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  • Writer's pictureZach

How LITTLE Can You Get Away With?

two pairs of similarly styled shoes is one pair too many!

“He who dies with the most toys, wins.”  This sometimes seems like it could be the slogan for the UAE.  Maybe it’s the booming Rolls Royce dealership I drive by every day on the way to work, or the giant yachts I stroll by on the way to the beach, or even the giant malls that seem to sprout like mushrooms after a long rain, but the UAE does love the “high life”.  

But you know what the fancy cars, boats, handbags, and shoes actually make me, when I own them?  They make me stressed.  Stressed because they could break and then I’ll have to pay to fix them.  Stressed because if someone accidentally runs into one of them then I have to deal with angry insurance people and time-sucking repairs.  Stressed because they fill up my apartment and garage and storage space and overflow into my life like an episode of Hoarders on steroids.  Stressed because eventually they end up in landfills, polluting the environment for hundreds or thousands of years.  

So, instead of trying to get the most toys, I’ve decided to see how little I can get away with.  I used to have so many pairs of shoes I measured them by the meter as they lined up all down my hallway.  Now, I use 3 pairs.  The rest are gone.  I realized I can get away with 6 button down work shirts before I need to do laundry and iron, so 6 work shirts I have.  Honestly, I could probably get that down to 3, but I’m not perfect.  I only have 3 polo shirts, 4 pairs of shorts for various occasions, and enough unmentionables to get me to laundry day.  

The rest of my possessions got a similar treatment.  If I don’t use something for a period of 3 months or so, I put it in the donation pile.  If I don’t pull it out of the donation pile and use it in the next 3 months, I donate it.  

My life feels so much lighter.  The clutter is gone.  Surfaces are clear.   I am free.  I am flexible.  The metric by which I judge my success is how few possessions I can have.

Possessions don’t bring happiness.  Money can’t buy you love, and all that.  Possessions bring a momentary burst of happy chemicals in our brain, which quickly fades, leaving us to only want to buy more things, not happy with what we already possess.  

And it’s not like I’m deprived.   My clothes are clean.  I have enough pots and pans to cook anything I choose (with a little bit of creativity, which feels better than a store bought solution anyway).  This isn’t about deprivation, it’s about challenging yourself to have freedom instead of depreciating stuff.  

Another quote I enjoy is “Look around at all that clutter. It used to be money.”  With things like, where you can sell your old possessions, you can turn some of that clutter back into money.  That money can buy assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, etc, that in turn get you more money, not less.  That money can eventually free you from needing to work at all, achieving Financial Independence, when work is optional.  But the more stuff you need, the longer it takes to get there, the fewer resources you have to buy income producing assets, and the longer you’re chained to a desk.  

Don’t be that person.  Figure out how little you can get away with, then get rid of everything else.  I promise, you’ll feel lighter. 

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