Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lessons Learned

After a day of garage sale shopping yesterday with my friends Juice and Ashley, I realized something. I realized that most people's houses are full of crap. Some people have a houses full of fascinating, good quality things like teak furniture and bakelite jewelry, but most of us have all kinds of things we just don't use anymore, never used in the first place, or can't figure out why we bought them in the first place. Ironically, a lot of it comes from garage sales, but I digress.

While my house contains some cool stuff, it also contains a bunch of stuff that is simply taking up space. Lately, I've been learning that it's best to limit the amount of crap that comes into the house. I've been doing this by canceling my Amazon Prime membership, avoiding the $1 Spot at Target, and saving my Dave and Buster's ticket points until I'm well into the thousands. One thing I don't need is another infestation of stuffed Pokemon, a condition with which I was afflicted in the late 90s.

This whole selective purchases thing is just one lesson that it's taken me 34 years to learn. When I was a kid money burned a hole in my pocket like it was a supernova. I would buy things just to have something to buy. Once my personality developed, I became slightly more selective, but not much. My weakness was always records. Or tapes, or CDs, depending on the decade. There was a time in my life when a large music collection was more important than a quality music collection. This led to my owning copies of Information Society's "Hack" and Led Zeppelin's "Presence". These days, although I will put up with the occasional 2.5 star album simply because it was the latest by a band I love, I'm no longer one to buy something that I've heard something about just to add to the collection. That's what iTunes gift cards are for.

When it comes to other types of household items, I'm very much one to hang onto things because I "might need it someday". And this can include "I can make something out of that". These are both slippery slopes. I'm learning that as an adult living a world with internet and being able to drive, the need to find things to fill the hours is less and less. I seem to have outgrown the concept of boredom, so the need to hoard rainy day activities is gone. I also have realized that "someday" is like tomorrow, it never comes. Anything that you think you may need someday is going to be obsolete eventually, and just take up space.

Nostalgia is also something that I am learning is a slippery slope. While it may be cool for a second to dig up an old piece of computer or video game equipment, it gets harder and harder to justify keeping something that is never used. This is why I no longer have my original Game Boy. I'm not going to play something that isn't backlit and requires 4 AA batteries.

This all relates to my garage sale experience in that I realized while looking through tables and tables of stuff I didn't want, it was stuff that was familiar. Aka, I had a lot of similar stuff. And I thought about why i should keep something that if today I saw it on a card table in a driveway with a $.25 sticker on it, I would keep driving. I couldn't come up with a reason why, and today I spent the afternoon getting rid of a bunch of stuff that I just don't use, or in some cases, completely forgot I owned. And it felt good. It will feel good to not have to dust, launder, organize, find a place for, put back, make room for, find a use for, move around, or pay attention to this stuff ever again. As I get to the point where my house is full of things I absolutely love, I'm glad I'm learning this lesson now and not when I'm 90. While it would be nice to be that guy Mark Hamill played in that one episode of Amazing Stories, I'd rather not have to wait until I'm old and grey to have a crazy profitable auction. I should just save my money now and not buy crap.

So here are some things I've learned that I hope to never forget:

-If you aren't using it, you won't use it.
-If you forget why you are keeping it, you don't need to.
-Just because it's 3 for $15 doesn't mean you have to buy 3 bottles of lotion. Especially since when you already have 5 full bottles of lotion at home.
-When you find yourself getting sucked in to the $1 Spot at Target, remember the old adage "You get what you pay for."
-If you wouldn't look twice at it at full price, you don't need to own it at 75% off.
-BOGO is only useful if you need 2 of something. Or if it applies to food for a party.
-Nothing that was ever worth money one day was thought to have been worth money one day at the time it was originally purchased. An item marked "Special Collector's Edition" is like explaining a joke-not worth it. Collect something only if you like it, not as a retirement plan.
-If you do plan on saving things, invest in Rubbermaid.
-Unless you are part of a family of 4 or more, do not buy anything perishable in bulk.

And one lesson that I've finally learned that has nothing do do with anything I've already talked about:
-You will love yourself in the morning if you choose an outfit the night before.


It's been almost 4 months since I've blogged? I suck at this. And right now it's 3:30 in the morning so i won't be blogging right now either.