Yesterday I talked about the regret I have in accumulating so much "stuff" in my life. There's just entirely too much crap piled around my home, and most of it... the majority of it... I really could have done without ever buying in the first place.
And yet there's still stuff I have to buy. Even in the middle of culling my possessions. Which is kind of counterproductive... and a a bummer. But not nearly as big a bummer as having to shop for the stuff. Because I really, really don't like shopping.
Which is why I hold off as much shopping as possibly for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Because the only thing I love more than not shopping is a bargain. And this year I found a lot of bargains. Just ask my credit card. Which probably won't be paid off until February. :-(
Still, it's all stuff I needed. And it was pretty great that I ended up paying half (actually less than half) of what I would have paid any other time of year for the same stuff...
- Tools. I got an amazing deal on a telescoping ladder ($90 regular $160!). I've never owned a ladder before, having always borrowed them when I needed one. I never intended to buy my own, but it was the "telescoping" feature that made me pull the trigger. I've got a stairwell that I want to hang things in, and I couldn't manage it with a traditional ladder. This one makes it a snap. Plus it's compact when condensed, so it fits easily in my garage. Plus it's easy to move around. Plus I have a ladder whenever I need one now. Probably my favorite purchase. And the most useful.
- Storage. I loathe to spend money on containers and stuff like that when you can get cardboard boxes for free, but the boxes I've been using to store the crap I'm going to keep are falling apart and I needed something more permanent. Storage bins were on sale for ridiculous prices, so I snapped some up. They're much nicer for keeping things organized. I also bought a second Milwaukee Jobsite Organizer, which I got on sale at Home Depot for $20... the first one I bought has been one of the handiest purchases ever, but it's gotten full.
- Music/Movies/Games. I buy most everything digitally from the iTunes Music Store, so I leapt at the chance to get some gift cards for 20% off. I also picked up LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens for cheap... and found Guardians of the Galaxy on 3D Blu-Ray for $12! I don't much care for 3D in the theater, but I am really digging it at home for some reason.
- Tech. Amazon had the Echo Dot on sale for $39 down from $49... and you got a credit for $10 if you ordered through Echo. $29 to extend Alexa upstairs seemed like a heck of a bargain. And so very cool.
- Luggage. My small carry-on that I use for 1-3 day trips was pretty much shredded, so I took advantage of a 50% off sale at Samsonite to get a new one at a great price. Probably my most-needed purchase.
- Furniture. I needed a nice chair for my guest room but could never afford it because whenever I found one I liked it was $250... minimum! Finally found one on Black Friday closeout for a crazy $80.
- Travel. Alaska Airlines always has really good Cyber Monday sales... if you can be flexible in your travel. I managed to get a trip from my small-town airport for less than I usually get the same trip out of Seattle... which is fantastic savings.
- Clothes. I hate spending money on clothes. Which is why I pretty much shop for them only when they're on sale. Black Friday is the best time for this, and I put aside money all year long just to shop the sales. This year I bought jeans, shirts, hats, and underwear... all at really great prices. I was particularly happy to get some new Boston Red Sox hats from '47 Brand at 30% off. Mine are about worn out.
And there you have it. More crap to clutter my life.
How much of it will I be wanting to throw out five years from now? Probably all of it.
Echo Dot does not fall into the category of “stuff I have to buy”. Nor do video games. Nor boxes to store stuff — you are trying to get rid of stuff, not keep it. Do you really NEED a telescoping ladder after you’ve done the ONE thing with it you’ll need it fore? I used to have 2 of them. Gave them away.
I believe that it is your definition of “need’ that must be examined. I have a similar glitch in my mental programming when it comes to books: I believe that I must have what is in them. Consequently, I have hundreds. I give away hundreds, then impulsively buy more. Books can be borrowed, especially from a library on ILL (Inter Library Loan).
If you really want to downsize, examine your emotional attachment to *things*. When you can let go of *that* need, the *things* don’t matter so much.
…. Aaaaaaand … You didn’t get any bargains. You *spent* money. On things you ultimately do not “need”. The guest room was fine without that chair.
Yes. I spent money. I spent less than half the money I would have spent, and that’s the point. And while I appreciate the time you took to pass judgement on my life, you have no idea what I need. I moved to a condo complex where the only person who has a ladder is moving out. There’s nobody to borrow from after that unless I drive across town and attempt to fit a full-sized ladder into my car, which I can’t. If my cat gets stuck on the roof or something, I don’t want to spend thirty minutes calling around to see who can bring me a ladder, I need one now. And I’m not giving it away unless there’s somebody in bigger need than I, so no worries there. And that chair? One of my houseguests is elderly, and sitting on a pillow-top mattress to put on their shoes or rest for a minute involves some difficulty (and danger) I’d rather avoid. I need a chair that they can sit in safely when required. And though you may think you have a handle on who I am and what I am going through, I assure you that you do not. The last nine months have been been filled with the worst moments of my life so far, and if I can distract myself from it all with a new video game I want or a movie I’d like to see or some music I enjoy to keep from blowing my brains out, I’d say that qualifies as a “need.” So maybe it’s you who should take a closer look at the word “need” and “downsize” the idea that what *things* works for you may not work for everybody. I’m all about practicing detachment so my life doesn’t revolve around “stuff,” but I also recognize that there is some “stuff” that can help myself or my pets or my friends or my houseguests. And if I can get it on sale or wait until I can afford it, then that’s my life choices to make.
