The other day I met with a group of people online as part of a certification class I’m taking. Our discussion made its way to Covid and dealing with the stress of the pandemic. Several of them mentioned that they are spending too much money during quarantine. They are turning to online shopping to lift their spirits.
A few days after this conversation I read my absolute favorite post by Joshua Becker, the well-known minimalist writer. In his article he talks stuff and what it takes to maintain the things we have in our life. He said that he chooses not to have a lot of stuff because he knows that everything he has requires some type of maintenance. Not only did he put words to the frustration I feel sometimes when I have to clean the kitchen sink again or dust the window sills again, but he also gave me an idea.
The REAL Cost of the Stuff we Buy
What if, before we buy things, we think it through – all the way through? This might be a solution to spending too much money during quarantine.
Let’s walk it through.
When you buy things, you think about why you need it and what it will do for you. But there’s more to it, isn’t there?
The things we buy do more than take up space in our homes. They come with responsibilities.
Let’s say you order a shirt, picture frame, and tennis racquet from Amazon.
It comes with a box and likely lots of packaging. You have to put the packaging somewhere – probably a combination of the recycling bin and the trash can. Bundle up and take out the recycling and trash because they’re both full, now.
Your shirt needs to be washed, dried, and ironed. You need to have a hanger to put away your shirt as well as space in your closet.
And the frame. You need to go online to print the picture to put in your frame. Make sure your remember your password. Then go pick up your photo. Recycle the package the photo came in. Take off the sticker attached to the frame. Use Goo Gone to get rid of the sticker residue that won’t come off the glass. Get your hammer and nail to put the frame on the wall. Use the leveler to make sure the frame is straight. Don’t forget to dust the frame often.
And now the racquet. You do have the shoes, shorts, and balls that you need to play the game, right? Make sure you have a place to store the racquet and balls. You might feel guilty each time you pass the racquet but don’t go to the courts – mental clutter. And years later, when you finally decide that tennis isn’t for you, you’ll have to pack it up in the car to donate.
And, this doesn’t even account for everything that happened before the item even appeared on your front doorstep.
Of course, some things are worth buying. They are worth the work, the space, the material. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, I think that we’re willing to do that work for fewer items than we actually buy.
If we think about the real cost of the stuff we buy – time, space, materials, mental space – we might be inclined to buy smarter.
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