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Excess is a Liability

in Money Basics, Rants, Sell Your 'Stuff'

Excessisaliability

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

Balance.

Excess stuff.  Excess debt.  Excess hate.  Excess food.  Excess stress.

It’s easy to feel the weight of these liabilities.

But too much of a good thing exists, as well.

Excess money.  Excess energy.  Excess friendships.  Excess love.  Excess opportunity.

Excess in any form adds burden.  And burdens are burdens are burdens.

Blurred are the modern lines of excess and abundance.  Easy to cop out.

All things in moderation.  Excess simplicity is no different.

Debt -> Stuff -> Business -> Life

My realization of this fact progresses:

Excess is a liability.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

BawldGuy December 7, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Would love (pun intended) to hear the rationale for your belief in the negative impact of ‘excess’ love in one’s life. Also, should I infer you’d give excess cash away once it reached excess status? Can true blue friends really attain excess status? Thanks

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:38 PM

To me excess love would be fake love. Meaning that genuine love most likely can’t be in ‘excess’, but that many people use love as a reason to justify all sorts of things. I get the picture of enablers, obsessives, punchdrunks, etc… :-)

Yes, I hope that whenever cash reaches an ‘excessive’ point it’s given away. That’s the point of this whole thing in my mind. Defining excessive is what gets interesting.

And finally, to me there *has* to be a point of where true blue friends reach excess. How many can you keep at a deep level? Depends on the person, but there’s got to be a cap where it starts to become a burden. :-)

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Credit Card Chaser December 8, 2009 at 1:53 AM

I think the types of “love” that you describe are actually not forms of love at all other than maybe a twisted sort of shadow of love and not love at all. I am still not convinced that love can be in excess :)
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..New ‘Square’ Mobile Payment Service: Swipe Credit Cards via Smartphone =-.

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Ramona December 8, 2009 at 10:02 AM

It’s true that you can have excess friendships. I had to give up a friend who kept adding people to her life, never expecting that the old ones would drop off (well not literally!) She just never had time for me anymore. It was tough, but it needed to be done. And afterwards, yes I felt better. A sense of loss, but also the ability to move on.

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prufock December 9, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Ever been involved in a love triangle? Well, me neither, but I can see how having more than one person in love with you at the same time could be “excess,” and certainly negatively impact your life.

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Steve December 7, 2009 at 1:03 PM

I will agree that excess in any form does add a burden…a responsibility if you will. But, not all responsibilities are bad things.

Excess love may blind you to people and situations that are harmful to you, but those who benefit from all of that excess love will never complain.

Excess money brings a huge responsibility to manage that money properly and to use it in the pursuit of good. Choosing which project is the best to support can be considered a burden, but it is certainly a good burden.

I can remember many times in my life when someone complained about “too much” of a good thing…if we have an overabundance of love, wealth, happiness, simplicity, energy, opportunity…aren’t these good problems to have?
.-= Steve´s last blog ..Beginning Financial Transparency =-.

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Having an abundance of those things is good. Having an excess of those in my mind isn’t. Of course, that line (which I pointed out is blurry these days) is up for each person to define. :-)

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chacha1 December 7, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Hi Adam, I’m entirely with you on this one! We only have so much financial capital, but we also have limited emotional, mental, and physical capital; it’s a mistake to spread it around so thinly that nothing gets a real commitment.
.-= chacha1´s last blog ..ten great dance movies =-.

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Dustin | Engaged Marriage December 7, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Excellent. ‘Nuff said.
.-= Dustin | Engaged Marriage´s last blog ..10 Awesome Christmas Gifts for Married Couples =-.

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Keith Morris December 7, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Well said. :)

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Fabian December 7, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Yay! What a great post without excess of words! Thanks for that!
.-= Fabian´s last blog ..Artist’s Consistency versus Kicking Ass: On Avoiding a Consistent Body of Work =-.

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Dustin December 7, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Well stated!

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B Kinch December 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Absolutely. But balance comes in different forms. I used to strive and strive for “balance” in all areas, but it never worked for me. I couldn’t meter out my energy. Now I learn to ride the wave a bit…sometimes I have a lot of energy, I need to have my hands in everything, I’m creative, social, our homeschooling looks all ivy league, lol. And other times I am sleepy and introspective and quiet. I used to think of this as a cycle of feast or famine and something to avoid. Now I look at it as a cycle of work and rest.
.-= B Kinch´s last blog ..I forgive me =-.

