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[双语阅读] 时尚生活:还在乎曾经拥有吗?

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发表于 2010-2-26 23:51 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式



  

It's fun to get something new, but the thrill wears off pretty quickly, and the costs of ownership can be endless. For proponents of the anti-stuff movement, renting is in.

Having shelled out close to $700 in car repairs last month and facing a chimney repair that is creeping up to $5,000 or more, I'm fed up with the endless cost of owning stuff.

Ownership is supposed to be the key that unlocks the American dream. But there are hidden costs that no one talks about, like the constant repairs and upgrades and attention that possessions demand.

Is it any wonder that people are flocking to the small but feisty anti-stuff movement, bartering instead of buying, swapping instead of shopping and, in the latest trend, opting to rent things rather than own them at all?

All hail the new "transumerism"! It's hard to tell whether temporary materialism is any cheaper than keeping up with the Joneses, but an unfettered way of life looks awfully appealing right now.

A lease on life

What, exactly, is transumerism?

The transumer philosophy is largely based on a "leasing lifestyle," according to an analysis by Trendwatching.com, a global trend-spotting company based in the Netherlands. Rather than spending your money on individual things, which you then have to keep (suddenly an old-fashioned idea), you purchase access to an array of objects and experiences. It can save time as well as cash: The more you own, the more you have to worry about, maintain and upgrade.

"We're seeing the rejection of the accumulation society," says Kristina Dryza, a trend consultant based in London, in her report "Temporariness" (.pdf file).

Trendwatching has been tracking the lifestyle rental trend for a few years now, and CEO Reinier Evers says the worldwide recession is making nonownership more appealing.

"The 'save money' aspect of the transumer trend is definitely making it more popular," he says.

Some say it's better for you, too.

"You can get rid of the stuff that is clogging your life," said Eric Ginsberg, the vice president of marketing for BookSwim, a Netflix-like service for books. "Free it up for what you actually want now, and when you're done with those things you can go ahead and get rid of them without the constant cost and expenses."

Oh, the things you can rent!

Transumers are able to enjoy a vast and ever-changing number of experiences. For example:

* Why buy one pricey designer bag when you can rent a dozen at Bag Borrow or Steal or From Bags to Riches?

* Why pay for the upkeep of a car when you can car-share for a fraction of the cost, renting a Prius for your grocery trip, a Mini for your date and a truck for bringing home your latest Craigslist bargain? (Check out CarSharing.net to find dozens of services, like Zipcar, in cities all over the world.)

* Why buy a piece of artwork when you can adorn your home with a series of low-priced rentals from a local museum or online gallery such as Art Rent & Lease, or even free pieces on loan from a library?

Less is more in the short term

There's nothing new about renting, of course.

Renting has long been an alternative to buying things that were unaffordable or pointless to purchase because you needed them only temporarily (whether a tuxedo, pressure washer or diamond tiara for the Oscars).

But the seesawing economy has highlighted a big advantage of renting: Smaller, incremental payments are more manageable when you're worried about cash flow and job security.

Is renting really a cheaper way to go? It can be. Using a car-sharing service only when you need it can save hundreds, possibly thousands, over the full-on cost of car ownership.

When you count gas, maintenance, insurance, repairs, loan payments and depreciation, the average cost of car ownership is $8,095 a year, according to AAA. Yet the majority of cars in North America are driven only 66 minutes a day, according to a 2008 study by Susan Shaheen of the University of California, Berkeley. That works out to about $20 an hour, two to three times the hourly cost of car sharing.

But it depends on how often you rent. A Tory Burch tote (retail value $395) from Bag Borrow or Steal would cost $13 a week, plus a yearly membership fee of $60. I could swap designer purses with my own every other month for a year before catching up to the price of buying that one bag. On the other hand, if I rented a purse every week, I'd shell out about $740 in a year.

According to the old rules, I would have nothing to show for the money I'd spent. But under the transumer rules, you're not renting to own -- you're renting so that you don't have to own.

You're taste-testing, test-driving, flirting but never committing. And for some people, the parade of experiences and objects is more meaningful than purchasing them -- and therefore worth the money.

What about wearing it out?

There is something enticing about this idea of enjoying the transient pleasures of different things, rather than being wedded to certain fixed objects.

