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What if we only bought the stuff we loved?

by J. Money on Friday, February 7, 2014

love graffiti

I came across an article by Kathleen (Frugal Portland) the other day, and I absolutely LOVED the idea she threw out to her audience regarding the stuff we fill our lives with.

She had been inspired by a quote she read in an NPR article on compulsive shopping – which in itself was good: “you can never get enough of what you don’t really need” – but I personally was more drawn to what SHE blogged about shortly thereafter:

What if, instead, we only bought things that we loved? What if when we looked through our homes and saw only the things we absolutely adored on the wall/bookshelf/cabinets/closets? We’d have less, certainly. But we’d feel like we had more.

SO TRUE! Imagine looking around your entire house right now and appreciating everything that was inside of it? The furniture, the decorations, your clothes, the spoons? (Okay, so you don’t have to love everything in your house – but you get the point ;)). It’s not that easy to do of course, but it still doesn’t mean you can’t strive for it if you think it would improve your quality of life. Or, at the least your wallet for that matter.

Reminds me of some of the things I’ve tried recently along the same lines:

  • Keep only the clothes I love/use! In a fit of minimalism over the Summer, I decided to give away/donate every last article of clothing I either didn’t like much, or never used. Which literally accounted for about 97% of my entire wardrobe. I went nuts. And for a while it worked out REALLY damn well, until my favorite clothes started unraveling and deteriorating with every new use :( It’s been about 6+ months now and I still haven’t come up with a solution, other than going out to buy new clothes (which I’m not good at.). So in this regard it’s kinda working, but also kinda not.
  • Only invest in stocks I use/believe in* Or, rather, only invest my IRA money into stocks that I use/believe in. Places such as Target, Panera Bread, TJ Maxx, Amazon, etc. I figured I spend all my money there anyways, and the rest of the world seems to as well, so how could you really go wrong? Well, the jury’s still out on whether it was a smart move or not* (I haven’t looked at the numbers in detail recently) but the last time I poked in we were doing just fine. All of the stocks had gone up with the exception of one, and I’ve pretty much just let them be ever since (I’ll be moving my investment money around soon, with a post to follow). But the overall point was that I was investing my money into companies I really LIKE.
  • Only work on projects I love/believe in. As you’ve probably noticed I’m still blogging here on BudgetsAreSexy, and that’s because it’s a passion project of mine :) Along the same lines of RockstarFinance.com too. Now, could I be making MORE money doing something else? Most certainly. But until I’m forced to I continue pouring my heart into these two guys hoping they’ll produce enough green so I don’t have to do all the stuff we hate doing just for the money.I still have to do some of it of course cuz you can’t ever wipe all the nonsense away, but at least it’s skewed towards what makes me happy.
  • Only buying things at yard sales/thrift shops that’s worth “birthday money.” This is a new one I’m trying, and so far so good :) I’ve realized over time that I treat money differently depending on where I’ve received it (if it’s “work” money, it goes to the bills, if it’s “birthday” money it goes to only really AWESOME stuff!) and when I ask myself if the object in my site is “worth the birthday money” it helps me make decisions much much faster. You can’t do this with bills and other stuff we’re required to pay in order to live, but you sure can with all the “extras” in our life. So now everything I pick up better really excite me or my cash is staying in my pockets!

I’m sure I’ve tried a handful of other similar things as well – all in the pursuit to maximize happiness and minimize clutter. Both mental, and physical. Maybe you do too? And maybe you want to share them with us in the comments so we can learn/try them out too?? :)

In that same article, Kathleen then went on to list the 6 questions you should ask yourself before you pick up that next shiny thing in your hands. Which are all great, no doubt about it, but a bit too many to remember on the spot compared to my simple “birthday money” one:

  1. Why am I here?
  2. How do I feel?
  3. Do I need this?
  4. What if I wait?
  5. How will I pay for it?
  6. And where will I put it?

The 6th is probably the most important one. At least for reformed hoarders like myself. One of the things I learned from all those minimalism books/articles was that if you bring something home, you should then throw/donate something else away. To keep the same number of things in your home (with the future goal of decreasing this number, of course). It’s also a question any antique lover is very familiar with :) I swear my mom asks herself this at 50% of the yard sales we hit up, haha…

Anyways, something good to think about over the weekend :) I’ll leave you with another idea from the newly engaged Kathleen (Congrats!) off that same post. It’s all about getting your mind right!

