The gf I were talking about hindsight the other day.
How if we knew what we now know at the beginning of college and had the same goals back then, we would be much closer to achieving them.
For example, had I consulted Captain Foresight at the beginning of college, my net worth would probably be 20-100% greater than what it is currently.
- Hindsight is 20/20.
- Nothing is gained from kicking yourself for a past mistake more than once. Something is gained in learning from them.
The best time to start saving money and investing wisely was 7 years ago.
The second best time is now.
The third best time is tomorrow (but when does tomorrow ever come?)
I remember is getting a stack of prepaid gift cards for my 18th birthday, opening up Amazon multiple times a day in the next few weeks and spending all of it – and more when I ran out – on things to “prepare for college.”
I bought all kinds of things – speakers, a fan…
That’s all I can remember right now. I must have blown something like $500 in gift cards and that’s all I can remember.
There must be an negative correlation with buying things and long-term happiness.
If I can’t remember what all I bought seven short years later, those purchases must be incredibly meaningless.
So, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down Amazon-purchase-history lane.
I’m curious to see if I can recall why I purchased the things that I did.
But the most important question: where the hell are these things today?
Take a look at the scroll bar on your browser. See how tiny that rectangle is?
This is going to be a long post. We’re about to go through every single item I’ve ever purchased on Amazon.
If you’re hesitant to read through it all, maybe Captain Hindsight will help you out.
Preparing for College: 2009-2010
The first time I set foot in the Amazon was late 2009.
I was still in high school, doing homework and finishing up college apps in between playing a whole lot of Runescape, MapleStory, and CS1.6.
I wasn’t so sure about the whole college thing.
Not like that though – I was sure that I was going to college – that was a given. The only other option was to somehow get on Forbes 30-under-30 list by some miracle.
I was nervous.
I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was afraid I’d not find any friends.
I was afraid that people would see that I was afraid – and that would make me look weak.
But it was something that was going to happen anyway.
So what did I have to worry about at the time?
I just kept playing games, writing apps, doing homework – waiting for time to force me to make moves.
In the meantime, I had heard of this internet place where you can buy things and they show up at your door a few days later.
I also had pieces of plastic which made the act of purchasing things online incredible easy.
Might as well start buying some cool items. Maybe if I had cool things, people would like me more in college…
Why did I buy it?
I had borrowed this book from my mom earlier and I wanted my own copy of it.
It was the first book I read that got me started in trap investigation. DDBS exists because of this book.
Where is it now?
Couldn’t say exactly. I probably gave it to someone I thought would want to know about the trap.
Why did I buy it?
I must have wanted headphones for my iPod. Two of them.
Where is it now?
They probably broke. Or got lost.
These things are magical devices!
They let you play your digital music on your car’s older-technology stereo system.
What 17 year old driving his dad’s car around wouldn’t want to bump the coolest tunes?
More books because I wanted to learn more about the health trap.
I bought the same book again, so I probably did give the other book away.
Not sure where these all are now.
I bought this for my sister so she could play emulated N64 games when I went to college and brought the N64 with me.
Where is it now?
Recently used it to play emulated N64 games with the gf.
I don’t remember ever playing this.
I remember Mario Kart DS though. That game was fun. It made my poops last hours at a time.
I knew I would need to have rubber bands to pack things for college.
The bag is still with me – I’ve used less than half of the rubber bands.
But now I call them wallets.
The amount is $0.00 because I used birthday gift card balance to pay for it.
Had to make sure that I could get a wired internet connection in my dorm room.
Wireless is for casuals.
Where is it? No idea.
A place to store my files!
I gave this to a friend when I was giving her some files in 2013.
Much needed for college packing.
I didn’t use all of the tape on the roll, but I have since purchased other rolls of duct tape.
These items were much needed for college.
You could call them the
Splitter – in case your roommate also wants a wired connection and there is only one Ethernet port in the room. Check with your university to see what’s included in room and board!
Don’t remember if I used it.
Alarm clock – to wake up early for those 8AM classes and the gym.
I don’t know if I used it, but I did carry it around for three moves before coming to my senses.
Superglue – in case something breaks.
I think I used it once.
Rubber bands – you never know where you’ll need to use a rubber band to pack your things for college.