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:41 PM

B, you are awesome. I’m the exact same way. I’ve had no luck aiming for ‘balance in everything’, but use it at as reminder to cycle back down (or up) when the time comes.

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Jason December 7, 2009 at 3:08 PM

Everything in moderation is the key in life. Unfortunately we live in a world of excess, at least in the US.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about moderation and excess over the past few years. I’ve been killed by excess and forced to learn moderation. Live is good though…
.-= Jason´s last blog ..Music That Moves Me =-.

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Financial Samurai December 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

I have to disagree here. I believe EVERYTHING is rational.

The reason why someone is overweight, for example, is because s/he loves food and relaxing more than the cost of health. Those who are overweight love the way they are. And when they don’t, they start working out and getting fit again, at the expense of yummy food and chilling on the couch.

Same thing with debt. Those who go into debt, love the goods they consume. The goods provide more utility than the burden of debt. When the burden of debt becomes greater than the utility of the goods purchased, the person works down debt.

It’s really that simple.

Best,

Sam-urai
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Public Loves Wall Street Again! =-.

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:46 PM

I don’t see why what you wrote is a disagreement with the post. It seems like we agree!

For me, it’s clear that an 750 pound man has one area of his life that has a lot of excess. And as such is a liability for him.

The fact that he gains more pleasure from food more than the benefits he associates with health is also true. It’s another separate point, not a counterpoint of the excess.

I think we agree!

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Betsy Talbot December 7, 2009 at 5:02 PM

I agree with Chacha1. Do you really need 100 “close” friends? I vote for “enough” instead of “excess” as a way of life.

On a side note, the picture you chose made me chuckle. Every time we see a pair of shoes strung over a line we wonder what it might be a signal for. It happens too often for it to not mean anything, don’t you think?
.-= Betsy Talbot´s last blog ..How we saved enough money to change our lives (and how you can, too!) =-.

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Yeah, honestly I was searching for minimalist and simplicity pictures. I stumbled on this one and loved it. Plays a little bit into the balance issue, plays a little bit into the excess. It’s just a cool photo! :-)

*coincidentally I forgot to link it. Going back to add that in now.

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer December 7, 2009 at 5:14 PM

One of my catch phrases is “Everything in moderation, even excess.”

I usually say this when I’m eating a plate full of bacon … when I do infrequently, but quite splendidly on those ocsassions :)
.-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..In Defense Of Scott Boras =-.

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Gross!

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Greg - Live It with less December 7, 2009 at 6:05 PM

yes, we all should live it with “less” ; )

seriously, excess is what I struggle with each day, constantly I have to say no, whether its to upsizing your food or increasing your credit card limit, life so much easier when we lose the excess.

Cheers
Greg

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Baker December 7, 2009 at 9:49 PM

I see what you did there. So clever. ;-)

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Randall December 7, 2009 at 9:19 PM

“I have learned to be content with whatever I have” I think some guy named Paul said that! Great post! It was even minimalist, I believe that was the intent? Thanks for all you do and I hope the little one gets better!
.-= Randall´s last blog ..I love the smell of Pollution in the morning! =-.

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thomas December 8, 2009 at 12:31 AM

Lets face it, people buy crap not really for the sake of needing it. They buy it to show off that they have more then their neighbour or whoever.

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Mike @ Gather Little by Little December 8, 2009 at 6:32 AM

You can’t have too much love or money ;-)
.-= Mike @ Gather Little by Little´s last blog ..Investment Strategies With $10,000 or less #1: CD Ladder =-.

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Little House December 8, 2009 at 10:42 AM

I’m in total agreement with you; moderation is the key to a happy and productive life!
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Blowing My Budget on Crappy Food =-.

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Casey December 8, 2009 at 2:16 PM

I really enjoyed how there were no excess words :). Cheers!
.-= Casey´s last blog ..Photo of the Week: Walking Through a Dream =-.

