Do I Own My Stuff?

I’ve written before that I place too much importance on stuff.  I think this comes from being an insecure kid who didn’t have the stuff other kids in our neighborhood had.  My Dad tells me there was no end to my “needs”.  I was never satisfied.  I’m sure he’s right.  You can’t fill the hole of insecurity with stuff.

As I got older, I was able to buy some of my own stuff.

My parents would match any money saved to buy bikes.  So I saved up, for what seemed like forever, and bought (half of) a new bike.  42 years later and I still remember–Panasonic Sport Deluxe, shiny red.  It was a beauty.  About a week after I got it, I parked it at my best friend’s house and it was stolen.  Never saw it again, I was back to riding my brother’s hand me down bike.

I started to be over-protective of my stuff.

Then, when I was 30, Mr. Ms. Liz came home from work and the garage door was up, the front door had a footprint and a crowbar mark on it, and we were cleaned out.  I remember that phone call like it was yesterday rather than 22 years ago.  Our cat was missing, our stuff was gone.

We found the cat–terrified hiding under a tree.  But we had been cleaned out–shopped really.  Computers (back when computers were very costly), TV’s, stereo equipment, tools, cameras, jewelry, bedding, clothing–including underwear but only the good ones.  You get the picture.

The robbery ended up being a financial gain but a huge emotional loss.  All of our old, used crap was replaced with new, fabulous stuff.  I never drove up to that house again without feeling a bit of a pit in my stomach.  The thieves stole all of our old crap, when would they be back to get the new stuff?

So we did some things to better protect our stuff.  We looked around the neighborhood and realized our house was one of very few without security doors.  We bought security doors, we prevented entry from the garage windows, we put a layer of mesh glass in our entry window.  But really, if someone wanted to get our stuff, they would get our stuff.

You would think this experience would make me place less value on stuff.  We lost our old stuff, State Farm replaced it with new stuff.  Easy peasy right?

But the robbery just reinforced the emotional toll of losing my stuff.

Now I (over)protect my stuff for several reasons.  One is to prevent the heartache of losing my stuff but I also don’t want to replace it.  Because replacing stuff derails my financial goals.

I haven’t even talked about maintaining and storing my stuff and it already feels like a huge weight.

When I retired, we talked about downsizing our Colorado home.  It was always out in the distant future–like 20 years out.  But after spending a few months in our little desert home, our dream home just feels big.  We just got our $7,000 property tax bill and it feels like too much.

But our dream home is full of our stuff.  What will we do with our stuff?

We could start looking for a smaller place but will our couch fit?

We can get rid of some stuff but will we miss it or need it?

Do I own my stuff or does my stuff own me?

Yesterday, I found out a neighbor’s home is in foreclosure.  It makes me sad.  They always had the best stuff.

Do you wish you had less stuff?

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Author: Ms. Liz

A CPA, I retired at 51 and I am helping people create their fantastic futures!

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