When It’s Time to Detach From Your Things

“My favorite things aren’t things any more” – Courtney Carver

Last month I almost did something crazy. I almost gave away my entire coin collection.

That’s right – the guy who only has one main hobby left, and created an entire blog dedicated to these historic beauties, almost gave up collecting entirely.

Why? Well, as odd as it sounds, my collection was the last remaining “thing” I owned that I was still overly attached to and didn’t want to be anymore.

You know that question of “if your house is burning down, what would you go run and grab?” For me, it would be my box of coins once I knew my wife and kids were safe.

Nothing too terrible about that I don’t think, especially as they’re the only thing left I care about in our house of a thousand+ things (which I attribute 100% to last year’s Challenge Everything mission btw, – it got me detached from all kinds of bills AND “stuff!”), but the idea of being free from *everything* was even more desirable from the ownership of them. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, a few cracks had started to emerge in this beloved hobby of mine as well…

(ATTENTION all numismatists*, avert your eyes now!)

#1. I never seem to be content

When I first started collecting, I was happy with ANY coin that graciously made its way into my possession. I was just stepping into the brand new world of coin collecting – the “hobby of the kings!”- and I was grateful to just have a collection. Not unlike attaining your very first car or apartment, for that matter – any is better than none at all!

As I grew into the hobby, however, I quickly noticed my desire to “need” bigger and better coins in order to continue to stay excited. The $20 or $30 items I was first so fascinated with soon became commonplace, and I started desiring even older – more valuable – coins to keep me riding high. It wasn’t that I had stopped appreciating these smaller ones as their history is equally as interesting as their counterparts, it was just that there were always better – more juicier – ones around the corner. The possibilities never end!

Case in point: a few months back I learned that a friend of mine had a $500 bill he was looking to trade away. I wasn’t necessarily on the hunt for one, but as a lover of anything “odd” in the currency world (my favorite coins to collect are half cents, 3 cent pieces, 2 cent pieces, and gold dollar coins – typically from the 1800’s and older!) I was soon adamant about getting one. I showed my friend a few pieces and some cash I was willing to give up for it, and shortly thereafter I was the proud new owner of a $500 bill – woo!

Here’s what one looks like in case you’re interested (and I know you are ;)):

$500 bill

As fun as it was to stare at, however, the excitement was gone about a week later… I still very much appreciated its beauty and place in our history (they were discontinued in 1969 due to “lack of use”) but the Greed Man inside of me quenched for more… Whispering things such as “That bill is OK, but imagine how a $1,000 note would make you feel!” and “You need to keep on climbing, you’re just getting started!” And just like that, I was back in the trap of wanting more again…

Though in Greed Man’s defense, these bills are pretty spectacular looking ;) Just look at that ‘stache!

$1,000 bill

Now fortunately I have rules in place that force my obsessions to be only that – obsessions – but this new pattern of thinking was starting to get out of control. After getting my hands on the $1,000 I’d only then want to shoot for the $5,000 bill, and then after that the $10,000 bill (real currency!), and eventually the ultimate bill of all – the $100,000 gold certificate! A note only used to transfer money between Federal Reserve Banks, and one I’d die trying to get as they’re impossible to own as a collector. Or legal, for that matter.

Here are the rules that have served me well so far:

  1. All coins must fit in my little box
  2. I’m not allowed to buy anything with more than $1,000 cash (see problem #3 below)
  3. I’m only allowed to use money I get off trades, or from those coins/bills I sell from my own collection or those whom I help liquidate. (Think – dusty boxes in attics of grandparents, the best!)

Pretty good barriers to keep my wallet and addiction safe, yet still no match for the “wanting of more.”

#2. Anyone can buy stuff with enough money

While finding deals and getting your hands on the more rare coins/bills out there takes a level of skill plus some luck, by and large if you have a purse full of money you can snatch up almost any coin your heart desires. Money talks, and almost anyone will give up a coin for the right price.

Now this shouldn’t mean that no one’s ever allowed to use their hard-earned money to add to their collection – it’s your money, spend as you wish! – however, the idea that any Joe Schmoe off the street can simply write a check to score a million dollar collection on a whim leaves me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth… rightfully so or not. There are many reasons to get into the hobby of collecting, but one of the worst is to just scoop them up simply because you can or to show off. To be said of nothing of experiencing “the journey” – and culture – itself.

And you see this in many areas of life too – not just with collecting.

Remember that saying, “anyone can buy that“? Which I devised to keep my sanity in check? :) It’s what I say to myself any time I come across a Porsche or multi-million dollar estate or anything else fancy that I catch myself getting jealous of within seconds of seeing. It reminds me that *anyone* can buy that stuff as it takes no particular skill whatsoever. Just piles of money or a comfortable penchant for debt!

And to me, the power of *being able* to buy something vs actually pulling the trigger are two completely different things. One much sexier than the other. (Though again, people can prioritize as they please!)

#3. It’s starting to feel wasteful

As much as I appreciate the history and uniqueness of all that’s our country’s currency, it’s not lost on me that it seems ridiculous to spend hundreds – or even hundreds of thousands! – of dollars on tiny pieces of metal. Even if it’s technically worth that in the industry.

