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Who is this guy and why is he so happy?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh Dear! This could really be the end of life as we've known it in the good 'ol USA - part of the "new normal" that they keep talking about - as people like Dave Bruno are apparently succeeding in convincing other people that they don't need so much stuff.

According to Bruno, who writes a blog called guynameddave (don't worry, I couldn't figure it out for a couple of seconds either), you only need about a hundred possessions, and he set out to prove it last year in his 100 thing challenge, shown below with about a dozen of his things (that's a book "collection", apparently, not about a hundred books behind him).
IMAGE Anyway, Dave's blog got a nice plug today in this USA Today story about how we, as a nation are spending less and saving more, the harsh reality of the new economic conditions taking their toll on even the most spendthrift Americans.

A few excerpts:

"Perhaps the silver lining (of the recession) is that people are coming to realize they can live with less and their lives are richer for it," says Michael Maniates, professor of political and environmental science at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

A third, 32%, say they have been spending less and intend to make that their "new, normal" pattern; 27% say they are saving more and plan to continue, according to a Gallup Poll in April.

Nearly half of consumers, 47%, say they already have what they need, up from 34% in November 2006, according to the 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream.

"People are feeling forced and inspired to get back to what is core to them," says Julie Morgenstern, author of Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life. She says they're valuing objects less and experiences and people more.

Eric Dykstra, pastor of Crossing Church in Elk River, Minn., read Morgenstern's book, then ran across a blog by Dave Bruno of San Diego. Bruno launched a "100 Thing Challenge" in November and says he pared his own possessions to fewer than that.
Making the transition from homeowner to renter about five years ago had more than the obvious implications for our finances. In all that time, we still haven't gotten rid of all the crap that we bought when we owned our own house, the idea of having "one more thing to move" being a recurring reason not to buy stuff.

The housing boom and bust has seen an untold number of houses emptied of all sorts of "things" that people really didn't need, making any economic recovery to the mid-decade heydays virtually impossible.

It was a clever plan while it lasted - create a housing boom with cheap money that creates even more cheap money that people can go out and use to buy things that they don't need to fill up all the houses that were being bought.

It worked great until home prices stopped going up.

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7 comments:

Dan said...

Naw... I don't buy the book collection thing. Each book is a separate entity. They're not shoes (requiring more than one to create a complete item), basically, they're not fungible. That's like saying, "One of the items I need is my exotic car collection" ~ Jay Leno. Yeah, and the other item I need is this fully stocked Luxury home. Nice try, "AGuyNamedDave". (I've found that using camel-case helps decipher cryptic web addresses)

John S said...

Won't work for me. My 2-year stockpile of food and water (for when things really hit the fan) is more than 100 items.

donna said...

I have a "stuff collection", so I only have one thing, hah.

Anonymous said...

It has to get worse before it can get better. It will. People don't just waste money on big-screen TV's. It's the little things. Entire product lines exist that would have been considered wasteful in years past: bottled water, paper towels, cable TV, children with cell phones, restaurant lunches every day, $8 bottles of shampoo. People used to mop their floor with a mop. Now they Swiffer, and have to buy a steady supply of Swiffer paper. But mostly it's the cars. No one need spend more than the lesser of 1/3 of their annual income or $20,000 on a new vehicle. Then change the oil often & you can drive it for 10 years. Be frugal with your car and you can even afford Swiffer paper.

Anonymous said...

And after saving more the government is just going to end up stealing it all through inflation in the end anyway. It's all a great tragedy really.

Anonymous said...

"Making the transition from homeowner to renter about five years ago had more than the obvious implications for our finances. In all that time, we still haven't gotten rid of all the crap that we bought when we owned our own house, the idea of having "one more thing to move" being a recurring reason not to buy stuff."

That's true. That how renters often think. And for those of us who are life long renters and don't expect to be otherwise, too much stuff is a pain, nothing more.

Janis Mara said...

Hi, Tim! This is Janis Mara, a reporter for the Oakland, California Tribune. I noticed that you said in your post that you gave up your home and became a renter about five years ago. I'm writing a story about people who make this decision, and would love to talk to you. I'm at 925 952 2671 or jmara@bayareanewsgroup.com. Thanks!

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