Beyond life’s necessities like shelter, food, and healthcare, we often use our money (or credit) to buy stuff.
Clothes, gadgets, tools, toys, and whatever aligns with whoever we aspire to be and be seen as.
The more money you have, the more stuff you can buy. Even though it is incredible how much stuff you can buy with little money, thanks to overseas manufacturing and cheap materials.
Unfortunately, stuff comes with a lot of indirect costs.
- There is the time you spent researching it.
- The space you need to store your stuff.
- The frustration you feel when the stuff you don’t use anymore gets in your way.
- The blame you place on yourself when you don’t use the stuff, knowing you shouldn’t have bought it.
- You feel guilty about not using the money for something you need.
- And most importantly, the dwindling resources on our planet, more and more of which end up as trash in our oceans.
Whether you buy cheap stuff or expensive stuff, these feelings are the same—just more or more expensive stuff.
It’s incredible how often we buy what we want but not what we need. Neither has to be stuff, by the way.
You could want to buy an outfit but maybe need to acquire more ETF shares for your retirement.
Or you may want to buy fast food when you need to take a deep breath and find other ways to deal with stress.
I am guilty of buying too much stuff I don’t need. Stuff I maybe had hoped would provide feelings of happiness but instead turned into the above frustrations.
The solution is probably a deeper understanding of why we buy shit we don’t need - with the eventual outcome of only buying what we need. That’s easier said than done, though, so I also like to employ a financial forcing function - aka a budget.
Once I have covered all my financial needs, I allocate a fixed amount to my "random stuff" budget.
It's a small budget, so if I want to overspend, it forces me to think about whether I need whatever I am considering. Sometimes I still buy it, but that forced consideration is usually enough for the critical thinking part of my brain to kick in.
Anyways, if the stuff in your life frustrates you, I encourage some critical thinking - maybe triggered through a financial forcing function.
I know this is not the holy grail answer, but maybe the beginning of one.
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