The plus side is that unlike many other hobbies, decent coins can double as an investment at the same time. And if you didn’t want to hold onto them for generations after generations to watch the values grow more, there’s an active enough market out there that you can flip them while still retaining a sizeable portion of their value. So it’s not a total “waste” even if you are dumping gobs of money into it, but of course there are a slew of other ways to put that money to more beneficial use.

For most, however, collecting is simply a hobby.  And the problem becomes, of course, when it starts adding the opposite of joy to your life and brings out some less than stellar qualities in you. It’s one thing to pick up a coin or a stamp or heck – even a beanie baby! – when you’re in the mood every now and then, but it’s a whole other when you start plonking down good money for something you’re not sure is adding value to your life anymore.

And that right there is the biggest red flag of all – whether something is adding value to your life anymore. Whether it be things, occupations, people, ideas, etc.

When we catch ourselves doing things just because we’re so used to doing them, it’s smart to take a step back and ask whether it’s still worth it to ourselves anymore. Do we still want to participate in this hobby we were once so excited about? Do we still want this big house of ours even though at one point it might have made sense? Are my friends still truly my friends, or have we gone our separate ways in life, or worse – have they become toxic?

While I focused on coins today, this is the main takeaway of the post – to be cognizant of ALL things we bring into both our lives and our homes. I’m pretty sure we all have our “collections”, whether we want to admit it or not, but if you haven’t thought about it lately let this be the push to do so!

What’s the one thing you’re still attached to in your life that may not be worth it anymore? How does that make you feel?? What would you grab if you only had a few seconds in a house fire?

As for me and my glorious coins, well, I’m still going to participate in the hobby because it brings me more joy than it does envy (at least for now), but I’m not going to be adding anything new to the collection for a while and just focus on the parts I enjoy the most – the community! As nerdy as it sounds, one of the most pleasant parts of the month is attending our local coin club meetings :) And perhaps just being surrounded by them will be equally as pleasant as actually *owning* any of them?

We don’t need to own everything we love, right?

And thanks to a dear friend of mine talking me off the ledge, I’ve also decided to not just give away my collection either. Instead, I’ll keep it in our family and pass it down to my boys when they’re old enough to appreciate things more. Perhaps they’ll think it’s as lame as most people do under the age of 65, but it’s at least worth finding out :)

All I know for sure is that my coins are done taking over my emotions, and after 36 years of being on this planet I am finally, and officially, detached from every last thing I own! WOO!

Freedom time, here we come!

*A numismatist is our fancy word for coin collector, pronounced “new-miss-mah-tist”. Which also includes the collection – or study – of tokens, paper money, stock certificates and all other objects relating to currency.

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  1. Mrs. CTC @FromCostToCoast April 11, 2016 at 5:55 AM

    Honestly, if my house was on fire I would be happy to get everyone out safely and healthy. I don’t think I would consider any of my ‘stuff’. Afterwards I might regret losing old pictures or diplomas but that’s probably it (note to self: make a scan of those suckers!). Maybe some of the kid’s toys or old baby clothes…

    I’m not really attached to things and I don’t have collections. Unless you would call all our old stuff in the attic a ‘collection’. But trust me, you wouldn’t :) Letting go of that would be so liberating!

    Side note: ‘numismatist’ may very well be my new favorite word, never heard of it before!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 6:34 AM

      It’s a fun one :) At the very first coin show I attended I attempted to fit in by saying it to someone, and I was quickly informed that I had said it wrong, haha… had to be shown up by a couple of 80 year olds.

      1. Mrs. CTC April 11, 2016 at 4:52 PM

        Haha yeah, I’m sure you would have blended in perfectly with the 80 year olds if it wasn’t for the bad pronunciation ;)

  2. Brian @DebtDiscipline April 11, 2016 at 6:29 AM

    Interesting. I heard you mention on your podcast about becoming more of a minimalist these days. Sounds like a plan going forward. let the collection of coins stand as is and pass it along to your boys not need to let it rule your emotions.

    If my house was on fire I’d be happy to get everyone out safely and other than a few documents, photos or keepsakes, not sure I’m that attached to anything that could not be replaced.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 6:40 AM

      Great position to be in!

      Yeah – the collecting of *anything* doesn’t really match up well with the minimal lifestyle at all, haha… unless you count cash money ;) On the plus side, my main collection fits into a nice and tidy cigar box so at least it doesn’t take up much space! Very different than most types of collections out there, thank goodness.


  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer April 11, 2016 at 6:59 AM

    Powerful post, my friend. You’ve got me thinking. I wasn’t planning on doing that this early in the morning. Not sure if I should thank you or not for that. :-)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      There is never a bad time for good thinking! :)

  4. Chris Muller April 11, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    Interesting take, J. There’s definitely a psychological aspect to collecting things. I actually think collections compensate for something else. Something that was missing at some point in your life, so you overcompensate by building up a collection of something. A friend of mine did this with action figures… as an adult. He never got the opportunity to have those things when he was a kid, though, so it sorta made sense. Anyway, it’s cool to see you’re setting boundaries for yourself after this self realization. Nice job buddy. Hope all is well with you.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:32 PM

      I’m probably overcompensating for my lack of history learning/caring back in the day, haha… I never understood why our past mattered until I got older ;)

  5. Distilled Dollar April 11, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    “but the idea of being free from *everything* was even more desirable from the ownership of them”

    Wow, this wrapped it up well.

