The Old, Imperfect, and Out-Of-Style
Our society has too high a regard for beauty and perfection. The television would have you believe everything must be beautiful and perfect in our lives…or it might just reflect poorly upon us.
The thought process works like this: If you own something imperfect – YOU (by association) are also imperfect, and a lesser human being. This message is repeated over and over again by the actions of our friends, neighbors, magazines, television, and corporate leaders. Any physical good with even a minor blemish, hole, or other imperfection must be cast-off as trash.
This is as ridiculous as it is wasteful. The truth is, almost nothing gets truly worn out in our modern western society. This is a shameful waste of our planet’s resources, and one that will keep you a wage-slave for the rest of your days.
Let me tell you a story about a kitchen…
Old kitchens get no respect. They are extremely durable and long lasting. The sink and stoves work as efficiently as the day they were installed. The old kitchen makes food as efficiently as any new kitchen, and cleans-up just as quickly.
Once, long ago, when she was shiny and new, that kitchen was considered awesome! She was the envy of every housewife.
As time passed, (as it always does) the kitchen got old. Tarnished. Blemished. Scratched. Imperfect. Her colors were no longer in fashion. She became “out-of-style”. Suddenly she was no longer something to envy, but something to hide and deride. Poor old kitchen – She still makes the same quality meals as when she was new, but now she’s a source of shame.
It’s a tragic story… There is nothing inherently wrong with old imperfect things (like the kitchen), they just seem to have less social value than the physical depreciation of the object would imply.
Strangely, humans will seek out perfection, beauty, and fashionable colors to their own detriment. I can’t help but wonder why? Is this some kind of genetic survival trait that enabled ancient man to survive and reproduce? I have no idea, but you can find this craziness embedded deep within our western culture:
The Perfect Wedding – Brides want a “perfect” wedding, and are willing to pay anything to make that happen. Over $20k for a wedding is not unheard of. That’s one expensive party!
The Perfect Car – Cars in America must be new, perfect, unblemished, and fashionable. Got a minor dent? Instead of living with the imperfection, our overprice car insurance will gladly fix that up for us.
The Perfect Clothes – For some reason, humans seem to have gotten it into their heads that wardrobes must be refreshed regularly, match some form of socially acceptable “fashion”, have no holes, and must not come off a “used” rack.
The Perfect Home – Much like the kitchen, some homeowners will stop at nothing to beautify their homes inside and out. I have neighbors that do not have a single blade of grass out of place. Not a single weed in the yard. Not a single chip in the paint. They frequently feature extravagant decorations during the holidays, and a front door that probably costs more than my entire car.
And on and on and on….
Mr. Tako would like to remind everyone of the following:
- You are not the products that you buy. Just because you can buy a new product does not make you a better person.
- Life isn’t perfect. You will never be perfect. Stop pursuing false perfection.
- The cost to your life for this false perfection is outrageous. The cycle of constant replacement will keep you on the hamster wheel of wage-slavery for most of your life. Stop expecting life to be beautiful and perfect!
Embrace The Imperfection
I would like to suggest another route through life, one that I have personally taken. A path that will that will help you unlock your financial independence quicker and release the chains of wage slavery: Disregard the search for false perfection. Instead, embrace imperfection!
Old, imperfect, and out-of-style has tons of advantages…
- Used works fine. 90% of the time, old stuff that is discarded will still work perfectly. Like it’s new. It hasn’t really been used up.
- Used is so much cheaper. Many times used stuff will even be free. It may have a few blemishes, but that just adds character. Saving tons of money buying used frees up extra cash for investing.
- Old things just don’t die. (No, I’m not talking about your great uncle Robert) I mean the old products that exist in our lives (for whatever reason) that just don’t wear out. They seem to last forever, as if they are imbued with some kind of magical immortality. New stuff is made with planned obsolescence in-mind. Often, “old stuff” will outlast a new product for just this reason.
- Old things can often be repaired. Long ago in a galaxy far far away from China, products would sometimes need to be repaired – and get this: They were designed to be repaired, not thrown away! Crazy, I know. I swear I’m not making this up. True story!
