I was out with a coworker the other week when she asked me which Jeep rims, I liked better. It just so happens that two identical white Jeeps were parked next to each other with the only difference being their silver or black rims. And my response was, “I guess the black are cooler because the silver ones are stock.” And afterwards I thought about how stupid that answer is. Like, if I knew the black rims were stock and the silver were extra, then I’d think the silver were cooler? Like what even is cool and how am I determining that?

And this reminded me of a dilemma I once had when buying my Chevy Malibu. At the time, I spent weeks pondering whether I should pay an extra $3,000 for the upgraded cooler-looking rims. In my head I knew I was going to keep this car for 5-10 years so having ones I liked made sense. But after weeks pondering something so meaningless, I decided to stick with the stock rims. And 5 years later, I’ve never once wished I’d spent extra money for those upgraded rims. Noone would’ve noticed. Not even me. And they would’ve served no functional purpose but would’ve cost me multiple weeks’ worth of wages. But its purchasing decisions like these where I’ve found a minimalistic perspective to be particularly useful. When is it worth buying something and paying extra for added features? What is cool and will I still think it’s cool tomorrow? And what frameworks do I use to make purchasing decisions? Well, today I’m going to detail three minimalist perspectives I use to make purchases I don’t regret. Let’s get into it!

First: Function Above All Else

Whatever it is I’m buying, I always ask myself. What is its function? What is it doing for me? What problem is it solving? How sure am I that it will solve the problem? Do I not have something that already solves the problem? Will this solution cause other problems? Is this problem even worth solving? Honestly, I ask myself so many questions about the how things are going to function that this process alone makes many things not worth buying. I often spend weeks making sure my answers are consistent and that I’m sure a purchase will provide added value and functionality.

Now do I go through this process with everything I buy like strawberries? Yes, absolutely. It often takes me 2 weeks before I decide which strawberries to buy until they’ve rotted and are no longer worth buying. That’s how this works. No, I’m just kidding but this process is more rigorous with larger purchases and less rigorous with smaller purchases, but the framework is the same. I prioritize function and I want something that serves a purpose. So, for example, if I get a free t-shirt then I ask myself if I’ll ever wear it. And the reality is it likely won’t make it into my regular weekly t-shirt lineup. It’ll remain unused and take up drawer space so in this case I always pass on free t-shirts. Another example was when I seriously considered buying a jet ski. I mean everyone on a jet ski is happy! But the reality for me is the jet ski would bring a few hours of excitement while in-use but would require a trailer to tow, docking to park, space for winter storage, and gas for weekly usage. And at the end of the day, the jet ski’s function isn’t worth the added costs for me.

Second: I Don’t Even Know What Cool Is

How many times have you seen a purse, or sunglasses, or any object where you had no clue how expensive it was by looking at it? It’s like if someone has an expensive Rolex, I wouldn’t even be able to tell by looking at it that it was a real Rolex or a knock-off from a thrift shop. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even know if the watch was broken or working because I’m not going to look at the face to see if the time is right and the hands are moving. And if you have a Rolex, does it even matter if it works? Or is it just a status symbol? I don’t even know. It’s times like these when I can’t even tell if things are cool or not where I’m just like, what’s the point?

Another example, diamonds. I don’t think it’s possible to tell if a diamond is lab grown or organically created without a microscope. It looks and functions the same. So why pay extra for something that no one will know the price difference between, and it behaves the same way? I’m sorry future wife, but you’re not getting a real diamond… we’ll go with the cool new lab grown specimen! Or is it cool? I don’t know. What’s cool to me may not be cool to you, and it may not even be cool to me tomorrow. I don’t even know what cool is, so I try not to pay for it. But sometimes I fail and pay a little extra for a red car… because it’s cool.

Third: Quality Over Quantity

For the most part, I value quality over quantity. Sure, there’s a higher up-front cost but many items can pay for themselves over their lifespan. And I recently used this perspective when buying a chair for my office space. Traditionally, my family has bought chairs from Staples for like $150 and they tend to last about two years before they fall apart. So, this time I decided to make a much larger $600 investment into an office chair. And yea, that’s a lot. Not very minimalistic some would say. But the truth is it has a 12-year warranty making it cheaper per year to own than the Staples chair. I also don’t have to spend time every two years going through the buying process again allowing me to bypass the 1,500 functional questions I ask for every purchase. And, it has more ergonomic features providing a more healthy and comfortable sitting experience. So, I’d say this is a good example where quality is much more valuable than quantity to me.

Final Thoughts

It can be so easy to buy every cool knick-knack we see or make snap decisions on products that we think will improve our lives. But over time, these objects become clutter, take up space, and become more trouble than they are worth. So, to prevent this, I use three minimalistic perspectives when making purchases. First, I prioritize functionality and make sure I consider all aspects of an item. Second, I try not to pay extra for cool because it’s so subjective and my opinion of cool today could easily be different tomorrow. And third, I value quality over quantity because it reduces the number of purchasing decisions I make, and the long-term value is usually worth it. These three perspectives have allowed me to life a more clutter-free, and less wasteful life. A life that I believe is healthier and happier.

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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe

Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient, and effective. I do this by covering topics like Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Cognition, Finance and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.


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