On one of my morning walks recently, a nice older gentleman stopped me and asked if I had sat next to him at a recent community hearing.
“I did not,” I replied. “What did you and my twin talk about?”
“The news about that homeless shelter being made down the street. I lost a little faith in humanity that day.”
“Ahhhh,” I nodded, “I’ve heard a lot about it, though I haven’t paid attention much. I’m guessing you’re on the side that’s for it?”
“Yes. I’m all for people – not things.” (Not exactly what he said, but pretty much the gist of it)
Our community right now is divided between those all for it, and those who are not. With the “are nots” screaming the loudest. Mainly, because they say it’ll lead to more crime and theft and a bunch of “different” people lollygagging around.
I won’t get into what’s “right” here and what’s not because, quite frankly, this isn’t the right blog for it (and I’m no sociologist nor keeper of the Moral Committee!), but I will say that our convo did lead me to think more thoroughly on it which I really enjoyed. And the more I did, the more I came to the conclusion that I’m okay with the shelter going up, and more surprisingly that I also don’t covet any of my “stuff” anymore! Which is quite the liberating feeling to have!
And upon saying so to my new friend here, was met with the following statement:
“Well, it’s your own fault if you own expensive stuff.”
Woahhhh! What a line! I couldn’t immediately tell if I was offended by it, or if I agreed with it, but I did know that I’d never heard it put in such a way before. Especially in the midst of a homelessness/ burglary discussion.
Is it our fault if we own expensive stuff?
Yeah, I guess it is. Who else’s would it be?
Is it wrong to own expensive stuff?
I mean, not really, no… It’s not as good for growing your wealth and early retirement, yada yada yada, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it?
Mix all that into a discussion on crime and the homeless, however, and feathers may be ruffled. Certainly it’s not our fault if someone breaks into our home and steals our stuff, right? Whether expensive or not? And even if it was, are you supposed to go through your lives expecting a burglary to happen and thus never pick up anything luxurious? (Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad mentality to have! Haha… Your wallet would love you for it! :))
All this went down a week ago and I still haven’t gotten it out of my mind… It’s like this Benjamin Franklin schedule turned my brain into a sponge and I can’t stop soaking up new ways of thinking and living!
But what’s even better than all this deep thinking, was again coming to that realization that I wouldn’t be terribly upset if someone did steal my stuff. I’d be highly annoyed and worried that it could lead to other – more life-threatening acts (especially with little kids in the house, bless their souls!) – but for someone to risk their freedom and take something that’s not theirs makes me feel like they need it more than I. And I probably wouldn’t miss whatever they took either!
(Actually, that’s not completely true – I would be pissed if someone stole my computer just because it would be incredibly annoying, and I’d also be sad to see my coin collection go after all these years of putting it together! But I do want to try and emotionally detach myself from those guys too because at the end of the day they are just little pieces of metal. Even though they are so full of history and joy!)
So yeah – at the end of the day I wouldn’t want to deal with it all, but my world wouldn’t crumble if some jackal broke into our house and started five-fingering. Again, provided we were all safe and sound.
I think that’s something to strive towards. Knowing that in any event your stuff goes missing forever – whether by humans or an act of nature – you’d be OK. That your “stuff” doesn’t make you who you are, but that YOU do.
Would you agree?
When I got back from my walk I asked my wife how she felt about it, and suffice it to say we were on different pages, haha… She said she’d def. miss all her clothes and makeup and pictures, etc etc, and that really the whole thing would just be completely disrespectful. Which of course I agree. Though I did find it interesting that none of the stuff she mentioned was expensive in the least. She didn’t jump to the TV or anything else in our house that’s $100+ for that matter. And come to think of it, we don’t even own that much expensive stuff? Nice!
