Guest Writer: Dan

Monday, October 17, 2016

My name is Dan, and I’m a recovering Prime addict.

As a kid, I was a holy terror in my capitalist need for everything. Like most kids, I had an extremely minimal attention span. I needed every tamagotchi and Furby, a complete set of Pokemon cards, stacks of video game accessories, and other small trinkets I’d never appreciate for more than a few minutes. I once threw a tantrum in a theme park gift shop because I demanded a souvenir and had spent my allowance; my poor mother bought me a postcard. I didn’t come from much money, so whenever my friends had things I didn’t, it just made me want it that much more.

Thankfully, I grew out of it. I’ve aspired to minimalism since college. I’ve always liked simple design, and in an increasingly digital world, I find myself needing less and less “stuff” to fill any needs I have, from entertaining guests to my day job to filing my taxes. I drive a small, efficient car, I live in a modest city apartment, and the most knick knack-heavy space I own is my cocktail supplies that sit atop my bar.

Not too long ago, I started donating and removing all the stuff I’ve acquired over the years if I didn’t use it regularly.  I’m moving into my girlfriend’s house soon, and I refuse to curse her with my lifetime of knick-knacks, cables, cheap furniture, and random trash. It’s made my space feel more open and clear, and it’s infinitely easier to find things I need.

But I have a weakness, and that weakness is shopping online for “daily deals.” Most of my daily needs are met, and when my head's clear I can confidently say “I don’t need any more crap.” But my head isn’t always clear, and sometimes I give into the mentality of “It’ll get used eventually.”

I thought of this story while staring at Meh.com’s daily deal. It was a marked down bundle of light bulbs, and I found myself staring at it. “Of course I should buy them,” I thought. “I’ll always need more light bulbs.”

Before that, Amazon’s Gold Box deal had a USB battery pack. “I could need that on a trip one day!” I thought.

And before that, a discount wireless bluetooth speaker. “Think of how great it would be to sit on the patio and listen to that!” Ignoring, of course, that I rarely ever use the speakers on my phone to begin with.

This was the trap I fell into, and one I think a lot of people have stumbled on before me. The Internet is a giant shopping mall, and there’s always something on an unbeatable deal. It’s beaten into us from a young age- you ALWAYS need more stuff. But it’s a pit of money and sanity, and one that’s hard to come out of.

I’m trying something new. Every time a use comes up for something I’d impulse-buy online, I’ll add it to a list. It can’t be a hypothetical use- I have to actually be in a situation where the item would be used. Once it’s been listed 3 times, then I can start watching for deals.

I’m also pulling all my spontaneous Internet purchases from where it hurts most- my travel and vacation budget. It’s a firm reminder that every bit of clutter I have chips away, little by little, at life experiences I could be having.

For those like myself that visit those sites regularly, before ordering, ask yourself “Is this important to me? Will I still use this in a year? Will it improve my life in any noticeable way?” Really consider if you want to pull that credit card trigger for another box, another shipment, another corner of your life for something to inhabit.

When all else fails, as in all things, remember to keep it simple.

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