Collecting, an american disease

You will see a few names thrown around on my site and one of them is Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is the author of the book “The Total Money Makeover” and has a radio show and podcast called “the Dave Ramsey Show”. The main focus of Dave Ramsey’s books and show is to deal with life issues as it relates to money. I was reading an article from his site that caught my attention. It really spoke to me because it talked about an issue I needed to deal with called contentment it discussed that we try to say… I will be happy if I get this… I will be happy if I get that and the truth is we need to learn to be content with what we got. Contentment is being at peace with ourselves and realize that stuff won’t make us content. Another thing he pointed out in the article is that we all suffer from a disease called “Stuffitis” which is the love of STUFF. Check out the article here. It is worth reading.

This is one problem that I and many others have to deal with on a daily basis. Even though I am much better than I used to be I still suffer from “Stuffitis”. Sometimes it is a new model computer that comes out that I just HAVE TO HAVE. Maybe it’s the latest CD I have to have from some old band I liked… I may not like the band as much anymore but I got albums 1 thru 10 why not buy 11 too complete my collection.

I have collected many things that I felt I just had to have. Like an itch that I have to scratch. The funny thing is I lie to myself too. I say things like… If I had that I would be happy… I get whatever that is… but then my focus locks on to something else that I have to have. Kinda pathetic but I know I am not alone. It was much like the Tribbles from a classic 60s Star Trek episode “Trouble with Tribbles”. The Tribbles were cute harmless, round, furry little creatures that purred but there was a catch… they were born pregnant and if you fed them just a little within minutes they would birth 10 more Tribbles. Soon the Enterprise was filled with these (so called) harmless tribbles and they didn’t know how to get rid of them. Stuff is a lot like that. If you decide to start a “collection” you will feel you have no choice but to “complete” the collection. Surprisingly this can get very stressful and take up a lot of time. Collectors, like I once was, when a new item would come out would feel as though they have to drive ALL over town to find that one item since by it being released made the formerly complete collection incomplete. HEAVEN FORBID!

How did I overcome this? I sold off, gave away, and threw out many of my collections of stuff. Do I still have some stuff?… YES… but no where near what I used to have. As I got rid of things I felt the stress that me it brought lifted. Here is another example of the stress stuff can bring… image you own a book that you planned on reading BUT it has been YEARS since you got the book and every-time you look at it you feel like you have to pick it up and read it. If you give away that book you no longer have the pressure to read it. I got rid of A LOT of books. I kept just a few that are fun to reread, reference books, or books that I can loan/give to friends who can learn from the valuable info it provides.

One area I need to work on is collecting music. I have SO much music that I have bought over the years that I it says on iTunes that it would take me over 20 days nonstop to listen to it all. Before I purged my collection of music it was probably 3 or 4 times that! I have spent MORE time organizing my collection than I do listening to it. One thing I am doing to overcome this is I have made an absolute favorites list and new releases that I keep grouped together. I have a 4 Gig iPod where I keep those favorites. (I used to have a larger iPod but I spent too long to decide what I wanted to listen to) When I get tired of one of the albums I replace it with another one from my collection. I don’t buy a new album unless I absolutely love the music samples I heard.

A great tip I learned that helps me with my stuff collecting habits: Make an wish list. If you have an account there is a button on the pages for each item called the “wish list”. If you hit that button it creates a list for you of items you may want to purchase in the future. What I do is if something new comes out I add it to the list and I think about it for a few days and in some case do more research. I leave it on there until I have decided that I don’t want it. Sometimes after research and thinking about I decide to by the item. As I will say all over this site…. I am not perfect at this but as a general rule this has works pretty well for me.

Updated on: August 16th, 2007