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If you don’t buy it, it can’t own you


After years of working and hunting in Pennsylvania, I moved to Florida for a better job, bought a boat and went fishing.

Hunting was expensive and a ton of work.

Ocean fishing was even more expensive and a ton of work.

If you calculated the cost of wild-caught fish by the pound — and my ex-wife did — including the travel costs, boat maintenance and storage, bait, tackle and gas, it runs about $200 a pound.

After years of fishing (I was broke), I took up backpacking, camping and kayaking.

Simple. And cheap.

After years of enjoying outings with a

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After years of working and hunting in Pennsylvania, I moved to Florida for a better job, bought a boat and went fishing.

Hunting was expensive and a ton of work.

Ocean fishing was even more expensive and a ton of work.

If you calculated the cost of wild-caught fish by the pound — and my ex-wife did — including the travel costs, boat maintenance and storage, bait, tackle and gas, it runs about $200 a pound.

After years of fishing (I was broke), I took up backpacking, camping and kayaking.

Simple. And cheap.

After years of enjoying outings with a kayak on my Jeep and my house on my back, I started downsizing and selling stuff.

Friends have accused me of overgeneralizing, but, if camping is simple and it works, can’t life be simple too?

My friend Walter joined me on many of these camping adventures, and when he visited me in Washington, he realized what I’d been doing.

I was working at the hardware store and helping with farm chores on the weekends for rent. I had sold most of my things but kept some clothes, camping gear and whatever else fit into a Ford Fusion (the Jeep was gone after only 18 years).

We were sitting outside by the fire and having a beer with a couple steaks when he started laughing.

“I see what you were doing,” he said. “The camping was training. You’ve been preparing for this for years.”

I toasted the sky and looked out across the meadow to see Moscow Mountain glowing snow-capped in the moonlight.

“If you don’t buy it, it can’t own you,” I said.

Funny to be thinking about this again, but my fiancée and I are house-hunting and the old desires are returning.

We could get this and we could have that and we could own a …

Money is a dangerous drug.

This began as a way to buy a house because it would cost less than rent, but when an American starts shopping for anything, the impetus to excess grows strong.

Every time I think I’m cured, I catch myself binge-watching Amazon –– and not the TV shows and movies, just Amazon.

A high credit score is an open door to debt.

My hands shake now when I drive past a nice house with a sale sign out front.

But my fiancée is strong, and when I saw her send an email to our real estate agent, I knew we were safe.

Her note said, “We do not need a yard as we have no pets, do not garden and do not want to cut grass; we do not need a garage; the house should be small, require little maintenance and we don’t need much storage; my fiance needs a nice kitchen, and we need a sunny deck.”

I laughed out loud when I read it and she said, “What?”

It is to my knowledge the first letter ever sent to an agent listing more things the customer does not want rather than things the customer “needs.”

She had asked for a deck with a kitchen. Sounds like camp to me.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com.