The ones I bought earlier were the thick ones. I wanted regular-sizes ones. Still have these on the same shelf as the other ones.
Fan – I heard it got hot where I was going.
Used it for the first year then I don’t know where it went.
Speakers – To blast cool tunes!
Still have these under my desk. These were actually pretty good speakers. A lot of Hardstyle came through them.
I needed this to store all the files I would have in college. You know – word documents, PDFs, those things.
I took it out of it’s casing and kept the hard drive. Still have it.
Had to get it to protect my laptop from being stolen.
Didn’t use it after a few months – too cumbersome.
It’s gone. Don’t know where.
I got this to go to the gym.
It’s not with me any more – it got pretty worn out from going to the gym with me so often.
To sharpen my knives.
I still have this – use it to sharpen my kitchen knives which I’ll show you shortly.
I wanted to protect my investment Got this sleek, sexy laptop sleeve for the best protection.
The other one sucked. This one much better.
Kept it throughout the life of my college laptop, then gave it to my mom.
UPDATE: Mom and I were tidying and we put it in the donation bag.
I needed something to sharpen, hence this purchase.
Gone now. Tossed it in a tidying session.
I had become a fan of POV videos and wanted to make my own.
I liked to bike really fast and pass everybody so I got this to record my speed runs.
I tried it out a couple times, was unsatisfied with the video quality that I got, and returned it.
Bought on a friend’s recommendation.
Amazing bike lock. Lasted 4 years easily.
I still have this somewhere, but I’m not quite sure where it is.
Thought this might make it easier to film my biking POV videos. Video quality was worse.
Our floor had a masquerade ball. I bought this for that.
I kept it around a few years time for Halloweens and other occasions. It’s gone now.
There you have it. The first two years of Amazon was pretty light.
Stats for this period:
Introduction to Consumerism: The college years
Over the next four years I would go on to buy one shit ton of things on Amazon.
Shit ton /SHit tən/ noun A unit of 184 items typically valued at $4362.
Why did I buy it?
Portable bike pump for my bike, in case I ever needed to pump it while out and about. It did come in handy a handful of times.
The jeans? I was planning to attend Sensation White soon. You’re only allowed to wear white, so I had to get these white jeans.
Where are they now?
The bike pump? No idea. The jeans were donated a few years later.
I was really into the Ass Creed series. I played them all through till the end. Never tried for 100% completion though, except the first game, which was the most tedious one.
Who said all professors made you buy expensive books?
I started learning the Dvorak keyboard to increase typing efficiency and reduce finger strain.
I bought these to put on my laptop keys in the Dvorak layout.
I scraped them off as I learned the keyboard.
Portal 2 PS3 came with a Steam CD Key. I played it on Steam.
I kept it around until 2016 then sold it on Craigslist for $5.
Magnets! How do they work?
They were for a school project, I swear.
I still have the above magnets, they stuck around all these years.
So that I could have something to sharpen on the stone I bought earlier.
I bought another.
Felt like I should keep this on the down-low.
Thought it might throw up some red flags if people knew I was buying up all these shitty knives.
Phew, nobody called me out.
All these knives are now gone.
I was going to New York for a summer internship, so I purchased this bag to carry my things.
The straps fell apart eventually so I threw it out.
So cheap! This was a Slickdeals find.
Gift for somebody at the Company I interned with.
She was a vegetarian thinking about going vegan, so I gave her this book.
Today she is a pescatarian – must have found out that you can’t last as a vegan.
The book? She probably didn’t read it.
Another gift for someone at the Company.
He liked to each chicken wings and legs for lunch while working, but his fingers would get all greasy prohibiting him from using the keyboard at the same time.
Uffe Ravnskov, who wrote the first book I purchased on Amazon, wrote another.
I bought a bunch more. I would use one until it broke then take a new one out of the shipping bag.
I still have the bag, there are 6 left.
I thought it would be a good idea to have a second laptop charger.
This one I would forget in a hotel room in two years.
Bought to carry laundry. Incredibly useful. Just about the size of one standard load.
I still have and use these.
Another school book. Learning doesn’t have to be expensive.
Dang, learning is expensive.
I sold this book back to Amazon after graduating for less than $100.
Communal living area art!
I still have this. It’s rolled up in the cardboard tube it came in.