Point is, it’s good to check that your spending is matching your priorities every now and then. Not only to prep yourself in the case theft DID occur one day (for example, locking up your precious things in a home safe or installing some sort of security system), but also to make sure you’re happy with the way things are. There’s nothing wrong with owning expensive stuff, but if it doesn’t align with your goals and where you see yourself down the line, well, it might be a good time to make some changes. And fortunately we DO have control over that.
I don’t know what will happen with this homeless shelter, but I am glad to have learned something about myself and my stuff. It looks like we’re making progress! :)
Would you miss a lot of things if stolen? Are you happy with where you prioritize your stuff?
A few days later I ran into my new friend again, and he gave me one of those super easy mini alarm systems to install in the house! He knew I didn’t have one, and wanted to make sure I didn’t jinx myself after all our talking, haha… How nice was that? They’re only $10 at Amazon if you’re needing something. Probably better than having nothing :)
[Photo by MooziX]
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You’re making me check my moral compass today J…. but I love it. I agree with you – the actual piece about someone breaking into my little house is not cool. There are all kinds of crazies out there and I wouldn’t my family’s safety to be at risk. As for stuff, though… take it all.
I look at it as a giant one-drawer challenge. It’s a one-house challenge. When I did my garage sale a few weeks ago and got rid of crap, it was so liberating. It was freeing. In fact, I didn’t miss the stuff anymore.
To your point about the coin collection, you probably have an emotional attachment to them for one reason or another, and that’s okay. But if for some reason you were to have the coins stolen, you’d get over it pretty quickly… I can guarantee that. I had some collectible Ninja Turtles action figures (hey… I’m a child of the 80s) that I had some weird collection mindset attachment to. My brother in law was 10x worse, he had loads of figures he was hoarding. He ended up getting rid of 90% of what he owned that weekend (of the garage sale) and convinced me to do it too. He said “at first I thought I’d miss the stuff, but once it was out of my hands, it felt great and I wanted to get rid of more.” It’s totally true. I felt the same way.
So back to point of your article, our stuff absolutely can define us – but only if we let it. If we live in a giant McMansion, buy all kinds of fancy crap, and basically live as the ‘fake rich’ (as I call it)… our stuff will define who we are, but at a very superficial level.
I don’t let my possessions define me, which is why I live in a super small home and buy very few material things. So if some turd wants to come in and take my stuff (hypothetically of course), fine. But instead of waiting around for a burglary, just have a big-a$$ garage sale and be proactive about it.
So many wise words, sir!
Yes – let’s get rid of all our stuff first before it’s stolen! Haha… love that.
I do agree w/ the collection stuff though, although I will note that y’all are talking about a hobby you had in the *past*, where as mine is current and very much one of my favorite things to do :) I think if someone stole all my old Michael Jordan cards circa 1990s I’d feel the same as you did w/ the yard sale. In fact, I totally forgot I still had the cards up until a cple years ago when I found them at my mom’s house and she wanted me to “take back my junk” – hah.
You’re so right though – our house is like one big “drawer challenge!”
I agree with Chris–it’s certainly been a big house challenge for us getting rid of the stuff that we don’t need anymore. I tell people that I don’t have expensive stuff so that no one wants to rob me; this way, I have nothing to worry about. Anyway, locks keep honest people out and if someone wants something bad enough, they’ll figure out a way. Awesome post!
I’m working on getting everything pulled together for a yard sale in 2.5 weeks. I keep grabbing more and more stuff to throw into the sale and it is so liberating. I hope to do a thorough cleaning out and consolidation. I am realizing more and more that I don’t need “stuff”, it just takes up space and weighs you down. So, other than pictures and a few sentimental things from my mom/grandma, I don’t think I would be upset if someone took what I had…other than feeling annoyed and worried about my families safety, the stuff isn’t important. It will be nice to cash in on the stuff instead of it being stolen though…
What a punch in the gut! I’d be OK with getting rid of more stuff, but I think my wife would have a harder time with it too.
I’m more annoyed with all of the marketing that gets thrown at me non-stop (even though I don’t have cable!).
