STUFF is life’s inventory, and you have to periodically say good-bye to barnacles on your ship of life.
Stuff can be so UN-chic. Our stuff sadly makes us pack mules. Whether hauling a 10-pound handbag on our shoulders or rifling through one, it’s burdensome. Serving 3 appetizers when 1 would work, it’s toilsome. Putting 15 ingredients in a recipe when 5-6 actually let you taste each one. Paying for 2000 square feet when 1200 will do, it’s expensive. Ban the burden of excess that’s simply too over-done.
Stuff costs you. Stuff mires you in complexity. It mires the planet in energy costs. It costs mentally. It costs in elegance. It costs time. It costs in cash flow. It costs in credit card debt. It inhales your savings/retirement account. It costs you square footage to store it. Garage to pantry to closet to the size of your bathroom – you pay! If you’re loaded, you don’t work, and you find shopping entertaining – and if your stuff thrills and enhances your health and joy in life, all good. But, if it depletes you or weighs you down in any way, reconsider your acquisition and living patterns.
Wait! Aren’t prosperity and abundance the American Dream? You’ll have more future prosperity if you don’t spend your prosperity. Zen teachings say you’re not prosperous if you’re saddled with MORE. Apparently Coco Chanel knew something when she said, “There are people who have money and there are people who are rich.” Be rich. Dump and donate stuff. Be simple. Be chic.
From Just-in-Time to the Sharing Economy. Japan taught the world their revolutionary Just-In-Time Inventory (JIT) system in the ‘70s proving how over-preparedness was a costlier liability than under-preparedness. While American family size was diminishing from 1950 to 2004, American home size more than doubled to warehouse the proliferation of stuff. Now that we know what is happening to Earth as a result, JIT best practices are even more relevant. Thus, the new Sharing Economy is spreading globally – a model that says don’t buy if you can rent when needed – whether car or evening gown or vacuum cleaner!
Be a JIT person. By analogy, a simple JIT person who resists excess buying can create and punt; but an over-prepared person can’t un-purchase products they bought. Yes, Target, TJMaxx, Nordstrom, etc. have generous return policies and you can re-sell. But a bargain isn’t a bargain unless you need it. You’ve spent time and money to repeat the trip. Add it up: 1 “it only cost…” + 1 “it only cost…” = debt and stress.
Try these tools to avoid buying in the first place – and to pay forward your excess stuff.
DAWNS on you! You don’t have to cave to buying urges! Use these steps.
D elay any buying until tomorrow. The urge/need may pass.
A lternate solutions might work instead.
W arehouse the saved money in a new bank account.
N irvana purchases only. Buy intentionally fine, purposeful, quality products that last.
S ustain. Classics or consumables, buy to sustain well-being.
Ambivalence about what to toss needs a Force Field Analysis. When you just aren’t sure about what to keep or toss, use this force technique.
- Select a category of stuff. e.g. clothes or office supplies
- Make a KEEP pile and a DONATE pile.
- Pick up 2 so-so items. Choose one. Set other aside. Continue
- Now take that extra pile. Pick 2 items. Keep one – donate one.
- Consider it excess if it can’t make the 2nd cut!
Use this bottom line approach when you know “you can’t take it with you.”
– Hurricane Rule: Is it important enough and mobile enough to save if you dash away from a hurricane?
– Heritage Rule: Will a photograph or scan work as well as the real thing?
– Heirs Care? Is it precious enough that heirs want it? Ask.
Saying no to excess buying and bye-bye to the barnacles in your life can be a cathartic and thrilling adventure! Thrifts and other charitable organizations benefit – or maybe you pay it forward to family and friends. It’s a Best Practice as old as time. As Paul Simon’s lyric say it well, “One’s man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.”