    If there was a fire, and everyone was safe…It would likely be the handwritten letters that have been exchanged between myself and my girlfriend since we started dating. We’ve collected these over the years and have not thrown any away.

    The second most precious thing for me is my phone, simply because of the various photos & notes I’ve kept on there. All of that is stored in the cloud now, so I could leave my phone behind and still have access to what was lost.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:32 PM

      yeah love letters! Before everyone emailed and texted them!!! :)

    2. Dee May 20, 2016 at 5:53 PM

      I would still scan a few things and put them on multiple hard drives. I down sized a few years ago…started teaching my children to do same. We move a lot and once you’ve cooked a few meals with just one large pan and a couple utensils, you realize, we don’t need as much as we think!

      I didn’t scan any old love letters though…may have to get that done!

  6. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers April 11, 2016 at 7:31 AM

    I collected pennies in my teens and still love them. My collection went back to the 1860’s but found that the nest coin that I needed to have an unbroken chain was a 1877 penny. But the cheapest one that I was able to find was $500 so I stopped because that’s a lot of money when your working minimum wage and trying to save up for college. And now that I have a family and real job I can’t justify dropping $500+ on a coin to sit in the closet of a house that I still owe a mortgage on. So all I do with it these days is keep it up-to-date with new coins and look forward to the day that my boys are old enough to appreciate it and want to help get me back into it.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:34 PM

      “…to sit in the closet of a house that I still owe a mortgage on” hahahha…

      But man… that IS a beautiful coin you’re missing :)

  7. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor April 11, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    Wow, that sounds like a big step in your journey toward minimalism and less waste. So way to go! I have been selling remnants from old hobbies, like book series and my Irish dancing shoes, because even if that was a big part of my life at one time, I really can’t use those things anymore. And someone else can.

  8. Apathy Ends April 11, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    i have never really been attached to “things” but we do have one of those little safes in our bedroom with some items I would not want to lose (grandpas watch and wedding ring)

    We do have a bunch of “stuff” however that is just sitting around not being used that I would like to get rid of.

    My father in law collects coins, it is interesting to see how currency evolved and became less cool over time (seems like it is the case for everything but technology)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:35 PM

      I know, right???

      We used to have some damn good looking coins/bills back in the day… Def. not a fan of most of the modern stuff going on – either here, or around the world (though certainly other countries are doing it better)

  9. Stefan @Mllnnlbudget April 11, 2016 at 8:17 AM

    Congrats on your goal so far J Money. I would say I am definitely attached to my computer I purchased with my own money a couple summers ago. It was my first big purchase I could afford and I would definitely try to save it if a fire happened, assuming everybody else is safe. I can’t see myself losing it right now but I know I need to detach myself from it.

  10. Eric Bowlin April 11, 2016 at 8:30 AM

    Very interesting to think about. I’m going to have to give it some thought…What am I attached to and what should i give up.

    I think having a collection or a hobby is a great way to focus some extra energy…as long as you don’t let it become an obsession.

  11. Fervent Finance April 11, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    I’ve been on the minimalist road myself lately. A trip to the donation center here, trip to the trash there, just getting rid of stuff that I don’t use and just collects dust. Now with my pending move, I really want to pair down to the things I need as I don’t want to move “stuff” I have no use for.

  12. S L April 11, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    My “Thing” is books: research books on my hobby (it is a wide-ranging hobby), SF books from favorite authors, books books books books books. I have lately been looking at moving (again… number 43? 44? in my life – some same town, some cross-country) and downsizing my house. kids are gone, visitors don’t come by and stay a week or so anymore, or if they do it is in a hotel, despite offers (and I get that, not hurt by that at all!) I realized (before actually moving this time — slow learner) that it seem the majority of my boxes were books. Last night I went through my library — about eight bookcases worth, and first pass, I have it down by about 40% (hrmm… may not need those bookcases to make the move, unless I can reuse them elsewhere) AND, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I had duplicates I didn’t know about, partial series I had never read because I could never find the first in the series, books that HAD to have been gifts because I didn’t recognize them, nor were the spines loved… Guess who is going to half price books (and doing her best not to replace what she sells)?

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:37 PM

      Alright!!! Love to hear that – you’re on fire over there, keep going!! Books are def. hard to get rid of! Especially if you prefer real-life ones vs digital ones all the time :)

  13. Lisa O April 11, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    If my house were on fire as long as my family & pets were out the rest could burn to the ground. Yes I have my favorites – rocking chair of Grandpa’s – mirror over fireplace Grandma’s – pictures but it the end…you cannot take it with you! I have a very small wheat penny collection with one Indian head penny that I collected with my Grandpa when I was a child…I just took them to be looked at and they are worth .03 each and the Indian Head penny worth up to .98! I remember collecting them with him for fun and he told me they would be worth a lot of money some day. I have put them in a safe place to pass on to my Grandchildren some day….the story is worth more than the $2.75 I could get for them.

    It really is the best when material things don’t rule your life!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:39 PM

      That’s a cute story :) And one of the best things about inheriting coins from family or friends – you get to learn the history of them all!

      1. Lisa O April 12, 2016 at 9:11 AM

        Thanks……I was just surprised when I found them tucked away. Those few coins were still in the little basket from Grandpa’s house from some 40 years ago. They have traveled from my childhood home, to an apartment, to a home I raised my children in to the house I am currently living in.

