My 100 Thing Challenge

Mark and I spent Sunday afternoon on the perfect picnic rock by a roaring stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon. We talked about how while we love our house and yard, the best memories in our relationship are our adventures. Big adventures, like getting lost in Mexico or riding the Tower of Terror in Tivoli Gardens and seeing Copenhagen with a bird’s eye view, and little adventures like sharing an ice-cold beer by a summer stream.

While we can’t predict the future, we are certain that it won’t include a big house, new car, and lots of new stuff. We didn’t always have our future so clearly defined in terms of what is most important to us. Downsizing and living more simply gave us the time and space to do that.

I embrace living with less, and simplicity has become a big part of my life and work. What some may see as an obsession is a passion and a way of life. I have experienced so many amazing benefits from living with less, that I continue to pare down my belongings and spend my time and money on things I really care about.

Experiments like Project 333 and The 100 Thing Challenge are not a struggle for me, they are exciting. While I don’t think it’s important or necessary to count your stuff or to live with less than a certain number of items, I know that challenges like these allow you to determine what you really need (and don’t need) to be happy. (and in most cases, happier)

With that, I want to simplify further and go beyond decluttering by taking the The 100 Thing Challenge written by Dave Bruno. Dave made his own rules and so did I. There is nothing magical about the number 100, but it’s a place to start.

My 100 Thing Rules

  • I can change my list anytime. Replacing an item is not a deal breaker. I’ve starred items that I anticipate replacing or getting rid of over the next year.
  • Gifts will have to replace an existing item.
  • I am counting underwear as a group and make a few other concessions like not counting electronic chargers as additional items.
  • This list only consists of my personal items, not household items.
  • I’ll continue to live within the parameters of Project 333.
  • If the 100 thing challenge is too much, then I will modify it further or discontinue. Joy trumps simplicity.

My 100 Thing List

  1. Yoga mat
  2. Sunglasses*
  3. Laptop bag
  4. Purse
  5. Travel bag*
  6. Bracelet (gift from Mark)
  7. Cross bracelet
  8. Gray/white scarf
  9. Green scarf
  10. Black pashmina
  11. Casual hat
  12. Red Sox hat
  13. Winter hat
  14. Winter mittens
  15. Winter coat
  16. Winter vest
  17. Trench coat
  18. Leather jacket
  19. Black rain coat
  20. Blue hiking coat
  21. Robe
  22. Yoga pants
  23. Black undershirt/tank
  24. black hiking/workout shorts*
  25. Workout shorts
  26. Workout shirt
  27. Workout shirt
  28. Sweatshirt
  29. Bathing suit
  30. Bathing suit cover up
  31. Underwear (grouped)
  32. Lounge shirt
  33. Lounge shirt
  34. Lounge pants
  35. PJs (cool weather)
  36. Lingerie
  37. Lingerie
  38. Night gown
  39. Night gown
  40. Tank top PJs (warm weather)
  41. Purple heels
  42. Black flats
  43. Black boots
  44. Snow boots
  45. Hiking shoes
  46. Sport shoes*
  47. Tennis shoes
  48. Flip-flops
  49. Jeans
  50. White dress capris
  51. Blue outdoors capris
  52. Dress pants
  53. Khaki pants*
  54. Black skinny pants*
  55. Black sleeveless dress
  56. Orange/white dress
  57. Green/white dress
  58. Blue sleeveless dress
  59. Holiday dress
  60. Gray maxi skirt/dress
  61. Gray short skirt
  62. Tweed skirt
  63. Black wrap short sleeve
  64. Black tank
  65. Yellow tank*
  66. Black tank flower detail on back
  67. Gray ruffle shirt
  68. Plaid button down
  69. Light blue button down
  70. Black long-sleeved tissue tee
  71. Gray long-sleeved tissue tee
  72. Black cardigan
  73. Cream cardigan
  74. Black blazer
  75. Cream blazer
  76. White sweater
  77. Green sweater
  78. Laptop/charger
  79. Phone/charger
  80. Camera/charger
  81. External hardrive*
  82. Rosetta Stone headphones
  83. Ear buds
  84. Photo card reader
  85. Office supplies (pens/pencils/paper/paperclips/files)
  86. Diary (planner/calender)
  87. Bible
  88. Kindle + charger
  89. 1 book in progress (+ small rotating library of less than 10 books)
  90. Toothbrush*
  91. Hairbrush
  92. Blow dryer
  93. Flat-iron*
  94. Makeup (grouped)
  95. Tennis dress
  96. Tennis racquet
  97. Journal*
  98. Candle set (gift)
  99. Bike gear (grouped)
  100. Ski gear (grouped and stored until Winter)

