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):
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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