The Real Cost of My Stuff

I spent about 14 hours this weekend getting ready for our upcoming garage sales.

I also sold our TV, living room furniture, washer, and dryer to a family friend who is moving today and needed the stuff ASAP. We’ve still got a little over two months to live here, but it was important to Jared that the TV “went to a good home.”

I’ve also completed my first eBay and Amazon sales in the last week.

I tell you all that to tell you this:

I’ve learned a thing or two about the resale value of stuff.

And what I’ve learned is simple:

Stuff is not an investment.

With very, very few exceptions, stuff is an expense. Like food or admission prices, it’s something for which you give away money. Full stop.

Even furniture for which you spent months shopping and spent thousands of dollars. Even clothing you got on sale. Even the perfect pair of shoes to go with that dress.

The latest technology, the fanciest kitchen gadgets – none of it is an investment of your money. The moment you pay for it, it begins to basically lose value. Consider your money gone, and an item waning in value left in its place.

That doesn’t mean all stuff is bad.

All expenses aren’t bad.

There are a lot of things for which I gladly fork over money with absolutely no illusion of getting some financial return in the future. When I pay for a plane ticket, I know I’m paying for a finite service. It’s an expense. I have that same awareness about most services and perishable items.

But for some reason, I’ve been able to convince myself over the years that certain stuff was an investment. Not consciously, of course, but somewhere along the way I started to think of accumulating stuff as building toward something that would pay me back at some point.

I was investing in a wardrobe.

I was investing in a home with furnishings and decor.

But I wasn’t. I was paying for the privilege of enjoying something temporary. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I may have made a few different financial decisions if I’d been thinking temporary at the time of purchase.

I may not have purchased four different pairs of red shoes.

I definitely wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars over the last several years on home decor.

I would have only paid for clothes I was madly in love with, clothes that were an absolute joy to wear while they lasted.

I would have been even more frugal and more resourceful. I would have thought a little more about what I already had and what I was giving up forever in exchange for having this thing.

If only I knew then what I know now.

I would have saved a fortune on toys for my kids.

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