Bookshelf

Image by JayMantri from Pixabay

This is part of my series: American Zombie: How To Stop Being A Mindless Consumer.

Early in my career, I worked in a cubicle. I covered every surface with programming books, manila folders, print-outs, knick-knacks, and office supplies. My space was cluttered, and I longed for a larger desk.

Eventually, my wish came true: I now work from home and use a dining room table. It’s 6 feet wide, very sturdy, and covered with stuff. Sometimes I dream of a second table. When I mentioned this to my wife, she rolled her eyes and said, “Do you really need another surface to cover?”

She’s right. I’d definitely cover a second table. And wish for a third.

More space → more stuff.

Now, all that extra stuff has a price. For example, I have several bookcases in my home office. Whenever I have a few inches of empty shelf, I buy books. It’s almost as if the shelf is lonely and wants to be filled.

And I hesitate to buy books when I run out of space. My little brain whispers, “Don’t buy another book. It won’t live with its friends in a bookcase. It’ll be an orphan and be lost forever on your cluttered desk!”

More space → more stuff → more money spent.

This idea extends beyond bookcases. No matter how many cupboards I have, I fill them with random things that I forget about because they’re out of sight. No matter how big my closet is, I fill it with shirts and shoes and ugly sweaters. And empty bedrooms—oh boy!—they’re the worst. They cry out for beds and lamps and nightstands. And their empty closets beg for boxes and last summer’s garage sale deals.

In my old age, I’ve come to accept this about myself. Filling every space is part of my nature. Part of my programming. I know there’s a strong correlation between how much space I have and how much money I spend.

Instead of fighting this, instead of paddling upstream, I use this to my advantage. I limit my space and limit my expenses.

Less space → less stuff → less money spent.