From time to time many people are jealous of the possessions of others. Especially now with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Just today I saw a photo of a brand new Porsche 911 on Facebook. All of the comments stating how nice the car looked, how the purchaser must be doing very well for himself, etc. If cars aren’t your thing, maybe a photo of a friend’s new engagement ring has you feeling inadequate. You might be into shoes, boats, clothing, horses or wine. I think everyone has a “possession” weakness.
But that does not change that Possessions do not equal wealth. I have come to this realization over the years in assisting clients who are filing for bankruptcy in the Indianapolis area. Since my office is located in Carmel, Indiana, which is one of the more wealthy areas in Indiana, I often meet with clients who make great income and have a lot of stuff. However, they are still in debt and do not have significant retirement savings. In order to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition it is necessary for my clients to tell me the value of their personal property. This includes, household furnishings, vehicles, boats, 4-wheelers, clothing, jewelry, tools and all of their other “stuff.” What I have found to be true is that the stuff is never worth very much. It is almost always worth significantly less money than my client paid for it.
As obvious as it is, most people really don’t think about the fact that every time they buy something that is going to sit in their home, whether it be a candleholder or a new flat screen television, that if they could have either eliminated the purchase or found a used thing to purchase that they would end up in a much better financial situation. It is fairly easy to think about how much it costs to buy a Porsche 911. However, I find that is it often much less expensive things that deplete the net worth of a person. For example, I want to an estate sale this weekend held by a person downsizing from a large house to a condo. I have never felt so overwhelmed and sad for a person I hadn’t met. There were several sets of dishes for different occasions, dozens of different table linens and napkins, boxes of unused picture frames, Christmas decorations, crafting supplies, silver tea sets, blankets, sheets…..you name it. I couldn’t help but feel that this individual was attempting to fill some sort of a void in her life through the purchase of things.
The bottom line is that your material possessions don’t make you wealthy in the long run. Quite the opposite. Your money is the most valuable as money. Once you turn your money into a material possession it is almost certainly worth pennies on the dollar of what you paid for it. So, the next time you find yourself admiring all of the nice stuff in a person’s home remember that just because they have stuff doesn’t necessarily mean they are wealthy. More importantly, realize that having a lot of stuff is a barrier to wealth.
I heard a great quote the other day. I cannot recall who said it, but it was a wise person nonetheless who said, “the best way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.” Take a look around at the stuff you have in your home. This stuff used to be a lot of money. You need some stuff. Do you need all of the stuff you have? Could you turn any of it into money? Could you do better in the future spending less money on stuff? Figure out your way to spend less money on things and see your wealth grow.
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.