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I was swimming laps today and it dawned on me that the pull buoy I use (for soloing out the upper body), has been with me since 1984. I bought it when I was at the peak of my competitive swimming “career”. It’s just as good as the day I first started using it. As a matter of fact, I have not needed to add more air to it since 1984.
I always work out but I do switch up my routine so there are periods where this thing sits idle but I keep in my car for when a swim work out is in order and it has always been faithful to serve its purpose.
Recognizing that I’ve had this pull buoy for 34 years got me thinking about mindful spending.
Tested and Tried
I’ve had my car since 2008 also pictured here which currently has 184k miles on it. It seems to run just fine as long as I keep up with the maintenance. Sure some things have worn out and I’ve needed to replace them but so far I’ve spent under my car’s Kelly Blue Value this year for repairs (my rule of thumb).
I also had the same mountain bike (Single Trek 930) from 1995 through 2018. It would still be going strong if it had not been recently stolen 🙁
I’ve recently heard a lot about mindful spending whether it be from podcasts or forums. It seems to be a hot topic in the Financial Independence (FI) community right now. Recently Cait Flanders was interviewed on the ChooseFI podcast. I am currently #23 on the list at my library for her book, The Year of Less. It sounds like she found more fulfillment in learning to live on less. From my experience, it’s easy to fill the void with crap and guess what? The crap doesn’t bring fulfillment.
Then there is Vicki Robin who wrote Your Money or Your Life with Joe Dominquez which was originally published in 1992. However, the fourth edition was just released and I am #30 on the list at my library. Not surprisingly she was also interviewed on the ChoosFI podcast recently.
Vicki writes and talks about this concept of your enough point where she says there are four components:
- Accountability – know how much money is flowing in & out of your life
- An Internal Yardstick For Fulfillment – measure by your own standards
- A Purpose In Life – figure it out!
- Responsibility – how does your life affect the world around you?
I love the concept that there is a point at which enough is enough and any more won’t make my life better.
I cannot give a review of either book yet, but my fellow GenX blogger, Jenny, who writes over at Good Life Better just wrote a review of Vicki’s book so head on over there if you want a little synopsis.
My Take on Stuff
What I can speak about is my experience with stuff. If you’ve read any of my previous articles about me digging my way out of debt (and addiction), you will have surmised I was not always good with money. I made poor choices and lived on debt. I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic but certainly, some of the debt I racked up was from buying clothes. We’ll get to my solution for that later but first I want to talk about the quality pieces I have bought, kept and, see no need to replace.
Buy Quality And Take Care of It
Of the three items pictured above, I only spent big money on the mountain bike, comparatively speaking. It was well worth it as it was my solo transportation for 3 years when I lived in Colorado. It was a great bike. I rode it through our 20+ year relationship and took care of it. It will probably last another 20 years and I bless the next owner with the joy of that. I figure the person who ends up with it will probably not be the person who stole it. Regardless, I bless them.
- Sidebar #1: a client said an interesting thing to me about the bike theft. She said, “wouldn’t you have liked to have seen the thief and said, here is some money but just leave my bike.” That is exactly right, I would have paid him/her to not take my bike which I customed to my liking. Alas, the bike is gone and it’s time to purchase another bike to love. I’m currently looking at the used market which is a great way to buy quality for less if you are willing to buy used.
- Sidebar #2: when it was stolen I was discouraged and posted in the ChooseFI private FB group. I received a lot of encouragement and advice BUT I also received a private message from someone who wanted to help. Whaat?? While I ended up getting a check from my insurance company, this little act of kindness restored my hope in humanity. 🙂
It’s Worth It
My point with this story is that it can be worth it to buy quality. If it is something you know you are going to use every day and get value out of it, then spending a little more money to get a higher quality can actually save you money. Here are my reasons to buy quality:
- The higher price tag will cause you to pause and think how badly you want this piece of stuff
- You’ll have to budget and save which will also cause you to pause
- Once you buy it, you’ll need to replace it less frequently
- When you invest in something more expensive, you are more likely to take care of it which leads to the last point
- Less waste for our landfills
The swim pull buoy was probably more costly compared to other cheaper swim buoys out there. To be honest I don’t know as it was so long ago and my parents bought it for me. Thirty-four years later, I certainly think it has been worth it.
My car was not an expensive car. I bought it because I’ve had good experiences with Saturns (now defunct). With cars, it all comes down to maintenance and as a single woman, I have spent some time researching the best way to do that which you can read about here.
I think it safe to say that most of us, in America, have too many clothes. I’m slowly dwindling down my wardrobe and trying the hanger experiment where you turn all the hangers around and as you wear something you turn it the other way. I will donate any clothing which is on a hanger that has not been turned around by the end of the season.
My boss has decided to wear the same type of pants and shirt every day in order to simplify his life. I am not quite there yet but getting closer. I do like to dress up and have my own style but I’m finding I can do that with less. A less full closet = less time deciding what to wear.
My Mom loves to spoil us children at Christmas and this is when I typically get new clothing. Annually we have a ritual of shopping together and picking out clothes. This is really not about the clothing, though 🙂
We live in a consumerist society and we are the target of some creative marketing. Seth Godin wrote a book called, All Marketers are Liars and it’s available at the library but I’m holding off as I have so many good books to read on my bookshelf currently while I wait for my other library holds to come in.
What brings you fulfillment in life? I find that it is not really stuff that brings me joy, but rather the relationships that I foster. Sure we all need some stuff and for that, I recommend buying quality and taking care of it. In the end, it comes down to being mindful with our spending habits.
Let’s keep this conversation going. Please share your thoughts on mindful spending in the comments.
“Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” ~Henry David Thoreau