living with less http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/15331/all en-US The Tyranny of Stuff http://www.wisebread.com/the-tyranny-of-stuff <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-tyranny-of-stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/too_much_stuff.jpg" alt="Guy packing up stuff" title="Guy packing up stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My holiday wish list last year was simple &mdash; I just wanted one pound of good coffee. For all the folks who were kind enough to ask, &ldquo;What would you like for Christmas?&rdquo; my answer was the same &mdash; a bag of good, dark, aromatic French roast coffee. Something fair trade and organic.</p> <p>I didn&rsquo;t want a new laptop (although I could use one); I didn&rsquo;t want an LCD TV (even though my current TV is the size of an old fridge). I didn&rsquo;t need new shoes, DVDs, an e-reader, a light-saber, a cross-over vehicle, a pillow filled with barley, or adult footie pajamas in a leopard print. Instead, I wanted something that I would use and use up. Something I could savor over the course of a month or two. Something I would not have to feed, water, dust, or maintain. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-will-never-make-you-organized">Stuff Will&nbsp;Never Make You Organized</a>)</p> <p>I have enough stuff, and the older I get, the more I realize that more stuff doesn&rsquo;t equal more happiness. I might even go so far as to suggest that stuff is outright tyrannical. First, I have to figure out where to put the stuff. I tend to live a fairly Spartan life, and I like it that way. I don&rsquo;t suffer random new objects well. New things enter my home only after a vetting process that rivals the Smithsonian&rsquo;s (minus the budget). Unless I&rsquo;ve planned for it and have already figured out where and how I&rsquo;ll use it, the latest object of my affection remains safely pixelated on the computer screen.</p> <p>Stuff also needs to be figured out, decoded, programmed, booted, rebooted, scrubbed for viruses, and defragmented. I love technology, but mixing the holidays with high-end electronics feels like mixing a bubble bath with three stray cats. Maybe next year.</p> <p>New stuff invariably makes some old stuff obsolete too. The obsolete stuff either needs to find a retirement spot in my house or be passed on to another family through a yard sale or charitable donation. How many of us can remember what our garage looked like before it became a cosmic way-station for half-dead consumer goods? How many 20 gallon bins does it take before we all collectively say &ldquo;enough&rdquo;?</p> <p>And stuff multiplies. It&rsquo;s never just one item that satiates the consumer palate any more. Stuff has peripherals, upgrades, add-ons, apps, and enhancements. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-advice-for-the-gadget-addicted">Electronics</a> breed like amorous rabbits on drunken holiday. For instance, most teenagers&rsquo; gaming systems look like control centers that should be able to manipulate the weather or redirect an orbiting satellite to finally locate D.B. Cooper and that missing 200 grand.</p> <p>More stuff, especially more complicated stuff, tends to require more expensive repairs. When you bring something new into your home, you&rsquo;re not only adopting that object, you&rsquo;re also agreeing to finance the repair, fix it yourself, or toss it out guilt-free when it finally does break (and it <em>always</em> breaks, eventually). Maybe I&rsquo;m too analytical, but I&rsquo;m suspicious of any object that can&rsquo;t be taken apart, explored, tinkered with and (hopefully) fixed when the occasion calls for it.</p> <p>In the end, more stuff is often the chain that binds us to ideas we&rsquo;d like to move beyond, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-small-town-move-that-ended-the-job-search-blues">places we&rsquo;d like to leave behind</a>, lives we&rsquo;d like to recreate, or chaos we&rsquo;d like escape. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, &ldquo;Objects are in the saddle and ride mankind,&rdquo; and I tend to agree with the old fella. I wonder how many readers would like to come out of the proverbial closet about loving their low-stuff holidays. How many would-be list-makers faced the perplexed expressions of friends and family as they defended their simple holiday requests last year? How was a holiday with less stuff ultimately more fulfilling?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-tyranny-of-stuff">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sock-it-to-me-15-uses-for-old-socks">Sock It to Me: 15 Uses for Old Socks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-do-before-the-new-year">25 Things to Do Before the New Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-crap-a-book-review-and-tips">How to Sell Your Crap: A Book Review and Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/silly-sounding-but-simple-use-your-stuff">Silly Sounding, but Simple: Use Your Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving">5 Reasons to Change Traditional Holiday Gift-Giving</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle alternative gifts decluttering living with less Thu, 12 Jan 2012 10:48:13 +0000 Kentin Waits 859676 at http://www.wisebread.com