I’ve recently had several discussions, with a variety of people, about things I might like to own, but am not willing to at this stage in my life, and an interesting meta-discussion on the matter with my mother. The reactions seem to imply this is an unusual enough idea that it is interesting simply for being novel, even though it seems perfectly logical (in my mind anyway).
The basic premise of my willingness to own things, in addition to the normal “will I derive pleasure/utility commiserate with the expenditure” sort of thought (which tends to make me not want much anyway), is dictated by the following argument “I shouldn’t buy anything that will still be around in a year, I will want to keep, and I won’t be able to keep if I am in graduate student housing in another state.” I tend to use MIT as the straw man because 1. There is awesome stuff going on there, that I would like to be involved with, and 2. The housing situation in Boston sucks, because, well, Boston continues to be a dense population center for no reason I can discern.
It’s never really made sense to me to buy nice things knowing I’ll have to give them up, when I can simply wait until it is more convenient, and the fact that this attitude keeps my living expenses ridiculously low is a nice bonus. I use the titular set as an example, because they pretty well cover all the angles of the idea, and the set tends to have at least something that makes sense to anyone I am talking to. To elaborate a little bit (Topic/Desire/Reason Not/Holdover Solution):
Pets: I’ve always had cats, and love having them around v. not generally allowed in student housing. So, enjoy the house mate’s cats for now.
Power Tools: I love fabricating things v. space, weight, mess; this is about large stuff, not hand drills and rotary tools. The flip side is I’m getting REALLY good at improvising things with hand tools.
Firearms: Shooting is fun, and I currently reside in a region where it is a widely accepted hobby v. not generally allowed in student housing, legal concerns depending on locale, and incompatibility with my desire to avoid keeping a car. The fact that it is an area where there are people who shoot means I know people who periodically invite me along, and thus I get to shoot for only the cost of range fees and ammunition.
Furniture: It would be nice to accrue nice stuff for storage and work areas while I’m in a gigantic nice house v. space, student housing is typically mostly furnished. Because I mostly compute on laptops, my desk is “enough” space, and there is an improvised workbench in the garage made of a headboard and pair of dead A/C units that were out there when we moved in for messy things.
When discussing this idea with my mother (From whom I largely inherited this attitude), she brought up another neat fact. She reads horrible finance books for fun, and ran across one recently that mentioned some research, which, in addition to the fairly well known (I think?) link between children of people with thrifty habits held-over from the great depression and hoarding behavior, discussed a link between (descendants of) Japanese-Americans interred during World War II (please, please tell me this isn’t novel to anyone.), and an attitude that “I shouldn’t own unnecessary nice objects because they could be taken from me at any time” …Which one might argue the my attitude is descended from.
I’ve had had that idea before, observing how my family operates, and now want to go article finding because I didn’t expect there to be evidence as to which factor was the source of the behavior, or serious research on the topic. A quick googling doesn’t turn anything up, but I always love legitimate studies to verify my passing thoughts; sometime (”In my copious spare time”) I will have to have a wallow in consumer psychology literature, it looks interesting.
The inital horrible finance book was apparently Mind over Money, (which is a (un)remarkably common title, but probably Mind Over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health. This is not a recommendation.) and referenced the authors (but not the text) of D. J. O’Brien, S. Fugita The Japanese American Experience (google books link with partial text).