Another gift for someone at the Company. We had talked about Ikea and I said I would send him this book.
I’m going to Sensation soon, remember?
This is gone. Donated.
Never did go to Sensation.
Don’t remember the exact reason for this, but somebody had a tiny desk calculator for quick calculations.
I had to have one.
I got rid of it in 2016 when I tidied miscellaneous items.
This was the first rebate I ever sent in.
It was a $10 rebate for a $7 Item. $3 MM!
Just before Thanksgiving.
Methinks I couldn’t find the one I had. Didn’t want to be without music on the long drive home.
To talk to my roommates in other rooms.
They were cheap.
Don’t think I had immediate need for them.
Black Friday Lightning deal!
$0! Great deal!
I think I got similar ones before.
The sharpener was useful. Kept it until I lost it.
The cable? Don’t know. Don’t think I ever used it.
It was cool to drive around 1970s San Francisco..
The highest-quality knife I bought on Amazon to date.
No idea where it is.
Two wasn’t enough. Needed more.
Secret santa gag gifts. Didn’t end up being able to go so these went into my storage bin until I threw them out.
Great text on E&M that we used for class.
My knife-buying phase came back.
Also I got threadlocker – must have been screwing around.
These knives are now my kitchen knives.
For Top Ramen.
This item looked cool. I got into them because they were cool and old-fashioned.
I ended up taking it apart for a design class, rendering it unusable.
I did buy a rivet gun later to try to put it back together.
For going to the gym.
It’s old fashioned!
At one point someone told me I might be lactose intolerant.
I figured out the story behind pasteurized milk, why we drink it, the problems it causes, and why we are afraid of raw milk.
I wanted to learn more.
I’ll have to write a post about this trap.
Old fashioned, remember?
I never needed to refill a wick or a flint.
The rivets that came with it ended up being too big to fit in the Zippo.
The Zippo remained unfixed – still kept it in my drawer though.
Bought the Chinese 1 textbook before I went to China for the summer to try to preemptively learn some.
We had projects to build stuff out of foam board.
Materials for this project and a sketch pad.
It would have been simpler to just buy this instead of the rivet gun.
Book for class.
In 2016, Salvation Army got them.
You got me.
Can’t remember the purpose.
It’s gone too.
For the apartment.
For the apartment.
For the apartment.
The Leatherman looked cool and was really tiny. So tiny that I would end up losing this one and the others I would eventually buy.
Cat got fleas. Still have the comb. It was tidied into the ‘cat items’ section when I tidied miscellaneous items.
I bought a fixed-gear bike for $300.
I did a whole bunch of research online and decided to put front brakes on it for safety.
So I bought a rear brake.
Then got some other accessories.
Ah, yes, this one is a front brake.
The rear brake is gone. I tried to sell it – didn’t get any bites. I discarded it after about two years of “I’m keeping it because I’m going to sell it soon.”
The other one sucked.
This one was much better – it had a bandwidth-limiting feature.
For when I got a flat.
Did you know that bike tires don’t actually hold air? Tubes do.
If you get a flat, you can replace the tube and keep the tire!
This one didn’t fit on my handlebars.
Kept it around thinking I’d sell it eventually.
Because of the shiny new-to-me bike, I got back the idea that I should produce POV biking videos.
In line with the others, I returned this one.
Kept the memory card though.
This was a gift. The person I got it for wanted to make cat videos.
She had an iPhone though, would have been better to just use that.
These things really are quite useless.
These liners are great. There are so many that you won’t finish a box before you move.
Cat must food.
Have to clean the fur from my clothes.
These things were tiny. Was surprised when I got them, thought they were going to be normal-sized.
Hey, you can never have too many of these right?
Another attempt at the POV biking videos.
Didn’t return this one though – wasn’t expensive enough in my mind.
Hey, you can never have too many of these right?
Winter is rainy season in California.
The umbrella was really solid. Had it until just last month when we tidied the garage, then oil spilled on it.
I was about to make the long car trip back to college after winter break, had to have music.
Did I buy one before? I can’t remember, or find it…
Roommate built a computer. He used the 2-day free shipping Amazon Prime feature my account had.
After my internship with the Company, I wanted to become a master options trader.
I made a bit of money and lost a whole lot more. I quit doing that.
Good book though.
I wanted to protect my investment.