Home is where the stuff is…
I have no handle on who you are or what you are going through.
I simply read your posts about lamenting how much crap you have in your life and your intentions of divesting yourself of it.
Then I read your post about buying new stuff which you justified by calling it a bargain.
Dude, I’m in the same boat. I’m pointing out the dichotomies here in what you yourself wrote. And posted for all of us to see.
Why do you write and allow commenting if you don’t want to hear what we say?
My partner and I lived in a 13×13 cooler room of an old dairy for over 11 years. Heated with wood. The place still only has cold running water. We had a phone, and we had a propane tank for our stove. And electricity for lights. For the first four years we had no water at all. Still no flush toilet. Never had a TV, never had internet there. Now there’s a solar setup that provides steady power, and cell services reaches the farm, so internet is now possible. And so not needed. We also had 9 dogs and 9 cats, and they were priority. We slept in a part of the barn that was not heated. Our coldest temp one year was 4 below.
So when I say you don’t NEED a chair for your guest room, you really don’t. Why are they going to sit in there, anyway, rather than sitting with you in your living room? You have a story in your head that tells you that you do. You don’t need hot water, nor do you need a flush toilet, nor climate control. The majority of the world has none of these things. Our daily lives are soaked in luxury and excess.
When you change your beliefs, you change your entire existence, and your life will look very different.
I, myself, pointed out the dichotomy in the opening of my post when I said “And yet there’s still stuff I have to buy. Even in the middle of culling my possessions. Which is kind of counterproductive… and a a bummer.” So, yes. I am aware, thanks. And while I invite comments, you weren’t commenting. You were outright telling me how to live my life with statements like “The guest room was fine without that chair”… right after informing me that I was wrong to buy a ladder, as if you know for a fact I have no other uses in mind, purchased it for a single purpose, and will never use it again after I hang my photos. It wasn’t even a suggestion, it’s just you telling me I’m wrong because you wouldn’t do it that way. And while living without “luxury” might be fine for you, I’d prefer it if I don’t have to tell an elderly female houseguest that the “story in her head” about wanting to get completely dressed in private is total bullshit and she can use a chair in the living room if the bed won’t work for her to put on her shoes or pull up her pants or whatever. So, yes, I NEED that damn chair because, as a host, I want my guests to be comfortable. And if you consider a flushing toilet to be “steeped in luxury and excess,” that’s perfectly fine. I completely respect your opinion… and your decision to shit in a cardboard box if that’s what you want. And if you want to share your opinion with me in my comments that’s fantastic, because I’m always interested in how other people get through life. Hey… I might even learn something! But your approach of telling me I’ve got it all wrong rather than helpfully suggesting there’s another way out is not “pointing out dichotomies”… it’s being a judgmental jerk.
I stand so judged.
Clearly I reached in and touched a wound.
Delete my comments if they offend.
Yes. This couldn’t possibly be because you feel the need to tell people you don’t even know on what is and isn’t important to them or dictate how they should and shouldn’t live their life (using yourself and your experience as the standard by which all others should aspire)… it’s because I’m wounded. Alrighty then.
Not offended. Just disappointed. You could have shared your experience and advice and I’d have been grateful. What a different conversation this would have been if you would have offered your entire comment in the vein of “If you really want to downsize, examine your emotional attachment to *things*. When you can let go of *that* need, the *things* don’t matter so much” instead of “You *spent* money. On things you ultimately do not “need”. The guest room was fine without that chair.”
Well, can we start over again? Hi! I’m Jeffrey, a mid-50’s gay guy who has married the love of his life. It’s the second time around for both of us, having each been in multi-decades long relationships. I read your blog occasionally and thought I’d comment here and this refreshing conversation has ensued.
I wrote what I wrote because my experience from my own life is and has been that I buy because I *want*. I am literally meaning the definition of that word, want, in its old sense: it means “to lack”. I buy things from a state of feeling a lack about something, maybe a spiritual void, and I think that a book (my weakness!) or a *thing* will fill it. For a short while it does. And then the want and lack come back.
I’ve been working for a couple of decades to heal this in myself and thought I’d share my thoughts with you because I thought maybe I recognized something in your words that was something that had happened for me. This must not be true for you. I also see that I made a misjudgment and I see that I did it in a way that was not welcome and appeared intrusive to you. My apologies. I have long wondered if I’m somewhere on the Autism spectrum as I don’t always understand people or strong reactions such as yours.
It’s clear that we live in two different worlds. I didn’t mean to kindle hostility by suggesting that you take a look into mine; you were so plainly showing me your world and talking aloud into the ether — I heard you and I thought I’d join in and share my opinion. From here on I’ll just listen to your monolog.
Thank you for this conversation and for the time you’ve taken to respond to me. Ultimately everyone is my teacher, and I am grateful for what you’ve been able to offer.
Hi Jeffrey! Certainly! We all learn from everybody we encounter… that’s the joy and hurt of it all, isn’t it? And please do not think that I don’t appreciate you offering life advice from your experience. “Stuff” aside, that’s what’s truly important. It’s likely I just react badly when I feel that somebody is telling me what I do or don’t “need” in my life when they don’t know me or my circumstances.
Well, unless they’re telling me I need happiness… everybody needs that.