On another note, I don’t like when people have expectations of things without thinking about the money side of it. A neigbbor was discussing whether or not our community needs to upgrade our sign. She says “hell yeah!” And then I reminded her that they increased our hoa fees and its going to cost 20k and then she paused and said “oh, no!”
I guess it was weird that she was fine with it until it impacted her wallet.
I thought I had a better point that tied in with yours but after re-reading it in not so sure. /rant
YES!!! People always want all this stuff in a perfect world (like that sign) without thinking about *how* it comes to be! Very frustrating at times. But more so when you don’t have final say and a group of non-$$$$ conscious people do :(
Stuff can really be a drag for several reasons. The one mentioned above, which is worrying about loosing it, but also things being of low quality and needing to be replaced. Technical stuff that doesn´t work as well as you thought (integrating into other stuff etc). I´d say the second point is the most aggravating for me. I work in the IT field, yet I´m never happy with tech purchases (not entirely true – I have a 30´ monitor since 12+ yrs back, that has evolved from computer monitor to media centre display. Flexible, durable – pretty good stuff). It´s almost impossible to find tech stuff of good quality. If it´s durable, it lacks features, if it has the features, they don´t integrate and so on and so forth. I hate gadgets.
That does suck :(
Damnit J$ – So now I need to start the day with a guilt trip? :)
Would I miss a lot of things? Yeah I’m sure I would. It is hard to truly know what will have an effect on you until it is gone but I think that the main things I would miss would be those “irreplaceable” things. Items such as items from the hospital from when my daughter was born or old pictures. The things I can’t just go out and buy again. While losing everything would be a inconvenience, most things can be replaced.
Yeah, and unless we’re talking about a fire or flood/earthquake/etc, fortunately burglars won’t be taking all those irreplaceable things :)
Stuff can be replaced, the feeling of being safe can not. Our house was broken into a few years back and a number of things stolen. Those things were replaced, but the safe feeling that my family felt in our own home prior to the break in could not be replaced for a long time. Still today many years later the feelings and thoughts are still in the back of our heads.
That’s a great point!
I can relate. We had the same thing happen a number of years ago…at 2:47am. I was terrified for our safety because we were on the second floor above the garage the thieves were picking over…loudly. All I could think about was what weapons they might have with them…what would happen to us. It took years for me to start to relax a little bit. I still double-check the door locks before bed.
Scary!! What did you do? Just hide up there and call the police? I can never tell if it’s better to make noise so they know you’re there and hopefully scurry off, or if it would then get them to come after YOU too. The unknown of who you’re dealing with is the worst :(
We have several unwanted visitors that are more common in the spring that do a lot of damage, and can create an unsafe feeling. Bear frequently wander into town looking for food when the berry crops in the bush aren’t as plentiful (as is the case this year). Although no one’s been hurt in town, it’s fairly common for outdoor property to be damaged when the animals are foraging for food. The damage is annoying to deal with, but it’s not as bothersome as the fact that you know you could look up when your kids are playing on a swing set in your yard, or at the park, and you’ll see a hungry 400lb animal come through the trees. Stuff can always be replaced, but there isn’t always that ability to regain health and safety.
ACK!! That would be freaky!!
I’m in the same boat as most others. I would not want someone to break into the house because of the lack of safety that I would suddenly feel. Every time I would hear a noise, I would probably get scared.
But as for material things, I don’t have many that I am that emotionally connected to. Sure it would sting at first, but I would get over it pretty quickly.
Got to agree that I would be upset that my safety and peace of mind would be broken from someone coming into my home. I wouldn’t mind things being stolen as much as worrying about my fiancee or family being hurt if they came home in the middle of the act.
If buying an item whatever the perceived value will damage your finances enough if it gets broken or stolen in the near future its probably a sign that you aren’t setting yourself for the future enough.
Items can always be replaced, but safety and memories cannot be replaced or forgotten easily.
