How much of what you spend money on has value in 10 years?

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This afternoon, while I was listening to a personal finance audiobook (dork, I know) I was challenged to consider how much of what I spend money on has value in 10 years. When I thought about it, there’s very little that I have owned for more than 10 years. Even the houses and cars I’ve bought haven’t lasted that long.

In fact, I had to think really hard to come up with anything I’ve spent money on that has actually stayed in my life for that long, and sadly, it’s not much. Here’s what I came up with…

  • A paint suit from Zara (I’m just ecstatic it still fits me)
  • One pair of Lulu tights that desperately need to be retired
  • About 10 pieces of art
  • A wine carafe – wait, that was actually a gift
  • My investments

That’s all I can think of. I asked my husband to list what he’s owned for 10 years and he couldn’t come up with much more than that.

The reality is that most of the things we own don’t last that long (except for our investments). I think this has financial implications for sure. I mean, think of all the things you’ve purchased over the course of your life, and what percentage of it still belongs to you and adds value to your life. It certainly does make you think differently about the money you spend from day to day.

what you value in 10 years

But there’s another implication here that’s much more terrifying. It’s the environmental footprint of all our discarded belongings. Think about it – 100 years or more ago, people kept kitchen utensils, clothing, furniture, and tools for a lifetime and then passed down what remained to their offspring. Things were cherished and maintained. Now they’re just discarded and replaced. Where do you think all that stuff goes?

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I was watching an H&M commercial yesterday and I saw a pretty polka dot blouse for $9.99. That’s good news for us, because the cheaper clothes become, the less we pay for wardrobe updates. But the cheaper clothes get, the more inclined we’ll be to buy more and discard more. Consider also, the person on the manufacturing end of that garment, getting paid fewer and fewer cents on the dollar of a cheaper and cheaper garment.

While I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad about the purchases they make, (and I do love me some H&M), I do think it’s worth pointing out that we’re buying a lot of shit we barely use, rarely care about and can very easily do without.

Just something to consider as you go through your next 10 years. And the next time you click purchase on an item that will end up at your door in a few days, consider how long it will actually add value to your life.

Not that long I bet.

This musing is timely as I’m in the first week of my 30-day shopping ban. So far I have “admired, but not purchased” about $450 worth merchandise that probably wouldn’t have lasted a year. I am so glad I passed them up. Consider challenging yourself to 30-days of no shopping and see what comes up for you. I think you’ll find it very enlightening!

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