What if we could make saving as satisfying as shopping? I know there’s a rush of excitement (however short lived) that comes with having new clothes or shoes. But it wears off. We seek the high, and once our new cute things are just our things (that maybe we didn’t like all that much in the first place) we seek that hit. I get the same high from throwing money into savings”

Happy Friday!

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*I don’t advise doing this. I’m a dummy when it comes to stock picking and like to test things out in my own manner to see if I can outsmart myself ;) The majority of my money is invested in more conservative mutual funds – not individual stocks.


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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alicia @ Financial Diffraction February 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

I’m in the process of paring down my wardrobe (actually wrote a post on Wednesday about it) and I need to find a middle ground between what I have, and how extreme you went :) we shall see how it goes.

I think the biggest thing about clearing out clutter, and simplifying your home is that is goes into all areas of your life. I have noticed my home and finances seem to mirror each other in terms of they both got “messy” at the ssme time.

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2 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

YES! There’s a huge correlation there – lots of studies on that that proves so.

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3 Dave @ The New York Budget February 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

For your current wardrobe situation, I would say – a) is it easy to mend? if so, do it. b) if not, replace it. But only ever do a 1 to 1 replacement. Only ever buy a piece of clothing if you know exactly what it is replacing and you make sure to get rid of that item once you have the new one.

It very much simplifies things for me. Of course, after having moved in with the gf and sharing closet space, I have to remain vigilant about keeping my wardrobe minimal!

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4 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I chose B! But that requires me to *go shopping* and finding the perfect thing I love to replace, which is so dang hard :( Unless, of course, I want to pay like 10x for it – then I could easily find awesome replacements!

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5 Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life February 7, 2014 at 8:04 am

Loved the idea of having only things you love around you. There was a time where I felt obligated to keep every last thing, including gifts, if someone gave it to me. Luckily I learned that at the end of the day, if you don’t like it or need it anymore, it’s not necessary to keep it. I can now appreciate the things that are really special for me.

As for the clothes, perhaps next time, instead of throwing everything away you should keep a ‘secondary box’. I always have a box (or bin) that has clothes that are nice but not my absolute favorites. It makes for a nice backup when things start breaking down in your closet.

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6 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm

That’s a good idea! Could always store that away in the basement or something, and then next time you come across it trash/donate it if it’s been a while :)

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7 Brittany February 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

I loved that post of Kathleen’s, as well! I just got back from a month long trip and when I walked back into my apartment I felt really stifled at how much “stuff” I have and I have been working on minimizing my things for quite some time now. Being away from all of my things really put into perspective how little I actually need to make me happy!

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8 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Agreed!! So cool you get to travel for so long – I’m jealous :)

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9 Brian@ Debt Discipline February 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

I defiantly start my week with my favorite shirt. There is something to be said for de-cluttering the closet. Just makes decision easier when getting dressed. :) and laundry too.

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10 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Haha… I try and wear my favorite shirts on Monday and Tuesday too :) Start that week off right, baby!

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11 Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

The wife and I are going through out house and getting rid of stuff that we don’t need or love. Since we are moving, we figure this is the best time to pare down.

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12 Michelle's Finance Journal February 7, 2014 at 9:37 am

One of the ways I used to waste money was buying everything on sale. I would only buy things on sale and even if I didn’t quite like the fit or the design, I’ll buy it if it’s cheap. If I find something I really like, but not on sale, even if the price isn’t too bad, I won’t buy it and instead buy something on sale that I don’t need or like. This didn’t save me money and left me with no decent clothes to wear. I’ve been working on this and getting better.

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13 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Good thing to find out! I bet a lot of people do the same too – I used to to a degree. I now buy stuff even if it’s not on sale, but 80% of the time it is :) But only if I REALLY like it now at least.

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14 Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild February 7, 2014 at 9:41 am

Once I made the switch to minimalist, I never looked back. My rule is: if I don’t NEED it or LOVE it, I’m not spending my money on it. My apartment is unfurnished, I don’t have anything in it I don’t need or love, and it is the best lifestyle ever (in my humble opinion)! I can’t imagine going back to keeping things around just in case or attaching sentiment to items instead of the memories or people I really care about.