Happy and TERRIFIED when I started inventorying my stuff – if yesterday’s post was any indication. The crazy thing is, I have so many things that I wouldn’t miss. Or that I haven’t missed since I keep them in “storage” at my parents’ home for the past two years. And I have no one to blame but myself. Realizing that, though, is really empowering. If I got myself into the too-much-stuff mess, surely I can get myself out.
But, of course, I’m glad we live in a safe neighborhood. My husband likes to test this on occasion when he forgets to close the garage door at night. Oof. Safety and peace of mind are too precious to put a price on.
Haha… my wife likes to leave her keys in the FRONT DOOR over night some times! I’m always amazed nothing happens within that time period (at least that we know of?).
We’ve also once left the door wide open allllll day long on Thanksgiving once (or rather, the wind blew it wide open) and fortunately nothing went missing then either. I guess people just thought we were inside cuz no idiot would do such a thing?
We run pretty lean at our house in the “stuff” department and I don’t put an emotional attachment to most things. So if someone came and stole my things I wouldn’t specifically miss most of the things but I’d be pretty darn angry. The things that I do have represent an awful lot of hard work and delayed gratification that couldn’t be replaced. And I would imagine that the safety issue would cause me a lot of anxiety. So the losing of the “stuff” would not really be about the “stuff” at all.
My grandfather worked in the insurance industry his whole life. He always told me that if you can’t afford to insure your expensive items against fire/water damage/theft and you couldn’t afford to replace them, then you shouldn’t buy them. This isn’t 100% practical, but it does make you think twice about the lifetime cost of the item.
YES! Beautiful advice actually! Love that, and I agree.
I don’t think I’d care that much about the actual stuff getting stolen- well ok, I’d care I guess, but for me the worst part would be feeling violated. Just last month we were on vacation and $100 was stolen from my wallet. The most upsetting part is that I’m fairly positive that it was stolen by an 8 year old family member that we were visiting. It happened over a month ago and I’m still really upset about, not so much because of the money but because I couldn’t believe he would steal from me. It just feels really awful. And yes, I did try to talk to his parents, but no parent ever wants to believe that their child would do something like that. Anyway, I agree that the way a theft makes you feel is often far worse than the loss of whatever has been stolen.
that’s horrible :( I’d imagine the parents would find out somehow though since he’s going to DO SOMETHING with that $100 bill, eh? I doubt he’ll save it or invest it in the stock market, haha…
I’ve reached a pretty zen state about owning stuff. I can’t really think of anything in our house I would miss if somebody broke in. Other than my wife and kids obviously. Sure, it would be inconvenient to replace stuff. But it’s just stuff.
In fact, this zen-like mindset guides a lot of my purchasing decisions. I like driving an old beater car that isn’t very pretty. It makes it easier when someone dings the door in the parking lot or someone backs out and messes up the sheet metal a little (it happened, then I shrugged it off, though that person is a scumbag for hit-n-running).
Haha yup…. my car is looking worse and worse as the years and seasons pass… paint 20% peeled off, dings and dents from all the crashes – both my fault and others – but still incredibly fun to drive :) When I had a newer shinier SUV I was constantly paranoid of something happening – it was the worse. (Though now with kids I want an SUV again!!! And will just assume it’s going to be torn up! Haha…)
Over a year ago, I passed the litmus test: I sent $1,500 of jewelry by mail and it got “lost”. It must have been stolen at some point along the way or at its destination, but here’s what was important: I realized it was just stuff I didn’t want anyway. That’s when I realized how far I’d come. I still hang on to stuff for far too long but I don’t assign it undue value anymore. I wish this for anyone/everyone. People over stuff. Always.
(Incidentally, I volunteer at a shelter weekly and I highly recommend it. It’s rewarding and the best way I know to destroy the illusion of “us” vs “them”. Familiarity breeds empathy and compassion.)
Awww that’s so good you do that!! I really wish I would start myself… just all messed up schedule-wise with kids and business/etc, though really we all have excuses, right?
