I’ve had many long, hard fights with my dear friend Justin. In fact, he is always coming over and filling my house with things I don’t need. It took many years but I’ve finally kicked Mr. Case out of my life. At least mostly. He still tends to to come visit occasionally and enjoys spending time with house tools and infants. But I’m making progress. He also makes me worry. He has the strange ability to keep me uncomfortable even in the most comfortable of situations. He brings with him a long list of potential hazards that dot my future path. Most of the time, he is not needed. He just gets in the way. I think it’s time we all take a collective breath and kick Just-In-Case out of our life.
For many of us, we surround ourselves with stuff and the anxiety about all the potential what-ifs. We tend to keep things around that no longer have current use. We tend to worry about minutia even if the probability of problems and issues is tiny. In fact, many people proudly boast about the little details they worry about and the lack of sleep it causes them. But not me. I’m flexing my stress free muscle and cleaning out the crap I don’t need in my head and my closet.
Holding On To Stuff – Just In Case
Ironically, for most of my life I’ve been a “collector”. I liked things. I collected coins, cards, action figures, games and I tended to accumulate a lot of older electronic stuff of all varieties. In high school I decided to move to the basement area of our house and proceeded to fill it to the brim with TVs, computers, sports equipment and games of all kinds. In college, although I moved around a lot, I still managed to have a closet bursting with clothing and every nook and cranny I had access to was full of stuff. Even at the fraternity house I commandeered a spare boiler room and proceeded to fill it with all the crap I couldn’t fit anywhere else. I had lots of stuff.
I may have told you otherwise at the time, but I held on to many extra things for the simple reason that some day I might need them. That ugly pair of shoes, that cable that went to some thing I used to use, my old tux, some textbooks and notes from 1983. Hey, you never know when they will come in handy. In fact, after several moves and years of non-use, I finally started to get rid of some of my stuff. I initially sad felt- like parting with a old friend. It was a slow process but the most surprising factor was that after getting rid of all my extra, I began to feel transformed, liberated and like a weight had been lifted. Less stuff to maintain. Less stuff to get old, dusty or break. Only the things I really use. To me, that is a nice feeling.
Cash is King
When I moved overseas after I finished undergrad all I brought with me was a single small suitcase and a backpack. I didn’t have much. And I soon realized I didn’t really need much either. My new life also came with a small paycheck and a metro location that put me in walking distance from every store I could imagine. When I wanted or needed something I would simply go and get it. It sounds really strange to say, but I had never lived like that. Most of my life I would hang on to everything that came my way because someday I might need it. But in reality, those days rarely came but the just-in-case box of stuff stayed along.
I’m not sure where I read it but I remember the epiphanal moment when I realized Cash = Stuff and Stuff = Cash. Mind blowing, I know. But really, I remember thinking about getting rid of my coin collection. I always worried that it would be forever lost. But with the advent of online auctions, if I have cash, I can now reacquire the same collection with minimal effort! I never really used or even showed off my coin collection, but the idea of losing it seemed saddening. However, with the new realization that it is actually pretty easy to buy again if I ever wanted to, that diminished the just-in-case notion that one day I might need it again. If I ever needed it again- I could just buy it. It didn’t take me long to realize that cash is a lot better at giving me piece of mind than stuff. Cash is a lot easier to store, doesn’t deteriorate and can easily be exchanged for other things if my preferences change over time. In fact, I replaced my entire ‘bucket-o-cords’ with a $20 bill and amazon prime. Do you have a bunch of inexpensive things that you might eventually use but could easily be replaced by a little bit of money? Dealing with just-in-case is a lot easier when you have access to cash.
How Much Does Justin Case Cost You?
Does worry stress you out? Do endless what-ifs make you nervous? Do you have a house full of crap you might use one day? Or for the obvious, what about that extra luggage that you have to pay to check when you fly? Justin Case can be heavy. (I’ve actually seen him bring along 5 dresses for a single evening away from home!) Even more than that- I know people who say they could never live in a house smaller than 2,000 square feet. But if they got rid of all the clutter and crap, they probably only use 1,000 sq ft. That extra ‘storage room’ or garage could be costing you $100s of dollar a month! If you have ever watched an episode of hoarders you will understand this concept immediately. There are plenty of people who hold on to so much stuff- Just In Case- that they lose their family, livelihood or house. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to hold on to things but striking a balance is important.
Are you hanging on to more than you need? Is Justin Case weighing you down? Clear out your head and your garage. Stop worrying so much about the what-ifs and enjoy life. If you want to know more you can check out Leo’s book.