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Gillian December 9, 2009 at 1:55 PM

I am in complete agreement with B Kinch (and Baker). I also do my best to keep “balance” in my life, but usually there isn’t enough time in a day or week to support the kind of balance that I feel I need. How do you balance work and family and eating well and working out and a social life and a balanced budget and whatever responsibilities you have that don’t fall into those categories? It almost always leads to excess in one more demanding area. And, for me, it means almost certain lack of sleep, which is also something to balance! True balance requires superhuman time management skills (if you could choose a superhuman skill, that’s a really boring one to have).

B Kinch is on to something with “riding the wave.” I end up having fluctuation in my priorities on any given week, and I’m trying to be more deliberate about where I send my energies, all in the name of balance.

Thanks for a great post!

(P.S. The jury’s still out for me on the whole excess love issue ;-) )

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Jason of Kim & Jason December 9, 2009 at 7:34 PM

From Thomas Merton:

“We do not live more fully merely by doing more, seeing more, tasting more, and experiencing more than we ever have before. On the contrary, some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual.”

Not a mainstream thought, fer sure. But right on indeed.
.-= Jason of Kim & Jason´s last blog ..What I Thought About While Shoveling Snow =-.

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The Zen Capitalist December 9, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Casey wrote: “I really enjoyed how there were no excess words”

Brilliant!

I definitely believe everything in moderation. I used to think Excess Sleep was a good thing. But then I realized I usually woke up lethargic and unmotivated to start my day.
.-= The Zen Capitalist´s last blog ..How to Be the ULTIMATE Coffee Shop Barnacle =-.

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Robert December 10, 2009 at 12:47 PM

I honestly hate excess things in my home. I look around and see something I haven’t used and it makes me disgusted with myself. A yard sale helps get rid of it but it’s still a waste of time and money.
.-= Robert´s last blog ..What Would a Health Insurance Mandate Mean for You? =-.

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Kerri December 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Very nice, Baker. I like your style and message here.

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Combsy December 13, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Too much of anything becomes a bad thing in my opinion. I love Tapioca pudding, but eventually if you kept feeding it to me, I am going to hurl. Such it is with everything else.

Great post.

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Single Guy Money December 14, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Interesting post. I would definitely prefer too much of a good thing instead of too much of a bad thing.

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Allan December 16, 2009 at 11:08 AM

I felt I knew what he meant by an excess of love immediately, as soon as I read it. Being in love romantically with more than one person at a time is an excess of love. It can be heart and gut wrenching.

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Roger December 16, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Very nice, succinct post that makes a very good point. Reminds me of the Middle Way, the philosophy of avoiding an excess of either good or evil. Turn this into a haiku, and you might be remembered as one of the great philosophers of modern times.

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Tim December 31, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Excess is my problem. Don’t have too much debt but I spend a bunch on going out, cigars, and a nice lifestyle. 2010 is going to be time to start saving my dough!

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Jon January 8, 2010 at 6:46 PM

I live my life under the quidance of what the ancient Greeks used to say…..Pan metron ariston, which means everything in moderation is good

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Personal Finance Student January 18, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Excess is aways a problem. Whatever you like is generally done to excess. Your advice is clear and to the point. Excess is a liability.

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David Axton July 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM

This should read, excess will kill your credit. I am in the process of trying to get approved for a mortgage, and m past habits of “excess” did a lot of damage to my credit score. I plan to live minimally with my family in a smaller home, but even getting approved for that seems to be really tough at the moment. PIle onto that, all of the college loans I took out for a degree that hasn’t gotten me a job worth the education.

All of the “crap” I bought the past 5 years on plastic has destroyed my credit, although I’ve taken some of your advice to reduce my debt which has certainly helped.

You say excess and I say everything in moderation, however, most of us can’t handle that. We buy one shirt and we need three more in different colors. We buy a new phone and we need as many apps as we can get. It’s an information overload society.

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SusanB November 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM

This is interesting. I never gave it much thought. Excess stuff is just more junk to worry about. You worry about the stuff getting damaged or stolen, so then you pay more money on insurance to protect your excess stuff. Also, excess stuff means more stuff (which usually depreciates in value) that you need to pay more money to maintain and store. I learned this the hard way. Clear away excess stuff and clear the mind of garbage.

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