We move a lot, and it is a PITA to own so much stuff. I always say that I would be fine if our shipment didn’t make it IF we could somehow not lose our pictures. Those are the only things that matter to me at all.
Yes, it would be hassle to procure new beds and dishes and such, but I just don’t care about the stuff.
My house was robbed when I was 16. We didn’t actually notice at first, because we lived way out in the country where no one locks their doors (obviously that changed for us, after), and because they didn’t take any electronics or anything large. They basically only stole jewelry and a few personal items (reallllllly creepy things to steal, like dirty underwear out of my laundry bin. yes, really.). But that’s what made it devastating – they stole all of my jewelry (a 16-year-old girl’s!), and I didn’t really care about 99% of it, except I had failed to wear my favorite necklace to school that specific day, and so it in the house, and they took it. It wasn’t worth any money in the scheme of things, so they probably threw it out, but it was the necklace my older sister had given me the year previous for being a bridesmaid in her wedding.
They also took some of my mom’s jewelry, including the three rings that were given to her by her family – the rings that were supposed to be passed down to us kids as wedding/engagement rings. Basically, they hit us right where it hurt. We would have been sad if they’d taken the TV, and I’m thankful they didn’t take the computers… but those things are replaceable and not sentimental. It still makes me sad to this day that I don’t have that necklace or my family’s ring. (And yeah, I’m still creeped out to this day over the underwear thing, too.)
I guess what I’m saying is, more than 10 years later, not much has changed. If someone broke into my current home and took stuff, I’d be upset based mostly on the sentimentality of the specific items they might steal (though, of course, I don’t actually have any family jewelry like that anymore, since it was stolen!). I’d also be heartbroken if they stole my desktop computer, because it took years to save up for it, and it was built specifically to run a yearly charity event. They’d be stealing something from me, but also from the charity, and that would hurt a lot.
Hey Steph – such a treat to see you here, how ya been? (Besides being reminded of creepers again? :)) Def. sucks that they stole all that sentimental stuff, I’m sorry. That charity computer sounds intriguing though – what type of event is it?
Wow, right on point for me today! I’ve been thinking a lot about our “stuff” since my accidental retirement last December. First we had to pack it all for a move to a less expensive community, then we had to actually physically move it all 200 miles (every week, renting a trailer, over two months) while simultaneously preparing our home for sale. Then we spent another month clearing out just the garage, making four more trips, and finally we hired a moving company to take the furniture left behind for staging. This is after I purged bags of clothing and shoes (given to my daughter in law), make up (given to my daughter), and jewelry (consigned). We also sold a car and some large tools.
What are we left with? Nine months later there are still unpacked boxes. Two collections that have never seen the light of day, boxes of art still waiting for a decision on where they’ll be hung (if ever). The weight of these possessions is on my mind constantly. Give away? Sell? Donate to charity? Craigslist? eBay? Insure or don’t? All the energy, all the time, all the effort! I finally realized I don’t own any of this crap. It owns me. It runs my life. Where I’ll live, what I’ll do with it, what I’d do if it wasn’t here…
I’ve grown tired of being owned by stuff. I’m giving away the clothes and shoes and consigning the jewelry. The art is going to the consignment store. Hubby is not ready to let go of the tools so that’s his issue, but honestly, everything that’s not nailed down that I don’t love is going. The quality of my life is being diminished by the amount of thought I’ve given to stuff that has become meaningless to me. I’m ready to travel, to relax, to enjoy life without wondering whether or not the door locks and alarm system and insurance are enough to keep my stuff safe. Life is just way too short and way too precious to waste worrying about things. If it all disappeared tomorrow I would consider it a favor. How sad I wasted years accumulating all this crap, thinking how valuable it was. My family, my health and the time and money to enjoy life! That’s priceless. Crap, even good crap, is still crap in the end. I’m ready to let go of anything that doesn’t bring me intense joy. Halfway measures have availed me nothing. Thanks for another great post today. Precisely what I needed to hear.