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15 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Unfurnished? You’re braver than I, dear. The main problem I have is that I *can’t* be in a room or house that’s unfurnished cuz I like stuff nice and cozy with my own style to it. So the only way it works is if I move to smaller and smaller places so I don’t have as many walls/rooms to cover! Haha… Or, I may just be doomed in the end with minimalism.

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16 Kathleen February 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

Thanks for all the links, friend! And… you probably need to go shopping for a few more pieces of clothes you love. :)

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17 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm

I’ll pay you $2.00 if you do it for me?? :)

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18 Camille @ Challenge Mantra February 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

I’ve been going in and out of closet fits like Kathy, but I’m currently on the “everything has to go!” mindset.

What does a minimalist wear? Only her favorite clothes :)

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19 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm

that needs to be a bumper sticker :)

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20 William @ Drop Dead Money February 7, 2014 at 10:18 am

Funny how that works — I never considered myself a shopper of any sort. At least not until it was pointed out to me I have more clothes than my wife. :)

Since then, I adopted an ironclad rule: I can’t buy any article of clothing unless I throw out something else to make place. You’d think that over the years that would lead to a gradual thinning of the wardrobe. You’d be wrong, of course.

So, I stepped down my program and restricted myself only to stuff I can get at Walmart and Costco. Just before the Superbowl Costco had these awesome Bronco jackets… hey, I said ironclad, not steelclad, didn’t I?

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21 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:27 pm

OH jeez, haha… you only get a pass if those were REDSKINS jackets! :)

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22 Broke Millennial February 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

I with you on the wearing out the clothes you like really quickly. I’m not much of a shopper either so I tend to re-wear the same outfits on a pretty regular basis and they don’t last much longer than a year or so, unless it’s a really well-made sweater or shirt. In general, I think I do an okay job of having mostly things I love — but there is that random purchase like a juicer that I buy in a fit of inspiration that doesn’t stick.

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23 Becky @ RunFunDone February 7, 2014 at 11:35 am

I don’t agree with buying only stocks I believe in…I want more diversification than that!

I agree with the rest of the principle though. I think my friends who aren’t on budgets think my budgeting is crazy, but in the end, I feel like it forces me to really value what I decide to buy…it pushes me to buy things that I truly appreciate.

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24 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:28 pm

I think you’re smart not to go the stock-loving route :) Only crazies like me risk it.

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25 Crystal February 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm

We try doing this now. When we need something, we try to buy the thing we will appreciate the most to use. When we want something, we wait around a month or two to make sure we love it enough to buy it. So far, it’s led to way less money-spending regret. :-)

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26 Kendal @HassleFreeSaver February 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

This is such a timely post! I hit up Marshall’s last night in search of athletic tanks because I can’t bring myself to spend $50 on a Lulumon or PrAna tank. However, I keep buying cheap versions that stretch out and don’t last. As I checked out, I didn’t feel that “high” Kathleen is referring to. Instead, I felt defeat. Not good! Methinks I’ll be visiting the returns dept. at Marshall’s this weekend and try to focus my purchasing behavior on what I love.

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27 Aimee February 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Prana is soooo worth it!! Painful, but worth it! Check out the outlet section of the REI website. I got my boyfriend an $80 Prana flannel shirt for $15 on there! You can return to the store too if it doesn’t fit right.

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28 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I like it! Maybe try TJ Maxx instead if you have one nearby? I always find much more there than Marshall’s – though we don’t shop for the same stuff :)

It also makes me wonder if at the end of the day it IS worth going to Lulu or Prana or whatever and testing to see if it lasts longer and makes you happier despite the price.

Right now all I wear are jeans and t-shirts all day, and I’d love to be able to have $300 jeans and $50 shirts if a) I knew they’d last YEARS longer and b) they made me feel like a pimp! I just haven’t brought myself to give it a test though, so hoping you do it for me ;)

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29 Jon@2-copper-coins.com February 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I’ve been trying to do this over the past few months. It has been really difficult to go through my wardrobe and get rid of clothes I don’t really wear. It seems like each t shirt or sweatshirt has “sentimental” value. Which essentially means I don’t wear it anymore but I did at one point and can’t get rid of it. How did you finally break out of that mentality?

