MOVarazzi

Monday, July 2, 2012

807. I Want Less

Have those three little words ever been uttered by an American?  It struck me the other night when I was watching back-to-back episodes of HGTV's House Hunters:  No. 

The first show featured a young professional woman who was looking for her first condo and had a limited budget.  She lived in Los Angeles, had $350,000 to spend, and desperately wanted a washer and dryer in her unit.  The chirpy realtor crinkled up her nose and said, “Ooh.  Hmmm.  Probably not in that price point.  You would have to increase your budget to over $400,000 to get those kinds of amenities,” (so, having clean clothes is an amenity?).  Then Ms. Realtor proceeded to show Young Professional three condos, none with washer dryer, all the while touting the virtues of the Laundromat down the street, or how Young Professional could petition the condo board to allow her a variance to install a stacking unit in her kitchen.  I wanted to scream at the TV:  “For $350,000, just give her the washer dryer!  It’s all she cares about!”    
The next episode introduced a wealthy older couple with two large incomes and three larger dogs.  The wife on that episode put the dogs’ happiness first.  “Is there a yard for the dogs?” she asked her realtor about each prospective listing.  Their budget was considerably more than Young Professional:  a cool four million.  I noticed the husband was rather blas√© about the laundry room that had its very own view of the mountains.  “Did you notice that the yard is a little close to the neighbors?” whispered the wife to her husband while surveying the patio adjoining the pool and tennis court. 
I kept thinking how Young Professional would be thrilled to own a house like that with its spacious laundry room.  She would not even really need the pool—it could be a bonus.  And then I wondered what type of house would appeal to the multi-millionaire couple:  a five million dollar house?  six? seven?
Why is it that we all want just a little bit more than what we have, than what we can afford? 
We are conditioned to want, want, want.  We chase after that elusive “thing,” only to get it and be immediately dissatisfied.  How many times have you bought something you just had to have (the latest gadget, a new outfit, some decoration for the house) only to get it home and feel vaguely remorseful?  The “thing” did not fill the void.  Oh, sure, we all get that momentary “buyer’s high”:  the thrill of the hunt has produced the object of our desire, and now we capture it.  If we could only capture that happiness that comes with it, lock the happiness in a cage and revisit it, saying, Yes, laundry room, I am so happy to have you, I will never take you for granted I promise! 

Instead of “Did you notice that the yard is a little close to the neighbors?” how about, “How lucky can I get.” 

MOV 

38 comments:

  1. When I was married, I lived in a big, fancy house. I hated it because when you have a big, fancy house, all you ever do is clean said big, fancy house. I got rid of the husband and the house. Now I live in a cute little house, and I'm much happier. The New Mrs. X is welcome to the the X and the house, and she can spend the rest of her life cleaning the place. I now have less, and I'm quite pleased.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. yay, Janie! I think you have a great attitude! More DOES mean more cleaning, and then less $$ to do it with!

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  2. Amen. I am actually quite happy that we have a small house because it means we can't just get a bunch of stuff to fill it up. Don't get me wrong, we have plenty of stuff, but there's not a huge urge to buy for the sake of buying. This was a great post! (And I agree, seems that for $350,000 the professional should be able to have her OWN laundry area! Sheesh.)

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    1. small houses are good that way, huh?

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  3. I am sure said agent was not at the laundromat doing HER laundry. I do not remember those days fondly. She should hold out for the laundry!

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    1. oh, I hated going to the Laundromat in college! (but I did meet a cute guy there once and we ended up dating for a few months, although it is strange now to think that he saw my bras and underwear on the folding table before he knew my name..........)

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  4. I agree with Janie and thescousewife, more house means more cleaning and more space you "need" to fill. It's funny, ever since we decided our dream home would be a tiny house, I've stopped wanting to buy every little knick-knack or piece of artwork I run across. Instead I ask myself, "Is this just one more thing we'll have to get rid of when we downsize?" It's oddly liberating. Even if you never intend to live in a tiny house, pretend you do when you go shopping. It will work wonders.

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    1. Amen, sister!!!! this is why I like you. Haley = Smart.

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  5. This is such a great post! And a great reminder!

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  6. So very true. People are greedy! When I played poker, no matter how much money someone made, there was always something more to get. I started falling into this mindset, and it was one of the reasons I quit. Because I realized that there was never a point you could reach to "win" and then that be it.

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    1. These moments of self-examination, we know the right answer. And it does not have to do with "more" (unless we are talking about chocolate......)

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  7. Thanks for the reminder. Be grateful for what you have, at any moment it could all be taken away. Beautiful post!

