The folly of buying & storing multiples

Up until just a few years ago I had a bad habit of buying up extra identical items of things that I liked just in case these items were discontinued in the future.  In my mind, I justified this behavior as future proofing myself for any situation that might come up.

Here are a few examples.

Back in 2009, I bought a pocket camera called the Canon S90.  At the time, this camera was so much better than anything else out there in an equivalent size, and I thought to myself that this was the perfect camera for someone with my needs.  So the following year when Canon released the S95, which is a slightly updated version, but really is more or less the same camera, I bought one when it went on sale over the holidays because I wanted a second copy in the event the first one broke down.

Well, the first one did break down about 3 years later.  But by that point, technology had progressed and Sony came out with a much better tiny pocket camera that made my current cameras obsolete.  So of course I bought the Sony.  That spare camera that I purchased a few years prior did nothing but sit in the back of my closet.  I never needed to use it and ended up selling it for a lot less than what I paid for it.


Sometime around 2010, I found a Columbia t-shirt that I really loved that was ideal for travel use.  Due to fear of this design being discontinued, I bought up a whole bunch of these shirts to store as extras for when I wore out the current ones.  Well, the shirt model did in fact get discontinued a few years later and replaced with this piece of crap.  Initially I thought, great — buying all those extra shirts was a smart move.  But several years later, I found a much better travel shirt made by a different company that has become my number one option.  I still have a couple of the older Columbia shirts that I haven’t yet worn a single time, and the ones I initially bought that I have worn regularly for years remain in great shape.  I’m holding onto these extras to wear eventually for other activities like running, but also as a reminder of my mistake in buying a whole bunch of extras that I never actually needed.


Last example is a pair of shorts that I bought in the early 2000s.  So almost 20 years ago.  At the time, my favorite shorts were a simple cotton design made by Duck Head (who apparently, as of 2016, made a comeback under new ownership and is making clothes again).  Consistent with my natural tendencies, I bought up several extras to store for future use.  Problem was, for the few years after than, I gained a few pounds due to various stresses of graduate school, and those shorts didn’t fit me anymore.  I ended up donating all but one pair as a result.  Eventually my weight got back down to its original level, and the one pair of shorts I held onto fit me again, but by this time I had discovered other shorts that I liked better.  Plus, the old shorts were pleated which no one wears anymore because they’re out of style.


Just a few weeks ago, I was browsing online during some down time at work and saw on Patagonia’s website that my current favorite travel shirt was released in several new and exciting colors for the current season.  My immediate instinct was to buy a couple more of these shirts to add to my collection just in case they were discontinued in the near future and I’d be stuck without my favorite t-shirt.  But this time I caught myself.  I recalled all the other times in the past where I hoarded extra copies of stuff to no avail.

So instead of buying those shirts, I restrained myself and let the decision sit for a few weeks.  By the end of that waiting period, the initial impulse to buy had worn off, and I decided I didn’t need those shirts.  I was very proud of this small victory.

What have I learned from all this?  I try to only buy what I need now, especially when it comes to clothes, and extra-especially when it comes to travel clothes.  This stuff is designed to last a really long time, so chances are by the time I wear out my current batch of clothes, there’s going to be something much better available to take its place.  Just like everyone else, I’m human and subject to making mistakes, so I’m sure I’ll slip up and talk myself into making an extra purchase once in a while, but I’m making an effort to stick to this new plan which will result in less extraneous stuff in the house, less time consumed shopping, less personal waste, and more money available to go out and enjoy new parts of the world that I’ve yet to see.

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