Just How Much Value Should We Get From Our Stuff?

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Last week I cleaned out the shed.

Or maybe I should say, I finished cleaning out the shed.  Two years ago, when I tidied my home, I did this shed.  The challenge I had at the time, was that I had tons of house projects that still needed to be done.  So I saved a lot of things, not because they sparked joy, but because they were needed for upcoming house repairs. All but two of those projects are now done, so I felt it was time to dig back into the fray. During those two years it had become disorganized, mostly because those project things didn’t have a real place to be.  As I  painted walls, fixed floors, repaired fences, the leftover bits and pieces got stuck in the shed wherever they would fit. Or didn’t fit.

Tidying the shed went fine, up to a point. In typical KonMari fashion, I pulled everything out.  I sorted it all into categories.  I held everything in my hands and decided if it sparked joy, was useful, or was no longer needed.  I swept and hosed out the shed. Then wiped down all of the “keeper” items and gave them new homes on clean shelves.

That wasn’t a problem.  The problem came in deciding how to dispose of the excess.

“Honey, looks like I’m having a yard sale again,”   I said.

“But, you said never again!”  Greg let out a big sigh.

“I know, but this is the last time.  This is the last of the stuff. I’m almost done with projects, so no more after this,” I explained in what I thought was a reasonable voice.

“But, you told me never again. You said you hate yard sales.”

“I do!”  Now I sighed.

Greg looked at my forlorn face and caved. “Ok.  Have your yard sale. When do you want to do it?”

“Maybe next week,” I said.

I left it at that.  I started sorting out stuff on the grass, and got my price stickers out. Suddenly I was sad.

Greg was right, I hated yard sales.  I hated getting up early to put signs out. I hated haggling over prices. I hated sitting in the hot sun waiting for the next customer to show up. I hated running to the bank to make sure I had more than enough change on hand.  I hated waiting to the last second to close up shop, just in case I had that one, final customer. I hated packing up the remainder and taking it all down to the donation center.

So why am I doing this?

The first thing that came to mind was, “because this stuff is worth something; I need to get some money for it.”

That thought stopped me dead in my tracks. I had barreled right into that “our stuff has value” trap.  Well granted, some things may have value, but not most.

I am usually the first person to say that it’s okay to let things go.  And that we’ve learned  so much from our belongings, thanking them and letting them go so they can be  used  and enjoyed by someone else, is a great  thing.  Especially when we give away our good things to people who are expecting our not so good things.

I’m still a firm believer in that. So, again, why am I doing this? And why the heck am I conditioned to automatically think I have to sell stuff and get my money back, even though in my heart, I don’t really feel that way?

As I thought about it, I began to realize that my  sticking point really seemed to come  with deciding whether  something  still had had more value  left to me, than I had used up by my ownership of the item.

Let me put it a different way. If I bought an item new,  I had it’s set value in mind,  which was the price I paid for it.  It seemed to me that if I felt I hadn’t used up that value, then mentally I thought needed to be compensated for the difference.

Wow.

Then I realized something else.  When  I go out with my husband and we spend money on dinner and a movie, I don’t go home afterward and worry about whether or not I got my value for my money.  I mean sure, we have our favorite places to go and we research what time of day might cost less, but if we have decided we are going, we accept the costs as we go along. It’s a non-issue.

As well, if my neighbor’s daughter is selling something for a fundraiser for school, I don’t worry about what I’m buying from her.  I come up with an amount I want to spend, then see what she has that fits that criteria. If it’s a tub of frozen cookie dough, even if I know it would cost less to make at home, I don’t worry about it. Again, it’s a non-issue.   I had already let go of the “value” thought when I gave Sarah the money.

So why  did I have a different mindset with stuff sitting dusty in the back of my shed? Why did I struggle with letting go of the money that I had already spent? I really didn’t have an answer. I’m not sure I do even now. Unless it’s just the “ownership” mentality;  that this item is “mine” so I need to get compensated.

But even if I did have a yard sale and got some money for all of this stuff, was it a good value for my time?   It takes time to set up for a yard sale.  There is the pricing, the sign making, running the ad, cleaning up of the items, getting the change to have on hand, organizing the stuff, and then selling it the day of the sale.  And then, if I don’t sell it, I still have to figure out how to get rid of the remains.

Maybe, if I had a lot of belongings to sell, and I sold them all, then it would have been worth the time. But with the small amount of things I had, and after doing some quick math, I realized I was actually losing money by selling.

Again another reason to just let the stuff go.

“Honey?”

” You need help setting up for the yard sale, right?” Greg asked.

“Well, I do need some help.” I said with a smile.

Greg sighed.  “Ok. What am I moving and where does it go?”

“Well, we’re moving the whole pile of stuff, and putting out side of the front fence,”  I said.

“Huh?”  Greg looked puzzled.

“Yeah, I’m having a FREE sale,” I said.

“Great! Now that is a good idea. ” He said and smiled back at me.

 

So we moved it all, the cheap stuff, the expensive stuff, and the in between stuff to the front of the yard. I put a big FREE sign next to it and  I typed a quick ad in the neighborhood online group. By the end of the day, it was all gone.

I don’t miss any of it. I don’t feel like I lost money. I don’t even think about it.

Which is how it should be.

 

 

 

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