I never thought I would find myself writing this. I've been struggling for years now to follow the mantra: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

But the downside of that sort of vintage American practicality is that, ideally, you're supposed to be loyal to the same handbag and shoes and rug and sofa and house for . . . decades.

That saying is rooted in an era when many things didn't change for decades. Now a decade is an eternity. The beauty of transumerism is that it assumes you can't possibly afford to keep up with every change -- but don't want a stagnant life.
Putting your money where your life is

Lately I've found myself doing a new sort of math on the cost of owning a home and whether my financial and life priorities are adding up.

We have about $50,000 sunk into our house (although it wouldn't be doing much better in the market). Our mortgage and taxes come to an affordable $1,350 per month. But that doesn't include the long list of repairs the house requires -- thousands of dollars' worth and counting.

And with a 95-year-old house, the repairs aren't likely to lessen over time. They'll just be different each year.

This past week, faced with all these expenses, I found myself considering a radical new approach to our lives:

What if we shared the ownership of this old house (and all its repairs) with two or three other families? That would dramatically ease the financial drag of maintaining one big home (buh-bye, American dream). We could rent a small apartment and ditch our car for an occasional car share. Then we could spend our money on seeing the world and doing things (such as visiting friends) instead of on chimneys and deck repairs and paint jobs and transmissions.

That's true transumerism: You divest yourself of costly material goods and put your money where your life is.

I'm not saying I want to rent objets d'art and designer duds to make myself look fancy. But maybe the rental lifestyle offers a new way to spend money on what you really want.



 

拥有新东西是有趣的,但是那种兴奋感很快就会过去,而“拥有”的成本却是无穷无尽的。对反物质运动的支持者来说,租赁现正流行。

在上个月为汽车维修破费了将近700大元之后,现在我又要为烟囱维修掏出5000多元,这让我厌倦了“拥有”所带来的无尽成本。

所有权一般都被看作是打开美国梦大门的钥匙,但是隐藏在其背后的成本却很少被人谈及,比如不断的维修和升级,又比如各种财产所需的照料。

于是人们蜂拥而至投身到规模虽小但气氛热烈的反物质运动中,以物物交换替代购物,顺应最新的潮流选择租赁物品而不是购买,又有啥好奇怪的呢?

大家都为新兴“瞬时消费主义”(transumerism)而欢呼!很难说临时拥有的物质享受是否比大为讲究的排场更廉价,但是这种不受约束的生活方式现在看起来很对大家的胃口。

租赁生活

“瞬时消费主义”(transumerism)究竟是啥?

总部位于荷兰的全球性趋势识别公司Trendwatching.com的一位分析师认为,瞬时消费者的哲学主要是基于一种“租赁生活方式”。他们不是把钱花在个别买下来之后还要去保存的物件上(这忽然间就成了个老掉牙的想法),而是花钱去买一系列物件和体验的使用权,这不但省下金钱也省下时间:因为你拥有的越多,你需要担心、维系和升级的东西就越多。

“我们目睹着‘堆积社会’被拒绝”,来自伦敦的潮流顾问克里斯蒂娜·扎拉萨(Kristina Dryza)在她的报告《临时性》中写道。

Trendwatching已经对生活方式上的租赁潮流做了好几年的追踪,其首席执行官克拉克曼·埃弗斯(Reinier Evers)表示,世界性的衰退让“不拥有”变得更有吸引力。

他说:“‘省钱’肯定是让瞬时消费潮流变得更受欢迎的一个方面”。

有人说,这种方式也会让你更好。

埃里克·金斯伯格(Eric Ginsberg)是和Netflix类似的图书租赁公司BookSwim的市场营销副总裁,他说:“你可以丢掉一切阻碍了你的生活的东西,为你现在正想要的东西腾出空间,然后当你用完的时候,你又可以摆脱这些它们继续向前,不用负担那些持续的成本和费用。”

租些什么?

瞬时消费者可以享受到一长串不断变化的体验,譬如:

-当你可以在Bag Borrow or Steal或者From Bags to Riches那里租来十数个设计师品牌挎包时,你为啥还要付大把的钱来买一个呢?

