More stuff can only bring more worry

By Stew

I remarked to my wife the other day that if we have no major, unexpected financial calamities this year, our financial situation might be back to where it was in 2002-2003. That is, back before we had our second and third child, before we went down to a single income, before I learned to budget, before we moved and before we took sixteen months to sell our home in another state. In financial terms, back to a below average debt-to-income ratio, back to being in possession of an emergency fund and back to being able to again contribute to our retirement savings. I do not want to count our chickens before they hatch and I probably just jinxed our prospects, but being almost back to even is a nice feeling.

Then today I was sitting at a stoplight and a really slick, wide rim, dual exhaust SUV pulled up beside me and for an instant, I thought, “Boy, it would be nice to roll around town in one of those.” My next thought was, “why in the world would I ever want something like that?” Even if I could afford to purchase it without using a loan, a nice car is just another source of worry. I have enough trouble parking our minivan next to other vehicles at Walmart, much less a huge luxury ride without a scratch on it. Then it hit me:

I have become far more interested in debt freedom than in a nice car, house or clothes. I like knowing that while we do not have a whole lot in this world, but that we are not living beyond our means, either.

And I would not trade that place of contentment for the best house on the block. There are people all around us who own really nice stuff, but that stuff only ends up being a source of worry. Isn’t it interesting to look back on one’s life and realize that you were just as happy before you came across certain luxuries than before you got used to having them around? I recently purchased a new computer to use for blogging, homeschooling, etc. The one I purchased is not extravagant, but it is probably the most expensive thing that we own outside of our car. The other night I thought about what I would do with that desktop computer if, for some reason, we suddenly had to pack up and leave and all we could take with us was what would fit in our car – and my thoughts went immediately to that computer. How could I fit it in? Would it fit under a seat? Boy, it would be a shame to leave it behind! I am always puttering with it and warning the kids to stay away from it if they are eating or have dirt on their fingers . . .

Good grief! That pile of circuits and wires is a useful tool, but I am not sure that I can take the stress of ownership!

I want to heed the warning of Ecclesiastes 5:10-20:

Whoever loves money, never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun, wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.

This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him””for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work””this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

And be more like Matthew 6:25:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Article by Stew

Photo by yachtfan

5 Responses (including trackbacks) to “More stuff can only bring more worry”

  1. Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black Says:

    How does it go… “To whom much is given, much is required”? Reading this post reminded me of that, though I never thought of it in terms of material possessions before, but rather talents and personal traits and gifts. Kind of funny, really, because for your point you could say: “To whom much [stuff] is given, much is required!”

  2. micki Says:

    whoo-hoo preach it stew! great article, great place to get to in your life where you realize that owning more = more worry, stress and headache! God bless you and your family…

  3. prasti Says:

    your comment of about the stress of ownership reminds me of how stressful it is to own a house. we’re living in the first house we’ve ever purchased, and before being a homeowner all we dreamed about was owning a home. how nice it would be to have our own house. to fix it up the way we want it. to make it look like this or add a little of that, etc. and now, sometimes we wish we were back to renting :).

    love this post. i wish i had come to this realization a lot sooner in my life.

  4. Abigail Says:

    I agree with this up to a point. There are a few things I would definitely like to get — like a second car — though it will probably lead to a headache. (And, if our first car dies, I am not sure we’d replace it immediately.)

    Then again, I’m looking at these purchases as future possibilities. It may end up being that, once we have the money, I won’t want to spend it.

    And I definitely know the feeling about more stuff=more worry/stress. I routinely have nightmares where I have to pack up whatever I can (but travel light) and, of course, everything won’t fit. The whole dream is a landscape of stress and frustration. (Though I find it weird that, when we were actually moving, I didn’t have this dream once!)

    I definitely wouldn’t want to acquire things for the sake of things — I love drooling over nice cars with my husband, but I really don’t care what I drive. And I’ve noticed that the more technology you get, the more you “need” — or at least the more you spend on its basic functions. (iPhone, I’m looking at you.)

    I’m glad you’re not completely depriving yourself. A nice laptop is definitely a great investment for a blogger, and one or two big splurges once in awhile, is a good way to remember that you don’t want a place crammed with little things.

  5. Jeff Turner, The Joker Brokers, Ltd Says:

    Owning more stuff is always more stress. I like the picture of the yacht. One of my best times of my life is when I bought one. One of the second best times of my life is when I sold the same one.