    Konstanz Silverbow
    nothoughts2small.blogspot.com

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  8. Exctly! I loved my big, honkin' house, but it was a time sucker. Now, I love my little teeny house, but it is a money sucker. But I would not trade either one of them; they were/are perfect for where we were/are in our lives right now!

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    1. I like your positive attitude!

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  9. Hear, hear! I have made it my constant mantra over the last few years: "I have enough. I have enough."
    Eventually you just have to dust it all anyway.

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  10. Or live in an RV, travel the country. Before you move into it you must downsize, downsize and downsize some more.

    Your life choices become very thought out.

    Susan
    http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com

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    1. love it! when I was traveling around Europe backpacking with friends during a study abroad program in college, I realized pretty fast with anything I bought, oh, I have to carry all this!!! Yikes!

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  11. As I am a Realtor and have been for 26 years, I am here to tell you that most (let's exclude you and all your readers..ok) people are nuts when it comes to buying a house. They tell me their only requirement is 4 bedrooms and they can't go over 300K. Then I show them 100 trazillion houses and none suit them. They end up buying a 2 bedroom condo that costs 500K because the kitchen is the prettiest shade of terra cotta.

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    1. and now I am painting my kitcen terra cotta, thanks for that.

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  12. MOV, we are brainwashed and conditioned by Corporate North America to never be satisfied with what we have, a.k.a. they ensure a groomed society of shoppers. They ensure we become ever more selfish and hedonistic, and spend, spend, spend. We are trained to be spending, trained monkeys that watch television with jaws agape, and in reality live in a cage no matter HOW big the 'castle' is, or whether it has a $100,000 washer & dryer or not. It seems we have become incredibly apathetic and even worse, totally STUPID.
    Q: When will we learn? Ans: a) Never, b) when the world's resources run out, or c) when we spot a fancier condo, sports car, or golden golf club (d) whichever comes FIRST. ":o

    www.incomingbytes.blogspot.com

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    1. wow. just wow.

      great insights, Raymond! thanks!

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  13. I love downsizing, dumping stuff. I'm reading a great book called "7" by Jan Hatmaker. Her journey of simplifying her life. Funny too. If we wouldn't compare ourselves to others, we'd be happy.

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    1. I gotta check out that book! thanks!

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  14. Maybe it's because I've never had to buy a house...but shouldn't it be more about what you do with the house than what the house looks like? Who really obsesses over that once they actually live in it?

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    1. i always thought it was about the location, but now I know it is about the bathroom tile..........

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  15. I have always wanted just as much as I need. Every now and then, I dream of living in a castle, but then I would have to hire help, and there's something about having a stranger wash my underwear that I am just not comfortable with.

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    1. hmmm, castles do have their drawbacks that way, don't they?

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  16. All excellent thoughts. I recently wrote a post called When is Enough, Enough? that discussed the same book mare ball talks about a few comments above mine. The full title is 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It's about a woman who tries to live with "less" of something different for each of seven months. A thought-provoking and life-changing book.

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    1. I read a great book a few years back about a woman who gave up shopping for one year. She was only allowed to buy food. It was a great book. I tried to do something similar about 4 years ago, and although I was not 100% successful, it did help me!

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  17. UGH! Househunters! My kids are hooked, and I fear it sends them a bad message sometimes, so I have no choice but to call out the people's bad behavior...loudly! If a house is $75,000 under your budget--must you stand and whine about the paint color in the spare bedroom?!?!

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    1. It does send a weird message, that this is how everyone lives when the reality is that many people cannot afford to buy a house at all and will most likely rent for most of their lives. :(

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  18. As a dog owner...a large fenced yard was number one on our must-have list. As in - we weren't going to compromise on that. And it's not just for the dog's happiness...it's for the owner's sanity! So yeah, I've never had a budget of 4 mil (bahahahaha!), but I can understand the need for a yard!

    I do think that there's this sense of general unease and dissatisfaction in our culture. I think it's because we're so disconnected from each other, our extended families, our communities, the land. We're trying to fill a void that can't be filled with stuff.

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    1. "We're trying to fill a void that can't be filled with stuff."

      Powerful words, Stephanie!

      You are right that we are becoming very disconnected from people.

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  19. I was so afraid of moving into an RV from a two bedroom house, but consoled myself with thee knowledge that it would be temporary. In the two years since we made the move, we have decided that it shall be permanent. We aren't distracted by all those THINGS that we had in a house that we don't miss in this RV. Life is so much simpler this way, even though our RV didn't come with a washer/dryer.

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When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)