Expensive to Worthless: The First of Two Threes
“Things have a way of going from expensive to worthless pretty quickly.” That was my husband’s innocent observation that got me thinking.
He was helping me store a bolt of Belgian linen leftover from reupholstering chairs. And expensive it was. The estimate of the necessary yardage clearly over shot the mark. So the extra, which I’d yet to use, was taking up space, growing old and dusty, and would likely die a slow death. Possibly I’d find a use for it, but if I did, it would mean spending more time and money on something just to assuage guilt. That's the sad tale of how imported linen went from expensive to worthless in the space of a few weeks as the result of haphazard planning.
I thought the designer glasses an acquaintance wore were adorable. Mind you, she’s 25 years my junior and would have been seriously adorable without them, but they seemed like a good idea. Wrong, on so many levels! I am lucky to only need reading glasses so from a functional standpoint, any dime store variety does the trick. Since I don’t wear them all the time, I’ve found the best storage place is on the top of my head where their cuteness is largely wasted. The three for $10 readers I buy at the dime (now dollar) store stay put pretty well. The one for $300 from the optical store didn’t fare so well. That pair went missing. I was sure it would turn up soon. And I was right. I found them crushed beyond repair in the gravel driveway. I’ll not soon forget that I have a dime store head. My expensive to worthless purchase was the result of fanciful thinking.
Our Apple TV, DVR, and other mysterious devices reside behind a closet door, out of sight and out of mind- or at least the former. But when the door is opened, I’m reminded of these things we bought and paid to have connected, and yet have never once used. There are some 3-D glasses too that have some relation to the ‘smart’ TV, but we’re not smart enough to know or dumb enough to care. Our skilled installer knew how to make all this stuff work and even created a cheat sheet on how and when to use each of the four remotes. He was so steeped in his area of expertise that he couldn’t fathom someone not wanting an Apple TV or such. Rather than trusting ourselves, we let the audio/video pro drive the decision. This expensive to worthless exercise was the result of relying too heavily on the expert.
So what are the lessons? Beware of imprecise planning, fanciful thinking, and over-reliance on professionals. Banish unnecessary guilt. Trust yourself. And, be very careful about what you buy because once something makes the team, it's painful to cut it from the team. “Expensive to worthless” mistakes go a long way toward explaining why our wallets are so thin and our houses are so cluttered.
Priceless: The Second Three
Diamonds, set proud of the band, have been desired for centuries. Many are quite beautiful, but none do I remotely desire. I prefer a simple diamond band that can be worn for farm work and yoga. One I don’t have to fret will attract attention if I’m in a shady situation. That’s what I wanted years ago and it’s still what I want. And lucky me, it’s what I have. I knew my mind. I felt confident enough to keep the currents of conformity and style from setting me adrift. Moving with the masses isn’t inherently bad or spineless. Just be sure you want to be in that scrum. If not, step aside and do it your way.
Our car sans sunroof is the flip side of the audio/video mistake. Previous cars came with a sunroof as part of the package that benefits the car dealer but frequently not the consumer. And in many years of ownership of these previous cars, the sunroof was only opened once- when the salesman was showing off all the great features we’d surely love. Apparently we don’t love sunroofs. What we do love is a car roof that will never spring a leak and having one less gadget to malfunction.
A charm bracelet comprised of foreign coins in different shapes, sizes and metals is one of my favorite things. It brings back happy memories of visits to distant places, many seen before the Euro became a common currency. The jangling change was put aside when we returned from trips and largely forgotten. But seeing an ad for a pricy coin bracelet reminded me of the trove I had and inspired me to make something of it. A friend with a drill press made holes in each coin. A jewelry maker sold me the fixing and a helpful husband with steady hands helped with construction. I love the way it looks and feels. It has a cheerful jingle. I love that my daughter and daughter-in-law wanted one too and we had coins aplenty for theirs. It’s an earthier, more casual version of the classic gold charm bracelet. And I think it’s aptly named- charming. Taking something that was practically worthless- mostly obsolete coins and giving them a new lease on life- priceless.
What are the lessons here? If you don’t like where the herd is going, you’d better not follow. Features you don’t like or need are more aptly called ‘mistakes’. Know your mind. Less can be more. Just because something isn’t fit for the purpose it was originally intended, doesn’t mean it is useless. It can in fact, be not just useful but beautiful.
Mindfulness with your possessions ensures that the “priceless” parts of your life will greatly outnumber the “expensive to worthless” ones. In short, think before you do.