My New Motto

Have Fewer Things, But Better Things.

— Suzanne Rheinstein —

I’m not sure what magazine I clipped this quote from, but this motto just really leaped out at me.  “Have Fewer Things, But Better Things.”  Why didn’t I ever think about that before?

Because we live in an age of NOW.  We want it now…not tomorrow…not six months from now.  We want the latest gadget, latest fashion trend, latest phone, latest car, latest social media platform NOW…not later.

We would rather not eat in order to buy a pair of $800 shoes now, instead of saving our money up to buy the shoes when they go on sale.  We want everything now, now, now, now….NOW!

Guess what?  We’re collapsing on ourselves by doing this to ourselves.  Accumulation…clutter…yep, most of us (including myself) are hoarders of something.  We are not minimalists at all. 

Well, frankly, I’m kind of sick of my clutter, so I’m making myself change by changing my belief system.  I’m forcing myself to live by the motto: “Have Fewer Things, But Better Things.”

So instead of furnishing my home with cheap stuff just because I need to furnish it somehow and give it character…I’m going to invest in more qualitative things now that most of the apartment actually is furnished.  Sure, I could add some character here and there with little cheap finds, but I can also upgrade my life by saving up for those better things. 

Think about it…say you need a new sofa (like I do).  Instead of getting another cheapo Ikea one because I need something NOW (and different)…I could just stick with the one that I have now, put a new slipcover on it to give it a new look, and start squirreling away for something that will be an upgrade to my current look.

Take for instance this “Cowling” Velvet Sofa from Horchow.  This classic beauty is $6,059.  It’s not something you would toss after 20 years…it’s something you would invest in for the long haul.

The point is learning to save for the bigger purchases instead of trying to buy everything NOW, NOW, NOW!  Sometimes we sacrifice on quality because we want to consume a lot of things NOW.  We then end up not happy with what we have and then end up buying more because we weren’t 100% happy with what we just brought home. 

Then that item ends up in some corner, or on the floor…basically in a place that is forgotten until we’re rummaging through and finding 50 of the same items, but none of them was the one item that made us happy.  We start to hoard collections of things until we get it right.  A lot of times, what we spent on the ‘didn’t make it’ pile ends up costing us more than the more expensive item cost to begin with that was the item we coveted the most.

Am I losing you?  Let’s talk fashion…

I am a purse hoarder.  My purses have their own closet…and now I’m shopping for a new armoire to put them all in.  Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to go through my collection to declutter it.  I have so many bags, I carry a new one every week.  I’m so backlogged on new bags versus old bags, that I’ve not been able to get back to carrying an old bag, because I still have another 20 new bags I still haven’t carried yet. 

I had to force myself to stop accumulating more bags.  That’s where that quote came in.  “Have Fewer Things, But Better Things.” 

So I changed my belief system about my purse collection.  I am now only adding couture designers.  Most are vintage right now, but for the new bags…I’m forcing myself to save up to buy the “Better” ones that will last for the next 50+ years that I can pass along to my daughters and granddaughters.  These are the Fendi, Prada, Valentino, Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent bags of the world.

If you know your purses, you know that all of these have a starting price of well over $1,000 for the bags that last a lifetime. 

Right now, I am coveting an Yves Saint Laurent bag to add to my collection.  My savings goal (I included the taxes) is $1,695.  Here is how I’m forcing myself to make it happen:

  1. Buy NO MORE BRAND NEW bags. {Exception on purse collection is if I find a vintage couture bag at a great price.}
  2. For every book I read (this is in conjunction with my 2012 New Year’s Resolution), I am putting the cost of the book into the jar.  So basically, if I got the book from the library (for free), I put the same amount into the jar that the book would have cost me if I had bought it, because basically I saved that amount by not buying the book.  If I actually bought the book I completed reading (and this could be any of the books in my library at home), I have to put 3x the amount into the jar, or take the money out of the jar that I paid for the book (to force myself to not spend money on books…so if I paid $13 for a book at the bookstore, I penalize myself and end up spending $52 for the book because 3x that goes into the jar and the $13 I used to pay for the book, or I lose $13 from the jar).  What happens to that $13 taken out?  Well, looks like I spent it on a book already.
  3. For every gift card I receive to Saks, that is a BONUS and is deducted from the amount I’m trying to save up.
  4. To curb my spending and to add to the jar faster, for each breakfast/lunch I do not buy during the week, that money goes into the jar.  That’s a savings of about $20 per day that could go into the jar.  That’s almost $400 saved every month.  That’s a great incentive to get me to take my meals to work!
  5. For every classic book I read, I put $25 into the jar (because it’s difficult to get through classic books or get myself to read them).  For every 10 classics I read, I add in an extra $250.  That gives me more incentive to read more classics!
  6. For each week that I successfully complete five days of exercise…I put $50 into the jar.  It’s not $10 per exercise day…five days per week have to be completed in order for the money to hit the jar.  This will force me to work harder on accomplishing my dream of having a yogalicious body when I hit 40. 

The point in creating these rules for myself was to help me accomplish other goals that are also important to me like my 2012 New Year’s Resolution to read 1 book every week (52 books a year).  Of those 52 books, 26 of them have to be classics.  So far I’ve read 22 books, only 2 of them were classics. 

Other belief systems I’m changing is how much I spend on what David Bach calls the “latte factor.”  Saving $400 per month to go towards my new motto…actually forces me to curb my spending on a daily basis.  If I’m willingly spending $20 per day, that’s $20 I’m not putting towards my new covet item.  What do I want more…the NOW factor or that INVESTMENT factor? 

I’ve found that when I write down what I eat/drink every day for the doctor’s office, I also keep tabs on what I spend.  I found a link between eating and spending in my life.  I find that when I’m healthier and making wiser decisions with what I put into my body (like cooking my own meals), what I spend is actually lower.  When I get careless with my food diary and my diet, my spending is also OUT OF CONTROL. 

I mentioned this to my doctor once and he thought it was the craziest thing…but I saw a correlation between the two.  It has a lot to do with the NOW factor and wanting everything NOW instead of saving and investing in what I really want out of my future.

So now that my main focus on my GOAL BOARD is going to be “Have Fewer Things, But Better Things,” I’m going to incorporate it in all walks of my life. 

When you think of your diet, think of having fewer, but better things.  When you think of buying that new handbag, don’t think of how many bags you can accumulate, think of buying a better handbag…one you’ve been really coveting that seems out of reach.  You’ll appreciate it more…just like I do my first Burberry and my first Fendi.

This is just one of the first steps I’m taking in changing my life for the better.  Sure, I’ll meet the girls once a month for dinner or some other activity, because happiness is important…and sharing time with your friends is important.  It just doesn’t have to be every single week. 

I am on spending lockdown right now.  I am making sure that I maximize my savings so that I can start investing in the future that I want.  Everyone wants a nice future filled with nice things.  We have to be the change NOW in order to have those things in the future.  Instead of instant gratification, learn the lessons from our Great Depression grandparents…save for the future. 

It takes a change in mindset to focus on what you want for your future.  We’re so busy living in the NOW, that we oftentimes forget that our future eventually becomes the NOW.  It’s best that we have that future covered too. 

For me, when I think about the future, I’m thinking about my future family, my future home, my future health, and my future retirement.  Those are the things that are important to me, but one lesson I learned from the head of one of the top law firms in the country a long time ago…don’t get so wrapped up in the future that you forget to live in the now.  Focus on the things that are important today, but don’t forget about tomorrow, because it will eventually become the now.


About Michelle Kenneth

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