The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies - Fight Club. The quote is from Tyler Durden, (and without telling you too much in case you haven’t seen the movie) who is anti-establishment and anti-consumerism…making it one of those movies that every person who feels the same should see just for his quotes alone! I have quoted another line from the movie in my Money Quote Friday series a while back - “You are not your khakis“…so you can see what kind of guy he is - a lot like me in a lot of ways. I guess that is why I identify with the movie so well, as I too don’t believe that what you own or buy makes you who you are or can make you happy. It’s just stuff! Even if you can pay cash for everything you own and not pay on credit, you still have to store, clean, move, maintain, repair, and replace your “stuff” eventually, so it gets you either/or both ways!
But back to the title of the post - “Things you own end up owning you“. To me, this means that your stuff can own you in a few different ways, depending on your personal situation:
- Your stuff can force you to live in a place you would prefer not to, just for a high-paying job.
- Your stuff can make you keep a job you don’t like, just for the money to pay the bills.
- Your stuff can make you send your kids to a specific school, when maybe they would be better off at a different one.
- Your stuff could make you pay for a storage facility or continuously move to bigger houses, just to keep a roof over it.
- Your stuff could make you take on a second job just to impress your friends.
- Your stuff could require you to work well into your retirement years.
- Your stuff might cost so much every month that you cannot take your family on a vacation or send your kids to summer camp.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist of it, right? Even if you have the money to buy something in the first place, guess where that money normally comes from? Work. And the more stuff you have, the more money you need to make and/or continue to make to support your lifestyle. I am not innocent of this behavior; far from it. I used to live high on the hog too, even though it was a lifestyle built on a pyramid of debt and minimum payments just waiting to collapse. And now, even though I make way more than I did when I was 25 years old, I spend less - on housing, on cars, on clothes, on stereo equipment, on my entire lifestyle. I have a nice place to live, I have a car to drive, I have clothes on my back, and I have food on the table. No need for much more, especially since it allows me to work for myself in a small, remote mountain town. But because of the changes, I do still have a little extra money to take vacations or make special purchases when I need to without going into debt. I learned from my mistakes, and I am hopeful that my mistakes can help you learn too before your stuff ends up owning you like it did me.
After all, it’s just stuff - and this is life we are talking about. You get one shot - do it right. It took me years to figure that out…hope you get it faster than I did!