Here is what founder, Dave Bruno says about taking the challenge …

“If you do this — if you will give up your stuff for a while — I am sure you’ll never go back. You’ll spend the rest of your life creating a more valuable life, instead of wasting your money and time on stuff. You will be glad. And best of all, the people around you will be blessed by your efforts to prioritize more meaningful pursuits.”

I’ll be giving away or boxing up the remaining personal items I have. If I don’t need them after a few months, I’ll donate them. That removes all of the “what if I need that” excuses. I’ll also be taking a closer look at our household items and removing what we don’t love or use anymore.

For me, the purpose of this challenge is not to commit to living with a certain number of things, but to discover more benefits of living with less. If it improves my life, I’ll cull the list further. If it adds stress or unnecessary hardship (a.k.a. makes me grumpy), I’ll kill the experiment.

Please comment with your thoughts on counting your stuff, my list and any questions you have.

If you have thought about trying one of these experiments, you might enjoy the Project 333 quick start course beginning next week.


  1. says

    Wow, good for you this is awesome! I don’t know that I could ever do this but who knows maybe I will try one of these days. One of my things on my 36 while 36 list is to give up something for a month, maybe a variation of this…
    I do like the idea of getting really mindful of what I use and love.
    Also love that you are leaving it open to how it goes, to experiment!

  2. Paula says

    Very inspiring! i may try your challenge and see where it takes me! I like that you are being flexible and not putting restrictions and willing to make changes if this project doesn’t make you happy. After all, simplictiy shouldn’t be about torturing and forcing ourselves to live with less, it should bring happiness in every step of the way! Good Luck!

  3. says

    Wow Courtney! This is really impressive. I am really considering this and I love that this just applies to you and not the rest of your family. I am becoming more aware of how many clothes I still own and I think this is a great way to really weed out what never gets used. I look forward to seeing how this process goes for you.

  4. says

    We have the same thoughts on memories. I recently wrote a post about using your fond memories to guide your future. For us, we had many fond memories of travel and adventures, and not so many that were tied to the house we lived in. This helped us more clearly define our future as well. We ended up selling our 4 bedroom house and downsizing to a 2 bedroom apartment.

    I may have to count my items at some point. It seems like most of our belongings would be shared household items, but I may have to count up my personal items to see where I stand.

    Also, maybe I missed it, but what do the astericks indicate?

  5. says

    I like how you set yourself this challenge as an adventure, but made your own rules–and I love “joy trumps simplicity”.

    I’ve been on the simple living journey for a while, but I find that as I move a layer deeper (and really, I’m still on the material possessions level) each time, I initially meet my own resistance, then explore why, then when I let go of the items…I feel a surge of energy and freedom. It opens up the psychic space for something new–for possibilitites.

    Also, as I read through your list, I kept thinking that it sounded like so many items–more than enough–and that it couldn’t be just 100. But it was! Hmm, you have inspired me to consider my own version of this challenge. Thank you!

    as a sidenote, do you include personal papers, and cosmetics/toiletries?

    • Courtney Carver says

      That’s exactly how my journey has been. 100 does seem like a lot when you make the list, but then you can also clearly see the excess that didn’t make the list.

      I did include a group for Office Supplies which include files and paperwork, but am working to go digital with most of that. I also have a cosmetics group listed, but am not counting things like shampoo and other toiletries.

  6. says

    Per one of your earlier posts, I checked out a copy of Bruno’s book from my library. I found it thought provoking. I have already whittled my clothes down to under 33 and am considering taking on the 100 things challenge myself. I hope you continue to post as you live into this challenge.

  7. says

    Love this challenge… especially that you set your own rules and will be flexible if you need to change them.

    I need to declutter… thanks for the motivation and kick in the butt to do so.

    Beginning now!

