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Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Curse of Stuff

Self-storage lockers are the fastest growing business in the USA, at least according to the Internet. I can believe it. While we were raising our kids we were in heavy accumulation mode. You need stuff, so you buy it. But when you're done with it, if it hasn't been destroyed, you save it. I mean you paid good money for it, and maybe we'll need it again someday. Save it! It's valuable!

We are pretty settled in our ways now and most of that stuff is not going to be needed, we should get rid of it. But what if we do end up needing it? Buy a new one. The aggravation you save by not having to inventory a zillion things you probably will never need outweighs the tiny spark of joy you get when you realize that you need that widget you saved from 1909.

Goodwill is the obvious choice for some things, but not all. Things like tools. They are of interest to only a small proportion of the population, partly because firstly, only about 10% of the people have any aptitude for fixing things, and secondly because most modern devices cannot be fixed and should just be thrown away when they break.

I've been thinking I should put some ads on Craigslist to see if I can get rid of some of this stuff, but it's a hassle. It takes, time, you have to fill out forms, you have to be at least semi-organized, and you have to stick with it. It's a whole lot like work. My wife and I finally got together and started on this project. We've been at it for a couple of weeks and we've had some success. We've sold a couple of items and given away a couple of things and the relief we got from having them gone is palpable.

The hard part is setting prices. If you paid $500 for something that is still functional and useful (i.e. not obsolete), you don't want to let it go for $20. You're disrespecting the item, whatever it is. But you are unlikely to get $250 for it either, unless it's a musical instrument. There are two factors at play here. One is how much you want to get rid of it, and two is how long you are willing to wait. There are people out there who are religiously scanning the ads for bargains on stuff they can turn around and resell for a profit. But if you have some oddball stuff, it may be a few weeks before someone who can use it will bother to check the ads and give you a call.

I had a box of baseballs I was giving away. Took two weeks before anyone called. A $200 gas barbecue grill got no calls when it was priced at $100. At $50 it was gone in a week.

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