Slaves to the Things We Own

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Growing up my grandmother had a saying that we lived by, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. I’ve heard this statement a billion times from others and seen it in a variety of blogs.

In our house, these were words to live by and grandmother never ever got rid of anything without first repurposing it. There were many times that she repurposed it multiple times. Grandmother didn’t buy anything if she could find a way to avoid it.

The money that she saved went into a bank account and I honestly don’t recall every wanting for anything growing up. It taught me to be frugal with what I have and to make sure I really need things before I go out and spend hard earned money on them.

In today’s modern world, people are trading in their huge mansions for tiny houses and minimalism. They’re discovering that less is more and that they don’t have to have a lot of things to be happy.

It’s easy to become a slave to our stuff. When we consider that at any given minute there are approximately 38 commercials on the television programming we’re watching, and factor in how many people may be watching at any given minute, it’s no wonder we’re convinced that we need this gadget or that, this item or that and then we spend all of our extra cash on said gadget or item.

According to Credit Donkey, these stats only touch the tip of the iceberg. The numbers are staggering but if you consider 38 commercials every minute, that can amount to 1,600 commercials that we’re exposed to in one day alone.

Most commercials are at least 30 seconds in length. Those 30 seconds are designed to hold our attention. They are louder and often far more clear than the actual sound of the program that we may be watching.

The color scheme, actors and actresses, and even the settings are all designed to hold our attention and cleverly incite us to buy buy buy. Every phase of a commercial is carefully planned out by advertisers.

From the program that is being watched, to the snacks that they want you to purchase, the commercials are matched up accordingly.

Advertisers are so good, that we don’t even realize that we’ve been receiving subliminal messages telling us that we simply can’t live without their specific product. It’s no wonder we become slaves to our stuff!

It’s so easy to believe that the items will make our lives easier. We think we can’t live without things because, after all, they just showed us how much easier it’s going to make our lives.

Are You Being Manipulated?

Advertisers have become so stealthful that we as consumers often don’t realize that we’ve been manipulated into buying something that we really don’t need. The goal of advertising is to sell more products and to part us, the consumers, from our hard earned money.

Take a moment and listen to the next commercial that comes on while you’re watching television. How do they set the stage? How do they show you that said item will improve your life? What do you like and dislike about the commercial?

Advertisers find vulnerabilities and capitalize on them to entice consumers into buying their product. They try to show consumers how said product is going to improve their life. They go out of their way to show only the best features of the products.

How Can We Change Our Mindset?

We can start by recognizing the impact that advertising has on society as a whole. How businesses rely on advertising to increase sales and improve their returns on investment. We can see how advertising is a lucrative business that is cleverly designed to part us with our hard earned money.

We can learn to be happy with what we have and recognize that advertising is what is really making us think or feel that we’re unhappy. We feel that if we don’t have said product we simply won’t be happy. All because the commercial that we saw made us feel that way.

It played on our emotions and our desires. Desires that we may not have even had. In short, the commercial has manipulated us into believing that we have to have something that we really don’t need.

We soon find ourselves trapped by the very manipulations that they are doing to us and we feel that unless we have a specific product we’ll never be happy, and that is exactly what they want us to think.

It’s these very things and this very mindset that leave us as “Slaves to our stuff”. Do you own your own stuff, or does it own you? Are you making payments on things that you rarely, if ever use?

Do you dream of less clutter? How about less debt? Are you happy? Have you ever looked around your homestead and thought, “It’s so cluttered”? We have. So we embarked on a journey to rid ourselves of the excess that we haven’t used in recent months. Here is how we did it:

What’s Important?

We started by listing out what we felt we absolutely couldn’t live without on our homestead. We sat down with pen and paper in hand and listed each item in the barn, chicken shed, garden shed, homestead, and so on.

As we listed the items in the particular areas of the homestead we made sure to note how many different purposes the item had. In some cases, we found that we had many uses for some items, and not a single use for others as we multipurposed some of the items.

After we finished listing out each item we arranged it by priority with the top priority being items that we used the most frequently. These went on the top of the list and we worked our way down.

Become More Aware

There are many ways to change how advertising affects us. The first of these is to become more aware of how it affects us and remember that it’s just an advertisement that is cleverly designed to entice us to buy buy buy. Once we recognize that, we can move to a more intelligent mind set that allows us to evaluate whether or not we truly need a particular item.

