decor

  1. Comforter and Sheet Set
  2. Art – Water Color Painting
  3. Art – Waterhouse Print
  4. ***New*** Art – Print
  5. ***New*** Art – Print

Resources for this article:
Dave’s original post that inspired his later book
The Times’ Article About the 100 Thing Challenge
The Zen Habits’ blog article

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