MONEYWISE: What Being Robbed Taught Me About "Stuff"

Image Credit: Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash


There's no U-Haul on the back of a hearse; we're not taking any of our 'stuff' with us.

Everything is borrowed; even life is borrowed.

It's all disposable; all of this stuff.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an ascetic or a luddite; I don't have any issues with stuff.

In fact, I think we should enjoy the hell out of the material world because we're in it. We're souls living in a meat-suit on a tiny planet revolving around the sun. Let's live it up while we're here!

But let's also remember that we don't get to keep anything. Not our present consciousness or our things. The only thing we can ever hope to leave behind or to take with us is love.

I believe love is all powerful, and that the love we give and receive changes our vibration, changes our souls, and it's the only thing that will ever last. (Or maybe I've just been reading too much Harry Potter, IDK...)

We are spirits in a material world; the stuff means nothing.

In the summer of 2014, while I was living in Montreal, I was robbed twice.

The first time, they broke in and 'only' stole my MacBook Pro. (Nothing was backed up of course, so I lost years worth of pictures, writing, and music; a lesson learned.)

The second time, they couldn't find my computer (I had taken to hiding it when away), so they sifted through my jewellery box and took anything they thought might be of value.

I felt angry and violated as I lamented the loss of my things. But I eventually made peace with the losses because I knew I never wanted to feel that way again; so sad because I lost things.

What that experience taught me is that I want to own my things; I don't want my things to own me.

Since then, the only way I've found to accomplish that is to buy inexpensive items. Not poor-quality items, but inexpensive ones.

When we move away from labels, we can find incredibly good quality items for a fraction of the price. And purchasing labels doesn't always promise a better product; more money doesn't always mean more quality.

Example: My sunglasses.

I love the look of Ray-Bans, so I have two pairs...

...of knock-offs.

If I lose them, or if I get robbed again, it won't matter. If they go out of style, it won't matter. (Although if Top Gun has taught us anything, it's that aviator sunglasses will never go out of style.)

Image Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

Both are good quality; the lenses are glass, not plastic. No one knows the difference because no one's looking that closely.

The first pair (that actually say Ray-Ban) a former work-colleague picked up on trip to China and sold to me for $20. The second pair (Pro-Am) I bought on Amazon for $30 (which included the shipping cost to Canada).

Image Credit: Author

I once paid $200 for a pair of designer sunglasses (in the foolish spending days of my early 20's). Then they went out of style and I sold them at a yard sale for $20. And the entire time I had them, I was paranoid about losing them.

I don't want to need to be precious with my things; I want to be able to use them up and replace them as needed, and if I lose them in the process of using them, it's of no consequence.

I want to own my things; I don't want my things to own me.

Another Example: My purse.

I bought it at Roots in 2007 - 15 years ago - and it's still going strong. At the time I paid $200 for it, which I found somewhat expensive, but I justified the purchase because of the quality. 

As it stands, that purse has cost me $13.33 per year that I've had it, and I constantly get compliments on it. (At this point the bag has that lovely patina look that comes from an aged quality leather product.)

It's not a designer bag; it's just a good quality bag.

Image Credit: Author

PRO-TIP: Get off the TREND TRAIN. Always buy classic pieces versus trendy pieces so that the trend doesn't outlast the quality.

Last Example: Jewellery.

I used to work on a cruise ship, and part of my job was to get dressed up every night and have dinner with VIP guests.

Image Credit: Author

At dinner one night, I was wearing a $15 necklace I bought at Walmart-Mart. It was a simple design; a thick silver oval with an oval hollow in the middle. One of the guests I was dining with was a jeweller and he said "Oh I know! That's a Bvlgari piece right? I can always tell."

I smiled and said "Oh absolutely! Good guess." Sure. Whatever you say.

(When I got robbed, that necklace was taken. Poor thief trying to pawn a Wal-Mart necklace. Ha!)

I want to own my things; I don't want my things to own me.

It's just stuff. It's all just STUFF.

I've moved so many times in my life, and purged repeatedly to the point that now I find stuff that I'm not using to be a burden.

I've also lived abroad for up to 6-months at a time with the contents of two-suitcases, and have had to ask myself; "If I can live just fine with only this, what's all the rest of my stuff for?" (Granted I never went anywhere where a winter wardrobe was required.)

Also, now after COVID, I look into my closets and wish that I could return some of the stuff (specifically some of the clothes and shoes) and just have my money back.

I'd rather have the money so that I can create amazing life experiences for myself, rather than all that stuff. Money is only good for what you can do with it, and I no longer see using it to purchase things that will tie me down as a 'good use.'

I'm regularly bringing bags of donations to Goodwill, and I'm more purchase-averse than ever. Before I buy an item, I ask myself if I'm truly willing to commit to owning another thing. And If I have any doubts, I keep the tags on, or leave the items in their boxes, and keep the receipts so that if I change my mind after a few days, I can return the things.

I'm also using Dana K. White's one in, one out rule - If I bring something in, I gotta take something out, otherwise the piles of stuff grow like mushrooms after a dewy rain.

In Summary:

We're not taking anything with us.

Buy long-lasting, high-quality (but not necessarily name-brand) items.

And remember that...the things you own, end up owning you. Everything we own we have to manage; think carefully before committing.

"What kind of dining set defines me as a person?"

Image Credit: EcoSalon


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