Dannnnnnnggg perfect timing indeed, friend!
This part here nailed it good: “all the energy, all the time, all the effort! I finally realized I don’t own any of this crap. It owns me. It runs my life. Where I’ll live, what I’ll do with it, what I’d do if it wasn’t here…”
Good for you for finally realizing it and then (most importantly) TAKING ACTION on it! Yes – give it/sell it all away and be done once and for all! Sucks that it took this long but now you’ll be free for the rest of your life – woopee!!!! FREEDOM BABY – GRAB IT! :)
(I still can’t believe you pulled the trigger on *retirement* too like you did. I’m so incredibly proud of you, you have no idea)
Someone stole my sunglasses the other day. I was at a cafe. There was no plugin (an outlet not something for WordPress ha) at my table so I walked over to another table with my laptop. When I came back a minute later, the sunglasses were gone. Thievery infuriates me. But the loss of those sunglasses doesn’t bother me. I’m not attached to them. I try not to get attached to material possessions. There’s no point. You have to sever the tie eventually or else when you die your relatives have a big mess to deal with.
Damn – that was bold! People suck sometimes.
Nice thinking article! I am not sure how to answer it ….. I would miss my pictures, some family decorations that have been handed down, and my comfy bed! I lost my Mom about 8 years ago and my life changed as I watched all the material things she worked so hard to get, keep nice and organized get passed to others in the family and the rest was sold to a 2nd hand store. From that day on, I started thinking that I wanted to spend more of my money on experiences, education, and living a simpler life. So these are my first thoughts after reading the article but I will be doing some more thinking!
I think you’re definitely onto the right answer there :) We just keep thinking and learning and tweaking as time goes on – all we can do!
Several years back I lived in a house that was broken into twice in 15 days. I lost about $15K worth of stuff (yeah I was shocked I had that much crap too at the time). The only thing I really missed was my laptop and that was because I had pictures on it I hadn’t backed up. Other than that the rest of it was all replaceable.
The only problem with having a safe, is that a thief assumes you have things of value in there and unless it is extremely heavy or bolted to the floor, they will probably take it. That being said we have a 700lb safe in the basement and have another one that we ordered that will get bolted down to house the firearms I received from my grandfather (mostly to keep them out of reach from little hands).
yeah, good point. I try to hide mine so it’s harder to find, but it’s def. not bolted to the ground :( I guess I just hope they wouldn’t try and bother to figure out how to open it so they’d just grab and go w/ the easier stuff, but you never know…
Good call on the safe for the firearms! Those freak me out w/ kids near ’em for sure. Or even adults for that matter, hah.
This does seem like a very tricky discussion. In regards to my stuff, I wouldn’t be so upset if most of my things were stolen. I would probably be mostly annoyed at the time and hassle involved with replacing it. There are some things, most of which have no value to anyone but me, that I would be really devastated to lose.
All that said, I feel like creating a facility to help with homelessness would in many ways make a neighborhood safer, not less safe as it seems others are arguing here.
We all have our vices – the little things we spend a little extra money on. The goal needs to be to keep those in check. A lot of the time, it would be more of a sentimental loss than a monetary loss if everything was taken from someone – I’m guessing that would be true with you and your coin collection. It’s not so much the monetary value that you’d lose if it was stolen, but the loss of the result of a lot of hard work you put into it.
Those are the things I think we, as a culture, miss the boat on. Do what you love – collect coins, play guitar, run triathlons – whatever makes you happy. If that guitar happens to be expensive, then so be it. It won’t feel like you’re spending a dime if that is what you are truly passionate about. But don’t, under any circumstances, buy something because OTHERS think it’s neat. Do you really need that Ferrari because you love working on nice cars or because you want your buddy to see that you bought a Ferrari? Exactly.
Haha… great point! (and so true!)
