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The burden of stuff: seeking the simple life in the Rockies

Every item we buy has a cost, or costs. The economic cost is obvious, and more recently, the environmental costs (embodied energy, The Story of Stuff) are becoming more apparent. But there’s one cost we often forget when making a purchase: the personal cost. It’s what Brad Lincoln calls the burden of stuff: “cleaning, maintaining, moving, insuring, or just worrying about an item” (as he wrote in an email after reading my Hacker News query What Makes You Happy? What’s Your American Dream?).

A couple years ago, Brad and Anda Lincoln were working as a CPA and a lawyer in a house with a pool, but they got tired of having to have two cars and the stuff that a city like Phoenix demanded. So they quit their jobs and moved to Fort Collins, CO where he is opening an organic brewery (Funkwerks) and she writes legal books for people interested in opening a brewery in the U.S. (Legal Brewing… she’s also blogging about her Plan).

In the process of downsizing their jobs, they’ve also downsized their stuff, selling much of their old toys on craigslist and eBay. Now every item they buy or keep has to add enough value to their household to merit its personal costs. “I look at every item I own as a burden,” explains Brad, “and if I am going to keep an item the happiness it gives me must be worth the burden”.

In this video, Brad and Anda tell their story of leaving their jobs, home, stuff and starting again with only the things that make them happy.

[credit for the photos in this video: Anda Lincoln]

* Note: Brad and Anda didn’t choose the license plate for the car featured in the video; it was the plate it had when they bought it.