        1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:29 AM

          Awwwww stop it!! :)

  14. SavvyFinancialLatina April 11, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    I recently purged closets and the shed. It was hard letting go of things…even though I knew I didn’t need the items. I probably still need more purging, but I think I’ve done enough for right now.

  15. Mr. SSC April 11, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Yeah that’s a great point about hobbies and collecting. I’ve never thought of myself as a musical instrument collector until a few years ago when I realized that I had 4 banjo’s, 2 guitars, an electric bass (I don’t play bass), a mandolin, a dobro (resonator guitar), and an electric keyboard. Like you I realized that what the bajiggety, why do I own all of these, I can only play one at a time. Except for one guitar which is a 1947 Gibson that my grandpa owned, and a banjo with a great story and memory of how I got it with my own dad, the rest were just a result of hoarding and like you said, always wanting something bigger and better, I guess. I got rid of most of them and then have spent time learning how to play the dobro so it’s not a “wasted” instrument just hanging around.
    Now the instruments are either sentimental or high quality, and they all get played, now that the “collection” is trimmed down. :) It was tough making that first move and selling stuff though. Real tough…

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:40 PM

      Oh yeah – the first part is intimidating but once you get going it gets easier! Good job and coming to the realization, and then even better – doing something about it!

  16. James April 11, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    My passion was comics and MTG gaming cards. The trouble with those things is the curating. Special boxes and bags, storage space, etc. I had an incredible, very complete collection of Wolverine comics. It was hard to let go, took the better part of a year of selling, but I finally cleared it all out.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:41 PM

      Oh wow, congrats. That’s def. hard to do!

  17. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar April 11, 2016 at 9:44 AM

    Oh man. This is me with eBay. The only problem is that it’s a big machine that spits out more money than I started with. I only started by selling a few things around the house and now I have over 300 items listed plus a bunch more to list. I have an industrial grade shelving unit filled and have another big shelving unit with box/shipping materials. I have a label printer. I have a lot of other things just for this hobby.

    I guess it’s good that my hobby makes money instead of sucking money (I think of the ones like high end RC cars – prone to break and lots of up front money required).

    Also, you need to really get the trillion dollar bill from the Simpsons. http://www.discusseconomics.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/trillion21.png

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:42 PM

      Haha nice…

      And I agree – a hobby that pays is even better :) I’m okay with holding onto things temporarily if I know they’re definitely going out the door at some point! It becomes a problem when it’s “one for you, two for me, one for you, two for me” haha…

  18. Ty @ Get Rich Quickish April 11, 2016 at 10:12 AM

    This one really resonates with me right now. Just had a death in the family which reaffirmed something I already knew: stuff just doesn’t matter.

    There can be a very fine line between owning something vs. being owned by it. Like you, I’m finally detached from my stuff.

    I still have a hobby, but these days I’m able to find the fun in it and walk away completely if necessary, and being able to say that brings me some level of satisfaction.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:43 PM

      Sucky way to have it sink in more, but glad that it is!

    2. Lisa O April 12, 2016 at 9:07 AM

      I had the same thing happen when my Mother died. I watched all her stuff she loved be given away. Some went to family members because it had meaning but the balance was donated. That was when I decided that living wasn’t about having stuff it was about doing what you want! Sorry for your loss….

  19. Tawcan April 11, 2016 at 11:36 AM

    Being more of a minimalist is always a good idea. Simplify life is always a good idea in my book. Too many people focus on having things and not realize that the more things they have the less and less they deattach from the simple things in their lives.

    I have my coins collection somewhere but haven’t touched it in years, maybe it is time to give away.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:44 PM

      Is it bad that my first thought was – GIVE IT TO ME, PLEASE!!!!? :)

      1. R April 12, 2016 at 1:20 AM

        lol!!! Hee hee hee hee hahahaha! J. Money you are so funny, you always make me laugh.

  20. Harmony April 11, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    I inherited some hoarder tendencies from my mother – not to make excuses, but it’s something I have to be aware of when holding on to things I probably don’t need. The other problem I have is something you alluded to – thinking that it might be nice to hang on to things for the benefit of my kids. Slowly, but surely, I’ve been trying to sort through what actually might be of value to keep, and getting rid of everything else.

    My only collection is of shot glasses – people have helped me collect them from all sorts of international destinations (one of my favorites is from Australia). However, I wouldn’t rescue them from a fire, they don’t take up much room, and they don’t cost (or are worth) a lot of money – I haven’t paid for one in probably five years. I think it’s probably alright to keep them.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:47 PM

      That’s cool that people help add to it :) I used to have some too – along with magnets from all the places I traveled – but eventually gave them away when they became more clutter than excitement. Probably good only to have one obsession than a handful :)

  21. Romeo Jeremiah April 11, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    Naw, sell the coins for TRUE freedom. Otherwise you’re simply rationalizing the irrational. ;-)

    While it may seem like a noble cause, there is no sense in tainting your boys with the “possession” bug. And like you alluded to, they’ll likely not want your coins. It takes a special person (aka nerd) to be a coin enthusiast.

    Flip em’ and add them to your net worth and divide the funds equally into their 529s (or some other financial gift), especially if their cash value invested for 20+ years would end up being more than the value of the coins.

