Do you have ‘enough’?

CC image via Flickr: Matthew Kennedy

Many years ago, I was travelling to school with friends and the conversation turned to ‘how much money we wanted to earn’ when we got older. I would have been about 13 at this point.

When it came to my turn, I remember saying something that equated to: “I’m not bothered about being super-rich, just having enough to get by.”

After I’d said it, I heard the woman sitting next to me chuckle. Clearly, I’d said something highly amusing to her, though at the time I had no idea what.

Now I relate the story, I sound horribly precocious, but the thing is I never craved ‘stuff’ as a kid.

I didn’t grow up exactly poor in the 70s/80s, but what I had was precious to me. The toys, books and cassettes I owned were something to cherish. I listened to my tapes over and over again. I re-read my copies of the Hardy Boys novels till the pages were starting to fall apart. And I also assumed they would last for years and I had no intention of getting rid of them.

And almost 40 years after that experience on the train, I can still – hand on heart – say that I don’t particularly crave stuff and, by and large, am not a heavy consumer. Generally, I have ‘enough’.

I rarely throw food away – preferring to scrape/cut off the mould and risk a dodgy tummy, rather than waste something.

I still have shirts that I bought 20 years ago that fit and look good (and that’s not just in the eye of this beholder). I have a few pairs of shoes that are also that old – and, no, they haven’t fallen apart either.

More recently, we’ve been having a clear-out at home. After many years, it was time to say goodbye to many of those aforementioned cassettes and videos that I’ll never listen to/watch again, jettison clothes that are too old or threadbare, and offload books that I’m never likely to open again. I confess it was a wrench.

What surprised me more was the difficult I found in passing on the stuff. One Sunday afternoon, I had to visit four different charity shops before I could empty my car boot. It appears that they are overrun with other people doing something similar.

When I went to my local Oxfam bookshop, they were initially reticent about me dropping off two Ikea blue bags full of books – it was only when the volunteer looked at them closely and admitted ‘Actually, they’re a pretty good quality selection’, before they welcomed me in.

What I don’t know is if my attitude is a declining one or not. We’re in a climate emergency, where excess consumption (and all its attendant costs) is one of the biggest contributors.

For all the success of The Repair Shop and rise of similar ‘repair cafes’, I still don’t believe the throwaway consumer culture is waning quickly enough.

Quality and durability costs, yet people appear to be unwilling to stick with something they’ve owned for years, in favour of the shiny new (invariably cheap) kid on the block.

Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert fame has had his ‘money mantras’ (see below) running for years – yet, I still don’t think people pay enough attention to them.

If you’re not skint

  • Will I use it?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Have you checked the prices elsewhere?

If the answer is NO, don’t buy it!

These chime perfectly with my ‘enough’ thought. Sure, it may make me sound old and set in my ways – and I’m not saying I don’t buy things – but I’d prefer to know that I’ve got the most out of what I bought, rather than it adding to landfill.

Do you have ‘enough’? And if not, what does ‘enough’ look like to you? Tell me in the comments…

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