When my wife Jo and I decided to sell our home in Illinois, the first question we asked ourselves was, “What are we going to do with all our stuff?” Somehow our children, neighbors, friends, the Salvation Army, and a moving van would have to magically make it disappear sometime before we closed escrow at the end of the month.
My many theories about stuff have proven to be true over the dozen or more homes I’ve lived in during the last 73 years. First off, no matter the size of the home, it’s always full of stuff within five years. When we sold our home in Pensacola along with all of its furnishings, we managed to fill the next one to the brim in no time flat.
When we pack up a house, we often pause and hold up nostalgic items, fondly remembering a trip or event. Souvenirs are supposed to remind us of good times, but not everything fits that bill. We have everything from the newest TVs right on down to outdated technology hidden somewhere near the treadmill or in a guest bedroom. We even have a spare refrigerator in the garage. We use most of this stuff, other than the television in the family room, for less than ten hours each year. It’s no wonder the damn things never wear out.
Most of the stuff that is important to us means very little to our children. Having cleaned out three homes that belonged to older family members, I can safely say that everything worth saving can usually fit into a Ford Explorer. The rest ends up at the Salvation Army or Goodwill, and a small amount of furniture is quickly dispersed among family members. For most folks, their children are well situated by the time their last home is cleaned out. There may be a few things the kids want, but little they need.
Jo and I have friends who’ve considered downsizing, but the thought of having to deal with decades of accumulated stuff is downright scary for them. Some of our friends have off-limits basements or storage areas where guests are not allowed. They’re simply too embarrassed by the endless boxes and piles of stuff.
That’s why I’ve come up with a “stuff grading system,” to help us all rank the goods accumulated over a lifetime. A similar outlook holds true for our investments as well.
Really Good Stuff This category includes anything appreciating in value. One may not have bought it as an investment, but it turned into one. It could be a coin collection, gold jewelry, artwork, Matchbox cars, or other type of collectible. Take good care of these items; one may need to sell them down the road. But for now, hang on to them, these are like the investments that Warren Buffett says he will never sell. You want to have a few of these in your portfolio to give you income and share price appreciation so that when the time comes