Valued possession or useless stuff?


Recycles dryer sheets
Oct 22, 2004
This post is inspired by Wabmester's "Obsessed with value" thread. Over the last few years I've experienced a big change in how I view possessions. I spent years enjoying a passion for collecting various objects, but the goal of ER has changed my thinking entirely. Now they have come to represent at best, a sink for capital or at worst, a pointless accumulation of dust magnets.

This scorn does not extend to things I deem useful such as tools or books. My rough test for worthyness asks the question: Will this potential purchase help me participate in some enjoyable activity? If not, then it is just "stuff" and doesn't deserve to take up space. Wine is a good example of something that passes the test :D
Now, my spouse has not fully embraced this philosophy...yet.

Any other former stuff junkies out there?
Hello Rock. Yes, I am a former "stuff junkie".
My road into the light of destuffification began with
my divorce in 1997. That removed a big load of objects.
In 1998 my dog and I moved into a 650 SF apartment,
but I did have a garage. Anyway, plenty of space.
I backslid in 2001 when I remarried an unadjusted
full fledged junk collector. Example, right now I can not put anything in my pick up as it is loaded from an auction last Monday. I didn't buy a thing. Anyway, not only did she bring along a
huge pile to our union, but she adds to it almost daily.
I keep disposing and she keeps acquiring. Not too
sure how it will turn out in the end. BTW, I like your

Living a minimalist life is often a good idea, if most of your interests lie in intellectual pursuits. Take the Japanese for example. They do accumulate some electronic/kitchen stuff, but not too much, due to space constraints. Likewise, their culture reinforces a minimalist lifestyle based on aesthetics.

Books do take up space, but there's nothing like holding one in your hand while you sit in a comfortable chair. :)
I have collected a lot of stuff including cars, stationary engines, coins stamps and tractors. The trouble with stuff is you have to maintain it. When I finally get retired I am going to have a year long yard sale.

Speaking of wierd stuff my neighbor has a pumpkin cannon. This thing shoots pumpkins out of a 20 foot tube and is propane powered. He also built a UFO and currrently has it on his lawn with Santa climbing out of it.

Very nice guy and has fun building stuff. He is about 70 and still working four or five short days a week by choice

... Over the last few years I've experienced a big change in how I view possessions. ...

My view of possessions started to change after I retired. I lost interest in some of the hobbies I had ardently pursued during my career. (Good topic for a different discussion.)

Another catalyst was having to help liquidate my father-in-law's estate after he passed away. We had to dispose of a lot of his stuff, much of it stored temporarily in my garage and basement.

I had several hobbies and my own accumulation of stuff so our home became uncomfortably cluttered. Spent the last few years getting rid of stuff.

I used to be an easy person to buy gifts for -- but no longer. I have what I need and don't really want things . My brother gave me a gift certificate for my last birthday and I had only spent a small portion during the last 12 months. Couldn't think of anything else I wanted so I spent the rest on my wife.
I have a love/hate relationship with stuff, without the love.

The amount of stuff I have is enormous. I won't even try to tell you how much stuff I have, because I don't want to think about. I would like to bulldoze it all over a cliff, but as soon as I pick something up to toss out, I marvel at it, fondle it, and spend the entire day with it.

A lot of my stuff is obsolete, but I still appreciate the engineering that went into it, and I maintain some nostalgia for the relationship that me and my old obsolete stuff once shared. Breaking up is hard to do.

I have good intentioned plans to find all my stuff a new home via eBay, but I haven't had time yet. Too much new stuff to play with right now.
A lot of my stuff is obsolete, but I still appreciate the engineering that went into it, and I maintain some nostalgia for the relationship that me and my old obsolete stuff once shared.   Breaking up is hard to do.

I have good intentioned plans to find all my stuff a new home via eBay, but I haven't had time yet.   Too much new stuff to play with right now.

Pssst! Mister Wabmester, want to buy a mint Radio Shack TRS-80? Going fast....

