How much stuff should we own?

Consumerism and minimalism each have an answer for us. Consumerism says, “Own as much as you can afford (or even a little more).” Minimalism, says “Own as little as you can get away with.”

Both answers are a little simplistic.

Consumerists who own lots and lots of stuff are forced to spend considerable resources (time and money) caring for their stuff—possessions need to be maintained, fixed and replaced.

Extreme minimalists who own only the bare minimum are forced to spend those same resources (time and money) buying or borrowing rarely-needed items and paying others to do things for them which they no longer have the equipment to do.

Instead of choosing sides, we’re better off striking a balance. And I say that as a formerly zealous minimalist who’s moved back toward the center a bit. How much stuff to own, then?

The right amount of stuff is the amount that allows you to expend as little time and energy as possible on your stuff, therefore maximizing the amount of time and energy available for the activities and people who are most important to you.

For many of us, that’s less than we own now. For a few people, it’s more.

But the point is that stuff shouldn’t be the point.