    But, that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never been a collector, and I have absolutely no thing that I’ll run back into a burning house to retrieve.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      I’d be lying if I didn’t get really excited about your idea here :) The money invested would certainly be more valuable over the years for SURE.

  22. PhysicianOnFIRE April 11, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    You are fortunate in that the entire collection fits into a box. I cannot imagine giving it away! Selling? Maybe… depends on what it’s worth, I guess.

    We donated a collection of 100+ shot glasses that my wife and I had picked up in our travels. We rarely drink hard liquor, and my pictures are better souvenirs than 1.5 oz. shooters, so we parted with them. Probably paid $300 to $400 for them over 10 years, gone in one day.

    My “coin collection” is a collection of football and baseball cards. It was everything to me when I was a kid, and it’s moved with me way too many times. Takes up way more space than a cigar box. And the kicker is, that bubble burst a long time ago. I save them because “Maybe my boys will be into cards….” but who am I kidding? I’ll know I entered the minimalism mindset when I am able to part with those.


    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:54 PM

      That is hard!! I still have my shoebox full of cards too – baseball and basketball – but thankfully I’ve only kept the really good ones (and hopefully valuable ones!) and have long parted w/ the rest… A part of me is just waiting to come across a collector with coins he doesn’t want so we can do a nice swap and merge our old hobbies with our new ones haha… but what are the odds of that??

  23. Free Range Nation April 11, 2016 at 12:19 PM

    Over the years, I have been able to release myself from emotional attachment to most physical objects. I keep a few sentimental items in a shoe box, but that is it. If they were to get lost in a fire, I can always create new memories because I am alive. :) I keep all my paperwork in a small fire/water proof safe, because it is a hassle to replace those.

    This concept is one of the major topics behind the workshops I give… releasing yourself from the attachment to physical stuff brings you freedom… financially, mentally and physically. It is very powerful. Some of the greatest thinkers like Einstein and Steve Jobs were extreme minimalists because they felt that ‘stuff’ and clutter just got in the way of their thinking and serving a greater purpose in life. That is where I am at in my life as well and it is very liberating… addition by subtraction.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:55 PM

      Rock on! Esp with only having a shoebox left of the more sentimental stuff… I struggle w/ that part the most trying to get more minimal myself… Logically I can understand it, but I still have a ways to go.

      This part almost made me spit out my water though! “I can always create new memories because I am alive. :)” haha… So true!

  24. Rob April 11, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    This actually really helped me. I love classic cars and as we all know there expensive. So how can you be “smart” with money but yet spend 1000 on parts to fix up your ride. So I kinda take it as I just need moderation instead. So instead of multiple projects I’ll just keep it to one :-) so thank you for talking me off the ledge so to speak.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:56 PM

      GOOD! And the focus will help in many other areas too – perhaps even (*gasp*) completing a classic car project! :)

  25. Chris April 11, 2016 at 12:39 PM

    My husband had some silver quarters stolen. Do you have any idea how much these would be worth? This was several years ago and the person has changed and is going to pay us back for them.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 4:58 PM

      Oh wow – you don’t often hear of people paying back the stuff they’ve stolen, how interesting!

      It all depends on the years and mint marks and grades of the coins, but generally speaking the average silver quarter is worth a little under $3.00 each right now. (It fluctuates with the price of silver).

      Here’s a good site to check out if you want to figure out later how much they’re worth for whatever reason: http://www.coinflation.com/coins/1932-1964-Silver-Washington-Quarter-Value.html

  26. Donna Freedman April 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    Maybe you should become a philatelist. That’s another cool word.

    Saving it for your kids is a good idea. Not just giving it away is an even better idea: Wouldn’t you want to sell it instead, i.e., recoup some of the money you’ve put into accumulating money?

    The best idea, in my opinion, is not to do anything rash. The infatuation with minimalism could wear off, leaving people to think “I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of SO MUCH of my stuff. Apparently some of it DID have value to me.”

    Not that I’m accusing you of jumping on a bandwagon, but just as it’s easy to convince yourself that buying More Stuff will make you happy, I believe it’s easy to tell ourselves that Less Stuff is the answer. You may realize later that some of the stuff DID have value, either to you or to your family later on.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 5:01 PM

      I guess that’s true yeah, but I’ve never actually heard of anyone regretting go minimal have you? I’ve regretted one or two items over the 5-6 years I’ve been going down this path, but not enough to reverse my mentality on it at least yet. I agree it’s never smart to do anything rash though for sure – no matter how much of a high it may give you!

      And speaking of philately, I’ve actually been looking for someone to offload my two old books full of stamps over the years – but no one collects anymore!