  8. says


    I really want to de-clutter this summer! So this could be the perfect challenge for me. I may very well join you. I love your attitude toward the “100” number. It’s just a metric to help us find greater simplicity and happiness. If it stops helping us then we can let it go or readjust it. Thank you for the inspiration!

  9. MelD says

    I was interested to read this, though surprised your list was mostly clothes – I was expecting actual personal belongings. Well, fascinating if this is really all you own, so I wonder what comes under household for you?
    Although I see you plan to remain flexible, the pressure does seem to be on everyone to be getting rid of things. I will be interested to see over the next months who will have the self-confidence to keep anything.

    Personally, this is too radical for me. I do not like clutter, I like things to be tidy and put away, but I do appreciate having certain items around, so my “household” includes several candlesticks or tea-light holders that I use a lot, and yes, some were gifts and remind me of friends, even if I wouldn’t forget them if I didn’t have the object! I like to have a few photos around of family and pets that have left us, just not masses. I like a couple of pictures on the wall that mean something to me. I keep a few ornaments made by my daughters and a few cushions for cosiness, as well as a couple of throws I knitted. We don’t have access to good libraries, so my large collection of books, including various vintage books, is precious to me, even though I do purge regularly of any books I’m not likely to reread and I now use Kindle for iPad a lot. And so on. I consider these objects to be my personal belongings, too, gathered over the years, meaningful of nearly 30 years of having a family that have grown up and begun to move away. I have little family of my own and my mother and grandmother are also many miles away.

    Still, for those who are drowning in consumerism, I suppose the concept of only having enough and not too much of everything is still quite new – I’m thankful I learned this lesson some time ago. And I am not in the US, maybe that makes all the difference.
    However, I am not willing to erase history or physical memories for the sake of having only XX number of things!

    • Courtney Carver says

      There isn’t any pressure on anyone. Household items are items that my family shares like art on the walls, furniture, dishes and cookware. My husband and daughter are welcome to keep as much or little of their personal items and anything we eliminate that we share is a family decision.

    • CadyMom says

      Thank you MeID. I agree that many people are overwhelmed with consumerism and that paring down is admirable and freeing. And I applaud anyone who embraces this challenge to simplify/clarify what is important to them–things that go far beyond physical possessions. But, I agree that some things, though not necessary, are a comfort. And honestly, I would trade my photo albums for any article of clothing I own. My wedding ring means more to me than any other inanimate object–but not because of its beauty or even possessing it, but for the memories it evokes. If I had to choose ebtween it and having my dog for another year–I choose the dog. I could live without anything I own if necessary, but there are some items that make me smile when I see them. They make life easier when I have had a bad day. And there are things that recharge my spirit when I am feeling down. And I really like having a washing machine in my house.
      So, for those who embark on this challenge, please remember that the point is to free yourself from filling a void with “things”. Life is what is important–your experiences and memories. Not the exact number of things you own.

  10. Jennifer says

    I want to do something radical like what the minimalists (Josh & Ryan) suggest. I want to get a bunch of boxes and pack everything up (well-labelled) and set a time frame for myself, and everything I have not removed from the boxes in that time goes away. Now I don’t want to be quite as radical as they were, I would like to give myself more than a week to figure that out, because there are some things that I use which are seasonal or even just used occasionally, but still used often enough I don’t want to have to pay to replace it. I just don’t know if I could get my husband on board with that or not. Guess I could pack up just my (nothing jointly owned) stuff and try it that way. It is kind of like the 100 thing challenge only backwards…maybe even challenge myself to stop when I get to 100 things removed from the boxes? I also go back and forth on home decor. I have a few things I could take or leave, but don’t want our house to seem uninviting or stark. Ok, so I have a 4 yr old definitely not minimalist, so I doubt it would ever really feel stark. But you probably know what I mean.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Jennifer, I’d love to hear if you try the box idea. Focus on your items and not your husbands. If he likes the changes he sees in you, he may want to give it a try too. I don’t think you have to worry about the stark look. That is easy to change with colorful paint and great music. 😉

  11. Scotty says

    Love the intention. I read your Project 333 in the past and am wondering how all the accessories…coats, scarves, etc. are differentiated between the two lists. Admittedly, its been awhile since I read the 333 list but I’m thinking those type of things were on both lists??? Can you clarify?

