One of the best ways to become and remain debt free is to simply learn to love what you already have. It’s human nature to be swayed by the glitter and gloss of new items. You drive past a new car lot and think, “Wow, those cars are so great.” Or you walk into Target and you see the big new TV with a great picture or the linen set that perfectly matches your bedroom. It’s easy to think that these things are much better than what you already have or that they will somehow fill a need you think you have. But what about your old stuff? Is it really that bad or are you just falling in lust with the glitzy new thing?
I drive a 1993 car with 140,000 miles on it. Could I justify a newer car? Sure. But my car still runs reliably, gets good gas mileage, and is fully paid for. Beyond that, I love it. The color is unique, the design suits me, and I have a lot of memories attached to that car. It was my first new car and I paid cash. I negotiated the deal and did well. I’ve driven just about everywhere in that car. I’ve had good moments and bad in that car. The idea of parting with it just because it’s old makes me ill. I’ll only get rid of it when it dies and it’s beyond a reasonable cost of repair. Sure, newer cars are shiny and smell good, but my car has a lot to love, too.
I think of my relationship with my stuff as kind of like a marriage. Sometimes during my married life I’m going to meet someone who is very good looking, funny, kind, and seems like a wonderful person. It happens to all of us; it’s a big world. For an instant I may think, “Wow, this guy has so much that my husband doesn’t,” (particularly if I’m having a bad day or we’ve had a fight). But deep down I know that my husband is better than this new guy, no matter how great he may seem. My husband and I have a history and a bond that goes way beyond a superficial glance at another person. I wouldn’t just trade him in because someone “shinier” appeared. I’d only move on if I had a great reason and it would have to involve my husband’s death or if he did something horrible and unforgivable to me. I love what I already have.
Stuff is a lot like that. You are tempted by the newer, shinier stuff and it’s possible that you lose your head for a minute and think, “Hey, I’ll just toss my perfectly good toaster for this cuter model.” But unless your toaster has done something horrible to you (shocked you, burned your toast too many times) or outright died, why not keep the one you have? If the older model still works well and is reliable, why not keep it? Look for the value in what you have and rediscover the love for that item. Maybe you’ve always appreciated how evenly that toaster toasts your bread. Maybe it’s the perfect size for your counter. Maybe you can remember making toast for your kids every morning with that toaster. Maybe it’s as simple as you already know how it works.
Admittedly a toaster is a simple and silly example, but the point is valid. When you’re temped by the newer models, you need to remember why what you already have is still good. Find the value in the stuff you already have. It’s probably there, you just have to look for it and get away from the siren song of the new model. When you can learn to love what you have you’ll cut your spending dramatically. It’s much easier to become and stay debt free when you aren’t constantly giving in to “new stuff lust.”