  27. Peter Noffsinger April 11, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    I know all too well how a hobby can take over. When I was in my late teens I collected all things Star Wars. I collected every book I could find and every toy I could buy. Eventually I had amassed a large collection when I heard about niches in the market. So my niche became star wars promotional advertising. These included Burger King displays and walmart displays and that sort of thing. Fast forward to today, and all of those things are sitting in boxes collecting dust and my wife and I are planning a cross country move. While the bulk of my collection I can easily sell on Ebay, the promotional pile is a lot harder to find a buyer for. I’ve started to pair down and liquidate some of my collection, but there’s still too much. So I’m making the hard choice of eliminating more. My wife helped me put it in perspective. I’m a nurse at the start of my career, and were going to start our family soon. I’m not going to have a lot of time , and the time I will have I want to spend with our eventual kids. These things would hold me back and aren’t helping me now. The thrill is definitely in the hunt, and that’salmost better than having the things themselves.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 5:03 PM

      Well said my friend, well said… Sounds like you had a hell of a adventure with your collecting too :)

  28. Joe April 11, 2016 at 1:50 PM

    I don’t know man. I think it is okay to be attach to a few things as long as they don’t take over your life. I’m attached to a few things in my place and I’d hate to give them up. Last year, I sold some of my ukulele collection and pared down to just a few. That was pretty nice. I don’t play the other ones anyway.
    I don’t have any other collection hobby. The kid is collecting toys at an alarming rate, though.

  29. Stockbeard April 11, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    When we moved from Japan to the US, the moving company asked us to estimate the values of all the goods that were coming with us.. In other words, estimate how much we own in “stuff” on this Earth.
    I was gladly surprised to discover that my family of four owns approximately $25’000 worth of stuff. That’s right, our entire material possessions are worth less than most people’s cars. If we lost everything in a fire, apart for the sentimental value of some of our stuff of course, it would be pretty easy to replace everything with a minimal impact to our financial goals. Knowing this has given me a great feeling of freedom.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 5:04 PM

      What a great exercise too! Imagine if we were all forced to do that? And what we’d come to realize?

  30. amber tree April 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    Great motivational story! And congrats on becoming really free!

    IT is on my mind since long to become less and less attached to stuff. I try to get rid of items on a regular basis, and the hesitate to get rid of it. It looks like I need more time to do so.

    I tell to my mother in law the 2 year rule: if you have not used it in 2 years, get rid of it. Helps, I am bad at applying it myself. Some examples: the book and jar from being in a student club. I have not touched it for 10 years, yet, I can not get rid of it.

    The question is, do I need to get rid of it, or just detach from it?

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 5:05 PM

      Great question indeed :)

      Romeo above says “detaching” is just another excuse not to get rid of something, but I think there’s a big distinction there and at least is on the right path, haha…

  31. Nicky April 11, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    I love this post! I have a second job right now teaching my hobby, and it enables me to do that hobby for free (as well as paying me for it!) but it has become oddly stressful. I’ve been asking myself how worth it it really is if it’s causing the majority of my stress. I’m sure it’ll settle down and I’ll get back to being able to enjoy it, but it’s good to reevaluate sometimes.

    And have you thought about taking different approaches to your hobby? Like learning about coins and money systems in addition to collecting, or something like that? Maybe a different approach could help get the excitement back without costing you anything. Here in Kansas City, we have one of the federal reserves and they have a small, free money museum. You can even see into the vault and the robots that work in there (named Huey, Dewey and Louie!). They give you a bag of shredded dollars when you leave too :)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 5:07 PM

      Nice! I love *anything* relating to money so I’d soak it all up! Haha…

      And def. not weird about your hobby becoming a bit stressful either. Anytime you mix business into it it has a shot of getting wonky. Because then it’s not purely *just* a hobby… I hope it clears up for you though!

  32. Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life April 11, 2016 at 6:35 PM

    Hobbies with the internet seem very stressful! When I was small and our household had no internet, every coin was the coolest coin ever! And then once I started looking them up, it was just like ugh, so mundane. So I stopped. That was my way of dealing with the issue at the moment. Now that I dance as my hobby, money goes out the door in many ways due to tuition and clothes and shoes. So, in a way, every hobby is money in one way.

  33. Ana April 11, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    This is a good one J Money!… No attachments here, my scrapbooks are the only thing that matter to me other than the members of my family… dog included;)

    Actually in the process of minimizing big time- house on the market, looking to move from 3100sft to a 1500sft townhome!…woo hoo! … And looking forward to all the “stuff” I am either going to give away or throw out! Yes! No more things!

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:33 AM

      BEAUTIFUL!! Hope you get a smooth sale soon!

  34. Meghan April 11, 2016 at 8:53 PM

    My MiL split up the ‘family’ coin collection for Christmas and while it is worth thousands on paper, in realty, she gave us a chore. It was a very generous gift but it’s been sitting in the closet and on our to-do list for years already.

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:33 AM

      Ship it to me and I’ll value it and sell it for you :)

  35. Ditching The Grind April 11, 2016 at 10:29 PM

    Just this weekend we actually donated a huge stack of textbooks from college to the public library. Not sure why we held onto them for so long, some for more than a decade. A couple that still have value, we’re trading in to Amazon. It was a relief to finally get rid of them. Next up is the late ’80s baseball card collection!

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:34 AM

      And all the little boys inside of us scream – don’t do it!! :)

      (But yes – do it!!!)

  36. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank April 12, 2016 at 2:36 AM

    Hi J Money, have you post an article about your coin collection?

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:35 AM

      I’ve talked about it on and off before, but here’s my main blog on collecting:


      You can see a lot of the coins I own – or have traded/sold – there :)

  37. Larry Green April 12, 2016 at 6:52 AM

    I loved this line “We don’t need to own everything we love, right?” Asking yourself that single question can save you a ton of money over time. I have been asking myself this and slowly removing items and expensive hobbies from my life. I am down to a very simple but much happier existence at this point.