    • Courtney Carver says

      Great question Scotty. Project 333 allows for 33 items including clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry every 3 months. You can include as many workout clothes or sleepwear/loungewear as you like as long as you don’t wear it out.

      The 100 thing challenge is really another step and looks at everything over the course of year. I will still work within the parameters of Project 333 but looking at the bigger picture and including other items.
      Many of the items on my list are seasonal and I will only use them when appropriate.

  12. Connie says

    I’ve always been liberal when it comes to donating clothing/toys/household items to Goodwill, St Vinnie’s, etc in the past but this weekend I will be having a rummage sale with the goal of selling all but several boxes of personal possessions. I’ve been gearing up to move across country for six months but that doesn’t take away from it being an emotional week preparing things to go out on display and ultimately taken away. I haven’t went as far as to count my possessions but I believe I’ll be near 100 personal items. It is a very exciting process and it is so liberating. I’ll be continuing reading bemorewithless all along to keep my focus strong.

  13. says

    I admire you for doing this. I am inspired by people who take on big challenges. I don’t know that I would ever get down to 100 personal items, but I’ve started making a list of my 100 must-haves, just to see how far I get.

  14. Izzy says

    I am intrigued by your project but….always a but! I know my boys already laugh about how I am always getting rid of things when I grow tired of them, so I know they would figure I slipped off the edge if I said I was counting my items!! The point is the same, tho’, I purge often to keep my focus on only the things I love, or necessary items. This idea was birthed in me as I had for too many years, kept things around because I couldn’t afford what I really wanted. Now, if I don’t love it…it goes. I at least make space for something I love to appear.
    In addition, I will say, that the bottom line is really focusing on changing out the old stuff (not always stuff, sometimes something I do!) in order to make room for the change, adventure and love that is waiting for us.
    I also like to give my items away (leaving selling only larger ticket items to help w/bills) But the joke (again with my boys) is that everything is eventually going to end up by the road with a big “free” sign on it!

  15. says

    I’ve been purging my stuff this summer, but I think 100 things would be hard! I am getting better all the time though. I just downloaded a copy of the book you mentioned from the library. Can’t wait to read it.

  16. says

    We are trying to filter down the amount of “stuff” we have. 100 items is very impressive and it must feel like a load off to get rid of the clutter.

  17. says

    Wow – I’m inspired! I love the concept but then I mentally cast my eye over what I own and know I would have 100 things in my wardrobe alone… or over 100 DVDs… ergh! However it is super inspiring… so I will ponder the idea 😀

  18. Tina says

    Thank you for your inspiring post. I am in the process of looking for a new house, and I plan on being very mindful about what possessions I bring into it. I want to only have what I truly need and love.

  19. says

    I panicked briefly when I started reading…. goodness me, what a challenge! Then I realised that workout clothes (about 1/2 my wardrobe) and “bike gear” (I have “tri gear” and “camping gear”) are grouped! Wow, I might be able to try this challenge in the near future after all :)

  20. Wendy Kahle says

    Courtney, I also wrote up a 100 things list, but it looks really different from yours. I didn’t even try to list clothes, but I had all the essential (to me) household items and survival-type gear. Things like cookware, eating utensils, furniture, sheets and towels, flashlight, a few tools and cleaning supplies…you get the idea. I also added a car (way down the list). I pretty much had everything I needed at 100….except clothes!

  21. Sara says

    Hi Courtney,

    I’m really excited to try this challenge myself, however, I have a couple questions that maybe you can help me with. First off, what about gowns or formal dresses? (e.g. wedding dress, first communion dress, etc.). That is what I’m having trouble with. What do I do with all this irreplaceable memory stuff?! Put it in a box and put it in my parents’ attic?

    In addition to that, I noticed while looking at my closet that there isn’t a central theme or organization to it. It’s more of a costume closet with lots of awesome and valuable choices, but none of them really go together well. Thoughts on that?

    Of course, I guess I could just add these exceptions to my 100 things rule or group them.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


    • Adriane says

      I dealt with this in a way.. certainly wouldn’t do it with a wedding dress. But I had a lot of special tshirts from high school and college. I made a quilt (or rather my grandmother made a quilt) with all of them. So instead of stacks of tshirts, I have one blanket that I LOVE. That is just one idea. And again I doubt I’d cut a wedding dress for a quilt, but maybe someone would.