-当你可以拿出相当于维修费中一小部分的钱来租车,弄辆普锐斯去一趟杂货店,弄辆Mini去约会或者弄辆货车把你在Craigslist 上买的便宜货给拉回来的时候,你干嘛还要花钱维修汽车呢?(你可以在和Zipcar类似的CarSharing.net上找到好些在世界各个城市都能享受的服务)

-当你可以从当地博物馆或者诸如Art Rent & Lease的在线画廊低价租来一系列的艺术品,甚至可以从图书馆免费借来艺术品的时候,你作甚还要掏钱去买它们用以装饰家居?

短期之内少就是多

当然了,租赁本身是没啥新鲜的。

长久以来,针对那些买不起的东西或者那些暂时用用完全没必要买下来的东西,租赁是个变通的方法(无论是礼服、高压清洗机还是奥斯卡上颁奖礼上用的钻石头饰)。

但是反复起伏的经济突出了租赁的一大优势:当你正在担心现金流或者工作是否保得住的时候,小量、渐进的付款额会更易管理。

租赁是不是真的更廉价呢?有可能的。有需要的时候才租辆车来用,可能会比拥有整辆车省下数百甚至数千的费用。

根据AAA公司的统计,当你把汽油钱、维护费、保险费、修理费、偿还贷款额以及折旧计算进去的时候,拥有一辆车一年平均要花去8095美元。然而,加州大学伯克利分校的苏珊·沙欣(Susan Shaheen)在2008年所作的一项调查表明,北美大部分汽车每天只行驶66分钟,这让每小时行驶的成本达到20美元,相当于每小时租车费用的两到三倍。

但(是不是省钱)要看你多久租一次了。去Bag Borrow or Steal租一只零售价为395美元的Tory Burch tote挎包大约每周花费13美元,另加年度会员费60美元。我可以把设计师出品和我自己的手袋每隔一个月轮换着来用,一年下来花的钱肯定比买一只那样的手袋来得少;另一方面,要是我每周都要租一个手袋,那一年下来我可能要花上740美元。

根据旧有思维,钱花完之后我没啥可以拿出手炫耀的;但在瞬时消费思维下,租赁不是为了拥有,租赁恰恰就是为了不必拥有。

你在品味、试驾、玩耍,但你从来不用承诺。对某些人而言,一系列的体验和目标比购买实物更有意义,因此也是物有所值。

破旧之后?

享受不同物件带来的短暂愉悦而不是把自己绑在某些固的物件之上,这种想法确有其诱人之处。

我从来没想过我会写这篇东西,多年来我一直挣扎着遵从这个谚语:用完它用尽它,要么就是它,要么不用它。

可是,那种经典美式实用主义的含义就是:在理想状态下,你应该数十年如一日地忠于同一个手袋、同样的鞋子地毯沙发以及房子......

那句老谚语植根的时代,很多东西都是数十年不变的;现在,能坚持十年就算永恒了。瞬时消费主义的美妙之处在于,它假定你无力追上每一个变化但你又不想停滞不前。

花得其所

最近,我发现自己在做新的数学题,主要是在衡量拥有一间房子的成本以及我的财务、生活重点是否合理。

我们有5万大元砸进了房子里(尽管这些钱投到市场里也好不了多少),每个月的抵押贷款以及税收合共1350美元,还负担得来,但这还没算上房子维修所需的一大堆费用,那可得几千美元。

而且这屋子房龄都有95年了,维修工作肯定不会与时递减,只会每年搞些新花样出来。

过去的这个星期,看着这一堆的费用,我发现自己在考虑一种极度新颖的生活方式:

要是我们和其他两到三个家庭分享这房子的所有权(及其维修费用)会怎样呢?维护一幢大房子所带来的财政负担肯定能显著减轻(886!美国梦)。我们可以租个小点的公寓,抛弃我们的车转为偶尔租车用。这样一来,我们就可以把钱花在环游世界和其他事情上(比如说探亲访友),而不是花在烟囱桌子的维修以及油漆和运输工作上了。

这就是真正的瞬时消费主义:你放弃了昂贵的物质商品,把钱花在你的生活上。

我不是说要租些艺术品和设计师出品服饰来让自己看起来很迷人,但也许租赁生活方式会让你找到一种新方法,把钱花在自己真正想要的事物上。

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