Here in the land of buy this and buy that, the trade-in-a-clunker car program is all over the airwaves, along with really bad news about driving sloshed out of your brain and up the wrong side of the interstate. Turns out that’s not life-compatible. Terrible. Truly terrible. There’s economic frownie faces splashed all over the news as well, and when we’re not telling stories of people slashed on the subway, killed in shootings in Chicago, we are all obsessing about the bottom line.
I don’t mind not having a television in Santiago. In fact, it sort of feels like an appropriation of space, a cheat, if you will, that buys me X amount of space in my cluttered apartment. I also don’t mind not standing still in a torrent of information, most of it bad (though I did sit spacily through a 60-minutes piece on Wyclef Jean and I love him even more than I did before, he does really good work in Haiti and seems like a very likeable human).
But what I’m really thinking about here is the money saving tips. At Blogher, there were a series of vendors and swag givers who promised to enter you in a contest to win something smashing and fabulous if you would sit down and record yourself giving a great money-saving tip. Tips like: cut the top off your little girls’ dresses and put elastic in to turn them into skirts. This is the caliber of money-saving tip being given. And I found myself getting irrationally frustrated, as I gobbled down berry after berry (did you know it’s summer here, and berries are in season?), flanked by the unflappable Rosalind and the uber transportable Pam. I was frustrated, because the main reason that we overspend, my friend, is not for failure to cut and mend, it is because we cannot grow the appendages to turn us into real women and men and STOP BUYING.
There, I said it. In all caps, and just as I’m waiting for a code from Blogher to post little adlets here on the side, and as I also admit that I suffer from this purchaseathon, from aquisitivia, despite my repeated desire to celebrate discardia, and banish affluenza for good.
And I hate those snippity little tips because they don’t really save you any money at all, you just end up spending less, which is not really the same.
So how can I square my hate of the tips together with my dislike of aquisitivia (hey! you heard it here first) and give a tip that runs not afoul of my grand philosophic pronouncements?
Do not buy any storage solutions. No containers, no boxes, no handy underbed vacuum squeezy bags. None of it.
That simple. Your problem, unless you live on a boat, or in a verrrrrry teeeeeeny tiiiiiiiny apartment which requires copious use of multiple consonants and vowels, is not a lack of space. It is an excess of stuff. By saying no to the overdoor hanger or the plastic crates for the garage or another shelf to put in the entry way, you benefit thrice. One, you don’t buy the storage solutions. 2, you do not keep buying more to fill up that space or possibly even 3, you realize you have too much stuff and now’s a good time to have a garage sale or put up some ads on Ebay or Craigslist or whathaveyou. I’ve started my own little charity, which works only when you live in a neighborhood that sees not just a bit of poverty. I call it “debajo del puente,” or under the bridge, where I leave bags of tidily folded clean items that will no longer grace my closet. The cartoneros pick up the stuff, bring it home and sort it, and their ladyfriends or wives sell it at the feria. Total win.
So that’s my tip. I haven’t introduced myself “Hi, this is Eileen Smith, from bearshapedsphere and I write about everything from donkey milk to abortion policy in Chile from an expat perspective” but I will give you my money saving tip. It’s very War Games-y (ten points if you saw it in the theater!), Strange game. The only way to win is not to play. Or as I’ll crystallize it down for you, since you’ve read this far is: storage solutions aren’t.
And yeah, blogher was great. And now I’m outtie.