What Stuff Can’t You Live Without? How much is enough?

So many people in the Western world are surrounded by STUFF. Big stuff, little stuff, stuff to sit on, stuff that looks good, stuff to play with, and tons of stuff they forgot they even owned. All this stuff cost them a fortune. Look around at all your stuff! Ok, I’m kinda sounding like a clearance rack Dr. Seuss, but I hope you get the idea.

Companies spend billions of dollars to get you to buy THEIR stuff. We just had the holiday of consumerism, black Friday. People waiting in line for hours and then stampeding to get cheap stuff! Target sold 3200 TV’s per minute in the first hour of the day, that’s 192,000 TV’s in one hour. How many of those people had no working TV in their home before that purchase?

The power of an apparent deal prompts people to open their wallets, even if the actual utility of the item is questionable.

It’s rather ironic that black Friday comes the day after we (supposedly) celebrate being thankful for what we have.

Black Friday stuff
There are extreme people called hoarders that have way too much stuff that it has turned into piles of crap. They can’t seem to part with any of their stuff. On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who live life with just a backpack full of stuff.

What is the correct amount of stuff to own?

I can’t answer that for you, you have to decide for yourself.

One of my favorite shows to watch is American Pickers. I love digging through other people’s stuff at yard sales or thrift stores to find things to resell for a profit. Since that is what the show is basically all about, I find it entertaining.

What really gets me is when the pickers are in some old barn and they pull out a piece of ‘rusty gold’ from underneath a huge pile of stuff and offer the guy $300 for it, but the guy wants to keep it! The person probably hasn’t seen the stuff in 30 years and forgot they even owned it until just then. Sell it and take the cash man! You aren’t ever going to use it!

Ok, so it’s just a TV show and might be a little staged – but I still like it.

American Pickers
While you probably don’t own a barn full of old rusty stuff, most of us have stuff in the closet or garage that we can sell.

How can you really decide what matters to you? A good starting point is to examine your priorities. What stuff is useful and that you use often enough to keep it with you?

Now I’m talking about materialistic stuff here, not food-water-air-connection-meaning.

I looked up an article from 2010 that listed what people DID NOT give up after the big economic crisis.

Here was the top 10 list:

  • Personal Computer
  • Internet Access
  • Smart Phones
  • Education
  • Movies
  • TV
  • Music
  • Pets
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee

what do you want
I have been living away from home for the past five months, so I have a somewhat unique viewpoint on the subject. Other than the items I needed to have for work, clothes, and whatnot, the stuff I had to pack along was as follows.

  • Laptop
  • Kindle
  • Smart Phone

That’s it! On my laptop was a plethora of TV shows, movies, and PC games to entertain me – so it acted as an all-in-one entertainment system. I had prepared for the worst in my location, no internet, but luckily my room does receive some (weak) signal. If I was at home, internet would be on the list. Internet access allows me to educate myself as it hold the combined knowledge of the human race. Plus cat pics.

While I prefer paper books, the kindle is great for traveling. I have only ever spent 99 cents as so many classic novels are free, as well as special promotions that enable you to grab a book for free, or sometimes an author releases some older works to try to expand their readership. My first generation kindle works for me!

A side story for the kindle is that before I packed it I went to charge it up and found that it wouldn’t charge. I wondered what was wrong with it and popped it open to discover that the battery had bubbled. Luckily my wife has the same model of kindle and I took her battery to fix mine. I ordered a replacement off of eBay for about $10, which she replaced when it arrived. I am sure that some people would have thought their kindle ruined, thrown it away and bought a new one for $80.

My smart phone is the least important here as I do not have service, but still rather useful. I pretty much use it as a watch, alarm clock and camera.

This time away from home just reinforces what little stuff I want to make my life more pleasurable. Most of what I own is actually stuff I purchased with the only intention to resell to people that don’t believe in this philosophy. That is to say about 90% of people alive today.

Spaceballs canned air
They will sell you anything
It is important to note that besides Air, Water, Food, Clothes, Shelter and what you need to own to have an income to be able to purchase those things, everything else is a want. Even within our basic needs is plenty of ways to cut costs, buying a smaller or less fancy home for example.

There is nothing wrong with having better stuff or more wants covered. These things make life pleasant. The key is to realize what stuff really increases your happiness and forgo the rest. You need to have priorities. You can become rich by living well below your income, but not if you live at or above your means.

When you realize that you are trading your future freedom for all this stuff you will understand that more doesn’t mean better. You will weigh the pros and cons of the things you buy. When this happens you will find out that this stuff is just a distraction on your path to true happiness.

Decide that maybe it is time to buy less and sell what you no longer have any use for. Sell the smaller stuff online and the larger stuff locally. If you don’t want to be hassled with that, have a yard sale (when the weather is better). If that is not your style, donate to charity or give away to friends, family, or strangers. Don’t be the guy on American Pickers that can’t sell that stuff they haven’t used in decades (and we all know they never will).

So my dear readers, what stuff CAN’T you live without?

(I promise I won’t say stuff in my next article)

This post was originally featured on my Steemit blog.

Pictures: 1 2 3 4 5


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  1. Arrgo

    Many great points you bring up and I agree. Over the last few years Ive really cut back on buying so much stuff. I took a look around and realized there are a lot of things I bought but dont really even use at all or enough to justify spending that much money on them. Now its become a real job to clean it all up and sell it etc. I’d rather scale things back and have more of that money for financial independence. I have become much more focused on why Im going to buy something and try not to be wasteful. Once you cut out a lot of these things you start to realize you dont need it and arent really missing out of anything.

    1. MrDD

      I just got back from doing a six-month work gig in Qatar. I lived in a small room in a trailer there. Now I see all these things around my house and am just wondering why so much? It’s like I use it because it’s there, not because it is necessary or very useful. I need to write an article about it but have been busy doing the chores around the house that have been neglected. After I catch up I will start to sell these things, but since my main side gig is flipping yard sale/thrift store items it doesn’t bother me too much. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Tony

    I heard it put once that people spend money on convenience items thinking they are buying happiness only to realize they usually end up with neither. This seems like the case when you look at how gimmicky and unnecessary the things we buy are-they are so unnecessary to our happiness. It seems like people who go through the experience of living with less seem to often times make that connection and some embrace it. I’m guessing living in Qatar had a lot of those lessons.
    Tony recently posted…All of you time isn’t worth money-the time is money argument.My Profile

    1. MrDD

      Being in Qatar for six months definitely showed me that people really don’t need much. The only thing I bought there was haircuts and a set of darts (darts was the game of choice there). Other people would get amazon packages seemingly once a week. I can’t imagine what they wanted all the time. Good thing was that I did get 2 or 3 people to seriously start investing with my talks about it.

      Another thing was that we got free food, even lobster once a month, and people still went and paid money for fast food. The burgers were amazing, I think they were grass fed beef from Africa or something. Such good burgers, but they bought the cheapest steaks they could – lol. Anyways, people just wanted to hate on the food and would rather pay $10 or so a meal from Burger King rather than a free buffet style meal 24/7. They only time I bought a meal was when the whole group went downtown a week after Thanksgiving.

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