The Cost of Stuff

Stuff costs you money.  You use time and energy to earn money.  It takes time and energy to create and maintain anything and everything we use in our lives.

Many people look forward to time off work to use the money they’ve earned to not only pay for needs, but also pay for wants.  Some of those “wants” kept me employed through college and beyond.  I worked retail and I learned a lot about the business and people. You could typically tell what was going on by the traffic in the stores.  When people were at work, what people did for a living, and most importantly, when people got paid.

The busiest times other than major holidays were the first of the month, tax refund season and the weekends.  A flood of people would come in to buy as much as they could, so management typically made sure that we had as many hands as possible to cover the sales floor and the registers.

We also knew how much the items we were selling cost the company, at least up front. The companies I worked for typically bought as much as possible within their budget because  the more they’d buy, the lower the cost per unit.  Many retailers also schedule how long they want to keep the item in store before putting it on sale or clearance.  Why? It costs money to keep any item in the store instead of selling it.

They want to price inventory to move, but still make a profit.  It costs money to house inventory whether it’s on the sales floor or not.  Every employee that works has to be paid whether that item is sold or not.  The property expenses like rent and utilities have to be paid whether the item is sold or not.  Since the inventory is a source of revenue, keeping it in the store is not an ideal situation. So, the item gets marked down until someone finds it, likes the price and takes it to the register to pay for it.

When it gets to the customer’s home, she is now paying for upkeep (sorry gentleman, it was mostly women making purchases in my retail days).  If it is a dress, it’s going in the closet on a hanger the customer purchased.  The customer doesn’t like to be too cold, so she pays the electric or gas company for heating. In the summer heat, the customer is now paying for air conditioning.  She also has to eat and wash her clothes and that’s not free.  If the dress is dry clean only, now there is the time, energy and financial cost of going to the cleaners.  Now, she may need the dress for just one special occasion, let’s say a wedding.  After the wedding, if she doesn’t sell it to a second-hand store or donate it, she will still pay for it as long as it’s in her home.

So I don’t leave the gentlemen out, what about things you like that you don’t get to use often?  Tools, sports equipment, movies, electronics.  Many people spend more time at work and other places than they’d like and have little to no time for the things they truly enjoy. The items you purchased but don’t use remain in your home, taking up space until you get rid of them.

Thinking of things as being one-time purchases is not only inaccurate, it is costly.  It costs you money, time and energy  to maintain; you just don’t think about it.  It can be stressful and overwhelming to people who spend all day doing things for others only to come home to a bunch of stuff that also needs attention.

If you are using your items, that’s great!  But if you don’t get a chance to use them or don’t get to use them enough, either make time for it (and yourself) or give someone else a chance to enjoy it.  Let’s end the practice of letting things drain our time, energy and finances without any benefit to us.

People love good memories, so go for experiences that make good memories.

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