Do you have too much STUFF?

Collecting stuff is a pastime for many of us. Actually, it might even be an obsession for some of us. We shop till we drop. We shop on weekends, we shop on vacations and we shop on holidays. In fact, shopping has become a holiday of sorts. We shop and shop and shop. The result is that we collect so much stuff that we now routinely have garage sales and flea markets just to get rid of the stuff so we have more room to collect more stuff. I have noticed that many of my friends (now facing retirement) are trying desperately to “de-clutter” by getting rid of stuff. Amazon is full of books touting how to organize your stuff, while E-Bay is full of stuff that people are trying to get rid of (at a profit of course). We may be moving from an upsizing home economy to a downsizing home economy.

When we are young, we want more and more stuff. Then, either because of age or space, we finally get to the point where we are inundated with too much stuff. Stuff begins to rule our lives. The amassing of so much stuff creates a problem. Just like companies that have too much inventory, many of us have too much stuff. We spend time storing it, insuring it, moving it, maintaining it and finally trying to dispose of it. You cannot even take old computers to the landfills any more without paying a fee. It would be nice to think that all of our old stuff could be recycled and that it would not end up as simply polluting the environment. Alas, I doubt this is yet happening on a large enough scale.

Why do we collect all of this stuff to begin with? Are we amassing some treasure? If you think collecting stuff is profitable, think again. Most of us would have been better off putting our money in a retirement fund or the stock market. Stuff usually sells for pennies on the dollar if you can sell it at all. Do we simply collect stuff to have the most toys or to keep up with the neighbors? In a designer society, is stuff the ultimate status of success?

Amassing stuff becomes a habit. It can actually become addictive. My wife and I still look at stuff and want some of it. We are drawn towards it like moths towards a flame. Antiques, collectibles, nick knacks, art, motorcycles, toys, games. You name it, we want more of it. Fortunately, we both realize that 1) We don’t need it and 2) We have no place to put it. Our attitude towards stuff has changed as we have grown older. Why did we collect so much stuff in the first place? Why amass so much stuff that we don’t need and has little or no value to anyone else? We laugh at packrats as they attempt to collect stuff for their winter nests. In reality, we humans are the greatest packrats of all time.

How much stuff do you have that you don’t want or need? How much of your life and time is dedicated to collecting, protecting, maintaining and disposing of the stuff you have collected? What if you had less stuff and more time? Would you be happier? Stuff is the enemy of time. Can you set up a frugal rule or a rule to de-clutter? It will make your life simpler and more satisfying in the long run. Stuff can never replace time and people.

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