The time a person has to enjoy life versus the time a person spends accumulating material goods.Wordspy

As the quote explains, the joy-to-stuff ratio is basically the relationship between the amount of time you spend earning money and the amount of time you have to “enjoy” that money. There’s no point in working 7 days a week doing extra jobs during the weekend to have no time to enjoy yourself.

This is probably the term that has had the biggest influence in my life for the past year or so. I remember reading about it on Kottke and thinking it was brilliant, I suggest you check out the related terms, there are some very clever words there.

I’ve moved five times since I came to the UK. One for the original trip, a second time I moved from one room at Nunnery Court residence to another one in a different block, this summer I moved a third time to a house for two months, the fourth I moved for a week or so to a friends house and the final move was to where I’ve been living for the past month. I’ve moved three times in the space of three months this summer.

When I first moved to the UK, all I brought fit in a suitcase and one of those bags with wheels, the kind airline pilots, stewards and businessmen carry. During the two years at Nunnery Court I collected a lot of crap, two desktop computers, three CRTs, books, papers, lots of papers and a lot of other random computer equipment (including a small UPS). I knew from the first summer, moving from one room to another, that moving all that stuff was going to be a huge pain in the ass, so I plucked up the courage and did a savage purge. It was hard, I’m a natural hoarder and love to collect junk, I’m sure these 200 silver kitkat wrappings will come in handy at some point!, and I threw away tons of stuff, papers, clothes (I know, I know, I should have donated those, but at the moment I didn’t have the time), and even two CRTs and an old router. All in all it amounted to about four or five big bin bags (excluding the CRTs), considering I’d been living in a small residence room that’s quite a lot of junk. It was such a relief to through all the stuff away, it actually felt good, probably because I’d managed to get over my knee-jerk reaction of collecting stuff.

I then proceeded to move to a house, but since I knew I’d only be there for two months I didn’t unpack, I left everything in boxes and bags, and just used my suitcase and laptop. And then when I moved to my friends floor for a week I obviously didn’t unpack, and then when I moved to my new house, initially it was only temporary stay, I didn’t bother unpacking either. And this finally brings me to my point, I’ve been living off a suitcase and a laptop for the past three months and I haven’t needed anything else. I’ve made heavy use of my bike, books, laptop, clothes and that’s it, as a matter of fact that’s all I’ve unpacked since moving in to my new house (my clothes are still in the suitcase, but that’s just me being lazy).

And then coincidence happens last weekend and I talk to some dude about some totally unrelated topic and he mentions he’s reading a book on simple living. I’m not saying I’m going to go totally hardcore and go live in a farm, but I think one paragraph nails it:

Some people who practice voluntary simplicity act consciously to reduce their need for purchased services or goods and, by extension, their need to sell their time for money. Some will spend the extra free time this generates helping their family or others in a voluntary way. Others may spend the extra free time to improve their own quality of life, with less regard for the well being of others.

It’s not so much about having only a few things as much as it is about not having shit you don’t need.

Do I really need

  • an SUV to take my kids to school?
  • a 42 inch plasma screen?
  • more shoes?
  • a new mobile?
  • a new bike?
  • new stuff?
  • more stuff?

The joy-to-stuff ratio concept is not about going absolutely minimalistic or anywhere near it either, what the hell, we all like to have toys and gadgets to play around with. The joy-to-stuff ratio concept is about not making a lifestyle out of it.

I seriously don’t understand these people who just have to have new stuff, and they obviously need to let you know they have a better [insert physical possesion here] than you.

Why work a job you hate to buy shit you don’t need? Why get yourself in so much debt trying to out-do the neighbors and friends? What is the air speed of an unladen swallow?

As you may or may not have noticed I have no clue where I’m going with this, I’m just rambling on and on, so I’ll finish it off.

Stuff is overrated but necessary, think before you buy. Is it really necessary? Is the cool factor worth the money?


4 Responses to The joy-to-stuff ratio

  1. Lila says:

    Hace poco salió en el mercurio la biografia de Thoreau y me impresionó esta frase (quizás un poco exagerada…..vivia tipo ermitaño….):
    For more than five years I maintained myself thus solely by the labour of my hands, and I found, that by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.
    Yo tambien tengo que tirar cosas…….

  2. Ingi says:

    ¿Cuando vaya a visitarte voy a tener que vivir en una carpa y pescar mi alimento? :P

    Muy interesante el post, te estás convirtiendo en todo un jipi. Yo también tendría que tirar cosas, como…todas las entradas de cine que colecciono, todos los recortes de revista que nunca vuelvo a mirar, las +50 revistas de viajes que guardo para cuando tenga platita, los zapatos de cuando tenía 15 años que NUNCA voy a usar pero guardo for if the flies…

    Ahora que lo pienso, donar sangre también podría funcionar como “tirar” cosas que no necesitás :D si en diciembre peso suficiente voy a donar, y podés acompañarme y deshacerte de toda esa sangre que no usás

  3. corsaria says:

    Bue… si piensas deshacerte de algúna cosita hardware… acuérdate de mí. :P
    Aún tengo espacio libre en mi cueva… :-)

  4. Ben the Geek says:

    Dude, I really did *need* that big ass TV.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.