The Things You Own End Up Owning You

   

The Things You Own End Up Owning You simple money man

More and more I’m starting to believe the more we have, the more we spend on maintenance, repairs, replacements and excuses to buy even more things.  For example, several months ago I sold and extra car I had. When asked about it, I said to my friend that I didn’t really need and it was somewhat controlling my spending via random expenses.

 

When I owned it, I had to get an oil change for a car I wasn’t even driving that much because it was past due and I didn’t want to damage anything in the engine.  So I felt like it owned me and I didn’t like that feeling. If we go through our home, slowly and methodically, I’m sure we can find several things that we can donate, sell, or just throw away because we may be hoarding onto them; perhaps for no good reason. The point is to let go of things that we think we may like, but instead the reality is those things actually own us.

 

Sold an Extra Car 

 

 

It felt like my car was controlling me and I wasn’t in control. It was a 2009 Mercedes C-300 4-matic. Fortunately, I didn’t need to or get any major work done to it for the almost two and a half years I had it. There were just oil changes and a couple of new tires. During the time I owned it, I got an offer in the mail for free wiper blades from the dealer. I knew that if I went to the dealer, sure they would put on the wiper blades but they’d also give me an estimate of all the additional work I should get done.

 

And sure enough they did and it didn’t seem that critical to me. One of the items they recommended to replace and I kid you not was the HORN on the car! The horn was working fine, but according to them, it had a “dull” sound and should be replaced – are you kidding me?! Nevertheless, guess what?

 

It was at this point that I decided I don’t really need this car,  I don’t really want this car, I don’t really want this car to own me, I want to own myself (wait does that make sense). Anyway, so I sold the car invested the proceeds in an ETF and never looked back! six months later, I’ve made over a couple hundred in dividends, in contrast to probably a couple hundred or more I would have lost in depreciation and probably some other kind of maintenance.

 

A study mentioned in Time magazine suggests that material possessions may be obsessed if you lack love from others and for others in your life. It made sense to me as it stated “when someone suffers from “social deficits” (i.e., loneliness), he’s more likely to grow attached to possessions. This sort of love may, in turn, lead to further “deficits,” causing a chicken-egg situation for those in the throes of materialistic love.” It’s interesting because one cause mentioned is that you can control the material possession, but instead unknowingly it ends up controlling you!

 

Other Items Donated (hello tax deduction), Sold, or Straight Up Trashed

 

  • Donated – Two large trash bags of gently used clothes
  • Donated – Two VCR/DVD combos
  • Donated – Brand New Laser Printer (I already have a printer).
  • Sold – Entertainment Table (5 years old and I got $10 more than what I originally paid)
  • Trashed – Three worn out suitcases

 

One item I currently have on Craigslist and Offer-up is my leather couch set. I’ve had it for more than 5 years, didn’t buy the best quality I’ll admit and now it’s falling apart, literally. I’ve patched it up as mentioned above and am trying to sell it.  But at the same time, since I’ve patched it up, it doesn’t look half bad, is still totally functional (can still recline to almost 180 degrees) and comfortable. Usually we put a red blanket on top to hide this too. Take a look at this picture (back and head rest on the right side):

 

couch simple money man

 

Trashed Useless Things From The Attic

 

Yes! This was one of my goals for 2017 and I can proudly say it’s done! I ended up throwing away an old bike, some beat up chairs, three suitcases (where either the handle or one of the wheels broke off), and a few empty boxes that I didn’t need (e.g., big Dyson vacuum box which I bought years ago had the box just in case). I’ll say that it definitely feels a bit liberating to get rid of things and simplify your home a bit. Now that I don’t have it, the area is nice and uncluttered and it makes my mind feel a bit nice and uncluttered well.

 

Recently I came across a very interesting video from the Minimalists. They talk about how less in life equals being more happy and rich in a sense of fulfillment. Check it out:

 

Even though I’m not quite at the minimalist level, I do see how having less can translate into happiness. Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich authors of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes discuss the conundrum of do we own our money or does our money own us? Particularly in terms of spending, they go into the psychological reasons as to why we spend on so many material things and decide to love them as illustrated in the endowment effect and then the logical reasons for why we shouldn’t or at least scale back a little bit.

So is there something you value so much that it may be controlling you a bit? Have you freed yourself from a material possession and as a result felt liberated?

 

The Things You Own End Up Owning You – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

 

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Simple Money Man (SMM)

6 Comments

  1. I agree that cars are one of the biggest things that end up owning you. The car payment, taxes, insurance, maintenance and gas absorb a lot of money for something that’s probably parked over 22 hours per day.

    When Uber and Lyft came into the scene, my wife and I got rid of one of our cars (now we have one instead of two). I can say that the savings are over $200 per month. I also feel liberated from the hassles of ownership.

    • Congrats to letting go! If you are in an urban area it makes more and more sense to walk, bike, use public transportation. So many people have their cars just sitting in a garage and paying for parking as well. That’s another expense that can easily be avoided. 🙂

  2. I think it is relative. I have three friends with their own private jets. Those represent no more of a cost to them than a bicycle would to you or a Mercedes would to me. Those keys take zero of their time and in fact save them tons of time. You want to go to New York and see a show you have to plan and count your free points for weeks. They can decide at noon to go that same day. It’s a great practical expense if your net worth is 10 figures. I can’t afford a jet but I don’t sense that my friends who can are at all encumbered by their possessions. They seem very happy and very involved in volunteer and philanthropic work.

    • You’re right it is relative. And because it does not consume them and they see the value and practical use of it, that’s fantastic. It’s all about being in control and using these possessions as tools to lead to true happiness and satisfaction that is long-lasting. 🙂

  3. Always nice to shed some old stuff. Even better if you get some money for it. And the tax deduction is always a bonus, but just remember you can only claim it if you itemize your deductions. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes; I always itemize because of my mortgage. Recently I have started on my taxes around January and continue to work on them up until the end of April so I can make sure that I don’t miss anything. 🙂

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