Good enough stuff

People talk about how Americans consume for meaning. We create who we are by the clothes we wear, the decorations in our homes, and the cars we drive. We shop for entertainment. We get more stuff to fill our time.

One way to attempt to avoid the consumption trap is to focus on good enough.

Like with knives. Grete and I got a cheap set when we were married six years ago. Some are bent. Others just “kinda” work. We wanted good ones that would last.

But good is a vague category. So instead, we focused on good enough. We didn’t need the $2,000 set. Or really even the $200 set. We needed something that would work for us. So, we got one or two good enough knives we could use. Still high quality, but not the highest quality. After using the cheap ones for a while we knew which kinds we used most often. We didn’t need 10 amazing knives. Two good ones worked just fine.

Or when we went shopping for sofas a few years ago. I could find so many couches I’d love to have. But they didn’t really fit into our price range (or, sometimes, our apartment). I had to realize we were shopping for a “for now” couch, not a forever couch. It helped me focus on good enough. Maybe we’ll have our Ikea couches forever. But thinking of it as a temporary purchase helped me get past the mental barrier of wanting the most and best of everything.

Not everything we buy has to be merely “good enough,” but for some things, it’s the best possible solution. Because the truth is, maybe that whole knife set would have been amazing. And maybe that perfect couch would have made our apartment perfectly impressive and inviting. But there probably would have been knives we never touched, wasting our space and resources. And we probably would have been so worried about keeping that nice couch nice we would have been concerned about our guests and their cups of coffee. And that’s not the life I want to live, either.

So for certain things, good enough is perfect.

What about you? What’s your good enough stuff?

4 responses to “Good enough stuff”

  1. Jon, this is great. K and I have had similar thoughts and have found that buying used can definitely help in this area. Our culture is obsessed with ‘stuff,’ but also with ‘new.’ By getting over the need for everything to be “new,” it can be a lot easier and more affordable to get “good enough.”

    Oh, and I clicked on each of the couch links and think they all look awesome, but your couches are better.

  2. I totally agree with the used comment. It’s been amazing what we’ve found on Craigslist – especially being in a large city. I’ve had to constantly remember that if there’s anything I want from a place like Ikea, there’s almost ALWAYS a few options on craigslist for half the price.

    Of course, you two are pros at that compared to our amateur status :).

  3. I like your couches. and I feel very invited. They are better than “good enough”… compared to my couches. but mine are good enough 🙂

  4. Now it looks like I was fishing for couch compliments. I promise I wasn’t! I’m glad our couches are appreciated :). I’m thrilled with them and give them all the honor and respect they deserve!

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