Can You Live Without More Stuff?

Avoiding consumerism sinkholes.

One area of interest for things I post to Facebook is to share pictures I find on there of what I think are neat cars or motorcycles. Here's a Harley picture I took on a road trip to Southern California a few years ago.

On one motorcycle post, one of my nephews asked why I don't just buy one. I've never had any interest in buying one. To me, regardless of whether this is weird or not, these are like pieces of art, sculptures. I enjoy looking at them and taking pictures but an old motorcycle falls squarely in the realm of things I do not need. It's not my place to criticize someone who wants to spend the money on one, it's just not right for me.

An important part of my belief system, and I write about it often, is living below your means. My wife and I have been doing this from day 1 and it has made every other aspect of our lives easier. Part of living below your means is being cognizant of how much stuff you accumulate and knowing when you should say 'no' and then realizing you're better off for having said no. A quick look at 1930's-40's Harley Davidson Knuckleheads for sale shows prices in the neighborhood of $70,000 (no idea how on target that dollar figure might be) which is more than the balance on the mortgage of our house. If we were inclined to write a big check it would come down to having a cool toy (make no mistake, they're cool) and being $70,000 lighter in the wallet or being mortgage free. Which one would make your life easier?

A little less dramatically, Yahoo Finance had an article about (client holding) Nike coming out with a bunch of different colored Air Jordans. Here is the picture from the article;

A lot of dudes will think these are cool, I certainly do. Collecting sneakers along these lines is kind of a big thing. It seems like a lot of the younger dudes in FinTwit collect sneakers through websites like StockX and Goat, that's where I first heard of those sites. My affinity for neat sneakers is much less than for older motorcycles but of course a $200, $500, $800 pair of Air Jordans will be much more accessible than an 80 year old Knucklehead. Again, not for me to say what other people should do but you can see how this could start; "oh, those are neat, I'll get a pair" then a couple of months later "well two pair is no big deal" then a little later "I had no idea they could make something that cool, I've got to buy those too." For the record, I have no shoes along these lines, they are neat but a lot of things are neat and they all become stuff in your closet.

Thinking about stuff that interests you, can you stop at one or two? From my fake quote above, one or two things that you can afford like the sneakers (something of interest to me) or Hummel Figurines (something of zero interest to me) probably are not a big deal, maybe not optimal, but not a big deal. The deal gets bigger when people keep accumulating, spending money, taking themselves beyond their means.

Reactions to this might include "yes, I already avoid accumulating stuff" or "yes except for my <whatever thing you're interested in>" or "man, I gotta make some changes" or some form of denial. This is really a look yourself in the mirror situation but every aspect of your life will be easier if you spend less money on stuff.

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