Author Topic: Is it ok to desire material possessions?  (Read 4559 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« on: July 27, 2014, 12:18:46 PM »
I want to own nice things.

Be it a better bed, furniture, clothing or sports equipment.

I'm not wanting to buy everything and anything. I'm quite minimalist in the way I own things, but I don't want to own cheap and nasty things either. I just don't want to have a sofa that smells with rips and stains all over it. I don't want clothes that are hand downs or a bike that is clunky and old.

Do you think it is still ok to want better things for yourself that add true value to your life?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 12:49:03 PM »
I think its ok you desire whatever you desire, and want whatever you want as long as you deep down really know why you want it. If it adds true value to your life, why not?

I am frugal and a minimalist myself, but I desire and want to have a nice laptop for example as it adds value to my life true my hobbies of writing, running websites and so on.

Its the reason for wanting that is important and makes the while difference in my opinion.

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  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 01:23:26 PM »
I've rarely regretted spending money on quality, it's usually the cheap purchases that create most buyer remorse for me.  "Quality" does often mean second-hand furniture, clothes and cars.  (Charity/thrift shops in expensive areas often have more better quality/designer clothes than those in cheaper areas.)

Buying something you like, that is good quality and will last, and then looking after it with proper care, cleaning and maintenance is a lot more Mustachian than buying cheap that doesn't last and needs to be replaced.

Buying almost anything is of course subject to not having a hair-on-fire debt emergency.   If you do, then throw out the ripped and smelly sofa and sit on the floor until you can get a good one.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 04:38:06 PM »
WE tend to buy our wood furniture for life. For example we paid a lot for our bedroom set.  However, I got an awesome coffee table & 2 end table in excellent condition at a consignment shop.  WE usually buy couches new but did buy one from someone rich for a great price & it was in great condition.  Use both strategies but make sure that you are the kind of person that will not tire of things & want the newest style.  If so don't buy new because you will lose too much $.


  • Guest
Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 06:31:20 PM »
Quality != most expensive and some really cool stuff can be had with patience secondhand. I wouldn't buy fabric furniture secondhand (risk of bedbugs, etc) but wood or leather absolutely.

It's also about deciding what's important. Do I want this thing NOW, or would I rather have the compounded interest on that in 10 years?

But through it all, Mustachianism is about how to live frugally, but fancily. It blew me away when I realized my family could live our current lifestyle on an income at the federal poverty level. We don't feel poor at all.


  • Guest
Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 07:11:43 AM »
I like nice things too.  But they shouldn't define you or drive your decision making.  A favorite Sufi story (a Sufi is an Islamic mystic):  Once upon a time a Sufi heard about a famous rich counterpart.  Sufis by choice and necessity normally live in poverty and their possessions are normally the clothes on their back, a begging bowl, and maybe a staff.  The poor Sufi went to visit the rich one to see if it was true. And it was.  The rich Sufi lived in luxury with servants, dancers, musicians, fine clothes, fine houses, camels and furniture.  He was so rich his fancy tents were secured to the ground by gold stakes!  The poor Sufi was aghast and after an interview the rich Sufi told him he would discuss the matter at length with him on a pilgrimage to Mecca.  They would start early the next morning to beat the heat.  The next morning they left and the poor Sufi noted the rich one dressed as a simple traveler and made no attempt to bring his stuff or entourage.  The two set out on foot and five miles down the road or so the poor Sufi realized he'd left his begging bowl behind. He'd had it a long time and was fond of it.  So he asked his companion if they could turn back and get it.  The rich Sufi laughed and said "I left everything behind and you would delay the holy journey for a simple bowl?  Truly, my tents are secured with gold stakes.  But they're nailed into the ground, not my heart."


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2014, 07:57:50 AM »
I want to own nice things as well and quality too. Just be patient in buying them as so you can stay in your savings range. They still offer great deals on quality too so patients will help you save there.  And as you said said since your a minimalist pick and choose which items you want them to be and have no guilt about it!


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2014, 08:24:16 AM »
Well-fitting clothes make you feel better about yourself and motivated to go out and socialize; good furniture makes you want to spend time in your home; a good bike makes you want to get out and ride, and so on and so on. As long as the pleasure in the things is in the *use* of them rather than in the actual act of purchasing them alone, I think this is absolutely natural.


  • Bristles
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2014, 08:55:26 AM »
I think it's fine to desire material things.  It just depends on whether or not you act on that desire, and if you do act on that desire, is it in line with your means, or wildly out of reach?

Case in point, I wanted a nice office chair - specifically, an Aeron - for years.  They're really expensive, partially because of their quality, but also because they're partially a status symbol (also, famous as seating of choice for many of the dot-bomb companies!)  They normally go for around $1,000, new.  I had a contact who sells furniture directly to companies and could get me one for just under $600, new, with shipping and tax.  I got my first sales bonus (several thousand dollars), and that was my 'splurge' - I bought the damn chair, after wanting one for years.

Now, I still own the chair (5 years or so later), and I will probably own it for another 5 at a minimum - perhaps more.  But that is not what makes this purchase OK.  Here, for me, is what DOES make this purchase OK:
  • This kind of spending is not usual for me
  • I bought it in cash
  • I got a good deal on it, despite a price tag which - in isolation - seems crazy high to me
  • It's a good quality item which I use every day
  • It has no ongoing costs associated with it
  • This purchase occurred in the midst of much better solid financial habits (case in point, I saved something like 70% or maybe more of that bonus and put it towards my long-term savings).
  • My overall financial situation was excellent (no debt, high retirement savings, good savings rate, e-fund was fully funded)
I think when you get away from these points, you start venturing into the realm of Bad Financial Decisions.  Particularly:
  • Does it have ongoing costs?
  • Do you have the rest of your financial house in order?
  • In the context of the rest of your spending and saving, is this out of line?
Everyone is different.  For some people on this site, dropping $10,000 on an expensive vacation with their family would be a fine (albeit unusually spendy) expense.  For other people, dropping $100 on dinner and drinks would be an unimaginably bad choice, given their current situation.

So, to answer your question: Is it ok to desire material possessions?

Yes.  We're only human.  But as far as acting on those desires - see my points above.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Is it ok to desire material possessions?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2014, 09:07:56 AM »
Something my mom did for a lot of furniture in our house: Went to an auction at a place 30 minutes ago in an expensive district. It was a high-end design furniture store going out of business. She bought beautiful wooden tables, fabric rolls, lamps, chairs, anything you could ever want. The auctioneer was moving so fast that she couldn't even think twice about any item. I think she ended up paying $1500 for over $10,000 retail.