Here we go again.
I’m getting a bit bored writing this post.
There’s no fun in writing about something we’ve already seen.
The fun in this must be figuring out what long car ride I needed it for this time.
I took Chinese 2.
I spent an absurd amount of time deciding on a desk lamp.
I chose this one.
I returned this after I got it because it wasn’t that great.
And I found a cheaper one that does the same thing.
It’s still sitting on my desk. Great lamp!
Chemical warfare against the fleas.
Textbook and notebooks.
I specifically got those notebooks because they were blank – I hated taking notes on lined paper.
Their build quality was horrible. I wouldn’t recommend them.
For the apartment. We had to get organizized.
What drove this purchase was the drug test kit.
Amazon had introduced the concept of ‘Add-on Items’ which would ship only if your order was above $25.
Seems like a great business idea because if you only needed to buy the Add-on item, you have to fill up your cart with other items until you reach at least $25.
Diamond infused leads were supposed to break less often because they were stronger.
I think they did.
An item for the cat. I still have it in the cat items shelf.
The copper rusted and turned green.
For hosting club-like house parties.
Why? I’m not sure.
Where? I’m not sure.
Oh, I remember. It was to lock the U-Haul that I would soon get to haul my bunch of stuff back home.
Wanted to learn about Burgundy before I went there.
I got to page 10 I think.
This is now sitting under a coffee table.
New place, new trash.
Replacement for the one I lost after peeling a fruit with it.
Also got a mattress frame, but I only used it for a few months, then stored it away under my roommate’s bed.
I was building my desktop at this point. Still have the wire ties!
Wire cubes to be creative with shelving.
Because lined ones suck.
Still have it, write some things in it every once in a while.
I think I actually had a need for it this time.
Can’t be certain, though.
Good build quality.
Now also part of the kitchen knife set.
Wait, is this the one I have now?
Great pencil. I still have it.
More shelving required.
Pretty useful kit. Small bits. Still use it every once in a while.
Forgot my charger in a hotel room.
This one stopped working after a few hours of use. That’s what you get for a cheap charger, right?
For the apartment. We had to get organizized.
A gift for my sister.
I thought it was cool – you could take the ball out of the socket and it would keep giving off light.
It was funny to put this in the bathroom, haha.
A gift. The flask is huge. Too big to hide.
We put up Christmas lights. Wanted to save electricity.
Actually, I was just lazy. Electricity costs to keep a few Christmas lights on wouldn’t exceed $10.82.
Don’t know where these are now. Quite useful machines.
Built a computer for my mom. This was her keyboard.
I wonder what I did during winter break without a laptop.
This one broke too. I still hadn’t learned my lesson.
The analog ones were complicated to read. Got me a digital machine.
Still have it. Bought a pack of batteries for it that will last a lifetime.
Decided on a CAD graphics card rather than one for gaming.
Figured I wouldn’t have much time for gaming for the next 6 months so I went with the CAD card.
It sped up CAD dramatically.
Must have not been the right one.
This must have been a gift, because I had read it already.
Brass is expensive.
The day I discovered these was the best day in the lives of my teeth.
For shaving my… hair.
And measuring tiny objects.
Still have the clipper. I now use it to trim beard instead of shaving with a blade. It’s way better efficient.
Brass IS expensive.
Great book. Funny book.
My rear tire was worn out from me doing so many cool sliding tricks on my fixie.
Upgraded foot straps.
Never put these on my bike.
Used these once.
You can remove a tire without this tool.
I took a wine class.
We had to bring a glass to class.
So I bought four…
If it doesn’t warm, I’ll send it back.
If I had spent a lot less money in college this post would have taken much less time.
So it seems like my purchases consist of:
- Things I bought, used, still have, and currently provide value to me.
- Things I thought I would use but never did, or used once.
- Things I believe I will use in the future.
- Things I don’t remember why I bought them.
- A whole lot of non-essentials.
The vast majority of the purchases fall under the last four bullets.
Adding stats for this period:
Up next we have the after-college purchases to review.
It’s going to be interesting because I would have a bunch of W2 income that I’m not quite sure what to do with.
Economics 101: disposable income
After graduating and moving back to my home city for a job, I now had a stable income stream.
Money was filling up in my checking account faster than I could spend it.
I had disposable income.
