Tag Archives: buying stuff

An Expensive Disease Called FOMO?

It turns out that vast numbers of people in their 20s and 30s have a new condition called FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

Having grown up with social media, their priority is not buying stuff, but buying experiences. Whether it’s the super cool holiday, the sold-out concert, a trip to the Grey Cup, the safari to Africa, or whatever interests them. Everybody can buy a sofa or big screen TV, but their spending priorities are on experiences, so as not to feel left out when their friends post some of theirs on social media.

While their parents or grandparents may have accidentally lucked out in being at Woodstock, or having seen Elvis in concert – it’s a financial priority for this generation. While I’m a little bit envious, I wonder if our older generations aren’t better off financially because of our different priorities.

Experiences cost a lot more money. They’re also a one-off in that it’s the trip, the concert, and then it’s over, and the big bucks are spent. We certainly don’t need a lot more “stuff” in our life or our homes, older generations have also spent money. They’ve spent it on a television, dining room furniture, a sofa and the likes that may last a decade vs. a one-off experience. Which is better? That depends on the priorities of the person doing the spending.

Today’s 18 to 30 year olds don’t want to own things – they only want access to things. No box of DVDs, just streaming. No CD, but gotta have iTunes. No car, just ride shares or day rentals. No books, just kindle. Makes me wonder how ready retailers are for this group being the largest in the country. As a reminder, Blockbusters refused an offer to sell their business to a start-up called Netflix for $50 billion. Blockbusters is now just a memory and Netflix is worth over $65 billion.

Christmas Weight, Bills, Spending, and “Stuff”

On average we gain seven pounds (three kg) between Halloween and New Years. I wonder if we don’t lose a thousand bucks on Christmas stuff. Then, according to fitness experts, it takes us an average of five months to lose that weight. Well, according to financial studies it takes even longer to get the Christmas spending paid back: It takes until June on average.

But every year I’m reminded that most of what we buy, not just at Christmas time, is just “stuff.” And that’s not what Christmas is, or should be all about.

A few years ago, after decades in our family home, my parents could no longer handle the physical upkeep of a large single family home. It turned out that the trauma of selling our family home wasn’t nearly as bad as what us “kids”, now middle aged ourselves, had to do in order to make it happen.

 One Friday we ordered one of the big commercial dumpster bins to be delivered to the house. After giving away stuff  that our family members, friends and neighbours wanted, we knew there’d still be a lot of things that had to be thrown out: From sleeping bags to tools, furniture to books, and extra dishes to everything else, none of these could go into a one bedroom nursing home unit. What we weren’t prepared for was the visual impact of a huge and full bin being hauled away, then a second bin, and even a third bin. In total, the stuff accumulated added up to over 14,000 pounds – in the dump. Few things in life have had such a powerful and visual impact on us.

 Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of stuff, purchased one at a time, over a lifetime, ended up as 14,000 pounds of trash. It sure put things into perspective. You’ll now understand why I’m just not that excited about buying that newest whatever, the next model of some gadget or another, or running up my credit cards. (Money Tools & Rules excerpt page 216)

It’s Just “Stuff”

A few years ago, after decades in our family home, my parents could no longer handle the physical upkeep of a large single family home. It turned out that the trauma of selling our family home wasn’t nearly as bad as what us ‘kids,’ now middle aged ourselves, had to do in order to make it happen.

One Friday we ordered one of the big commercial dumpster bins to be delivered to the house. After giving away stuff family members, friends and neighbors wanted, we knew there’d still be a lot of things that had to be thrown out: sleeping bags to tools, furniture to books, and extra dishes to everything else, none of which could go into a one bedroom nursing home unit. What we weren’t prepared for was the visual impact of a huge and full bin being hauled away, then a second bin, and a third bin. In total, the stuff accumulated over a lifetime added up to over 14,000 pounds – in the dump.  Few things in life have had such a powerful and visual impact on us.

Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of stuff, purchased one thing at a time, over a lifetime, boiled down to 14,000 pounds of trash. It sure put things into perspective. You’ll now understand why I’m just not that excited about buying that newest whatever, the next model of some gadget or another, or running up my credit cards. Hopefully it won’t take that kind of experience for you to look at “stuff” a little different in your life, or with Christmas presents this year.

When you decide you want to reach financial independence and become debt free, it needs to start by turning off the buying and borrowing tap, to end your continuous borrowing and payment cycle. That decision comes with good news and bad news. The good news is that ending your borrowing cycle rapidly accelerates the date of your debt freedom.  After all, you’ve now stopped digging and stopped making things worse. Besides, if you look at all the debt you have, there’s a good chance that today, most of it couldn’t be sold on e-Bay or given away on Kijiji.