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30 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:32 pm

I don’t know, it’s super hard! You did remind me though that I do have a few select items stored away with other “sentimental” stuff from yesteryear, so maybe you can choose just a few to keep and then donate/trash the rest? So you keep the BEST of your sentimentals but not all? Kinda a middle ground maybe?

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31 Slinky February 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Pictures and practicality and practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Also, I don’t know about you, but there’s lots of pictures of me wearing favorite shirts and such. The pictures are much more “satisfying” from a sentimental view and the clothes just take up precious storage space.

Also, stop saying can’t. You won’t get rid of it. Now you sound like a stubborn 6 year old refusing to give up his blanky. Don’t be a stubborn 6 year old. :)

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32 Flannel Guy ROI February 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I love that feeling of spring cleaning and getting rid of a lot of things you don’t need anymore. As a planner by nature I sometimes end up preemptively buying things thinking I will need them so let’s get this purchase out of the way only to find I didn’t actually need them when the time came. So question number 4, what if I wait, really rings true for me.

Also, I think predicting what purchases you will love can be a little trickier than identifying the things you already own and do or do not love. The challenge is cutting through that shiny newness factor that makes you think you will love it. Still a great practice, and definitely easier when you break it down with the other questions.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. Happy Friday -

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33 J. Money February 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Yeah man, and also if you find stuff on SALE early on before you need it, you kinda want to jump on it so by the time the need is actually there you don’t have to a) spend more, but b) get something of lesser value just cuz you’re now in a rush. Hard one to balance for sure.

Reminds me that I bought these indoor soccer shoes thinking I was going to join a team in the future and have yet to actually wear them in 5 years! They just look soooo cool and were like $20 down from $70! haha… the other day I went looking for them to put on and go outside in so I can say I’ve used them, and now I can’t find em???? Maybe I donated and forgot already, who knows… Either way, stuff for us to work on :)

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34 Flannel Guy ROI February 7, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Haha, nice. I did the same thing with basketball shoes and a basketball about 2 years ago, and just got around to wearing them for the first time last month only to wiped up and down the court by some much more experienced players. I’ll be back soon tho, at a minimum to soothe some of that buyers remorse.

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35 J. Money February 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm

There you go ;)

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36 Joe February 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Sure, I’ll try to buy more quality stuff in the future. It’s hard to stop buying cheap stuff though. Luckily, we don’t buy much stuff in general so our spending is under control.

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37 Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen February 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Happy Friday! This is a good one for today! Definitely that new shinyness factor and sales being one of the things that suck you in! Even if it’s only a dollar, if you don’t love it…then don’t spend a dollar! Good way to put a different perspective on buying when I’m at the store.

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38 Aimee February 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I do this in my apartment life right now (for the most part), but my boyfriend and I are planning a month long road trip in which we will live out of a van. This means 1 duffel of clothes. yikes!!!! I think it might also mean less bathroom products.

I find Iess of a need to battle myself while shopping, and more need to battle people who want to give me things. A lady at work tried to give me a whole living room set. I told her thank you but I have all of the living room furniture I need so she says “oh you’ll find a place for it!” That’s not the point… I don’t want it! My brother’s girlfriend tried to tell me she was giving me their 50″ TV that shuts itself off after they get a new one. No thanks, I don’t watch much TV and that’s way too big for my place… “oh you’ll find a place for it!” NO!

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39 J. Money February 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I guess better to have thoughtful friends than not? :)

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40 Slinky February 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Offering things to people is nice and thoughtful. Pushing things on someone that doesn’t want them is NOT. Also, minimalism works against you here. Pack rats will look at your place and think you have so much space for MORE stuff. I look at my place and think, “There is way too much crap in here.”

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41 uche@wisdom for wealth February 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

A very important question, as for me i am going to invest in what i love instead of what is popular so i can give it the best attention it requires likewise only clothes in my wardrobe that i love would remain there.
I just have to do away with things that don’t interest me.

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42 One Frugal Girl February 8, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I love this idea! I wrote about something similar that you might find interesting. It goes hand-in-hand with this philosophy.

