... is apparent once you read "Thrift Stores Thriving, But Running Low on Stock" (NYT, Sep 10, 08) Go ahead. I'll wait.
This month's focus: How much is your stuff really worth? And is your stuff helping you manage your money wisely or making you poorer in the long run?
Two things inspired this topic. First, we held a yard sale two weeks ago, and the stuff we valued -- i.e. the stuff we'd pay good money for -- was dramatically different from the stuff that people eagerly snapped up. Second, I spent two days this past week trying to organize my mom and stepfather's garage. My stepdad's kind of the ultimate greenie in his fervent belief that you can reuse and repurpose anything. However, the re-use part is kind of predicated on the notion that you know what you have and where it is, and that's where we ran into problems.
After spending two weeks surrounded by seas of stuff and noticing how widely the perception of value for an item differs from person to person, I got to thinking: how do you decide when it's "worth it" to keep something? And when is it "worth" it to throw something out?
What physical belongings do we value above their fair market price, and how does our assessment affect the other financial decisions we make? Organizing that garage cost us a little money -- $10 for the clear storage containers that now hold a closet's worth of electrical parts. Hauling a truck load of old car radios, broken-down boxes and asbestos shingles (I have no idea why you'd hold on to those) cost us a little more money at the landfill. It's like you pay for stuff over and over again -- you pay to acquire it, to organize it, and to dispose of it.
So let's think about the hidden costs of stuff this month. Identify those costs and figure out what to do about them!