J. Money I typically wouldn’t “go there” and I sure don’t know what the right answer is either.
I did want to say a few words about my experiences though. I work downtown in a questionable area and the homeless shelter / soup kitchen is a couple of streets over plus there are a lot of low end properties in the area. About once a quarter, we issue an emergency page for assistance from the shop when someone comes in. And I won’t even get into the stuff I’ve seen happen outside our doors. I go for daily walks and I remove all jewelry and leave my phone at work.
If all the homeless people were like Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness, I would gladly give away my stuff too and figure they needed it more than me. That’s not always the case though. I have a friend whose son is a heroin addict and she has had to face and apologize to neighbors he has stolen from. It’s almost zombie like behavior (no, I don’t believe in zombies :). All logic and reason is gone.
We have been robbed too. Luckily, they did not get very much at all. We were in the process of renovating Mr. Crackin’s house to sell. That weekend we finished up and removed the majority of our tools. We left some items for staging…and the next week they were gone.
I cannot even being to describe how violated and unsafe this made me feel even though they got very little.
Regardless of the cost of what we own, no one has the right to take it.
I totally agree with you!
Thanks for chiming in and sharing! I’d always forget to leave my phone or jewelry if I had to anytime I left, dang!
Owning expensive stuff is not an invitation or an excuse for it to be stolen! I obviously wasn’t a part of the conversation, but it almost sounded like the guy was using the “it’s your fault” line as justification. That said, being too attached to material possessions is unwise. There are many ways to lose your stuff, expensive or otherwise. When I was kid, we lost most of our possessions in a flood. It was tough, yes, but not the end of the world. If someone stole our possessions now, I’d be upset yes…but would get over it.
My husband’s nice commuter bike did just get stolen this week. It was upsetting, sure, because it’s part of his lifestyle (plus he got stranded at the library and we had to pick him up!). But after a day, we were able to realize how blessed we are and move on. (http://northernexpenditure.com/darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness/) Isn’t financial security wonderful in that regard?
“Look for the helpers” Dannggg so true!! I love that!
Isn’t Mr. Roger’s the best? My mom called me to tell me when he died like it was a relative. I loved him as a kid. :)
I don’t have anything against expensive stuff if it’s woven into your needs. What if you are a high end photographer. That shit is expensive, but it’s for your livelihood. That being said, if it is your livelihood, you need insurance to protect it. My video related equipment is the same deal. It’s my most “valuable” stuff price wise, but not my most valuable stuff personally. My photos and journals are. Either way it would hurt, but I could probably somehow move past it. Speaking of all this…I need to get renter’s insurance. :)
YEAH YOU DO!
Haha…. you’re too much.
Being from Kansas, I’ve thought about something similar a lot. What would I miss if a tornado struck my house? Pictures and scrapbooks of my kids. That’s pretty much it. Everything else would be fairly easily replaced. Speaking of which, what’s a free or really cheap way others backup photos on their computers? I hate the thought of paying a monthly fee to store them in the cloud.
Google photos offers a certain amount of storage absolutely free (I believe it’s 10gb right now). A free Google account for each person would give you a good amount of cloud photo storage, and it’s easy to use! :)
I agree that it’s our own fault if we own expensive stuff, but I also agree that doesn’t make it okay for someone to take it. I earned the money to buy or had the privilege of knowing the people who gave me my stuff. And sorry, but yeah, I have a lot of stuff that I’d freak out about if it was stolen. I like or love my stuff or I wouldn’t have it.
My photos and albums are priceless to me. My wallet would be a pain in the butt since I’d have to cancel everything and be out hundreds in gift cards. Plus, I’m wallet picky and it took me weeks to find one I wanted to use since it could hold everything. My laptop would be awful since I only back it up like twice or three times a year, and there are pictures and info on it at any given time that isn’t anywhere else. My projector upstairs has been good to us and I sort of love it. Then I have some jewelry passed down to me from my family and my husband’s family that I’m emotionally attached to now. And any of the other gadgets or art or books or even DVDs in my house would be a pain since I’d have to take the time to replace them…we only buy or find what we want to own. So yeah, it would be mainly a pain in the butt, but I’m also emotionally attached to some of it and would feel very violated.
