Stuff I learned in 2008

This year I realized how little Stuff matters. For more than four months, almost everything I owned was in a warehouse somewhere. Even when I got it into my place, I spent a good chunk of the year on the road – many miles away from my Stuff.

While unpacking I found many generations of electronics Stuff: more than a half dozen cell phones, three or four generations of MP3 players, two GPS units and miscellaneous gadgets and adapters of all kinds. Some of it is still in its original, unopened blister pack.

Then there’s the clothing Stuff: shoes I thought would look good but have never worn, souvenir T-shirts and clothes I might be able to fit into again if I went back to my high school weight.

And the kitchen Stuff: a breadmaker that hasn’t been used in three moves, an abundance of pots, shot glasses from around the world, promotional mugs, water bottles, etc.

Way more Stuff than you can stuff into a San Francisco apartment.

Stuff is bad. It costs money to buy, transport, store and dispose of. You worry about it getting lost, stolen or damaged. And there’s the environmental impact of Stuff.

I’ve been relatively good this year about acquiring new Stuff:
•    My electronics purchases have been limited to a digital camera and an iPhone.
•    I didn’t buy any souvenirs for myself, despite having traveled more than I have in any other year. (Not counting a couple of Aloha shirts I picked up in Hawaii.)
•    I didn’t buy any physical media such as CDs or DVDs.

I feel like a bad American for speaking out against buying Stuff, especially given the state of the economy. But I’ve been spending money on experiences, which in the end may be better for the economy. Eating at locally owned restaurants and staying in hotels generates more dollars than buying crap made in China.

And there’s the bonus that I get to see my friends.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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1 Response to Stuff I learned in 2008

  1. Alan says:

    Congrats on limiting your stuff in 2008! I know what you mean about having all that stuff in storage. Since our move, I reckon we’ve paid more in storage fees than what all the junk is worth . Also, I recall reading some study on “happiness” where experiences bring you more long-term happiness than stuff, so kudos on that!

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