Dumb Purchases

“Buy what thou hast no need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessities.”

Benjamin Franklin

I’ve bought a lot of dumb things over my life. Random souvenirs from dives and surf shacks from family beach trips. A hodgepodge of tv shows, movies, books and video games I vaguely if at all remember. 

I didn’t think they were dumb in the moment, but looking back it’s easy to notice how frivolous most things we want are.

But even so, it’s hard to separate what purchases will be worth it or not. Even today, there’s still a lot of things I’d love to buy that are likely dumb purchase. When I say ’dumb things’ I mean any purchase that ultimately wasn’t worth the price or time. Anything that didn’t bring me joy or meaningful experiences. And anything that didn’t provide value or memories over the long run. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I owned (or still own) that I’m grateful for having. I’m grateful for growing up with Legos and I cherish all the memories I have with creating things or playing with my friends and family. 

I don’t play many video games nowadays (mostly out of lack of time), but there are certain games I played growing up I still think about and appreciate today. For example, the hours and hours playing rock band, final fantasy and a million other games with my cousin Cody during summer breaks. The countless hours and sleepless nights playing Halo with my friends. Or the games like Kingdom Hearts that have impacted who I am. I can think of plenty of examples in every type of purchase, from clothes to music. But I wouldn’t call these dumb purchase.

What’s dumb is all the crap I no longer have, barely used or eventually replaced with something else. I would so much rather have the money now than the random thrill I probably maybe could have got then. (With or without compound interest!)

Clothing and shoes come to mind. I love fashion. And with the right love and care, things can last for quite a long time. Looking good makes you feel good, so who knows how deep that effects the quality of your life. Maybe that new shirt you rocked on your interview did help you land that job. Who’s to say? But clothing wears out. Shoes need to eventually be resoled or replaced. 

I don’t know if I have a resolution to this. I’m not telling you to sell all your clothes and only wear jeans and white Hanes tee’s from now on. But one important thing to notice is how automatic and spontaneous most of our spending is. There’s often no room for thinking or prioritizing. Ohhh! Amazon is having a sale. Immediate purchase. Immediate delivery. (Which is why sales and scarcity are extremely effect sales strategies.)

Even a small delay from clicking complete order could help prevent you from buying something perhaps you don’t need (or something you want, but would rather put that money towards something worth more to you).

One great rule of thumb is to wait a day (or even a week) before buying something you want. 

The key is for us to invest in things that bring us joy and meaning in the long run, not just immediate desires that may fulfill you in fleeting moments.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #887

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The Hidden Costs of Things

“The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us.” — Nietzsche

I am not a minimalist. 
I’ve got too many books to be considered minimally hip. (do people still say hip?) But I do follow some minimalist principles.

For example, over the past few years, I’ve adopted the principle of only buying things I love. (Socks. My sock game is strong.) If I don’t find an item useful, enjoyable, motivational, and relatable to who I am, what I’m learning and what goals are, then I’m going to get rid of it.

 

Hidden Costs

Everything we own has an undercurrent of powerful hidden strings attached. I call it the hidden costs of things. 

When you buy something — say for a hobby or skill you’re learning — you’re not buying the object — your buying the lifestyle. We don’t just buy a thing, we’re investing our time, attention, emotions, energy, money, opportunity, health and a host of other things as well. Even throwaway items have a hidden weight to them.

If I commit and invest myself into photography, I’m not just buying a camera. I’m buying the additional necessities. Lenses, straps, a bag, different kinds of cameras. (Gotta have me some sweet-sweet drone shots yo) Photography books, perhaps lessons. I’m investing in attention to the art of photography. I’m investing into the world of photography. And if I’m building a business around photography, I’m investing time in clients and relationships.

You are what you own.

Well, not really. ‘You are what you own’ is a good headline (or poster), I’m generalizing here. But you are influenced by what you own and how much you own. Not being aware of the hidden costs attached to your purchases can turn you into a slave of what you own. I’m not talking about bad purchasing impulses (although bad habits contribute to your amount of hidden costs). There is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual weight to what you own and how much you have. The more you have, the more your attention is split. There’s only so much time and energy we have give to what we own. You’re time spent writing away on your computer is time you could be practicing piano or washing your car.

 

Space Costs

How much stuff do we own that we never use? Not only do thing take up physical space, they take up emotional and mental space as well. Are you holding onto something from your past? A photo of lost love, mementos you don’t love, but don’t want to get rid of. Go around your house and you will find closest and garages full of things you don’t need that are taking up mental space.

 

ToDo Costs

When you surround yourself with skills you want to learn, businesses you want to build, activities you want to pursue, you’re surrounding yourself with subconscious todo lists. Everything you own demands your attention. Some things weigh heavier than others, but everything has at least a piece of your attention. I don’t know about you, but when I have too many things demand my attention I feel completely overwhelmed and end up dropping everything.

One of the key benefits on minimalism is it keeps you focused on what matters to you. 

When you’re attention isn’t split between a thousand things you wish you would, could and might do someday (something I struggle with a lot), you give yourself space and clarity to be sharp and focused in on your most important things. Most of the time we’re not even aware of how much the weight our todos are barring down us and holding us back.

 

Lifestyle Costs

Unless you can afford it, buying into too many lifestyles at once is a great way of setting yourself up for not being able to give the time, money and energy each skill requires. It’s better to focus on one or a few pursuits at a time, that way you are able to give each the attention it requires to reach mastery.

I’m not wealthy (…yet). I don’t have multiple houses (h👹ll I don’t even have one house) but if I did, the weight of all of my stuff would pull me in a thousand different directions. I would worry about my stuff in my one house, forget my stuff in the other house and be everything but present in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to forgo all of your belongings and run naked in the streets. Instead, focus on what’s important to you. There’s nothing wrong with buying things you love. But Its good to pause and reflect on the hidden costs of what you have and are thinking about buying. By surrounding yourself with only the things you love and need, you will free your focus and energy to what truly matters to you.

Consider the hidden costs before buying. “Am I buying this because I want to, or because this is important to me?”

Touch and pick up things you own. “Do I love this?” “Do I find it useful or enjoyable?”

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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