Wait, Don’t Throw That Out.

Wait, Don’t Throw That Out.

The Chair (gimpified)

Ken Munday and I were on the way to the airport when he got a phone call from his daughter Maegen. While he was on it, he said something that I had to ask about when he hung up. He said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

It sounded like a great financial principle, so I asked where it came from. He said that it came from a friend years ago names Virgil Coffee, and it was something he would say from time to time. Ken and his family have carried on that saying as a way of working through financial decisions like spending money for something that you may already have.

In other words, if you’re working through your debt snowball, do you buy a new couch even though you have one that works? It may have a few dings and scratches, but it’s doable. It’s like throwing out jeans that fit really well just because  someone came out with a new style? (Ok, so you can tell by earlier posts that I have a thing for jeans that fit.)

Another discussion came up along these lines a few weeks ago in a meeting where it was mentioned that people used to hold onto stuff to pass it on. Like furniture, families would save it to pass on to their children to start their lives on their own. That way they didn’t have to go out and spend crazy amounts of money, that they probably don’t have, to furnish an apartment or a house. They could be blessed with enough stuff to start building their life and income, and later could “upgrade” if they could afford it. Items would be passed from generation to generation.

What happened to these concepts? Have we become too proud to use something that has some scratches on it? Or take something that used to be in our grandparents’ home? Are we trying too hard to impress our friends when they walk into our home? Or has it just become too easy to go into debt and get whatever we want? Perhaps with the advent of debt and stuffitis, we’ve become a culture who’s too proud to make the financial decisions needed to get us ahead.

Am I saying you can’t have new stuff? Absolutely not! Doing what I’ve been doing for ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to see tons of families leverage debt to get stuff that they want, stuff that they can’t afford, only to end up in trouble with debt down the road. And I wonder if they just had the mentality of, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” where would they be? Just a thought.

Tell me if you agree or disagree. What other great sayings have you heard that have helped you?


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Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

4 thoughts on “Wait, Don’t Throw That Out.”

  1. I agree. Now. However, the way I look at things now has changed since I was younger. (Not that I’m old). In one way I wish I could change the way I did things in the past. But I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and would not have learned them if I didn’t make the poor choices I did then. Now after we are going through a TMMO, I feel so far behind on things when I look at the “big picture”. I wish we could not only teach our youth how to think big, but what that actually looks like.

  2. Oh yah, another great post…excellent food for thought!

    I agree: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This should be applied to so many aspects of our life.

    You asked what happened to these concepts: Marketing has grown and become a phenomenal tool to encourage you to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. This was not around when my great grandparents had their homes. We have been taught to judge people by their possessions and lifestyle. With the age of “please me now” and credit, people are able to live over and above their means in all ways of life so this feeds a desire to not use what you have, not wear it out, not make it do, and not go without.

    You ask if this means we are proud? We can be. Depends on if we allow ourselves to be humbled and are willing to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do/go without. If we can’t do those things, then yes, I would say we are proud.

    I believe if I stop and think and reflect more on this: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”; it creates more peace about my life as it is NOW!

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