I didn’t start learning about money until late 2015, so the concept of ‘spend less than you earn’ wasn’t a thing to me.
Aside from the $50-100 I would put into my savings account every month, I would spend all the money that came in.
Money in ≤ money out.
Rent, food, car, bars, clubs, and buying stuff helped keep the inequality true.
In fact, some months I would actually transfer money from my savings into my checking because I didn’t have enough there.
In the course of the next 18 months I would blow my college record out of the water.
Let’s take a look at all the super-important shit I bought.
These devices let you put the internet in your home’s AC power supply.
You’d plug one in connected to the router, plug another one in connected to your computer and you’d get internet.
I got this because my room was far from the router and – of course – I wanted a wired connection to my desktop.
One is lost, one I have.
Not very useful to just have one.
I’d have to get another pair to get value from the one I have leftover.
Third time buying the same tiny Leatherman. I lost this one too.
My room didn’t have blinds.
Uncertain what this was for.
Certain I don’t have it anymore.
My commute from my apartment to work was a 20-mile drive that took 40 minutes to an hour.
I bought this for the few times I would be able to drive fast enough around the heavy traffic to get ticketed.
Great investment though. If it saves you from one ticket, you’ve more than made your money back.
Starting to get bored again?
A mouse that was a really slick deal.
A mouse that was a really slick deal.
Wait a minute…
One was given away and the other is now with my dad’s desktop.
I had gotten a pair of nice leather shoes during my trip to Sweden.
I wanted to take good care of them.
So of course, I went all out.
These items would ensure the longevity of my shoes.
I polished them once.
Then the shoes started leaking water because the sole wore down too much.
I have yet to wear them since then. Or take them to get repaired.
These were all the rage at work. I wanted to have some for myself to drink at home.
Tragic story – the delivery company returned them because the package started to leak.
I was heartbroken.
Bought these during my phase of buying many SSDs from Slickdeals.
I used one of them for a long time. The other three got lost.
Used all of them to emptiness.
Roommate ordered through my Prime for the new phone he had bought.
I would later purchase this cover (phone included) from him.
We thought we had bed bugs.
I had read that if you spread this around all over the floors of your place, the creep would walk over it and get decapitated.
Seems like it worked because we stopped getting bitten.
Or the spiders took them all out.
These need no explanation.
Sand for the cat to shit.
Roommate using my prime. He added water cooling.
When I was helping my roommate install his water cooling, I noticed that he had one of these cool hard drive swap trays.
I just had to have one.
Actually, this is the one that he had. I accidentally got the wrong one at first.
I still have both of them.
But – since my desktop is decommissioned, they are sitting on a shelf not providing much value to anybody.
Currently trying to sell them. (Where have you heard that before?)
What was this for? Camping?
I don’t have it anymore.
Joined Reddit’s secret santa this year.
My guy said he had always wanted to learn wood carving.
Well, here you go guy.
Surge protector. The other one I had was being used in a different physical location in my room.
I plugged one thing into this one.
Still have it – still the one same thing plugged in.
I wanted to read in bed – lighting was a challenge.
I thought these lights might solve that problem.
I did read in bed. Did not use these to read in bed.
A very slick deal, indeed.
I threw up on my carpet one very early morning.
Even after many rounds of deep cleaning, the stench persisted.
Got those incense sticks to cover the smell.
They’re now all gone.
Still have the wood oil – I use it to care for my cutting board.
Gift for my sales team.
They needed pipe.
Tried to train the cat to use the toilet. Stopped using this when it became too messy.
Still have one of the inserts.
Keeping it because I intend to retry the training.
Bought for work because we were to do a book report.
Read a few chapters in it.
Was headed to Brazil for Carnaval.
Heard it rained there.
Gone with the wind.
Never got used. It’s sitting in my drawer now.
The self-cleaning part sold me.
Brought the gym to me.
So I could open the garage door without getting out of my car.
It’s proven pretty useful, most of the garage doors I need to open are Liftmasters.
Good buy! Still have!
I wanted to become better at my sales job.
I carried on from my POV biking videos to making dashcam videos.
This one broke within a week.
Got the non-capacitor version.
Produces great quality and sits still very discreetly in my car.
It’s a great thing to have for insurance purposes – and for all the stupid things people with cars do.
