Updated: January 4, 2021
In the tech startup community, whenever we plan to launch a new business idea, we’d always focus on developing our MVP or the Minimum Viable Product.
The MVP is the most basic version of the product, which has enough features or qualities that can satisfy the customer’s need.
For example, think about the mobile phone. At the very least, it should be able to make and receive calls and text messages. These are the minimum features or functions that you need to sell it as a viable product.
But we’re here not to talk about MVP… but MVQ.
What is MVQ?
This is an acronym that I just thought, and it means Minimum Viable Quantity.
MVQ is the least or the essential amount that you should own a particular item. In other words, it answers the question, “How many of this item do you really need?”
For example, think about your toothbrush and ask yourself, “How many toothbrushes do you really need?”
If you’re most people, the answer would be one. You only need one toothbrush. So, for toothbrushes, your MVQ is 1.
Let’s make it a bit harder. How about a television? What do you think is the minimum number of TV sets you should own?
Again, for most people, one TV at home is enough. But I know someone who believes they need two, one in their living room and one in the bedroom.
Is that person wrong? No, they’re not wrong. Because MVQ depends on you and most especially, your lifestyle.
If you were to ask me, I don’t need a television at all, so my MVQ is zero for this example. I’ll tell you why later.
Think about your MVQ for the items you often use.
Personal finance is personal. So I’m not here to tell you how many televisions, cars, shoes, watches, or bags you should own.
However, I’d like to point out that there is always an MVQ for these items, and it requires total honesty with yourself to be able to determine the least number for you.
Often, we buy items that end up as an unnecessary duplicate. And that’s an awful waste of money, which you could have used to buy something more useful or important to you.
A friend recently bought a pair of sneakers. He’s not really a collector. It just so happened that he liked its design and it was on sale.
A few days later, he dropped his smartphone and the screen shattered. He told me that he now regrets buying those sneakers because he could’ve just used the money to have his phone fixed.
That’s when I learned that he actually already owns two pairs of sneakers, and the third one, which he bought, is just something nice that he wanted to buy for himself.
His MVQ for sneakers is 2 and thus making his third pair a non-essential and wasteful purchase.
How about having a spare?
I have two pairs of leather shoes, which I normally use alternately for formal events and speaking engagements. A friend once suggested that I should have another one because I do wear leather shoes often.
Having a third pair would certainly prolong the life of all my leather shoes, and having two extra pairs are better than just having one.
While my friend’s advice is good, I believe that my MVQ is really just 2 for leather shoes. And if one of them should get torn or break apart, then I’ll just buy a new pair immediately to replace it, while I tentatively use the other one full-time.
In my experience, it’s better to just keep your money and buy only when needed. This allows you to be flexible with your budget. To put it another way, my cash savings is my spare shoes.
Be aware and be honest with yourself.
If you asked me 20 years ago what my MVQ is for television, I would have answered you that it’s 1. It is my favorite source of entertainment back then.
However, when I was starting my first business, I got so busy that I rarely got time to watch TV. In fact, it was already a couple of months after when I learned that my cable provider changed the channel assignments.
That was when I realized that I can probably survive without a television.
Thus, from 1, my minimum viable quantity for televisions became zero. From a home necessity, it became just something nice to have, but I can certainly live without it.
So, take a look and see all the stuff around you, and the things you currently own. What are their MVQ? How many of them go above your minimum viable quantity?
And perhaps, it’s time to donate them; or maybe hold a “garage sale” and turn those back into cash.
Lastly, it’s important to realize that having more of something doesn’t always make it more fulfilling.
Imagine owning five mobile phones. Do you think your life would be happier because of it? I don’t think so.
If someone gave me five mobile phones, then I’d probably sell all of them, and then use the money to buy my dream phone. Because this would satisfy my mobile phone MVQ, which is 1. And I’ll get to have the brand and model that I ideally want.
Thus, the challenge for us lies in knowing how much is enough… the number where having more simply becomes overconsumption.