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Stifled by Stuff?

Don’t wait till you’re moving to take inventory of your possessions.

Recently, I helped my neighbors move as they set out across the country for a new job and a new adventure. They are a young couple who had moved in with each other about a year and a half ago, and like most people, found that even in that amount of time, they had accumulated more stuff than they’d realized. Although they got along for the most part, they argued a bit during the packing process over what to keep and what to pitch, or something one finds hideous that the other thought was awesome.

If you’ve ever moved (and who hasn’t?) this is definitely a time when you look around and think, “Why do I even have that? This is junk!” My neighbors were also in that last-minute packing stage, when everything ranging from seemingly nice furniture to electronics was being given away to friends, Goodwill, or tossed to the curb. 

As we all know, this situation is not unique. Anytime someone moves, there will be a number of things that get left behind, either because they won’t work in the new house, they’re no longer needed or functional, or they’re just old. Blinds, drapes, art, decorations, furniture, etc., get thrown away or sold at a much lower price than it was purchased for. I also found it amusing to watch all our other neighbors vulture around the pile of stuff left at the end of the driveway. Trash to treasure, as they say.

Everyone accumulates stuff, and some people more so than others. Stuff, and what to do with it and how to take care of it, often equates to stress, debt, and even relationship trouble. This is especially true during moves, while a couple or family is trying to relocate every single material possession they own, and disagreements over what to keep and what to part with are put on the front burner. And of course, the more stuff you have, the more costly (and contentious) the move. 

This is one reason why we typically recommend that all of our clients complete a homeowner’s inventory. We encourage everyone, from first-time homeowners in a 1500-square-foot starter house to more established clients in larger, more permanent dwellings, to take photos, videos, and inventory of everything the own – and store those in a safe place, like the virtual vault in our eMoney software. 

I know younger clients won’t have the china cabinet filled with valuable possessions to properly insure in case of disaster, but even so, I want them to take an inventory of their possessions. This gets people thinking about how much they actually own. It’s easy to overlook just how much can be crammed into even a small house, but when you’re cataloging every last possession, well, it’s harder to ignore. 

It’s in these moments that people realize they might have a “knick-knack” purchasing problem, or that they tend to buy a lot of unnecessary gadgets. Showing people the numbers on paper of what they’ve spent doesn’t always drive the point home, but shining a spotlight on all their possessions makes people truly realize how much they’ve accumulated. 

Think about your last move. How stressful was it? Are there boxes tucked away that you still haven’t unpacked? Is the garage a storage unit instead of a place to park your car? Might be time for a clean-out – and a good, hard look at your buying habits.

As always, if you need help budgeting, or are saving for a new home or a big remodel, let us know. We’ll go over your current situation and future goals during your next planning meeting and come up with a solution that works for you and yours. And remember, we’re never too busy for your referrals. 

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