Most of stuff that I have collected over the years are collecting dust, e.g. IBM XT PC, 286 mother board, 386 mother boards, 486 mother boards, 128K VGA graphic card, power tools, old text books, and so on.

My valued stuffs: investment books, Eastern religion books, C# and Java books, photo albums, digital camera, digital photos, computer and computer programs.

What I valued most: wife, my two children, friendship, nature.

want to buy a mint Radio Shack TRS-80?
Hmm, mint you say? Nah. But if you've got an Altair 8800 in your pile, let's talk :)

Some of my techno-stuff is so old and obscure that I lease it out to patent lawyers looking for prior art....
My Altair went to the dump before I figured this business out.

I am a professional in this department. A friend of mine sent me a cartoon showing a stick figure saying "I got rid of all the excess in my life." Think about it - stick figure is a clue.

Here is what I learned about things.
1. You don't own things; things own you. Bill Cosby did a routine on the need for a bigger house. You only need a bigger house to more things in it.
2. Once you change your mindset from the accumilation of things to what you need (this is important - you must understand the concept of NEED versus WANT) your allocation of time and where and what you do changes.
Again, this is important. Think about all those people who trave someplace and the first thing they think about doing is buying something to take back home. When you don't feel the NEED to buy anything you then find other things to do with your time (you name it - exercise, talk with others or find out of the way places to go.
3. Materialism in the USA is similar to a person who overeats. The person who overeats does so to fill a void in their life. People in the USA shop to fill a void in their life. In Europe, shopping isn't so important. Why? Because they have strong social and family ties. In the USA we substituted shopping for the interpersonal contact that is found in Europe and many other places in the world.
4. If you can deal with the material issue in the USA the next issue is television watching. The average person in the USA watches about 38+ hours of TV a week. (I work in TV and know the numbers - haven't watched it for 6 months - and the numbers are increasing.) I am going to sound like a nut here - GET RID OF YOUR TV - or only use it for rented movies. TV and materalism goes hand and hand. When I say this it is as if I'm talking to a junkie. GET OFF THE JUNK. But, everyone watches TV so I must be the crazy one.

I did several moves from one country to another and each time I learned to live with less and less posessions.

Once you do what I have done you then learn what is important.

We in the USA have a lot to learn about how to live life from those in Europe - Italy, France, England.

"Less is More"
See page 221 of Don Aslett's book "Clutter's Last Stand" for a list of rules to determine if something's junk.

Here's a bit:

"It's not junk if it:

generates love and good feelings
helps you make a living
will do something you need done
has significant cash value
gives you more than it takes
will enrich or delight the coming generation

If you can check a few of the above comfortably, then it's probably not junk--enjoy it and feel good about its place in your life."

He also gives a "It is junk if" section.

I received a moving van full of antiques from my parents who were moving from their house after 45 years, into a retirement apartment.  That was in Feb 2001.

I received a moving van of antiques from an aunt that went into an Altzheimers unit in May 2001.  

That cured me of wanting things.  My house and garage were stuffed full of things that I needed to sell to get the money they were worth.  I quickly realized that the value of most of the items diminished because there was too much to deal with.  

I am cured of wanting things now.  I sold, gave away and donated a HUGE amount of stuff before we moved in March.  I'm getting close to selling a few more pieces of furniture, and starting to unpack the 15 boxes of antique glassware to sell on Ebay.

Unfortunately I still work full time, so selling on Ebay will be a second job.  The money will go into my ER acct.

Having too much stuff, even if it is valuable, is a curse.

I hired an auctioneer to sell most of it and ended up in a lawsuit with him when he wouldn't pay me or return it.  I just got a judgement against him this week (26,000) and now need to hire a Private investigator to find his assets so I can put a lien on them.

All in all, it was not worth it.
I announced to my husband that when we leave Maryland, it will be on a plane with just enough clothes for a week, our important papers and our money. He was confused for awhile. Talked about only shipping this or that. Yesterday, he agreed wholeheartedly with this plan and said it made him feel free. So yes, I am taking my clothes, my papers, the money and my only valued "possession" with me (him).
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