      For pictures, scrapbooks are awesome and I’d readily group multiple scrapbooks as 1 item.

      And maybe have a rule, as I do, that I can keep as many keepsakes etc as long as it fits in a predefined space/box. I have a ton of pictures drawn by kids that are priceless and I would never get rid of. Scanning them is one way but I like having them tangibly as well.

      I also do this with hiking gear as I tend to be paranoid and want everything that I could potentially need if I got stuck on a mountain alone. As long as it all fits, it is fine.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sara, I donated my wedding dress, but before I did, I clipped out a little piece of the fabric and safety pinned it a small piece of fabric from my mom’s wedding dress. If my daughter ever wants to pin in on the inside of her wedding dress one day, she’ll have it.

      I think pictures are much more powerful than the actual item. You can give your wedding dress away and have beautiful pictures on display from your wedding day. Otherwise, it’s just a dress in a box.

    • Shannon says

      I realize I am really late on this, but I had my wedding dress made into a baptismal gown for my baby. I am a sentimental person, but why save the whole dress when nobody is ever going to wear it again? Now my little one has an heirloom quality GORGEOUS baptismal gown that can be worn for generations- baptismal gowns never go out of style! 😉

  22. Marie says

    Twenty years ago when my husband and I divorced, I took very little with me, moved to a tiny, one-bedroom house, and felt a sense of calm. Not being surrounded by so much “stuff” just felt right.
    A friend joked that I owned “a 13″ tv and a nice loveseat”, but that was really all I needed. Peace and security are not tied to possessions. That is a great thing to know.

  23. Barbara says

    What about furniture, pictures, even kitchen things – how does one pare down that – and whose list does it go on. Do I need to count the dog bowls etc. as mine – or can my dogs have a list also???lol.

  24. says

    I do a version of this where I tuck my stuff into boxes, and if it doesn’t fit into the box, it can’t stay in the house. 100 Things as-is would be a disaster for me, because I’m a crafter/artist–does each set of knitting needles count as 1 thing? Each ball of yarn? Each cube of fimo, each spool of thread?

    So–I have “Knitting Bag”, “Clay Stuff Box”, “Sewing Dresser” (fabric takes a lot of space even if there’s not that much of it, plus it doubles as a cutting table), “Art Supplies Tacklebox and Paper Drawer”, “Nostalgic Sentimental Tidbits Lunchbox”, and “Miscellaneous Crafty Junk” which has googly eyes and zipper pulls and glitter for when the baby cousins come over. I can’t just group it on a list without physically grouping it, or it’ll expand forever. But putting grouped stuff within a limited (reasonable!) space really helps if you’re the kind of person who collects a lot of little things that are, really, components of a single big thing.

  25. says

    I just finished reading Dave’s book, and I’ve thought about doing the challenge myself because I feel like a slave to my stuff. I kinda wondered if it would be possible as a woman in Utah (vs a guy in San Diego), so thanks for your inspiration!

  26. lynne says

    Hi, I found your blog looking for the 100 things list. Then it did now dawn on me that the list is what I put on it, and not one created and a one size fits all. DUH!!!! I am feeling dumb tonight. You have a new follower!

  27. says

    Hi Courtney,
    I just stumbled upon this very interesting post, while I was researching for a participatory art project on possessions that I am doing with a few other artists.

    We are exploring what possessions mean to us how they reflect our identities. Our challenge – which of your possessions could you accept to give up if, in exchange, you could have a photograph of that object as a reminder? Is it enough to simply have a photograph of the possession and, if not, why not?

    I thought this might be interesting for you in the 100-things-challenge. We are currently looking for entries, so if you are interested in participating, have a look on our project website or drop us an email.

    Very best wishes

  28. says

    I like how you didn’t limit yourself to an exact number & also made new rules that pertained to your life. I think it is a challenge in our current society where everything is easily accessible & most of the stuff we can buy is cheap. We tend to pile on more than we need & it chokes us down. I am currently making cell phone holders for women who are always on the go & have found it replaces 90% of my purses that I no longer use. Having a large family I find that stuff keeps me from spending time with my children as I am always having to organise the things we have instead of having quality time with my family. It is a challenge to keep a lifestyle that has minimal stuff & we are still very far from where I would like to be, but it has been an ongoing process for the last 5 years. I like how you stated that when a gift comes in, another item goes out. Great idea! I also find that 6 month purges also works. For me, as I have 4 kids, I have to “attack” every room at least every 6 months or suddenly there is a mountain of stuff. I think that if more people shed this extra weight, they would find a happier life. Things don’t bring happiness. Things only bring a moment of satisfaction and then these things start to absorb our energy as we store them, dust them, and organise them. It can be challenging to purge & so I believe it is better to stop items at the door before they come in the house. With that, good luck with your nomad life. It sounds very exciting!