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43 J. Money February 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Will go check it out as soon as I respond to comments :)

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44 James@Finance Education February 9, 2014 at 6:02 am

I really enjoyed reading this Article… As we put all our unwanted files or folders of our laptop in recycle bin and saved others as per our next time requirement in different drives. Like that we sometimes have to do planning to give relaxation to our wardrobe or our lovely home not for other but only for us. My aim is to live a disciplined and beautiful life. Yes, as you mention in you article before purchasing I have to give answer to myself. My choice is few but branded and seasonal outfits. And about other things I never like to make myself so much attached to more and more things that by which I forget myself and spend much time in maintaining and placing those things. Yes for that reason I like to gift those things which I think not so much useful for me but useful for others. That means nothing that I have nothing….. :)

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45 Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog February 9, 2014 at 9:18 am

I really like how you say to only invest in stock you use and believe in. I suppose that is a minimalist technique, which I am becoming a big fan of. I have always thought that researching stocks for hours on end is a waste of time. I invest in companies I use and I am familiar with. Thanks for the article!

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46 J. Money February 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

It would be neat to compare it yearly with those that *are* researched to see how much of a difference it makes :)

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47 Jim February 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Great post J Money, I love the one for one trade out, we did this with our daughter around Christmas, to try to get her understand that others needs often come before ours. At 3 years old, she was excited to go through her stuff and point out what she could live without.

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48 Sher@fatguyskinnywallet February 10, 2014 at 2:03 am

I love this post, and the questions she posts. I love the idea of simplicity, but I’m not good at it (yet). I have started with the wardrobe, though, and hopefully it will be a lot less full come spring time. I do want the way I spend my money, my time, and my energy to be of the highest quality as opposed to quantity. Hopefully I’ll get there.

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49 J. Money February 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Baby steps, my friend! We’re all making them :)

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50 Zach @ The True Generalist February 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I’m not sure this is such a great idea. If I bought only stuff I loved, I would either have Sooo much more stuff or have less stuff for the same cost. Why? I wouldn’t buy silverware, plates, furniture, electronics, etc unless I loved it. The artsy techno combo I love is always way more expensive. So this thought process would not work for me at all. I would stop searching for deals at goodwill and Craigslist. If I saw something I wanted I would buy it.

I’m sure this was not what you intended with this post, but I think there are a lot of us super excitable folks who would go a little insane without the frugality controls we’ve placed for ourselves.

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51 J. Money February 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

Haha, you do raise a valid concern, yes, if taken to the extreme :) It’s more about what you do with your “extra” money though, outside of getting your annoying spoons and furniture, haha… But you’re right that our favorite stuff is prob more expensive! Hadn’t thought about that one before.

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52 Slinky February 18, 2014 at 3:46 pm

She’s not saying to buy anything you want. She’s saying buy only what you love. Two very difference concepts. Also, standard personal finance concepts still apply!

When you’re at a store and you see something cool, in that moment – do you want it, or do you love it? Most of the time you just want it, right? So put it back and walk away. Money saved. Now if you really do absolutely, without a doubt love it, can use it and have the money for it (which you might since you are no longer buying random stuff), go ahead and buy it. Or put it on a list and save up for it.

And I apply this to EVERYTHING…including my spoons! Which I honestly do love. I’d much rather have one thing I love than half a dozen random things I thought were kind of cool at some point in the past.

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53 Mike Carlson February 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

This year, I promise not to be hoarding anymore. I will only keep and buy things worth to have. But when it comes to doing projects I only like, that is quite impossible for me.

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54 Slinky February 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm

I’m a staunch advocate of this method. It’s what I do in my own life. There are exceptions of course. Sometimes you really just need something now and any old thing will do. But most of the time, you can afford to wait and find something you really do love. Why should I send money on impulse purchases I won’t care about or something that’s going to be not quite right every time I use it or that doesn’t quite match? I would rather take all that wasted money and buy one really awesome, perfect thing that I love.

And you know why? Because when you love something, it makes you happy and makes you smile forever, not just when you buy it. And that right there is the difference between wanting something and loving something, I think. Your life should be filled with things you love, because then it’s filled with things that make you happy.

Including your spoons! Two years after buying new flatware, it still makes me smile when I pull open the drawer to get something. Imagine your house being filled with things like that. Imagine having a bad day and curling up on a super comfy couch with your favorite, perfect blanket, eating ice cream out of an adorable bowl with your “congrats on your new job” spoon. Yeah. Put a price on that.

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55 J. Money February 21, 2014 at 10:34 am

On a random, yet loosely-related, other note – I used to make bracelets out of forks and spoons :) And in which cases the type/quality/design of the utensils were very important, haha…

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