The Real Cost of Things


As a professional organizer, I help people deal with their stuff. Some clients hire me because they have too much stuff. Others because they don’t know how to store their stuff. And more because they want to learn how to eliminate useless stuff from their lives. I don’t think you’re shocked to hear that I’ve never had to help a client feel less overwhelmed from owning too many cars or dishwashers. People are incredibly thoughtful when making large purchases. We keep in mind all of the costs involved and make sure the new item fills a need in our life and fits our lifestyle.

When we are considering spending a significant amount of money on a car, technology, or household appliance, we are mindful of:

• Will it do what I need it to do?
• Will it stay current long enough to warrant the investment?
• Will it integrate with what I already own?
• Is it the right size for the space?
• Can I handle it properly (for a car, computer, pet)?
• Is required service going to be easy or a hassle?
• Can I afford the maintenance?

These are all reasonable questions.

So why does our sanity and sensibility go out the window for small ticket items? We stop considering if we need an item under a certain price point. We forget that the financial investment we’ll have to make is over the LIFE of the item, not just at the point of purchase. We don’t consider the price on our life.

Clothes, school supplies, toiletries, kitchen gadgets and sports equipment are just some of the categories where people forget that there are costs beyond the price at the register. When someone makes enough poor purchases, there are lots of down-the-road prices to pay.

The cost is to our pocketbook, to our living spaces, to our psyches, and to our planet. We would do well to ask of each small item the same we ask — dare I say, DEMAND — of significant investments, before we look at the selling price:

• Will this answer a real need in my life?
• Can I afford to store and maintain it?
• Do I have the time and mental space to learn how to enjoy it?

On this Cyber Monday, and throughout the holiday gift-giving season, it is even more important to consider — not just for yourself but for your friends and family— is this item worth the price? And remember, not every gift has to be a THING.



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