Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity


What's Enough?

What would happen if we created a culture in which we gave away whatever was more than enough for us?

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In More or Less, Jeff Shinabarger calls readers to create their own social experiments to answer the question, “What is enough?”

It all started with one idea: What would happen if we created a culture in which we gave away whatever was more than enough for us? How would our habits change if we shed the excess of money, clutter, and food in our lives?

In More or Less, readers will learn how to draw a line of “enough” in their consumer choices, how to see generosity as a chance to experience freedom in a greedy world, and how to make small changes now that will help others forever. As Shinabarger reminds them, defining “enough” is more than a responsibility—it is an opportunity to give hope.

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About author

Jeff Shinabarger

Founder, Plywood People

Jeff Shinabarger is a social entrepreneur, experience designer, cofounder of the Q event, and creative director at Catalyst. He is also the founder of and Plywood People, an innovative community addressing social needs through creative services. He and his family live in East Atlanta Village.


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  • portrait
    Lived Out of Car Anne Curtis

    I decided to do something drastic. In a weeks time I found two jobs in a city I'd never lived in, packed only clothing and some basic essentials, and moved a 16 hr drive to a new city.

    For the next six months, I sought to live out of my car and live out the idea that 1. My time is not my own. Outside of my jobs I spent my time with those who focused on serving others and those who live on the streets: artists, prostitutes, and businessmen/the homeless. 2. What's mine is yours. I shared everything including my income, with the people I shared life with.

    My life is forever imprinted with the value of sharing. Sharing itching cream with homeless friends means a good night sleep. Sharing food with prostitutes means we all stay healthy. Sharing a car means we all stay dry during cold nights. Sharing an income and life means we all grow in dignity.

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    Removed Clutter Dave Gallant

    Over the years I accumulated a lot of "stuff". Pictures, books, clothing, electronics, and so on. And what I've come to realize is that these possessions not only require physical space, but mental, emotional, and spiritual space as well.

    So I decided to remove all the clutter. It was my conscious decision to truly focus on what is important; friends, family, and creating moments.

    As a result 9 large garbage bags full of clothing and other items were donated to a local charity. My perspective on life has changed dramatically. I've come to realize that we already have more than enough, but we seem to trade it for possessions we believe we need.

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    Fundraiser Becky Williamson

    When my 15 year old daughter Margaret heard of the need of a sick child, she wanted to help. She came up with an idea to sell Tshirts to her friends at school as a fundraiser. She designed a shirt that had his favorite bible verse on the front and "Stay Calm and Pray for Brandon" on the back. I didn't dissuade her but thought our public school would never let us sell a Tshirt that had something about prayer on it. Guess what? They did! She was able to sell 500 Tshirts to kids from all walks of life and all religions. She raised $3,000 to help this sick child.

    In six weeks God has provided for us a space (donated), 90 silent auction items (all donated) and 200 people that are coming to help out this family. Everyone said there was no way we could pull it off, that there was not enough time and people were busy. My response was "don't limit God."

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    Reduced Food Spending Christine Henry

    I was really challenged after reading the book. As a couple we had been spending £400+ on food each month. That did not include eating out, which we did several times a month. This was excessive. Also I wanted to see if we could live more cheaply as I am retiring soon.I decided to cut the food bill down to £300 for the following month. It worked and we still ate well. It was a very satisfying feeling. We are now on the second month, I will continue at £300, but may proceed to cut the bill down even further sometime soon.

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    Donated Car Tony & Carlie Fitzgerald

    We bought a different car a few months ago and the old car was sitting in the garage. My job included a company vehicle so we had more cars than we had drivers. But, we hadn't sold it because I was in the process of changing jobs and was losing the company car. Then we read More or Less. We agreed to seek ways to bless other people.

    A few weeks later we were in the middle of a conversation with someone who said she needed a car. We decided to give her the old car. It wasn't fancy, but for us this was a big deal because we don't have much 'stuff'. To me this felt like learning how to swim by jumping off the high dive. I thought we would ease into the shallow end and work our way to deeper waters. But we jumped in. A few weeks later as I finalized details with my new employer, they added an item to my compensation package: a new car.

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    Pooled Christmas Money Kevin Nofziger

    This year for Christmas my extended family of 50 plus members did something different. We asked our family to bring at least $15 cash, then broke up into teams of 5 and chose "gifts" from Compassion International’s Gift Catalog. Each team chose items close to their heart, like fresh water wells, mosquito nets to help prevent malaria, or safe play grounds for children. In total, we compiled $1122 to spend on needs. But it gets better! Later in the day, as we were playing games, an "anonymous" donor said if we could double that amount... to $2244 ... then they would double THAT to $4488! It was amazing watching aunts go table to table of family members, taking wallets from uncles and prodding family members to be more generous. In a short amount time we had doubled the initial amount and had raised nearly $4500 for Compassion in one afternoon. It was the most fun ... and the most memorable ... "gift giving" I have ever experienced!

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    Spending Fast Sarah Flemming

    I wanted to launch a full-fledged assault on greed, throw off my old self and find a new way to live. I wanted to be free from always wanting, I wanted to be changed. And so, for 365 days I resolved to buy nothing new. Instead, I gave. I gave away excess income and I gave my heart to God.

    For 365 days, I shopped at second hand stores only. I borrowed and shared. I fixed things that broke and focused more on people than products.

    It wasn’t long before I adopted this new lifestyle. About 6 months in, my perspective began to change. Something in me changed. And, at the end of 365 days, I didn’t buy anything new.

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    Garage Sale Mike Worley

    After reading More or Less I worked with my younger brother and sister and hosted a garage sale in our community.

    We were able to clean out so much unnecessary stuff that we owned and raised over $2,000 for orphanage work in Kenya. Ben and Rebecca are going to Kenya this summer to see what other creative projects they can do to meet this orphanages' social needs

  • portrait
    Book Hoarding Leslie Slade

    I have been an avid book lover for many years, but during my last move I realized that I had turned my love into a hoarding problem that required no less than 15 boxes to hold. That is when I decided it was time to break my book over-collecting habit. The easier to part with books I either donated, took to a local resale shop, or put up for trade at But then there were the books that I had enjoyed, maybe even had a life story or memory attached to, that I couldn’t just give to anybody. So instead I gave them to my friends. I went through each book and specifically chose a friend I thought would most enjoy that book, wrote them a note about what the book meant to me, and then asked them to pass it along to another friend when they were done. And suddenly I was so happy to see my library shrink since it meant that the books I cared about were now being read by the people I cared about.

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    Non-profit Bookstore Brian Erickson

    A friend and I ran a bookstore where we sold all books and products at wholesale or below - solely for the purpose of blessing people with great resources. We were curious to see how the community would respond and whether anyone would donate (we did not push donations).

    Interestingly, those we were trying to help the most, the poor, were the most grateful and generous. Wealthy shoppers generally hoarded deals meant to put resources in everyone's hands without giving to the mission. Whereas, we often noticed broke college students buying a music album for $7 and freely donating $5.

    I learned much about the dangers of excess in the human heart, including my own.

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    Crafty Hats Karen Athen

    Recently my work has been hosting craft fairs. Since I like to crochet I decided to make a bunch of hats with all the leftover yarn that I had accumulated over the years. You would be surprised at how many cute hats you can make with scraps. However, I was unable to sell the bulk of my harvest.

    At first, I thought I could just save the hats until next year's sale, but then my church announced that they would be hosting a drive for winter garments to supply to local families in need. Every once in a while I can spot one of my hats in a crowd. I am very thankful that they all found good homes to go to.

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