Why I Bought my Son a Second-Hand Piece of Furniture

It’s easy to consume. Flick on the TV and you’ll find no end to the plethora of items that you could spend your money on. Shopping is a national sport in most Western nations, and with the wonders of the Internet people don’t even have to get up off their juicy junk-food-fed rumps to participate. Spending time producing and creating things is considered “so, like 1980’s man.”

Drag yourself away from the TV and you’re likely to have Johnny and Sally next door bragging to you about their new spa pool, or their little snotty-nosed Tommy showing your kids his new toy while stuffing his face with McDonald’s. Envy… what a powerful marketing tool, heh!

OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but seriously I find I have to push back against things that make absolutely zero sense.

Buy stuff? Sure, but spend some time thinking about how much you really need that new iGadget before taking the plunge… no matter how small the item or cost. There exists an entire industry out there that is determined that you NOT stop and consider these important details. Instead, they provide you with the tools and push to “do it now.” Instant gratification is available to all.

I discussed this phenomenon when talking about the distraction industry and virtual crack. As an investor I’m extremely interested in getting on the right side of this massive trend. Mobile apps, which often provide instant gratification, are a sub-sector that Mark and I are betting heavily on at present. The market is huge and the trend powerful.

Mark interviewed wonder boy Dan Faiman here and here, about this exciting area. That said, just because I can see how to capitalise on this space doesn’t mean I want my kids becoming slaves to consumerism. I want them to be creators not consumers.

A few months back my son decided he wanted a bedside cabinet like Mum and Dad have. Fair enough I guess. If we have one to put our junk on, then why not my son?

We shot down the road to a number of furniture stores to see what was on offer. I was positively appalled with the quality of goods available. This is, after all NZ, which is a dumping ground for all the goods that China can’t sell to the rest of the world. If I wanted a small, well-made cabinet constructed of real timber I was staring at about $500. This to me was insane.

We live in Asia as well some of the time, and I know what it costs to get something of the same, or better quality, and it isn’t much more than a decent bottle of Australian Merlot.

“Sorry son, but do you realize how many ice creams we could buy with $500?”… Or how many bottles of great Merlot Dad could buy.

Kids need to learn the value of money, but before they can do so, or in fact in order for them to do so, they need to learn the value of output. I’ve said before that I’m not sending my kids directly to college, as education is much more than what the colleges offer. If you haven’t read my post on the topic, yes I do aspire to hear of my kids throwing up in foul-smelling hostels in Bangladesh some day as part of their “education.”

Back home now, dad and son went trawling the Internet. A few days later we’d bought  a second-hand solid timber bedside cabinet online for $18. It was bright pink with stickers all over it. $12 for sandpaper and varnish, and my son spending the entire weekend working his little butt of sanding his “new” cabinet, learning a valuable lesson about, well, value. Dad helped some too, but was uber proud of the blisters on said son’s hands from sandpapering the pink paint off.

Today that $30 bedside cabinet, which by the way looks fantastic with its varnished timber, sits proudly next to my son’s bed. The $470 savings will be used to buy a quarter ounce of gold, which I will vacation with in Tuscany when the Euro implodes and the Lira comes back. Another lesson for my son – maybe.

– Chris

” The difference between educated and schooled is huge.” – Chris Tell

P.S. Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll quote me if I want to!

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Gregory P
Gregory P
10 years ago

I did not realise you guys live in NZ. Which city are you in?