This is the fourth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?
The middle portion of the first chapter focuses on the “fulfillment curve,” which basically refers to the idea that once you reach a certain level of luxury in your life, anything beyond that level is merely diminishing returns.
I believe pretty strongly in this phenomenon. Let’s say, for instance, that I decide to buy a new game for my Nintendo Wii. I find three in the store that seem interesting. Almost always, I am far better off just buying one of them than buying all three, and the reason has nothing to do with money.
If I just buy a single game, I take it home and just deeply enjoy that single game, playing through it and discovering the nooks and crannies within. However, if I took home all three games, I’d end up playing games for the same amount of time that I would otherwise and not enjoy each individual game as much.
One of the deep problems of consumerism is that the average American tends toward buying more. They would rather have more stuff that, per item, they have less time to enjoy than less stuff that, per item, they have more time to enjoy.
This is connected directly with the clutter problem, also discussed here. This tendency to buy extra luxury items gradually fills a home with lots of clutter – unnecessary stuff that just sits there taking up space when the money invested could be used to help build a more fulfilling life.
Clutter doesn’t end there, though. Anything simply wasted in your life is clutter, from unused time spent just wandering aimlessly around a store or sitting and staring blankly at a television (why not take a nap, at the very least?). Perhaps your emotional life is filled with clutter, as you spend time and money trying to continue relationships that no longer fulfill you.
Can you think of sources of clutter in your life? Almost always, identifying sources of clutter and then scaling them back until you hit that sweet spot on your fulfillment curve is worthwhile. This is just the beginning, though – finding the real root causes of that need for clutter and treating that cause is transformative.
Tomorrow, we’ll finish up the first chapter, focusing on the section “Step 1: Making Peace With The Past.” That section is on pages 29 through 39 in my paperback version of the book.