- Out-of-style gets noticed. When you show-up to the next office cocktail party with your completely out-of-style stuff, you are going to get noticed. Embrace the kitsch. Be chic, and make a statement!
Where to get “Good Old Stuff”
“Good Old Stuff” is everywhere! It’s constantly being cast-off! Don’t let it become consumer waste. Instead, let it become one more tool in your toolbox of financial independence. You can find “Good Old Stuff” at places like:
- Thrift stores
- Antique stores (Warning: These can often be over-priced)
- Garage sales, Estate Sales
- Flee Markets
- Habitat for Humanity ReStores
- The Buy Nothing Project
- Heck, even Amazon sells used stuff, and you can sell your own used stuff on Amazon!
I contend that imperfection is the perfect medicine for society’s over-consumption. Old, imperfect and out-of-style is beautiful – Embrace it, and it will give you financial freedom.
[Image Credit: Wikimedia]
11 thoughts on “The Old, Imperfect, and Out-Of-Style”
Amen brother 😉
Could not agree more, but we have to say, this wisedome often does come with age (albeit not for everyone….both good and bad).
Amen brother 😉
Could not agree more, but we have to say, this wisdom often does come with age (albeit not for everyone….both good and bad).
I don’t mind imperfection. We’re only human and we’re not perfect.
The thing that stands out for me on your list above is the perfect wedding. It’s ridiculous how much money people spends on their wedding when the divorce rate is 50%. We got married at the court house because it was the easiest thing to do. We didn’t want to deal with all the headaches that comes from wedding planning. We’re coming up on our 20th anniversary soon and we’ll have a big celebration to make up for the non wedding. 🙂
I could not agree with you more! Mrs. Tako and I also ended up going to the court house for our own wedding. I think we are better for it!
Congrats on the 20th anniversary!
I agree, Joe! (Good thing I’m on the same page as Mr. Tako. 🙂 )
Closely related to a wedding is a rock. A rock on a finger. The bigger or the brighter, the better? Diamonds are forever (even if the marriage might not be)? Um… Okay… Nice try, marketing lurers!
I’m perfectly happy not sporting a rock on my finger. 🙂 Even happier that we can save and invest more mula to support our early retirement plan.
It’s sometimes difficult to hold the same/similar value perspectives with your partner, making it harder to achieve FI as a couple/family. Mr. Tako and I occasionally have difference in priorities and the commitment level when it comes to FI strategies. But it’s so important to find the common ground and work together to make it happen!
I love this post Mr. Tako. My husband and I are only lately starting to realize that perfectionism is a costly habit, especially when it comes to remodeling. We are about to embark on a bathroom remodel that’s been planned for years, but now that we’ve set a FIRE date we are thinking about very different choices when it comes to tile, fixtures, etc. In this past we would have said hey, we are goign to have this bathroom for a long time, we’d better make it top of the line! Now, we can’t wait to visit the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The times, they are a-changin.’
Excellent point Ms. FireDink – I forgot to add Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore!!! I’m going to stealth-edit that into the post!
Many thanks for mentioning The Buy Nothing Project! We’re thrilled to be on your short list. And you’re absolutely right, let’s embrace imperfection and welcome utility. Much more practical and heart-warming. Then, we can get on with the important things like cooking great meals in our perfectly imperfect kitchens.
— Liesl at Pioneering The Simple Life and The Buy Nothing Project
It drives me crazy that small appliances can’t be repaired because some cheap part wears out making the whole thing useless. For instance, I’ve thrown away several working electric teakettles because the cord wore out. No way to rewire because you can’t take it apart without destroying it.
I’m so thankful to have been basically raised by my grandparents, who lived by the Great Drepession maxim “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” There are so many creative ways to repurpose, repair, or just put up with the old and imperfect. I buy clothes that are made well, fit well, and are “Classic” such that they never go out of style. I’ve had essentially the same wardrobe for ~10 years now. Always bought older, but well maintained, used cars and paid off. My current darling has hail damage all over and a dented fender, was offered $500 for it but it’s worth far more to me as a free-and-clear vehicle that should work great for another 100K miles!
Thanks for the article on this very key topic Mr. Tako!
I was re-reading this looking for the gold, and there was the nugget: an object’s “social value” as opposed to its functional value.