Stuff = Stress

Posted on: Monday, April 27th, 2015
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

DSC_0346As the CFO of my household of four, I was forced into action recently when a pile of credit card statements finally got my attention, and were packed with pages of purchases for … who knows?

Dozens of Amazons (a company that doesn’t bother to specify the items). Various online purveyors of whatnots. Sports sites and cosmetic clubs and, worst of all, a few scams—that can take hours (months?) to unwind.

Shopping has become easier than ever: Click! And The Thing is on its way. No boring browsing, no pawing or fondling. Heck, trying something on and inspecting it for quality have become passé; just peruse a few reviews, and return The Thing (with free shipping!) if it fails to fit.

Is it any wonder that 40% of Americans state they have too much stuff? Is anyone surprised that the stuff storage industry is booming (with 76% of the stuff stuck away because it’s seasonal, sentimental or simply never used). Should we rejoice that our economy is enjoying a new burst (bubble?) of consumerism thanks to internet commerce? Fine. But the buck stops here.

  • This calls for executive orders

Though I rarely succumb to such extremes—because I know they may not work in the long run—I immediately wrote up and sent out a new procedure for making purchases. Now, there’s a form to fill out: Date, what, amount, from where, why. No pushing “buy” until a parent has initialed approval. And the discussion may include who’s paying. (Extravagant offspring can turn frugal fast when that $55 widget means gutting the piggy bank.)

The goals include stopping the Amazon flood, increasing our family’s mindfulness of greed, clutter, and the environment (Amazon’s packaging—ugh!), and making do with the backpack we have rather than assume the fancier new one will hold more happiness. Above all, we’ll all have one page of purchases to ponder: Transparency!

These life lessons start at home, and are more timely than ever with things like braces and college costs right around the corner. The cost of living keeps rising; does quality of life keep up?

Wish us luck on our new procurement policy; good thing I know better than to expect little more than a temporary rethink/reduce movement. Still, it’s helping. The orders seem to have slowed. We now have more conversations about stuff—and sometimes find a way to say no, make do, or seek a more creative (and less costly) solution.

  • A student essay on simplicity inspires                    

On the same day I was issuing restrictive dictums, I was poring over past student work to find a sample for the writing course I’m currently teaching. The best one—that serendipitously fit that day’s theme—was titled, “The Art of Being Creatively Simplistic: A Minimalistic Manifesto.” She wrote a touching, compelling piece that offers a heartfelt alternative to knee-jerk materialism.

In case you, too, could use some fresh guidance for your SMI (Stuff Management Issues), here are her…

  • 11 ideas for enlightened material restraint
  1. Don’t get in debt
  2. Work to get paid and meet your needs, not advance a career
  3. Live in a small space
  4. Get rid of excess material objects
  5. Reduce expenses
  6. Avoid the materialism of modern technology
  7. Exercise, stay physically capable
  8. Eat basic, wholesome foods
  9. Improve practical skills
  10. Serve your community
  11. Learn the value of true pleasures — nature, friends, art

Pretty simple stuff, right?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply