When is Enough Stuff Enough?

I had a life-changing epiphany. It was on May 27, 1978 in the wee hours following opening day of Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts. My then-boyfriend and I were there until the casino closed (pre-24-hour operation). We drove around Atlantic City, off the main roads. I was stunned to see truly deplorable living conditions. I felt guilty about all I had and didn’t fully appreciate.

My epiphany? I would never again complain about things I didn’t have – I had everything I needed and much of what I wanted.

I’ve kept that promise. In fact, a few years ago I stopped buying stuff I didn’t need and avoided shopping centers. Maybe it was due to organizing and downsizing other people’s stuff, sometimes massive amounts. Or because I didn’t want more stuff. Probably both, plus Pareto’s 80/20 Rule: We use 20% of our things 80% of the time.

I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge. If you’re OK with your amount of stuff, have enough space, can afford and enjoy buying new things, and your life is not negatively impacted, that’s great!

But if you feel as I do, walk around your house, take a mental inventory and ponder these questions before buying more things.

  • Will you use it and, if so, often enough to justify its purchase?
  • Can you afford it?
  • Do you have a specific place to put it?
  • Will you take proper care of it?
  • Do you/your kids need it or want it?
  • Are you comfortable with the example you’re setting for your kids?
  • Will your partner be OK with it?
  • Do you shop to pass time?
  • Are you trying to fill an emotional void?
  • Do you place too much importance on things?
  • Do your things control you and how you live?

Now when I shop for something new (who doesn’t like new things sometimes?), I focus on my goal and try to avoid aimless browsing – you know, how guys shop. I discovered it’s liberating being free from societal and marketing pressures to buy more, or the latest whatever, to be happy. You too can buck the gotta-have-more, gotta-have-it-now mentality with a change in perspective. You can do it yourself or with help from an organizing consultant.

I am truly happy with the many beautiful things I own. I have more than some and less than others. But I have more than enough. I’ll never own an Aston Martin and I’m OK with that!

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About Adriane Weinberg

Adriane Weinberg is a Greater Philadelphia professional organizer with An Organized Approach in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Visit Adriane Weinberg's website
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