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:38 AM

      Thanks man! That was actually an epiphany I had as I was literally writing the post! Been thinking about it all day/night ever since – I think there’s definitely something to it :)

  38. Paul April 12, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    I think we are reading the same books, lol. Been really getting into minimalism lately. Well at least reading about it a lot. I have a few collections Id like to get rid of as I no longer want to be responsible for them anymore. Every video game system made from 1985-2008. Although I did sell my Neo Geo and Turbo Express and a few others as they were particularly valuable. I also have probably 1000 comics from the late 80s and early 90s and every marvel card series maybe 7 or 8 years. Its just stuff to me now…clutter, and I’m tired of the responsibility.

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:39 AM

      Time for some action indeed! People hardly think about it, but you’re right – this stuff DOES turn into *responsibility* over the years. And if it doesn’t bring any joy anymore, then there’s no upside!

  39. Kevin April 12, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    While I never really collected anything..

    except for an attempt at shot glass collecting…college days

    I do struggle with problems of holding on to things that I know I should get rid of. One thing in particular…over my high school years and into early adulthood I would constantly buy movies.
    I am a huge movie buff and can quote WAY too many movies…much to the annoyance of my wife…who hasn’t even seen The Godfather!!! AHHH the things I should have asked before marriage….but that’s not the point
    I have probably 200 DVDS just sitting in a box… nowadays if I want to watch a movie there are so many options, that I can’t remember the last time I actually watched one of them.

    I cant imagine how much money I have put into them and that’s is what makes it difficult for me to part with them. Not the fact that I will ever watch them or for sentimental reasons…but for the fact that I will never get the return from to amount I spent. I know it sounds dumb but I’d almost rather them sit in that box than sell them for pennies on the dollars of what I paid.

    1. J. Money April 12, 2016 at 10:42 AM

      You’re not alone in that feeling, believe me :) It’s called the “suck cost” fallacy:


      Perfect example: “Let’s say you buy tickets to a concert. On the day of the event, you catch a cold. Even though you are sick, you decide to go to the concert because otherwise “you would have wasted your money”. Boom! You just fell for the sunk cost fallacy. Sure, you spent the money already. But you can’t get it back. If you aren’t going to have a good time at the concert, you only make your life worse by going.”

      It affects all of us!

  40. Rose April 12, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    Great post, J:) Complete minimalism seems so hollow, spare and empty – like an echo reverberating through your house.
    I think finding a balance that suits your own core values is a more satisfying goal.

    Collections do give one great joy – so enjoy and be grateful for what you have. Relax, give yourself credit for resisting that $1K bill:) Just put new purchases on ice for a while and enjoy the companionship and history lessons at your local coin club.

    My interests change all the time and that is as it should be. Sell your collection only when it no longer means anything to you, that time may or may not come.

    At least I can wear my jewelry collection. Lately, I realized that I have “enough”, I am no longer as addicted to the thrill of acquiring as I once was. My needs are filled – I’m good with a once or twice a year purchase, instead of relentless pursuit.
    It’s the thrill of the hunt that makes it so exciting, right?:).

    Repeated denial of what gives you joy is not a good thing – it sucks the joy right out of life, at least for me. Just because some people don’t need, want or have collections doesn’t make them better people. LOL – I’m sure they have other vices:)

    Books and photography are my other obsessions and they don’t show any signs of abating any time soon. Both satisfy my soul and I’ve learned to set and live with a three bookcase limit – once it is full, it is one in and one out. Photography appeals to my creative side and even earns me a bit of money – but it is the joy of creating that holds my interest.

    … and FWIW, Einstein’s office does not look like minimalism to me:) The Apple dude was an anomaly – I’m sure his house echoed:) Besides, I rather think adopting someone else’s values is not generally a good idea either.
    Yet, I do agree there is something to be said for simplification and order in one’s life, as long as we can find a satisfying balance that is a worthwhile pursuit.

    1. J. Money April 13, 2016 at 7:06 AM

      I like the 3 bookcase limit! Or any limit where you enact the 1 in, 1 out rule for that matter. Forces you to really think about the books you bring in, and what’s not as important anymore w/ those you give away! It’s kinda the reason I implemented my cigar box as the home for my coins – you can only fit so many items in there so anytime it gets full I have to decide what stays and what goes…. Should have included that in the above rules actually – forgot about it until now!

  41. Amanda April 12, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    Great post, J$!

    We’ve leaned toward minimalism in the last few years. No collections here, but more “just in case” stuff, which is a struggle. As avid DIYers, we often have leftover building materials (wood, tile, paint, etc.) that my husband hoards for future projects…and I admit, there have been times when his stash has saved us a few bucks, but it’s hard to know where to draw the line.

    As I visualized the house burning down, with my family out safely, I grabbed the dog and my purse. I guess I’m assuming the cats escape on their own!?

  42. Mike @ TipYourself.com April 12, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    Great Post J and congrats! Your conflict and struggle really came through. It’s a decision so many of us face in so many aspects of life.

