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My New Four* Questions


I met up with Moazam for lunch today. He is loaning me a water-proof, at least water-resistant, backpack for my next adventure, and was willing to have lunch with me during the exchange.

I'm really grateful that he's willing to loan me the backpack. I was ready to spend money on more equipment, but not really excited about spending the money for equipment I'd use once, maybe a couple times. Borrowing infrequent use items is part of my new purchasing process, which includes four* questions I've started asking myself before purchasing anything new.

My questions are:

1a. Do I need this?
1b. Will this bring me (immense) joy?

These two questions eliminate most purchases. I didn't need many of my purchases in the last decade. I've cut back a lot in the last year, but I'm not fully mindful of my purchases yet. These two questions help a lot, because if I don't need this item, and it won't bring me joy or happiness or usefulness, why buy it? I don't need to impress someone else, I've opted out of the social signaling of wealth / youth / strength / riches / power, so purchases to keep up with the Jones are thankfully not an issue.

2. Where will I put this?

If I don't know immediately where I would put this new thing, buying it is a bad idea. Recently, when Jonathan bought a new car, he didn't have a garage to put it in during the winter. That added a lot of stress to a purchase that should have been fun and exciting. My stuff is spread across four states and two countries, how horrible is that? (Okay, admittedly more weird than horrible, but it means I've made duplicate purchases, and that's a needless waste). If I'm going to buy something and won't use it, again, what's the point? If I don't have a place for the new thing, don't buy it.

3. Can I borrow this? Rent it?

And this is the magic question. If I need it, but don't have a place for it, could I borrow someone else's, or even rent the thing for when I need it. A fancy camera isn't going to be much use for me, as I don't use them except for specific adventures. A waterproof backpack isn't likely to become an EDC (every day carry), as I value other features for a backpack (shape, security) over waterproof. Maybe I need to rent a fast car to get the need for speed out of my system. I don't need to own a tiller, I can rent one for four hours, use it, and return it, and not worry about where to store the thing or what maintenance I didn't do on the thing. Borrowing and renting are great alternatives.

4a. Is it consumable?
4b. Will this last the rest of my life?

These last two questions are definitely on the opposite ends of the same continuation. If the object is consumable, I'm more likely to say yes. I will nearly always say yes to food, and order what I want off a menu, not really looking at the price other than to establish a set point for bill expectations. I'll buy nicer toilet paper because scratchy toilet paper is unpleasant.

And I'll buy nice things that will, as far as I can tell, endure, when what I want isn't consumable and I can expect it to last a long time. Silverware is one of those long lasting items. Most pots and pans are those long lasting items. Computers can last a long, long time, longer than some people allow them to go. I'm rather stubborn with my cars and computers. I use both of mine far, far longer than many people will.

So far, with my questions, I've saved money. New year, new financial mindset. I like it so far.

Possibly unrelated, when you have really really spicy food, and your mouth is still burning an hour later, In-N-Out milkshakes are the perfect coolant. Recommended.

* -ish. Actually six, but two are multi-part, exploring the same idea from different directions.

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