This is starting to piss me off.
Why did I need so many mice?
After my SSD-buying craze and HDD-gathering phase this seemed like a good tool to have.
The envelopes did not fit 8.5×11 papers unless folded smaller.
Didn’t use many of them.
The memory cards now had a clear purpose – saving dashcam videos.
What about all the other memory cards I had bought?
Oh, that’s right, technology changes pretty quickly. Dang.
For better cable management for hardwiring the dashcam into the car.
Controller for the console to play games.
To hardwire the dashcam.
For every pack of these I bought, I only would use one fuse.
It would have been much cheaper to go to O’Reilley’s and buy the single fuse that I actually needed.
The day I discovered these was the best day ever for my teeth.
I bought a new car!
The 2015 model had this dumb MEDIA interface. My car came with the iPhone adapter, I had to get the USB one.
I never used it – too glitchy. But I didn’t return it. It’s still with me on my shelf.
I wanted to protect my investment.
Fastly charging my phone was important.
If you have these on your mirror, you’re a failure.
Fastly charging my phone in my car was important.
Plus, it was a slick deal.
Food on demand.
Signed up to drive for Lyft, I thought I’d get better ratings if I could offer my riders a charging cable.
I didn’t have iPhone cables, thus these.
Also a slick deal.
Decided to tint my windows, needed a heat gun.
Soldering Iron was used for hardwiring the dashcam.
Another gift. I installed dashcams in a couple of my friend’s cars.
Again with the shitty chargers.
Was tired of the plastic and wooden hangers that were all over the place and took up so much space in my closet.
Protect the investment.
My cat had started to get black spots on his gums, thought it might have to do with his dental hygiene.
The vet later told me it was freckles and it was nothing to worry about.
Another dashcam as a gift.
I had lost my previous pair of sunglasses, so I got another.
My car had a scratch on it when I bought it.
The dealership had promised that they would fix it but never did.
I got this while being mad at the dealership.
It’s sitting on a shelf unused.
Wait, these are the cable ties I still have.
If you want to get into investing in your day-to-day, read this book first.
I had been learning about money and financial independence for some time at this point.
Downgrading my phone was a step towards the goal I would write for myself for 2016.
Low engine oil light came on.
Topped up to protect the investment.
More to protect the investment.
Yes, this was for a dashcam (probably).
You’re still here?
This is barely fun anymore.
Looking at all the unnecessary shit I’ve bought is seriously depressing.
Adding stats for this period:
Holy crap, I bought more than one item a week for two years.
The Amazon loses its allure
In 2016, things changed.
My monthly Amazon purchase rate would decline roughly 70% from the past 18 months.
I decided to do a couple things in 2016 that would free me from a financial trap I was heading into.
One of those was to set a spending forecast.
I did this because I was planning on leaving my job at the end of the year, and I needed to build FU Money.
Also, I felt the need to prove to myself that I can set and achieve a realistic goal.
I was tired of making vague new year’s resolutions that I’d never accomplish.
Get in shape.
Yea, sure I would.
I decided to set one solid goal for the year.
If I could do it, I would prove to myself that I could follow through on what I wanted to do if I really wanted to do it.
I had read a lot of blogs of people who had achieved financial independence and I knew that I wanted to live that life.
I didn’t want to go the standard route – work work work, retire at 60, 70, or 80, then die wishing I had done more with my life.
I didn’t want to be a corporate slave.
After all, going the standard route isn’t challenging.
Work for financial independence at 60, 70, or 80?
That’s going to be a super challenging 10 years.
Before this, I was using handheld brushes, mostly those I got from airplane care packages.
One of the principles I adopted was to spend heavily in areas that mattered – in this case it was my dental health.
I haven’t yet used any of the replacement brush heads.
Took part in helping a friend fix a car.
The deal was that my time spent on the repair would be free, but all tools and parts would be on him.
I don’t remember ever using these – they may have been a purchase for my roommate through my prime.
I rotated the tires on my car myself.
The first time took roughly two hours – the same amount of time it would have taken to go to a shop AND go to the gym to get the same amount of exercise.
Additional plus – I acquired a tool for less than the cost of paying the shop to do it.
A storage container for games.
Haven’t given the cat a bath yet.
My toolset didn’t have this size bit.