We need to learn to ask ourselves important questions before we buy anything. Do we really need this? How often will it be used? Is there any way we could borrow it from a friend or family member? Could the item be rented? Is there anything else that we have on hand that could do the same task?

Once we recognize how advertising affects us and how to use up what we have, we will be in a better position to ignore the advertising and focus on what really matters to us.

We also can do a more thorough research and determine which of the particular products will best suit our needs. Do we need the more expensive version? Could we find it used? The more informed we are, the better equipped we are to spend our money on what truly matters.

The Purging Process

Now that we had a list of what we used and essentially what we really just had sitting around collecting dust, we knew that we needed to purge. There are several ways to purge. So we divided our purging into several piles.

We started by sorting our duplicate items into the give away pile. We asked ourselves how this item or that were beneficial to our new relaxed life on our homestead.

Don’t get us wrong, we understand that having a homestead is work, but it’s work that we love and when you love your work, you never work a day in your life.

We labeled our piles as follows:

  • Give away to someone that can use it or needs it.
  • Sell at a yard sale.
  • Donate to charity.

We don’t have anything in a storage unit, but, we do have a corner in our shed that is full of stuff that we either “Might need someday” or that we had sorted out for yard sales. We went through that as well and divided it into our 3 piles.

About this time, my mother came to visit our homestead. She was always bringing me things that she “thought” I needed. Many of these items had made it to the yard sale pile and I was in trouble.

So instead of allowing her to be upset. I told her that if she wanted them back she could have them. She told me that she had given them to me to get them out of her house. We had a good laugh and split the proceeds of those items and went to lunch.

Less Is More

After going through the purge process, the house and the rest of the homestead looked so neat and tidy that I didn’t want to clutter it up. Less is truly more. I realized that we’d been slaves to stuff that we hadn’t used in years. In a few cases, we hadn’t used it in decades.

This has helped immensely to curb those spur of the moment purchases that would only have one use or simply sit in a corner collecting dust and taking up space.

Having some open spaces is actually very freeing and reduces anxiety and stress because we are no longer slaves to our stuff. It’s then that I embraced the “one in, one out” mentality.

That is to say, if something new comes in, something old must go out. This works especially well with clothing items. Somehow, I always have way more clothes than I will ever wear.

Benefits Of Not Being Slaves To Our Stuff

This pdf shows us how consummerism affects us.

We’ve discovered several great benefits to not being slaves to our stuff. It’s so freeing to not have to worry about so much and not have payments on things that we’re not even using. A clutter free homestead is far more relaxing and inviting than a homestead that is cluttered with stuff.

Being a slave to our stuff is actually constraining and requires far more work than we need to be doing. We have to maintain it and keep it in working order, we have to have space to store it, and we have to repair it if it breaks down. In a few cases, we even had to insure it even if it wasn’t being used. What a waste of money.

We’ll have more money to do the things that we love. With less stuff, and more money we’ll be able to take that trip we’ve always dreamed of. We’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of more time because we won’t have to spend as much time maintaining our stuff. Freedom. A lifestyle that we get to enjoy instead of a lifestyle that we strive to afford.

The Domino Effect

As a consumer, it’s important to recognize how easy it is to get caught up in advertising and owning more and more stuff. Turn on the television and you’ll soon see a compelling commercial on something that is an absolute must-have item. If you get one of these, you’ll be happy. Ha! If you get one of these, you’ll be broke!

Look at the neighbors house and see them taking something new into their home or perhaps driving up in a new car. Pretty soon, we begin to think we need something that we have done just fine without for many years.

Worse, we don’t realize that the neighbors are actually making payments on the items that we’re coveting and we wind up having the same issue, we have become slave to debt. Maybe we should ask to borrow the item from the neighbor and save ourselves the monthly payment.

Maybe we have a windfall of money and suddenly think we need something. Instead of investing or saving that money, we spend it on something that we’ll only use for a short period of time or not at all. Then, we put the item away and don’t use it again.

Over time, these things begin to accumulate and pretty soon we have a corner in the shop or shed that is full of things we thought we needed, but rarely use.

