Today I read the blog post by Mr. Money Mustache - "Our Shared Ongoing Battle Not Buying a Tasla". It was an amusing post. It does reflect my own conflict with obsession, and the needs to have something I desire very much, which I like to share. The reason I find Mr. Money Mustache's post amusing is that I can clear see myself from the view point of Mr. Money Mustache. What is really interesting to me is that his obssession is way more pricier than mine, Tasla. I am sure it is a good car. But it is just like a MacBook, or a Canon 5D Mark I or II, they are overpriced, and probably overhyped by media coverage. What is more interesting is that Mr. Money Mustache is so much into Tesla and yet he had the discipline not to buy one, he certainly has the means to do it. I, on the other hand, wasn't that disciplined. To get over some of these obsessions, I had to be very creative. I will take this opportunity to discus some of the techniques I have used to get over many of the obsessions.
What I have Obssessed With
Years ago, I was obsessed with photography. At first, I spent $500 on a Sony point and shoot. Then I got a crappy Panasonic Luminix. Then I upgraded to a Nikon D40 based on the recommendation of Ken Rockwell, the famous online Nikon Advocate. I bought some lenses and sold some lenses. Initially I didn't know how to photograph stuff. Like everyone else, I tried to get better by upgrading the equipments. By I lack the guts to get a full frame camera that costs $3500 and another $3500 for all th lenses, I stuck with my Nikon D40. Eventually, I caved and got myself a Nikon D5100. And finally got myself a 50mm lens, then sold all my other lenses, one of them is the 18-200mm lens (costed $700, sold back for $450). That period was crazy. A moment of clarity came when I finally figure out how to capture images with camera properly. I read the book by Bryan Peterson, and realized equipments didn't matter if skills are not learned.
However, the obsession with equipments was still there. I switchedmmy obsession from camera equipment to lighting equipments. Since I bought a few things from Adorama, the store began to bombard my email account with ad emails, sometimes 5 to 6 emails a day. Google learned my obsession by monitoring my search keywords. So all the pages I went to had camera and lighting equipments ads on it. I had to admit, looking at these ads constantly reminded me there was something there which I can buy to possess. I finally kicked it by unsubscribe from the mailing list. And switch my focus to something else.
The next obsession I have is so ridiculous, I would laugh at myself. Somehow I got into this obsession that I should own a gun. More precisely, I like to have a bolt action hunting rifle, that probably cost about $700. The reason for such an unhealthy obsession is that I feel owning a gun is an American thing to do. This obsession is easy to kick. I reason with myself. I can have a gun, but I will never use it. It is dangerous. If I have it and never use it, what is the point of having it. Also I don't have the finnacial resources to buy the bullets, go to the gun range and shoot regularly. And it was not a big obsession to begin with, so it was easy for me to get over it.
My biggest obession was video games. It was something I cannot get over with. For years and years, I have tried to kick it. Then it would be a little voice nagging in my mind. From mid 2018 to end of 2019, I decided to give in to my desire. I bought three different game consoles, one XBox 360, one XBox One and One PlayStation 4 Slim. And I slowly accumlated 30+ video games. I've always thought if I started giving in to this obsessions, something catastrophic will happen. Nothing catastrophic happened, although bad things mixed with good things happened in life which whad little correlation with buying video games. What was unexpected was that I enjoyed playing the video games. It brought some great happiness into my life.
How to Win the Battle against Obsession
The best way to win, is to get over with the obsession. When you are getting obsessed with something, to get over with it is by distracting yourself with something else. Once you get your attention on something else, you will not be all obsessed. Most likely you will save money by getting over the previous obsession. In my case with the cameras, I unsubscribed from the daily mailing. I stop reading my personal emails during work hours. I stopped search on camera equipment and photography techniques. And I aso tell myself over and over, "It will not make me a better photographer, only skills make me better" After a while, I am not interested in buying new cameras anymore.
Another way to get over the obsession is being reasonable by weighing the money spent and the joy you can gain, which is more important. To me, having lots of money in the bank account is more important than the short lived joy from buy material possessions. With the camera, if I want to get the best gears, I will waste thousands or tens of thousands. But the joy of looking at the photos is just not as long lived as the looking at lots of money in the bank account.
Finally, my last resort of getting over the obsession is to give in. It is probably the best solution when I can't get over the obsession. When I had to give in, I would do it in a smart and responsible way. For one, I will only buy used goods from trusted sources, When I bought all the game consoles, and all the games. All are used. The consoles all together was about $600. All the games costs about $13 in average. So all these costed less than $1000.
Having material possession is not a bad thing. A lot of FI articles made this idea look like a bad idea. These articles does not say it explicitly, yet the way they expressed, made the reader feel bad when they make purchases. I personally advocate smart purchases, for every one, think hard what it would cost and what joy can it really bring, and how long the joy can last. I recommend always buying used instead of buying new, and always from the trusted sources where they can provide some type of warranties where they can replace or refund if the purchase broke within a specific period. The last tip is that one should only buy the essential and not waste money on too many material possessions. The things we interested most in our life would probably bring the most value to us. And remember, this is not absolute.