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Good Stuff. How Much of It Do You Have?

by Shawanda Greene

Cluttered Garage

Photo by mtsofan

Why do we expect material things to bring us lasting happiness? You’d think by the time we reached adulthood, we’d know that shiny, new toys only bring fleeting bouts of superficial joy. Instead of acknowledging this fact, we consume ever more ferociously with our bigger incomes and even bigger expectations.

Well, I’m here to tell it. In case you somehow missed it, your stuff has very little to do with your overall satisfaction with life. Better yet, most of your stuff is taking you in the opposite direction. You won’t be able to achieve your long-term goals if you’re spending all your money on meaningless trinkets.

But marketers are very crafty when it comes to convincing us that stuff will make our peers jealous, our hair shinier, our teeth whiter, our lives better. Oh, they’re good now.

You may think you’re immune to the advances of a seductive marketing campaign. You are not. You’re a sheep just like the rest of us.

Don’t think so? Well, how’d you end up with so much stuff?

I gather there are three primary categories of stuff that we buy.

Category 1: You’re 120% positive it’ll solve the greatest, most insurmountable problem in your life. You’re convinced you’ll use it so much that you might as well buy two, so that your continual use of the product isn’t prematurely interrupted. You get it home, and then….you casually toss it in the closet with the other Category 1 products you’ve never used. And I’m sorry to break it to ya, you never will. :(

Common examples – Bread machines, books, almost any “As Seen on TV” product

Category 2: This one, you actually use. You use it all the time. Sing its praises to anyone with a listening ear. Heck, it’s changed your life – for a few weeks. And then, you casually toss it in the closet with the other Category 2 products that have met the same unfortunate end.

Common examples – Juicers, video games, and gym memberships

Crack: You use this one so much you’re miserable without it. You fight off┬áimminent panic attacks when you misplace it. If it were ever lost or destroyed, you’d do two things 1) Cry and 2) Immediately replace it with whatever or whoever’s money you could get your hands on. It’s just that important.

Common examples – Smartphones, laptops, iPods and the like.

We all have categories 1, 2 & crack products in our possession. But I know which categories you have the most of. You can’t fool me.

I will forever maintain that the easiest way to save money is to stop spending it. However, I realize that’s not always realistic. When you must spend money, make sure you spend it on crack*.

*Disclaimer: I do not support the use of non-prescription drugs. I simply want to emphasize how important it is to buy only those things that you derive extreme satisfaction from. That are, um, not addictive in nature. It was just really hard to think of a legal and healthy substance that effectively illustrated my point.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

kim March 30, 2011 at 10:54 AM

I just received a cuisinart (spell) ice ream maker from my in-laws for my birthday. I will never use it! I know it was expensive. I really get frustrated with things that sit on shelves. But my husband does not want me to take it back. Twenty years ago i would have been thrilled with a new gadget. Now all I want is to get out of debt.

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TheyCallMeCheap March 30, 2011 at 8:24 PM

I don't believe in renting or buying tons of unnecessary living space so I just don't have the room for a bunch of stuff I won't use.

I don't know anyone who uses an ice cream maker on a regular basis. I remember my mom made ice cream ONCE when I was a kid. *sigh* It was good though.

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LaTishaDStyles March 31, 2011 at 10:47 AM

haha! I like the third category description. For me it was new clothes. I still have clothes in my closet that still have tags on them. smh

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TheyCallMeCheap March 31, 2011 at 7:03 PM

The only reason I don't have a bunch of unused stuff in my place is because I get so disgusted with it (and myself), I have to get rid of it.

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Anree March 31, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Love this post. I think "how much will I use this?" is one of the most important and often difficult to answer questions that I pose when I am about to make a purchase.

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TheyCallMeCheap March 31, 2011 at 7:07 PM

That is a tough question. I find it helps to ask yourself how frequently you use similar products. For instance, if your treadmill doesn't get any action, it's likely a StairMaster won't see much either. It doesn't always work, but past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

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sophie September 1, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Crack haha that's really funny! Most of the unused stuff in my house are usually gifts that people give me. If they don't have a function in everyday life don't bother gifting it to me.

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