My Philosophy on Stuff | Lisa Steingold

My Philosophy on Stuff

Jenny B Art
This article isn't about minimalist living. I'm all for owning stuff but if you're going to own stuff, own the best stuff. Own your favourite stuff. Make it count.

Table of Contents

Today I watched some guys clearing out an apartment across the road. The owner who was in her seventies, apparently passed away suddenly from a heart attack.

She had a lot of stuff considering she was a single woman. No judgement. It just prompted me to think; Did she love her stuff? Is there stuff she still wanted? Did she wish she’d lived more?

I thought about it and wanted to share my philosophy on stuff.

First, let me say that experiences and people come before ‘stuff’ but reflecting on exactly what stuff you want is critical. 

This is super personal and at most, I want to share because it’s important to think about these things.

The aim of the game

The aim of the game of life is to die with zero. This means you can’t take your stuff with you when you die; not your money, not your friends and not your car or your favourite jacket. 

Nada. Zero.

EVEN if you have kids and want to leave an inheritance or legacy, the most important thing you will leave your kids with is a sense of value and confidence in how to navigate the world.

It’s not what you leave to them. It’s what you leave in them. – Steve Harvey.

One of my favorite books, Die with Zero gives this advice;

Book Die with Zero

LIVE and INVEST in Experiences!

  • Traditionally, people increase their net worth until they stop working, and then become afraid or unable to even enjoy it.
  • Your life is the sum of your life experiences. Contrary to belief, this can be quantified and optimized.

Buy ONLY what you love, ditch the rest

How often have you wanted to buy something but then bought the cheaper option because you felt bad or didn’t want to spend the money? And then ended up not using that item because you didn’t like it. 

Buy ONLY what you love.

It’s pretty simple. As humans, if we love something, or derive immense joy from something, we use it. It’s that simple!

Think about your wardrobe. I’d hazard a guess that you wear 20% of the clothes in your cupboard. Why? Because you like them.

Whether it’s cars, motorbikes in my case, sports gear, home appliances or anything actually, buy what you love.

Can’t afford it? Well, can you afford to wait? In other words, can you save until you CAN afford to buy it?

Or can you sacrifice buying something else in order to buy the item of priority?

The question you need to ask yourself is “Is it worth buying?”

How to work out if something is worth buying?

Well of course we all want stuff. That’s why marketing exists. To make us want stuff. 

But how do you know if you should buy something?

Question number one – do you have the money?

Personally, apart from property, I hate the idea of taking out loans to buy things. Debt, especially bad debt, can add up quickly. But that’s a whole other blog topic. 

Let’s assume you do have the money. How do you know whether to buy something?

It’s pretty simple and consists of 3 easy to answer questions;

It’s the easiest formula. It goes like this;

Value = (No of times used / Cost) + Level of joy

For example; If you pay 100 bucks for a pair of jeans and you use them 100 times, their cost is essential 1 (Dollar, Euro, Rand) per use. It’s a no-brainer. If you use it ALOT, it has a low cost per use. 

Then add the amount of joy it sparks (out of 10).

Value of the jeans = (100/$100) + 10 (level of joy) = 11. 

NOTE = This is not an absolute formula with a ratio because the cost of things vary so much but it does give you some way to figure out if you should buy something or not. 

Now of course, if you use something alot but it sparks no joy (a little like social media at times) maybe you should question why you’re using it. 

This brings us to buying back your time and making life easier. 

I have a friend who uses her air fryer to make dinner while doing other things. She’d prefer to cook from scratch but with 2 kids, she just doesn’t have time. 

Hence buying the air fryer. 

I on the other hand would never buy one. I don’t like them. I’d never use it. And I like cooking so I’m not looking to save time there. 

I’ve bought, or rather, invested in other things to help me save time in the past.

PS This Ferrari jacket was a gift but I’ve had it for over 20 years and I still love it! And it still fits! (Wow! I actually can’t believe it!) On the same note I recently lost my most treasured Ducati jacket. 😭

My favorite stuff

Where to buy your favourite things?

Still, on the philosophy of stuff, I feel like this is an important question. In this massive universe, we humans get to make a small ounce of a difference. Just one of those ways is in where we buy things from.

This is something people don’t often think about but everything you purchase has a knock-on effect. 

For example, I try to buy fruit and veg from the small store in my neighbourhood rather than the big chain down the road. 

What difference does it make? Well apart from getting better fruit and veg, I know that I’m supporting Carmen’s business. Yes, that’s the owner’s name. 

Is it more expensive? Yes, sometimes it is but it doesn’t matter to me. 

I want to support people, not corporations. 

An example of how to let go of stuff

When I moved in 2020, I could take 2 pieces of luggage. Think about it. You have to move countries and that’s all you can take. 

Instead of 2 suitcases, I took a suitcase and my bicycle. 

I spent months prior trying to decide what to take. It made me think, what would I need and what would I miss the most if I didn’t take it. 

I took my favourite clothes and my bicycle.

If you’re having trouble letting go of stuff, here are a few tips;

  • Set yourself a date by which you have to give away X number of items
  • Check in your cupboard, or house what you haven’t used in the past year. If you haven’t used it in 4 seasons, you’re probably not going to use it. 
  • Organize your wardrobe, bathroom and home with organizers – I feel like Marie Kondo is better to advise you on this.

Don’t buy something, unless you give away something old

I have a 1 bedroom apartment. I also have a bicycle and a motorbike. The motorbike lives in the garage and the bicycle hangs on my balcony. 

This means I have very little space and 0 space for crap. It makes me happy because I can’t afford to accumulate rubbish. 

So I made a rule that I can’t buy something new until I get rid of something old. Apps like Vinted (in Europe and USA) make it easy to do this. 

What I do own, I love. 

In my tiny apartment, I have the most incredible coffee machine. I have my favourite Ducati jacket, a glass jar on my counter with Ferrero Rocher chocolates (I have 1 a day), pictures of the people I love, my favourite piece of art from my talented step mom JennyB Art…. And more. 

And what’s more, I have space. This physical space gives me mental space to think and space to relax.

In Closing

This article isn’t about minimalist living. I’m all for owning stuff but if you’re going to own stuff, own the best stuff. Own your favourite stuff. Make it count.

Life is short people. 

Live it with people and stuff that make you happy. 

How will this help you?

You’ll spend less time worrying about stuff and more time doing the stuff that makes you happy! 

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