One of my all-time favorite comedy skits was the 1970’s George Carlin – A Place for My Stuff. The purpose of the house being a place for your stuff. He poked holes at how we keep buying more and more stuff. If you want a few laughs, take a listen.
I had the pleasure of hearing Jerry Seinfeld live, and his emotionally biting skit on how we feel about our stuff, from the initial allure at purchase is replaced by its eventual diminished enjoyment value as it goes from the main house into the garage and finally to its resting place- the trash or storage bin. He joked about stuff and talked about it like it was a person that went from being a big part of your life and then diminishing to no part of your life. If you want a few more laughs, take a listen.
What these genius minds uncovered and warned about, is that some of us maybe have an unhealthy relationship with inanimate objects.
The American consumer likes cars, clothes, appliances, electronics and furnishings. The new cars in the fall, the new lines of clothes by seasons, the new appliances, the new electronics, and the list goes on and on. I recall many news stories about the economy and consumer confidence being up or down, and it felt almost obligatory to go out and shop to do your part to keep the good times rolling. We are all being lumped into a category and simultaneously an economic indicator, but after 2008, there may be a fundamental shift happening. People are being more careful how they spend their money, especially on stuff.
Have we always bought so much stuff? Going back to the period just after WWII, it was promoted to be patriotic to purchase stuff, especially US MADE stuff, such as houses, cars, refrigerators, toasters, dishwashers, and clothes washers / dryers, etc. Later on the stuff was expanded to clothes and furnishings, as individual identity and status became more important to all of us.
What was discarded in this shopping spree was those old-fashioned immigrant values of prudence, thrift and community. They were replaced over time with irresponsible debts, insatiable choices, and more cocooning inside the ever-expanding entertainment home. The multi-pronged assault on the consumer by newspaper ads and TV ads was relentless. The creativity of the ads surpassed oftentimes the entertainment value of the shows or sports (i.e. many Superbowl games). The stores started to open Sundays and stay open later hours and shopping was now a national pastime, and for many a true sport, especially on Black Friday – the Superbowl of shopping.
The crafty ads were then sprinkled with clever finance options such as zero down, no payments until whenever, and voila you did not have to wait for the stuff you never knew you did not need but suddenly could not do without. Unfortunately, there was no disclaimer, that you may be paying interest long after you are bored of the stuff.
There is another layer to the shopping phenomenon, and it happens in the brain. When you buy something you want, you get a shot of feel good dopamine. So, it feels good to buy stuff, and sometimes so good, that it is even better than wearing or using the stuff. There is no warning on the label, contents will not nearly be as enjoyable after this date.
If we all think about experiences as lasting all your lifetime, and stuff as disposable or temporary, the entire trend could be on the path to being reversed. Millennials seem to have already clued into this, as they are buying so much less stuff, but instead spending money on experiences. It seems that their Baby Boomer parents, have started to say” hey wait”, and they are catching up to their Millennial kids’ way of thinking, as they smart size and are catching up on experiences. Many psychologists have written on the longer emotional benefit that a trip or experience will provide over the purchase of an object.
At Grenadier Homes, we provide an opportunity for those that want to smart size, to live in a super-efficient home, just dramatic enough to encourage luxurious yet economical furnishings, and most importantly, low maintenance and lower total cost of ownership which allows you to start accumulating memories and experiences, guilt free of leaving the home.
So, if someone asks what the key motto of most GrenadieriansTM is? They will likely say, we chose to smart size and buy less stuff, so we can live life as though the vacation never ends.