Have you ever gone over to someone’s house and seen “stuff” piled everywhere? Kitchen counters filled with super sized boxes of pretzels, papers stacked on the dining room table, closets brimming with clothing that spills over into other spots. How does that make you feel? I imagine some people get a sense of security from having 36 cans of soup and 12 pairs of jeans in their home. I’m not one of them.
I have been thinking about a feeling I have had in life since about the age of 30, which is that I really don’t want a lot of stuff. I have to start making a Christmas list in July in order to come up with a few things that I want. It is typical for at least 2 pairs of shoes to be on that list. I often get grief from my mother about how all of the things I ask for for Christmas are overly practical or for the house. While I continue to assert that I am allowed to want whatever I want for Christmas (practical or not) that she is correct. The reason is that I don’t see the point of having things in my house that I don’t need. This seems to be something that Americans often find hard to understand.
Why do I feel this way?? Money makes me feel much more secure than stuff. As a part of my everyday life as a bankruptcy attorney I am continually reviewing the value of the personal property (stuff) of my clients. Since in bankruptcy in Indiana you can exempt only $9,350.00 for an individual and $18,700.00 for a joint filing of stuff, it is relevant to my advice regarding their bankruptcy. However, the times that I believe my clients will have enough stuff to get to this exemption level are few and far between. Because once you get that stuff home it is worth about nothing.
You hear of this phenomena of depreciation often when people are talking about new cars. However, it seems that people forget the same to be true of the rest of our stuff. You know exactly what I mean if you’ve ever tried to sell something on Craigslist. No one is ever going to pay anywhere near what you paid for the stuff you are trying to sell? Why? Because the stuff isn’t worth that anymore. So, if you come upon hard times don’t count on selling your $3,000.00 couch to pay the mortgage. That $3000.00 couch might bring you $700.00 if you are lucky.
Sure, there is stuff that we need. We need some clothing, food, cleaning supplies, linens, etc. But you can only wear one outfit at a time. You only sleep in one bed at a time. You get my drift. It just doesn’t make sense to me to accumulate a lot of extra stuff in case you need it. Doesn’t it make sense to stop buying a bunch of stuff and to instead accumulate money? If you need to buy something you can use the money you have accumulated, but if you need some money good luck selling stuff to raise enough.
On top of being a bad financial decision, clutter and extra stuff adds stress to our lives. There is more to dust (think curio cabinet, my personal nightmare), more to move when you move, more potential for things being broken, etc. So why not do what you can to train yourself that it is better to transfer money to savings than buy a 4th set of sheets, that it is best to unsubscribe to all of the e-mails you get each day vying for your dollars and time, and to be happy with what you have instead of wanting so much crap?
How long can you go without buying any stuff?? Sapping off of your reserves?? A day? A week? A month? Let me know in the comments section. I’ll be interested to hear how you go about using your income to build wealth instead of buying stuff.
Halcomb Singler, LLP, is a debt relief agency. It helps people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. No attorney-client relationship with the firm of Halcomb Singler, LLP, is created through this blog. Also, please note that Erika Singler is an attorney licensed in Indiana and does not seek to practice law in any jurisdiction in which they are not properly authorized to do so. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be relied upon for the circumstances of any individual(s) or businesses.