Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If I Won't Use It Frequently, I Don't Buy It

When I was growing up, we had a great living room, but the kids weren't allowed to use it regularly. My parents had saved years for the furniture. Therefore, it was treated as special and reserved for guests or celebrations. In my early adulthood, I followed the same principle. As I became older, I have changed my attitude from "having a special item" to "use it as much as possible."

Two experiences were the catalyst for this personal change. The first was from a seminar taught by Mike Vance, who coined the phrase, "Think out of the box." Mike shared a personal experience where his children asked, "Why do guests always drink from the crystal glasses and the family drink from plastic glasses?" After thinking about it, Mike responded that it didn't make sense. Subsequently, Mike starting letting his family use the crystal everyday, and "guests wondered why we served them with plastic glasses."

The second catalyst was from our time in Japan. In a visit to a temple, we found out that the monks regularly served guests with tea cups that were hundreds of years old, literally antiques. To the monks, the cups were everyday utensils. They used the cups until they broke and then replaced them. It didn't matter to them that the cups were antiques to everybody else. I thought the monks had a excellent attitude towards possessions.

During my early adulthood, I also learned a the following about material belongings:

Most stuff get worse with age. With the exception of wine, most things tend to get worse with age, especially when exposed to the outdoors. Cars and homes tend to get worse versus better. I remember saving my first car to restore when I had time and money. I thought not using it would preserve it. However, each succeeding year it got worse until the engine even quit working.

Many items require additional involvement. Whether one uses something or not, it requires maintenance, insurance and space for storage. I know people who have built or rented extra space to keep occasional use items, such as boats, jet skis, or campers. Personally, I'd rather rent these items when I need them versus owning and storing them most of the time.

Many things go out of style or become obsolete. Clothes, furniture, and electronics are among items that either go out of style or become obsolete. Therefore, buying these items before needing them doesn't make sense to me.

So now my attitude to enjoy what I own and to use it often. If I can't do both, then I don't buy it.
For more on Ideas You Can , check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

Photo Credit: morgueFile.com, Rich DuBose
This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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