The cost of ownership

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We just got back on Saturday from our month in Bali. Nice leaving Melbourne in the middle of winter, and coming home to what is definitely spring.

One of the cool things about going away is realising how little stuff you need. Mind you, with a baby there’s a little more stuff than we used to travel with … including the car seat, the port-a-cot, the pram etc. I would count ten bags every time we got off a plane and out of a taxi.

From a work perspective, all I had was my laptop bag. And not having an office full of stuff made exactly zero difference to my productivity.

While I was away I took the opportunity to renovate the office – re-plastered walls, fresh paint, new carpet. So we packed everything into boxes. And as I unpack the boxes back into the office I’m determined to only let the stuff back into the office that I will use. The stuff that will make the boat go faster.

There are twelve empty ring binders that aren’t making it back in. When I moved from Northcote to Fitzroy, I kept them … you never know when you’re going to need a ring binder. They also survived the move from Fitzroy to Eltham. And they’ve taken up the bottom row of the bookshelf ever since. It’s probably been a decade that I’ve been packing, unpacking and shelving these binders, yet I haven’t used one ring binder in all that time.

But no more! I’m liberating them, sending them out into the world where hopefully they can faithfully store double hole-punched documents for another more appreciative owner.

I think we underestimate the cost of owning stuff we don’t use. If you said to me, Pete, can you store a box full of binders for me for a decade, just put them out on a shelf and bring them with you whenever you move, there is no way I would say yes. If you wanted to pay me to do that, you would have to pay me a fair bit. But I’ve done it to myself just in case I need a $3 binder some time in the future.

Incidentally I’ve just been reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. One of their core values is do more with less. I love it.

Love to hear your thoughts – what’s the real cost of all the stuff you have but don’t use? You can leave them below.