I wonder how I managed to order this Add-on Item by itself.
For the gift.
Ordered this when I caught one little flea roaming around my cat’s head.
I was getting serious eye strain from looking at screens all day.
Who knew the solution would be as simple as blue-light blocking glasses?
Gift, and a book that I saw at the book store that I wanted.
That was quick.
The nature of my orders changed greatly in 2016.
I bought a mere $431 worth of stuff in 20 items, of which $207 were gift purchases.
I spent only $224 on myself – including the torque wrench which was expensed and the tire gauge that saved me a trip to the tire rotation shop.
Although my spending decreased pretty dramatically, the craziest things happened:
- 2016 was a great year, the best year of my life – so far.
- I found other things that made me happy that didn’t involve checking out.
You don’t need to buy things to be happy.
But spending feels really good.
It feels good to be able to say “I can buy this. I’m buying it because I have the money to do so. I want this item. I’ll be fine anyway.”
I got that feeling almost every time I bought something on Amazon.
Make no mistake about it, spending feels really good.
Our society encourages spending – big new TVs, brand new cars with great new features, the latest and greatest smartphone, shiny watches – almost to the point where we think of it as a necessity.
“Go on! Spend a bit! Splurge maybe! Enjoy life!”
Just do a quick Google search on ‘spend on yourself’ and you’ll find countless articles that will tell you why you should spend, what you should buy, when you should do it, and how to justify your spending.
You’re under 30, have no dependents, your financial obligations are minimal, you have my whole life ahead of you, you’re only young once. You should be spending. So enjoy! Go buy the new iPhone. And this 4k IPS 60″ TV. And this fancy luxury car for your long commute. And this gold-plated watch. And another pair of shoes and shirts and sweaters and this and that and this…”
To me, following that advice is throwing your time away.
Not your money. Your time – the time that you spend making the money you use to buy things.
You can recover money – you can never recover time.
None of the stuff I bought to prepare for college made people like me more.
None of the stuff I bought in college gave me happiness.
None of the stuff I bought with my disposable income made me feel better about my life.
In fact, most of those items have become a burden because I’ve been hauling them around and storing them every time I move. Every once in a while I find one of those items I bought long ago in a box way back in the closet, still in the original packaging. I never even used the thing!
Strangely, I feel as if I would have been happier if I hadn’t made so many purchases because I didn’t really want them.
My motivation to buy the item usually had nothing to do with the item itself.
It wasn’t that the item was good quality, had practical value, would improve my quality of life – No.
I bought for emotional reasons.
Funny how hindsight works, no?
I still have a lot of junk lying around that’s hard for me to get rid of.
Because it’s sentimental.
Because I think I’ll use it in the future.
Because I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I remember the circumstances around which I obtained it.
But now, I have a compelling urge inside of me to simplify my life, and I know that there are lasting sources of happiness aside from buying material goods, so I’ll find the strength to let go of the stuff that’s literally hanging onto me.
Now I need to be very clear: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy anything.
YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY BUY THINGS.
I’m also not saying that you should turn into some weird frugal freak who’ll buy scratchy toilet paper over the way better feeling soft ones.
YOU SHOULD SPLURGE ON THE THINGS THAT YOU WANT.
Because when you figure out that your happiness has nothing to do with the act of purchasing something, you’ll find that the things you buy actually will increase your happiness.
It’s funny how that works.
You’ll be able to see clearly and make decisions to buy things that will improve your life, not just make you feel good for a few minutes.
You’ll buy things that make you feel good as long as you have the item. Weeks, months, years – however long it lasts.
The best part is – you won’t feel bad about spending money anymore.
No more buyer’s remorse.
For me, I’m sure 2017 is going to be an even easier year to write about than this year – and I think I’ll remember clearly why I bought what I did.
Adding stats for this period:
I’ve added columns for time spent to fund my purchases.
I used the on-paper hourly rate of my first job.
Looking at it this way provides more perspective – it’s also way more scary.
During the height of my habitual spending period, I would spend nearly an entire work day each month to fund just my Amazon activity.
Take note, these hour figures are not yet accurate. They don’t account for taxes and other work-related overhead. They should be much higher in practice. I will updated once I figure out how much I actually made at my job.
2017: AMZN is overvalued
Update coming Jan 2018.