As we accumulate more stuff, storage containers and shops that sell such organizational items have cropped up to help us corral our new treasures. We wind up spending even more money in an effort to store things that we’re not using.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning things, if you’re using them. It’s important to take stock of what we do have before we embark on spending money on even more stuff, much of which we really don’t need.

You buy something new for a particular room in the house, and pretty soon, you feel that you need to re decorate the entire room to match the something new. Maybe it was a pillow for the couch and suddenly, you “need” an entirely new couch. It’s easy to get caught up in the domino effect and spend more money than we intended on the homestead.

Ways To Avoid Becoming Slaves To Our Stuff

  1. Journal daily. If you’re really wanting something, write it down in a journal. Do the research and find out what it will cost outright. Look for the item used in lieu of buying it brand new. Save payments by not putting it on credit but rather buying it used. Ask if they will take a cash discount instead of paying full price. Write all of these options down in the journal and do the homework to find a way to obtain the item without paying full price.
  2. Determine if another item can be re-purposed or see if it can be borrowed from a neighbor or friend. It’s amazing how seldom some items are used and it always pays off to repurpose or borrow whenever possible.
  3. Try it before you buy it. There are many times that we run right out and buy the latest and greatest product only to find out, it either isn’t what it was advertised to be, we rarely use it, or it simply isn’t what we needed. Whenever possible, try it before you buy it. Borrow it. If a neighbor or a friend has one that you can borrow, then by all means, try it out that way and unless it’s an item you’re going to need daily, just borrow it when needed.
  4. Remember that you’re not wealthy because of money, you’re wealthy because you are content with what you have. All too often we feel that we need something to be someone. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
  5. Money really doesn’t buy happiness, it can, however, buy more debt. Stay out of debt and learn to be happy with what you have.
  6. Do you really wear all of those clothes in your closet? Probably not. Most of us only wear a few select items. If you remove just a few items every week that you never wear you’ll soon have your closet decluttered and feel freer.
  7. Can you still park the car in the garage? Or is your garage full of so much clutter that the car will no longer fit into the garage? If that is the case, it’s time for a garage sale.
  8. Be more mindful about what you do and don’t need. If you truly don’t need it, it’s only going to collect dust in a corner.
  9. Limit the time that you watch television to avoid over exposure to advertising that may entice you to buy items that you don’t really need.
  10. Shop with cash only. Make sure when you’re out shopping that you’re only taking as much cash as you need. When the cash is gone, you’re done spending.
  11. Consider shopping all year long for birthdays and holidays. Sit down at least once a year and make a list of everyone that you shop for and then note their birthday’s. When you do this, make sure that you include their favorite color and maybe something that they collect or would love. When you find such items on sale or at a yard sale, buy it now. Save it for later. It’s amazing how easy holiday and birthday shopping can be when we apply this rule.

Live Within Your Means

Learn to live within your means. Don’t borrow trouble by buying things that you’ll rarely use or need. Use the barter system and remember that less truly is more. Remain aware of your money and where it’s going. Jot everything down as you pay bills and use a budget.

In short order, you’ll find that you’re no longer slaves to your stuff. You’ll begin to see exactly where your money is going and make your stuff work for you. Have an attitude of gratitude and learn to just be thankful for what you do have.

Understand the difference between a want and a need. Learn to save a few dollars toward something that you want that may cost more. Do this for several months and pay cash for it so that you can have a cash discount, and no payments.

Focus on what truly matters in life. Don’t allow your stuff to own you. You have plenty to do during the day without becoming a slave to stuff.

Embrace the freedom of your homestead and remember that less is more and you can enjoy life even if you don’t have some fancy piece of machinery or equipment that you’ll only use once a year.

Embrace your new stress free life. Less truly is more and you’ll find that the less you have the less stressed you are. The more money you can save, the more relaxed you’re going to be when the bills come due because you’ll know that you have plenty of money to cover your bills.

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Linda Wilson
About Linda Wilson 31 Articles
Hi, I'm Linda. I'm a mom, grandmother, homesteader. I love simple living and enjoy my life on a homestead where I garden, raise a variety of animals and strive for a life more like my grandparents lived. My goal is to enrich life by living it as simply as possible and focusing on the way my grandparents did things. Life is so much more fun when it's lived simply.

2 Comments

  1. I stopped watching television six years ago. I get my news and weather online, and spend more time on our homestead learning new skills and improving the ones I have. I have never been happier!

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