My thoughts have been returning to questions about price and value lately. It’s a part of an ongoing process, I guess. Frugality, minimalism, essentialism – all of these ideas have been recurring parts of my life for a long time.
I wrote about my wishlist and how some things got stranded there – never leaving, but never being bought, either. Since I wrote about it I have bought both a Paperblanks notebook and a telephoto/macro lens (found one used in good condition), and not regretted either. But I’ve kept thinking about value, and money, things and experiences.
I don’t want to have an excess of things, and I don’t want to keep things I don’t need. But I don’t want to live in an empty space either. I’ve never really been a part of the retail-therapy culture (except for those months last year). I don’t want to buy things in order to make myself feel better, there are better ways to do that. But I don’t aim to live without ever buying anything… I’m looking for the middle way, the just right for me-way.
And then the other day I came across this post: https://www.fundinghappy.com/much-spend-money-value-10-years/ . The post is about how few of our things that stay with us for a long time. (Although when I look around in our home there are actually a lot of things that have been with us for longer than 10 years…) That idea – that things are just passing trough in our lives… That gave me a new way to measure what is worth buying.
I do prefer the minimalist approach of prioritizing experiences over things. But if I think about the things as just passing trough my life as well – then the things are also experiences. Or rather, the use of the things in my life.
Take that Paperblanks notebook that was on my wishlist for such a long time. I wanted it because it was beautiful, and I love to write. But necessary? No, of course I can write on any paper. And so I bought cheap notebooks instead, because they work just as well, don’t they? And my journaling is not for keeping, it’s just a way to reflect and process – I actually throw away the notebooks once I’ve finished them.
And yet… Now that I did splurge and buy that notebook, I found that the experience of writing in it was very different from writing in the cheap notebooks. I liked the feeling of the paper under my hand as I wrote my morning pages. I liked looking at it, I liked leaving it on the table beside the sofa. And the cost was about the same as a nicer dinner, or maybe a ticket for a play. Now I’ve almost filled the book, and I’ve had that nice experience of writing in it for several hours – longer than the play or dinner, for sure.
The same goes for the tele/macro-lens – the joy is not in the owning, but in what I can do with it, the joy it can give me. I love taking pictures, and doing so also encourages me to move, preferably outside, and not stay glued to the sofa (unlike some of my other favourite pastimes). And on rainy days I can revisit the beautyful and intersting things I’ve captured. A lot of experiences – and when I think about it that way the cost isn’t that high anymore. And the fact that the lens was new-to-me and had a previous owner doesn’t change the potential for experiences in any way.
I think I could use the same measure for almost everything – a sofa that is nice to sit in, clothes that look and feel good. Not necessary the cheepest nor the most expensive – but not necessary new from the factory either. As long as it gives me the experience that I’m looking for, for a long enought time, it’s worth the cost to me.
This also makes it easier for me to decide what not to buy. If I won’t be using the thing, if it doesn’t feel good and works well for my needs it’s not worth my money. No matter how cheap it is – a “bargain” is only unnecessary stuff unless it adds some kind of value to my life.