Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 31, 2010
After Christmas is a great time to review all the ‘stuff’ you just got and all the ‘stuff’ you already own and ask yourself if you really need this at all. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my wife the other day when I was making breakfast. We figured out the number of cooking bowls we need is exactly three. Meanwhile I still own eight…so why exactly do I have the other five?
You know what, I don’t know other than the usual excuses like:
- I used it once in a while…typically when I haven’t washed the other three yet.
- I might use it for [insert lame reason]….what a cereal bowl won’t work for that? Or perhaps just wash one of the three bowls.
- My wife’s “It’s a set.” No comment if I want to stay married.
So this leads me to a theory about the average household in North America when push comes to shove we could likely live our entire lives with just half of the things we currently own. This isn’t to say that you should throw out half of your stuff and immediately move to a house with half the square footage. Yet you should at least question why you are keeping all your presents beyond the fact it was a present.
The idea of the gift if more important that the gift itself. It’s okay to immediately donate or sell something you know you will never use or return it for something else. I’ve started to get really good with this and the toys our boys get. For example, my one son got a piece of a train set from one friend, but during a recent purge we decided our boys only need one type of train set and having three in the house was getting out of hand. So we asked for a gift receipt and returned it for a train of the set they do have. He also got a movie of show he loves. So all in all the kid is happier and we also keep less stuff in the house that won’t be used. Was it hard to ask: yes, at first, but it was worth it in the end.
If you can do that you might be ready to look at your closets and drawers and defend to yourself by asking ” Why do I need this?” It’s a skill that takes time to develop, but avoiding more stuff and getting rid of stuff can be useful for saving money and retiring a little bit earlier.
So do you keep all your gifts or are you good at returning things you don’t want or need? Or do you give up and just lie about already having one so you can return it?