When I was in my twenties I wanted things. Lots of things. I wanted to some day own a big house, have lots of cool stuff, drive a sweet car. Now that I’m in my thirties I want as few things as possible. It’s not being cheap, it’s being frugal. There’s a difference. I have no problem spending money on things that I find value in, and that will last me a long time. Basically, I will pay a lot more for the things I value, and far less for things I don’t value.
Over three years ago I canceled my cable subscription for two reasons: 1.) It was a huge time suck; 2.) The vast majority of the shows I watched on a regular basis were on network television. When it came down to it, I realized that cable television (despite having every movie challenge except Cinemax) had no value to me.
Three years later, the only thing I miss about cable is not being able to see a few shows in real-time (Mad Men, The Walking Dead, the latest awesome show on HBO – thankfully most FX shows get posted to Hulu pretty quickly – and of course College Game Day every Saturday morning in the fall). I’ve learned to adjust to either waiting until the cable shows appear on Netflix Streaming (which is $7.99 a month), waiting a day or two for it to post to Hulu (which is free), getting an iTunes season pass for a particular show (prices vary), or just not watch it.
I read a lot. But I don’t need my home to smell of leather-bound books and rich mahogany, unless Merlin Olsen is coming over. I’m quite happy with my Kindle and digital versions of books. Until Amazon makes more of the Kindle books lendable, there will still be a need for me to buy physical books that I want to share with friends. But for the vast majority of the things I read, the digital copy is just fine.
At least twice a year I donate old clothes that either I don’t wear anymore, no longer fit very well, or are a little too disheveled. It’s not like I’m running out to replace these items, I’m just freeing up the space. Getting rid of the junk and clutter. I may not use it anymore, but someone else may be able to. So why keep it?
For holidays, birthdays and anniversaries my wife and I usually get each other some type of experience instead of a physical gift. For our Christmas and anniversary presents this year we’re going to spend 10 days in Paris. Yes, this trip will be way more than we would have spent on gifts, but again, we’d rather have the experience of travel than more stuff in the house. I can buy a sweater anytime. How many times will I get to go to Paris?
So far this post has been pretty self-serving. Now, let’s make it actionable. What can you do without in your life? Are there things you can donate, or give away to someone who could use them? Ask yourself, would you rather have more things or more experiences?