This is a topic that I have struggled with for a large portion of my life. Up until quite recently, I thought that being able to afford something meant that I should go ahead and buy it without thinking about the repercussions of spending my money on said item.
A couple of years back, I was getting ready to move back from Florida to where I live currently. I came back with little to my name (the way I like it) and moved into a tiny little bedroom with my few belongings.
My roommates, long time friends of mine, actually had less stuff than me and I wanted to be the generous kind of person who helped people he cared about out in a pinch, even though not having a tv or an xbox is not a pinch.
At the time I had started to develop a really good credit score and a bit of a credit history and was well on my way to the 700 range. I was very easily approved for just about any line of credit I asked for with no deposit required.
Over the course of a couple of months of acquiring stuff for my friends and eventually more stuff for myself, I start accruing a pretty decent amount of debt. Before then the only debt I had to my name was my student loans.
Long story short, I now have quite a few accounts sitting in collections that have dramatically effected my credit score to the point of bringing me back down into the 500 range.
So here’s what happened to my mindset. I went from being the guy who owned a couple things that he really liked, to someone who saw any shiny thing he wanted and had to purchase it because I could afford it at the time.
I grew my credit line from 300 dollars to 1750 dollars over a couple years so that I could afford more stuff and just defer large purchases to my credit card when I didn’t have the cash to pay for them outright.
And here’s the biggest problem of all this. American society, advertisements, and our peers all tell us that being a consumer is ok. That if you’re not a consumer you’re taking away someone’s lifeline because America needs more consumers to have more jobs.
While this might be true to an extent, there are many companies out there that exist only to get your attention and the money in your wallet. Companies like Apple and Samsung (I use their products FYI) bring out new smart phones every single year like clockwork with minute features added on.
These new products are constantly jammed down our throats so someone else can make a dollar or two!
In all my time blogging so far, talking and researching about personal finance, trying to get myself out of debt and teach others how to do it also, I realize that there is so much that I have now that I do not need.
I find myself getting more and more curious about minimalism because not only would it simplify my life and the amount of cleaning necessary to keep my house clean. It would allow me to start being thankful for the things I do have.
I make small changes daily, as much as I possibly can to get a little closer to minimalism and the feeling that maybe I have enough.
One of my biggest goals in life is to be my own boss and start a company or monetize this blog or a YouTube channel, something along those lines. I wonder if I continued to just get rid of stuff I don’t need and start saying no more often to the things that don’t mean anything or add value to my life, I wonder how much easier it would be to get to that place.
I want you guys to know that in writing this, I’m not saying that now all of a sudden I’m a minimalist and I’m going to start trying to convert all my readers into being one as well.
I’m trying to make a point that every time you think that new shiny thing, or that brand new vehicle you drove by at the car lot, or the newest gaming console are going to buy your happiness, or more importantly, because you can afford them that you should buy them, hopefully you will see the trap in that and think twice about that purchase decision.
What items are you able to afford today that you really don’t need and by not buying them, maybe you’ll be one step closer to your long or short term goals?