Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." - Henry David Thoreau

"Stuff doesn’t make me feel wealthy anymore — it makes me feel cramped. With time, Stuff simply becomes clutter. Slowly but surely, I’m banishing excess belongings from my household. I still sometimes buy more than I ought, but mostly I’ve been guarding the borders of my life against the invasion of Stuff. Here are some of the defenses I’ve been employing:

I ignore the proverbial Joneses. One of the most dangerous paths to clutter (and to overspending) is the urge to own the same things your friends do. Peer pressure can be powerful. I’ve come to realize that lifestyles are not a competition. What does it matter what others buy? I’m content with what I have — more Stuff is not going to make me more happy.

If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. As I’ve purged my Stuff over the past year, I’ve been shocked by how many things I bought but never used. I would see something in a store — a voice recorder, for example — and convince myself that I needed it. Or I would tell myself, “I might as well buy a jig saw — we’ll need one in the new house.” But I used the jig saw only once in four years (on the day we moved in). I never used the voice recorder at all! These items are clutter, and were a waste of money. I’ve learned not to buy something unless I know I’ll use it.

I try to value experiences instead of things. Make no mistake — experiences still cost money. But a trip to England or the entrance fee to a marathon or a nice dinner with friends all share a common characteristic: they don’t take up space in my home. I get value for my money, and there’s no residual Stuff. [...]"

image: Diane Arbus, "Blaze Starr in Her Living Room," July 1964

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