Stuff weighs us down, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You have to move, store, and maintain it. You need to plan organizational strategies, take care of your belongings, and make sure it’s in good condition.
Stuff becomes an emotional burden as well, where we’re spending more time cleaning, managing stuff (the buying and selling processes that people can get caught up in with recreational shoppers and those who have complicated schemes to put things on hold or layaway, or buy and then return to the store later). I understand the costs of intangible items, such as internet services, subscriptions to sites or streaming providers (Hello, Netflix) which all cost good money, but for this article I’m focusing on physical stuff.
Stuff that you can pick up, and put down, and takes up space.
An entire economy is built on the acquisition of stuff.
Just let that sink in for a second – the entire basis of the economic system of the Western World is stuff. Things. Items we don’t make ourselves, but we’d like to own. Our economy is based on buying and selling everything from cars and barrels of oil to new dress shirts and beanie babies. Some things are obviously more valuable than others, both in the now, and in the long run.
And, unless you’re the kind of so-skillful person who can extract their own oil from the ground, or have created an alternative fueled vehicle, while perhaps sewing your own clothes from cloth you wove yourself, using wool from your own herd of free range pastured sheep…
Yeah, it goes on.
I’m a realist. You should be too.
We all need to buy stuff in this life. Clothes, cars, houses – we can’t produce it all ourselves. And the people who do make these things deserve a decent wage, so we pay them our money to cover the costs of their labour and supplies (and to ensure a profit to the owner of the company, but I digress).
We need stuff. But stuff costs us.
I’ve already covered the time and money costs to acquiring crap.
Now I’m asking you to consider the mental and physical costs as well. (The emotional will sneak in too, just wait.)
We’re going to keep this simple. Out of all the consumer goods available – TVs, sofas, appliances, you buy a shirt.
You then have to wash the shirt, hang or fold the shirt, pick up or otherwise care for that shirt umpteen million times before you decide to toss it in the donation bin. This shirt has been handled and cared for by you repeatedly, just so it can exist in a reasonable state in our society. (I’m not advising you forgo doing laundry completely, just consider the labour and upkeep involved in items.)
Refrigerators, TVs, collections of books – all these things require upkeep, and invest some part of yourself into (even the TV needs to be dusted, and the fridge cleaned).
Now step back and ask yourself if this is how you’d REALLY like to spend your time? Armpit deep in laundry on a Saturday afternoon? Packing up all your books (and then carrying all those boxes) as you move homes?
My advice to you is to choose wisely, my friend.
If you’re going to buy something (I’m not saying go live under a rock, or retreat to a cabin in the wilderness), I’m suggesting you think about how long you will use that item, and what you’ll do with it when you’re done. Also think about if you can get a similar item for little or no financial cost to you, or even better yet, how spending your dollars at a locally owned business translates to a boost to the economy.
You’ll find the chase for stuff vanishes fast.
Now think about the life you want – and the relationships you desire. Are you investing your time in the things you actually care about?
Or are you spending your time managing a bunch of crap?
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