What do you own and why?

What do you own and why?

“Iain, can I ask you a question, what do you own and why?”

I was asked this question during a conversation online, and it made me pause for thought. I didn’t hesitate because of the part about what I own, but it was more because of the question about the justification. My pause came from the idea of why I own what I own?

Why do I own the stuff that I own? How do I justify or explain each purchase, and to what length do I help the questioner understand? Do I have to explain each pair of socks and the reason why or only that I buy black and in bulk? Same as my T-shirts choices. 

Do I have to explain my choice of phone, my computer, camera, bed clothing or my shoe purchase? My underwear choice… well, that is the same as my T-shirts and socks, black and in bulk. This bulk and colour choice makes for easier washing and sorting, reduces the pain of choice, and helps protect me from any selection fatigue as I get to the end of the day.

How would you answer this question? To make it simple for you, choose your ten favourite things in your home right now and explain why you own them. There doesn’t have to be any order to them. It is not a top ten list, just ten crucial things to you, and why did you buy them?

I selected my ten things and explored the question. It was an excellent exercise to do. I understood why I own what I own, and each and every purchase had a solid reason for taking up space in my home. There was probably a doubt around a pop-up green screen purchase – which is a long story, and a questionable purchase involving a set of eyeball massagers… but all in all, I think I made some sensible choices.

What about you? Did you pause to take any action on the question that was posed? Did you work out the why behind your ten purchases?

The other question that I went on to explore from the back of this exercise was more about regret purchases. I asked myself the following question.

“What have you purchased and wish you hadn’t, and if you had that money now, what would you purchase?”

This is more of a convoluted question. From a simplicity point of view, it is not straightforward and demands more brain computation. You can try answering this question if you want, but my list ran long and made me frigging miserable. 

It is shocking to see how much money you have wasted on purchases that have added no value to you or the surroundings in which you dwell. 

I could identify what I would happily not have purchased and what I would spend that money on now if I had it. But, this in itself poses a question. Why don’t I buy this stuff now, and if I did, would I be able to justify the purchase by referring to the first question posed? If I could explain it off… would I still feel the same in a few months, or would it be on my list of regrets if I was to refer to the second question?

Feck, this consumer thing can be hard work when you take the time to put some thought into the back of your purchases. And this is my point. Many people, including myself, do not put a deep enough thought into the reason for making a buy. I think I am better than most because I am a curating consumer. However, there is still a lot of crap that I own, which I can point to and say – “What the hell was I thinking” – and apparently, I was not thinking. Now that I think about it.

This throws up another interesting question for me. More of a lost love question. A question to take the time to think deeper about all the things that I was considering buying and dig deeper into why I backed off. Why I considered the purchase, thought it through and then ran off empty-handed. A question about what I haven’t bought that others have? The big stuff like a car, a house, a suit, a gaming console… a heavy winter jacket from Canada. The question that I am now asking myself to explore more of my psychology around money is…

“What don’t I own and why?”

For that question, there is likely a never-ending list. So narrow it down to some of your recent nearly purchases, and explore them in the context of the moment. There is much to learn in what you chose not to buy versus what you did buy, and take the time to think about your reasoning process. 

Why you didn’t make that choice? 

Dig deep and get a clear understanding of how you handle money when it comes to parting with cash. The depth of what you dig will give you a clue about how you react when you have a few extra dollars in your account and pitch your desires against your will.

Then ask yourself…

Did good will win out, or did you succumb to your desires?

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