    I’ve never been a collection person myself, but I have to admit I’m tempted to do some coin googling now! If I end up with a coin collection, it’s your fault!!! :-)

    1. J. Money April 13, 2016 at 7:01 AM

      I’ll take payment in beer, please :)

  43. Prudence Debtfree April 12, 2016 at 11:28 PM

    I don’t THINK I’m owned by anything I own, but I bet you didn’t think you were owned by your coin collection either for a long time. (I can’t reconcile my image of you as a full-on extrovert with this hobby of yours!) I really like the idea of happiness NOT being about acquiring things (as the ads would have us think), but about releasing things and attachments. Your post is totally in line with that outlook.

  44. Sabrina April 15, 2016 at 9:25 AM

    I’m going to challenge you. I have also been working on detaching emotionally from physical possessions for a couple years. I’ve read quite a few stories about children inheriting “nice” stuff and how it becomes a burden. They feel guilt over not using it and not appreciating it enough, but don’t feel brave enough to get rid of it.

    Not to mention, a collection handed to them, already complete, takes away the thrill of collecting.

    What if you sold the coins, deposited the money in a separate savings account, and earmarked the funds for developing a new hobby you all enjoy together? They can take the lead and decide what’s worth spending money on. It might open up some cool avenues you never would’ve thought to explore.

    1. J. Money April 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM

      Great idea indeed :) The last thing I want to do is burden them, you’re right, but hopefully by the time I go to leave it to them I’ll know whether they’re interested in the hobby or not. And if not, yup – I’ll probably sell/donate and urge them to pursue whatever other things they’re more excited about :) The collection is definitely no where near complete, so at least that one isn’t a hurdle…

  45. Financial Samurai April 18, 2016 at 4:10 AM

    Not sure I’m too attached to anything… maybe my phone due to the ability to communicate w/ folks online?

    Going from owning to leasing a car for my business has helped me detach.

    And going to a smaller house in 2014 has felt wonderful.

    I think it’s people that I’m attached to. Everything else doesn’t matter.


    1. J. Money April 18, 2016 at 11:05 AM

      Damn good place to be in life, brother!

      Looking forward to hanging again @ FinCon later this year :)

  46. The Personal Economist April 18, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    Great post! I convinced my 7 year old son to sell his Pokemon card collection as part of my decluttering regime. We sold them for $30
    (A lot of money for a 7 year old. I tried to convince him to bank but but no, more Lego was purchased). Got an email from the buyer saying 95% of them were fake! We genuinely had no idea. Lots of lessons in this story!
    BTW I’m loving your podcast, listening all the way from Australia

    1. J. Money April 18, 2016 at 11:06 AM

      Fake Pokemon cards?? Man – nothing’s safe from rip-offs these days, haha..

      And awesome!! If we ever make it out there together perhaps we can record live out of your home :) But only if your son let’s us play with his legos…

  47. steve@padadventure.com April 18, 2016 at 11:38 AM

    Great set of ground rules to keep things in check…I’m constantly having to monitor my hobbies and keep myself from financial sabotage. It was classic cars…ditched that habit…now it’s my dirt bikes. I have to remember to enjoy and not sabotage.

    Awesome pics btw! thanks for writing this up!

    1. J. Money April 19, 2016 at 7:40 AM

      Glad you liked! :)

  48. Kurt April 18, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    With respect to the house-on-fire question, I believe I’d grab my pool cue. :)

    I’m attracted to the idea of detaching from everything I own. Most would call me a natural minimalist because I’ve always disliked having a lot of stuff around. And when we relocated 3,000 miles in 2009, I downsized my personal belongings by probably 70%. Still, I feel an urge to get rid of more. Seems to me there’s a lot of crap around and stashed in closet back corners that I never use and have forgotten I own. What’s the point? Watch out, I feel another purge coming on! :)

    1. J. Money April 19, 2016 at 7:42 AM

      Get it all out there, my brotha! If it’s no longer serving a purpose for you, it could someone else!

  49. Liz April 18, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    Yep, stuff is just that, stuff. I’m long over it after years of moving country to country, but you’d never know it looking inside my four walls. We’re purging, slowly but surely.

    I can confidently say there is nothing in my house, bar people and pets, that I would want to save.

    Somehow, the two statements above need to collide.

  50. Get FIRE'd asap April 19, 2016 at 2:52 AM

    Sounds like you got caught up on the hedonistic treadmill, my friend. The theory that once we have attained sufficient wealth to be comfortable, we start to work harder to attain more until getting trapped in the endless cycle. Four years ago, I sold virtually all of my possessions, except my work tools, and moved to Australia with two suitcases. Now I have just the things I need to be comfortable (and my tools) and have not been happier. I found it refreshing to cleanse my life of all of the clutter that I’d bought to make my life more comfortable, but never did. Good on you for de-cluttering your collection. That takes some balls, man.

    1. J. Money April 19, 2016 at 7:44 AM

      Good on you too for cleansing! And for soaking it all up in Australia too!

  51. Craig April 26, 2016 at 11:53 AM

    Man, this really resonates with me. We recently sold nearly all of our stuff (and our kids stuff) and are going to be traveling for the next 6 months. The constant weight that all of our stuff kept on us wasn’t as noticeable before, but now that it’s gone it feels like we’re almost worry free, even though we just got ride of a bunch of junk we hardly ever used. Weird, right?

    I can see how the “Minimalist” crowd really gets into it. Less is more for sure.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2016 at 6:30 AM

      Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I bet you realize just how much LESS you need too as you’re out traveling!


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