  29. Sheri says

    Wow……do I need this! My life has become one big mess due to overspending and “needing” things… stems from some pretty horrible childhood circumstances, but I won’t use that as a crutch any more. My life is so blessed without these things…..and I am praying this approach finally helps me to straighten things out and get on the right path. Blessings to you for your help!

  30. amanda says

    I just got rid if all ny stuff! I was moved by what jesus said In the bible abiut.possessions on earth sio I gathered up my stuff and dumped a poor neighborhood and wrote a sign, free to a good home, I feel awesome I dont even miss my stuff I still have ny phone n laptop but I’m gonna give away more stuff cause I don’t need it they don’t matter God matters more n treasures in heaven then on earth

  31. says

    I just recently heard about the 100 thing challenge and think it is a great idea – one thing I like to keep in mind while I work on simplifying my possessions is the quote by St. Francis of Assisi: I need very little and of that very little I need very little.

  32. Alisa says

    I’ve just begun my own 100TC…very slowly…and your list is great! Could you explain your rotating library system? It sounds fascinating!

  33. says

    I’ve been keeping the 100 things challenge for over 14 years now. I consider it great fun and a wonderful tool in creating a joyful life. For the last four years, I have been posting my items on my blog:

  34. Jack Chen says

    Hi Courtney,

    Thank you for putting in the time to introduce this challenge to all the people whom this will benefit. I’ve wanted to do a “150 items challenge” ever since I heard about it from an ex-girlfriend of mine. However, time went by and I never came around to putting my foot in the door. After reading your article today, I decided to play around and came up with a list of the things I possess. Surprisingly, I ended up counting to only 77, that of which includes my clothes, my motorcycle, school books, and what not. Unfortunately as a result, I don’t feel any more liberated that I had been prior to this challenge, since I’m beating it by a landslide. I am an 18 year old university student, and have recently left home to become an independent man. I’m looking to find liberation, enlightenment, and strength for the development of my character. From where you stand – as an experienced and wise adventurer – what would you suggest I embark upon in my position?

    Cheers :)

  35. Sheron says

    I have collect bunnies for years. Even have 4 curios for them. I am trying to turn lose of the ‘cheaper’ ones I have. I also have stored boxes in the garage since 2000. Needing to clean out garage I believe the don’t open and give away aspect is GREAT. Wish me luck and PRAY me through.

  36. Dawn says

    Hi Courtney and to everyone else,

    I have decided to make a list of 100 things and do my best to pare my stuff down. I figure if I make the list a head of time, I will be able to walk to my closet, for example, and get rid of stuff by applying my list. I can’t wait to have a ton of stuff for the Salvation Army to pick up! :) Also, I have done the picture thing in the past, still do, for things that have meaning that I do not need or use. Love the idea of cutting a small piece of fabric from the inside of my wedding dress to save and then donating the dress. I have a TON of art supplies I never use as I do Digital imaging. My nicer/never used stuff I am giving to a conference/workshop for the health of black women as door prizes including a painting of my ex-boyfriend that I so need to get rid of! lol


  1. […] život s iba 100 osobnými vecami For me, the purpose of this challenge is not to commit to living with a certain number of things, but to discover more benefits of living with less. If it improves my life, I’ll cull the list further. If it adds stress or unnecessary hardship (a.k.a. makes me grumpy), I’ll kill the experiment. […]

  2. […] Als je minder spullen wilt is ‘the 100 thing challenge‘ misschien iets voor jou: je mag 100 spullen hebben, meer niet. Maak er 200 van als het voor jou een te grote stap is. En stel ook vooral je eigen regels. Tel je huishouditems wel of niet mee? Tel je opladers apart van de bijbehorende apparatuur of niet? Voor inspiratie: Be More With Less. […]