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Own Your Property

    "The things you own end up owning you". This phrase stuck with me ever since I watched Fight Club, a little over 10 years ago.

    Although brilliant in style, the movie's content is very shoddy: it somewhat preaches anarchism and collectivism, while romanticizing mental illness. As is usually the case with great works of naturalism, however, there are some big chunks of gold to be panned out of the mud - and this phrase is one of them.

    Values are not floating pieces of happiness in a sea of inaction - every single value has a maintenance cost. Even the seemingly "free" value of feeling the sun on your face on a Sunday morning costs the idle time you spend enjoying it.

    After one has identified the value of something, and the cost of acquiring it, it's very easy to ignore the cost of maintaining it, which is an instance of context-dropping. To put it more concretely, an awesome house that you can afford to buy, might not seem so awesome once you factor in the yearly cost of maintaining it - and the proper context for valuation is your wellbeing throughout your entire life.

    It's important to make sure that you own your property, and not the other way around - that is, that the overall value a particular good provides is higher than the overall cost, financial and otherwise, of maintaining it. This is a particularly tricky valuation to make in day-to-day life, as the short-term value of a thing is usually much easier to ascertain than its long-term cost.

    A great man once told me "If you earn $5000 a month, live like someone who earns $3000". This seems to be a good rule of thumb to avoid this problem. When in doubt, allow yourself significant leeway between how much you own and how much your life costs - the freedom is priceless.

  -  February 20th, 2020