Monday, August 25, 2008

The True Worth Of Your Stuff

It's been a few depressing days here in Arduous-land. I've been spending almost every second packing up and/or getting rid of my stuff.

Have you ever thought about the worth of your possessions? I'm not sure I had given it a ton of thought until recently, but I think I probably would have estimated $1000 or so for all my furniture and appliances and what not.

The truth? Is that my stuff is worth pretty much nothing to anyone besides myself.

Nothing.

And as I sell my stuff for rock bottom prices and give it away for free (why does no one in LA want a futon!) I can't help but think of the hours I worked to pay for this stuff, this stuff I now have to beg people to take.

It's not easy to take. In many ways, we feel like our possessions define us. So if all my things are worthless, what does that make me?

Sigh. Yet another reason to buy fewer things, huh? Anyone want a futon?

24 comments:

knutty knitter said...

Value is always in the eye of the beholder. My most valued possessions are the teddy my favourite great aunt made me as a baby (missing an eye and some fur here and there) and a painting I did as a teen. There are a number of other things of like value but the rest can be replaced and so has little or no value. After all, money doesn't confer value, people do.

At the same time I do commiserate with you. All I can add is that you will always have had the pleasure of owning at least some of it. I could use the odd item but transport to New Zealand might be a bit of a challenge :)

viv in nz

Heather @ SGF said...

At one point I had plans to move to Europe and was selling all my stuff. Yeah. All that money in - so little back. And most of it was just stuff. Things that had no real meaning to me at all.

Things fell through and I ended up not moving, but when I re-supplied my apartment, I was so much more mindful about what I bought. It was a learning experience.

Good luck. You're almost there!

eco 'burban mom said...

This weekend hubby hosted a garage sale to rid himself of junk in the garage. (Finally, he agrees with me!!) He was shocked at how little he got back for all his hard work and all the money he spent on miscellaneous junk.

And, like your futon, he was APPALLED no one wanted a VCR for the low, low price of $5. I told him, "I think everyone has a VCR in their basement they wish they could sell for $5"...

Joyce said...

It's so true-the depreciation on just basic ol' stuff is huge! Clearing out my parent's home when they went to live in a condo was so hard, because we sold so many things that were the landscape of my childhood for a song. Fortunately, my sisters and I were all able to take some special things, but then we all wound up with too much in our homes! At one point my dad was so discouraged he wanted to just have us take snow shovels into each room and fill garbage bags. I talked him out of it, but I can see why he felt that way.

Rosa said...

Poor arduous! You are worth way more than your stuff. Think about how much your education has cost so far, and it's stuffed inside your head. And of course all of us value your writing.

Before they moved into their RV, my folks had an estate sale company come in and clear out the place (after all the kids took what we wanted, and a little bit went into storage). It was *excellent* - about a week of prep and then, poof!

Jennie said...

this is why I spent money to ship my stuff with me, it's way cheaper to pack it than to purchase new items. BUT I didn't move to another continent.

Good luck with the futon!

Beany said...

Can't you donate your stuff to homeless shelters/goodwill? Heather at SGF suggested it and it working well for me.

ruchi aka arduous said...

Viv, you're right that money doesn't confer value. And I don't mind when it's stuff that I care a lot about. But I'm not trying to get rid of THAT stuff!! :)

Heather, it is a learning experience. I hope I act differently in the future!!

EBM, hah! Luckily I ditched the VCR some time back so that's one fewer thing to worry about.

Joyce, oy. I was in that place with the snow shovels this past weekend. Luckily I didn't do it, but I have to say that I was tempted.

Rosa, yeah I think that's the best thing. Just have someone haul away all your stuff!!

Jennie, yup, unfortunately I don't have much of a choice. There really is no sense carting a futon across the ocean!!

Beany, I have been donating my stuff to Goodwill but I really need a company to just come pick up my stuff. I'll have to see if anyone can do that.

Green Bean said...

It is surprising, isn't it, how we spend so much to get it and then get rid of it for virtually nothing. Ah well. You are worth a ton to us! :) If not your futon.

CindyW said...

