Spend less, save more, feel better - the unseen costs of buying

1 July 2009

Christine Gilbert is one of the rare breed of folk that has the stones to do something about life when it fails to meet expectations. Fun, excitement, travel, adventure? Gilbert was seeing none of it as a middle-manager working 9 til 5. So she told the world of regular work and steady hours to do one, and became a digital nomad; as long as there's a wifi connection nearby, Gilbert works from anywhere in the world.

That's not to say her website Almost Fearless looks down the nose at those who make different choices in life; some of us want families and nice homes and are more suited to the predictability of a monthly pay packet. The site is about providing those who want to live life differently with the tools and support they need, but there's also plenty of thoughtful stuff that's relevant to those of us wading through the recession.

Even if you're not interested in packing your family into a tent and taking to the footpaths of Mato Grosso, there are lessons to be gleaned for improving life, both financially and emotionally. Here are three of Gilbert's 10 Unexpected Costs of Owning Things:

The things you own have a cost of ownership
Even if you don’t use it, you’re paying for it. Over the years we’ve lived in bigger and bigger places. When we first met, I was renting a single room in a house. Everything I owned fit in the 15X20 space. Our first apartment was 2 bedrooms and 700 sq feet. When a few years we graduated to a 1300 sq ft house with 3 bedrooms. Soon it was the 2000 sq ft home that we had to buy more furniture to fill up. It seems insane now, to pay for larger and larger living spaces just to store our stuff- but that’s what we did. Over the years, we could have saved thousands on housing and utilities, just by downsizing our lives.

You like the idea of owning something more than the reality
For years I held onto all my books, because I really liked owning them. But two things happened this weekend. First, I realized I hadn’t opened many of them after the first time I read them. Second, I was passing on my favorite books to other people, who were excited to read them. Instead of keeping a great book for my collection, I will now always pass it on.

You are carrying around the emotional weight of the things you don’t use
I always wanted to play the guitar. Six years ago, my husband bought me one for my birthday. I learned “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Eight Days a Week”, got some blisters and promptly gave up. But the guitar stayed with us, and periodically I would feel bad about not playing. Now my guitar has found a home with a drummer who had been looking for a cheap ax for months. And now I can finally admit it: I am not interested in learning the guitar; I don’t want to spend my time focusing on that particular skill. It’s ok; there are lots of other things I am interested in. And now I can just let that aspiration go.

[Almost Fearless]

TOPICS:   Travel

9 comments

  • acecatcher3
    i enjoyed reading it until she mentioned "the effect of the environment as a whole" tree hugger alert.
  • Nobby
    > Over the years, we could have saved thousands on housing and utilities, just by downsizing our lives. Just like you can save £1000s over a lifetime by buying food you only eat raw and eating it direct from the packet. No cooking + no washing up = no cooker + no kitchen units, sinks, etc.
  • Paul S.
    Congratulations on missing the point.
  • Tommy
    As a former office worker who has now gone freelance, I have every respect for what Christine has done, and hope to follow in her footsteps in the coming year. Time will tell whether I can do it, but I currently see no reason why not!
  • Shooter M.
    The only "lesson" learned is that her article - and grats on only taking a year to find it - is a load of self indulgent twaddle.
  • Spag
    Looks like she's had a menopausal mid-life crisis. ......"i wish i did this, wish i didn't do that" etc
  • Swf
    OK so there are some good points here, but why so extreme? The whole world can't end up living like gipsies. Basically, we do all buy too much rubbish, so what's new?
  • Inactive
    All perfectly true, now where can I buy a shed?, my spare room is heaving..
  • veedubjai
    Warming! PMT Alert!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment