Why We Buy Too Much Stuff and How to Stop

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A few weeks ago I was reading 7 Ways to Be Her Hero: The One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For by Doug Fields and came across a story that really disturbed me:

Some years ago I performed a memorial service for a very wealthy man who died in his early fifties from the poison of busyness. It was a sad funeral. Everyone who spoke of the man talked about his work ethic, his vocational achievements (trophies), and his fortune. Clearly, he had been very successful in business. He owned multiple homes and had a lot of stuff that most people would consider the fruit of his labor. What I found tremendously sad was that he was a lousy husband and father. He was rarely home to enjoy his most valued possessions—his family.

Fast-forward a few years. I performed the wedding for this guy’s widow when she remarried. Guess what? Her new husband is now enjoying the fruit of the dead guy’s labor, which likely led to his fatal heart attack. I would like to ask the dead man, “How did all that chasing the wind work out for you?”

Here is the epilogue to this sad story: The man did not really want the toys. He wanted the chase. He died chasing the wind. The wife did not want all the toys. She wanted her husband. They both lost.

​Often times we fill our homes with stuff because we’re trying to fill a void in our lives.

Living in a society where we are constantly being told to buy more, how do we learn to intentionally live with less?

1. Admit that buying more stuff won’t fulfill you.

What you’re filling your home with won’t fulfill you. It may be fun for a while, but in the end it will leave you with a cluttered house and an empty soul.

2. Discover the real reason behind your pursuit of more.

Ask yourself, “What is the real reason behind why I am buying all of this stuff?” Am I looking for approval? Am I bored and searching for meaning? Am I trying to ease some kind of hurt? Am I hoping this next purchase will make me look and feel important? Discover the real reason behind why you’re buying so much stuff.

3. Take steps to resolve what’s really going on.

Cut up your credit cards, give them to a close relative so you won’t buy more stuff, ask your friends to hold you accountable, or seek guidance from your church or a professional counselor. Do whatever you need to do. Don’t put it off. Each step you take will bring you one step closer to finding what you are really looking for.

4. Clear out the clutter.

Getting rid of the clutter in your home is not only freeing but you’ll end up having more time and energy in your life.

I talk more about how to declutter in this post but the gist of it is this: Decide what you really need and want and get rid of everything you don’t.

Learning how to buy less stuff isn’t easy and it isn’t a one-time event. But the less you pursue possession the less clutter and debt you’ll have and the more freedom and happiness you’ll experience.

Don’t let the stuff that you own end up owning you.

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For the month of November I’m working with The Hope Effect to provide homes for orphans. Help us make a difference in a child’s life. Click here to learn more.

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