I had exactly the same experience when I tried to unload the baby furniture. No one wanted a twin girl bed that was used for 1 year! It's still sitting in our garage.

I think a part of it is that new items are relatively cheap these days. A Walmart twin bed costs $80, so I was told. At that kind of cost, few people think about the real cost of things.

It is when I sold the "worthless" furniture that I vowed to look for second hand furniture first.

Or just not buy it.

ruchi aka arduous said...

GB, surprising and depressing!

Cindy W, yeah my eyes have been really opened by all of this. This another reason to buy used: to build the market for second hand goods.

pink dogwood said...

I have never thought about the worth of my possessions. Once I did think about what I would take if we were to evacuate a our house for some impending natural disaster and the only thing that I could think to take with me was my kids baby pictures. For my older daughter it was this little stuffed dog called star who used to be yellow and is now gray :)

Don't be depressed arduous - you are headed for great adventures :)

Susannah said...

We learn this lesson over each year at our annual group yard sale. What is funny, I think, is that if we were looking for,say, a nice clean futon mattress - we'd never find it :) Maybe Freecycle can help get rid of the rest. Then, off to the adventure!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

(Ruchi)

That would really, really suck. I'm sure all my stuff also has a market value that is much less than its worth to me.

eco 'burban mom said...

Ah! And one more thing. Have you ever noticed that the things worth the most to you (sentimentally anyway) are usually the ones with zero market value? Old ratty, holey blankets. Grandma's old tablecloth. Chair drug from trash heap, fixed and used to squaekily rock each child to sleep? Funny, the things I cherish the most probably look like trash! But, I wouldn't sell them for thousands of dollars!

ruchi aka arduous said...

PD, you're right. Focus on the adventure and not on the futon!!

Susannah, I know it's a total pain isn't it?

Cath, it does suck but I think it's a good lesson too.


EBM, I have stuff like that too. But yeah, I am not selling those things. Though moving across continents does make you way less sentimental about stuff!!

Dorothy said...

If you get very desperate and it is coming to crunch time - try 1-800 GOT JUNK. We used them one time to clean up the garage. You have to pay, but they will stack everything in their van for you. They just won't take anything hazardous, like aerosol sprays or paints, but you might not have anything like that.

ruchi aka arduous said...

Thanks Dorothy. My mom used them once too. I guess that will be a last resort, after posting everything on freecyle and begging people on the street to take my futon!!

Dasha said...

Hmmm I find it amusing that you ENDED your year of non consumerism and now... are trying to get rid of everything you own. Hm.

ruchi aka arduous said...

Dasha, I know. It's hard core non-consumerism!! Until I move and then have to somehow acquire everything I'll need!!

Student Doctor Green said...

Really it's only seemingly worthless because you don't have the time to find the right buyers. It will never be worth what you paid but I've sold lots of DVDs online for a lot more than I would have gotten at a garage sale, etc. It's all about the venue in which you sale.

Chile said...

While you were using it, your stuff was very 'worthy' for you. You bore the brunt of paying the initial new retail price (in some cases) but others know it is used and won't give you the same value. However, the real value is getting it all into new homes, rather than a dumpster, so that you can get to your new home. It's hard, really hard to give away or sell low, but can you imagine the fees you'd have paid to take it with you? ;-)

(Sorry, pathetic attempt at cheering you up.)

Greencat said...

I really like how you put the experience of ownership of things into words. You should share this blog with our Green Network Community at AltGlobe.com. It will inspire and enrich them. I've sold almost everything I own (not much) several times in my life and yup, pretty much worthless. Just like life, it's all about the value we give to it. And so little of it really makes us happy. But we were weened on malls and how were we to know any better until we grew up and saw the light. Less stuff. More LIFE!

N. said...

When we downsized we faced the same reality. We sold a $400 washer and dryer set that was a year old for $100 and people wanted to haggle.... But once we had sold a couple things I was happy to list low and just be rid of the stuff. Plus I now know the good deals that are to be found on Craigslist and the like and I don't plan on buying new furniture or appliances again. Well I would buy a new mattress...