your stuff owns you

13 Unmistakable Clues Your Stuff Owns You

(6 minute read)

“All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” – George Harrison

Enough is enough. Or is it? Ever find yourself asking, “How much do I need to get rid of? After all, I can’t go naked and live in a box on the street.”

Common sense tells us there must be some sort of practical limit to obtaining a Simple Rich Life. Yet, it is next to impossible to find any tangible measure of how much is too much, and how attached is too attached. How do you know if your stuff owns you?

Well, here they are.

13 Unmistakable Clues Your Stuff Owns You:

  1. Shopping is a cure. You shop not to get a specific product, but rather to find sanctuary from life’s aggravations; no matter how fleeting. Each purchase is like medicine for our emotions. Yet, the medicine doesn’t last.  Like a recreational drug, shopping demands increasing doses and frequency to get the same high. It is but a momentary reprieve from the reality of the otherwise run of the mill life we lead.
  2. Shopping is a hobby more than a necessity. You “shop till you drop.” Be wise in choosing your hobbies. A good hobby should bring some benefit other than bringing more stuff into your life. Think skill development, exercise, learning, and socialization when picking a hobby.
  3. A Will or Trust is too expensive or difficult to create. If the old phrase, “You brought nothing into this world and it is certain you will take nothing out” bothers you, your stuff owns you.
  4. Brand trumps quality. If the logo on a purse is more important than its quality, or you could care less how comfy your jeans are so long as they have a particular name stamped on them, there is a problem. If you would sooner drive a BMW with 250,000 miles on it than a Ford with 25,000 we’ve hit a snag.
  5. Credit is king. If hearing the words, “no credit, bad credit, we don’t care” appeal to you, we are in a mess. Imagine you are considering a purchase and the salesman offers to purchase on credit. Is your response, “Hey, awesome idea!” or “Forget it dude, if I can’t pay for it, I’m not buying it?”
  6. Self-help means purchasing products to solve problems. Millions of dollars pour into marketing gimmicks to convince us we need products to fix our problems. Products for crepey skin: I didn’t even know what this was until yesterday. Don’t judge, the word isn’t even in the Microsoft word dictionary, so there. Products to lose weight, gain muscle, escape debt, fix relationships, run faster, sleep better and on and on the list goes. Are you tempted to shop for the solution to all that ails you?
  7. Snatch anything available. If someone offers to give you something, you take it immediately. There is no assessment of its value. Nor a thought as to whether you need the item. Not even concern over where to store it. Consideration of hidden cost such as insurance, license fees or repairs? Nope, you just take it. No questions asked, after all who wants to miss out on a great giveaway.
  8. You spend more time shopping than with friends and family. In 2000, Americans spent on average six hours per week shopping, and only 40 minutes playing with their children. How you spend your time speaks volumes of your priorities. If you would rather shop than play with your kids, chances are your stuff owns you.
  9. Tax deductions based on expenditures or charitable gifts are a fantastic method of savings. We would be fools not to love tax deductions. Yet, if your first thought in giving to your favorite charity is the perceived benefit of the tax deduction rather than altruism itself there is a problem. In truth tax deductions are like feeding elephants peanuts. The elephant will do just about anything to get them but the peanut itself is, well just that, peanuts.
  10. If it is “Free” grab two. One of my recent undertakings in moving toward Simple living Rich life was to clean out our pen drawer in the kitchen. Now, even having a drawer called, “Pen drawer” should show I have a rather grave writing utensil fetish in bad need of taming. What’s worse is my husband seems to be incapable of letting a free pen lie. In the drawer lay not only pens purchased 15 plus years ago and pens I received as gifts.  There are countless pens from lawyers, dentists, former employees, contractors, and insurance salesman we haven’t seen for more than a decade. I tossed more than 100 pens, but to be sure, I still have too many pens. Just because it is free does not mean you should take it home.
  11. The more you shop. The more you save. You “spend to save”. If 50% off a $400 purse sounds like a good deal we might have a problem.
  12. A mortgage tax deduction is an award from the IRS. The bigger the better. Do the math. Calculate what could happen if instead of paying your mortgage you did the following. Have the mortgage cost come out of your paycheck into a 401K plan. Be sure to calculate the tax break from reducing your taxable income, any company match available, and the expected interest made on the investment for the year. Remember, elephants and peanuts, elephants and peanuts.
  13. You have a carport or garage but it is so full of stuff your beloved vehicle sits in the driveway. If you choose to run out into the rain, scrape your windshield, bear the heat or cold rather than clean out the garage day after day, your stuff owns you.

The path to Simple living, Rich life is not for wimps. As you work towards improving your relations with your stuff remember:

“A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” – Jonathan Swift

And as you seek to make your life more about experiences than stuff remember:

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau

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  • Dr. Cearley

    Thank you for your kind remarks, but most of all thank you for being the one to ask the question! You inspired me.

  • Kelli

    Moving twice, once across state lines, in less than five years has pretty much cured me of accumulating ‘stuff.’ But, I agree, it’s a like a fix to some kind of disease that is in all of us, of course, this fix is a mind set it seems, the American Way to have more, bigger, better, faster. I’ve found that having too much stuff actually makes me feel weighed down in the world, a mental weight on me. I’m always striving to get closer to a minimalist lifestyle.

    I had a friend who had her house listed for sale once, and at the time 6 of her kids were living at home still. She made them all downsize their stuff to ONE backpack each, so that during showings, they just put their toys and things in the backpack and inside the closet it went. I thought it was brilliant. When I am in situations with my youngest and there are no toys, I love to see what she can find to entertain herself with. No wonder kids have lost so much of their imaginations these days…TOO much STUFF. I digress. Simplicity is the way to go!