I’m betting less than 20% of our stuff would be un-missed or not replaced. Doesn’t help that we just went on an organizational binge and purged stuff we didn’t use or want.
I’m glad we have 5 adults living here on different schedules, an alarm, a gun, and a taser. I would defend my husband, friends/roommates, and home stuff. Don’t piss off this Ginger.
And yet, I’d be 100% in support of a homeless shelter being started in or around my neighborhood. I don’t think all people in need are thieves. My mom and I were on welfare for a small part of my very young years and she never stole a dang thing. I’d volunteer at that shelter and bring food regularly. And it’s not like only the homeless can be thieves. Our biggest problem around here are spoiled rotten teenagers that do shitty things for fun.
“Don’t piss off this Ginger.” – BOOM! Haha…..
And hell yeah – spoiled kids can be pretty nasty for sure. We get some ding-dong ditchers around here every few months in the middle of the night. Freaks me out every time!
Stuff is just stuff. When we retired, we moved from a house with a garage to a much smaller condo with no storage so we got rid of almost everything. It was actually very liberating (and made a nice little chunk of change by selling it on Craigslist). I don’t miss any of it.
You’re definitely making me think hard today, J! I grew up in a family where stuff was everything, even though we had literally no money. Even up until last year, “stuff” played a huge role in everything I did. But, this PF/minimalism thing is finally sinking in and I’m finding myself less focused on stuff. While I don’t think it’s wrong at all to own expensive stuff, to not is freeing.
Work it girl!! Break the trend! :)
A week and a half ago, my wedding and engagement rings were stolen during our cross country move. I feel terrible, because my husband is a really sentimental person. Those rings are our love, in his mind…. But other than that, I shrugged it off (mind you, I did a police report). Rings or not, I’m still married. I didn’t even shed a tear over it.
Awwww, that still sucks though – sorry to hear :(
I guess I’m not a great humanitarian but I would be thoroughly P-O’d if anyone – homeless or not- broke into my house and stole ANYTHING. I don’t care if it is a big screen TV or a salt shaker. It isn’t their stuff. I worked for many years to earn the money I spent on my possessions Perhaps I was blessed to have decent health and intelligence so I could have a career, but along the way I made many sacrifices to save up to purchase everything I have. And I don’t take kindly to someone else thinking they are entitled to anything I have.
I don’t think I’d miss the stuff itself, but I’d be super bummed if someone stole my bike, only because it’s my gateway to great adventures, fitness, seeing friends, and being with my partner. I have many fond memories of being on my bike, so having it stolen would throw a wrench into future adventures, at least until I got a replacement.
So I think it’s okay to have (a small number of) expensive things, but it’s a matter of why you have those expensive things. Is it something that helps you have great fulfilling experiences or is it just a thing to have? I think it’s also important to consider if you want expensive things just to look more impressive to others, in which case you most likely don’t need those things at all!
Yes, I think what I would miss the most would be the stuff that is more sentimental than pricey. Those are often things that can’t be replaced. However, except for things like jewelry, most people probably wouldn’t steal the portraits of our dogs we painted ourselves (as novices!) or boxes of old photographs.
Replacing stolen items would be annoying. However, something a burglar also takes with them is your sense of security. And that is priceless.
I so agree. it’s not the things it’s the sense of safety in your own home.
We always play what would we save in a fire, basically it’s the cat, each other and my falling apart childhood teddy (if there was time).
Pics of the doggy portraits, please! :)
This is an interesting question- but I think it has several components; about 10 years ago when I was moving home at the end of university term our car was broken into and all my clothes except what I was wearing and a change of clothes in my overnight bag was stolen.
Now I know that they are just clothes and not important in the grand scheme of things but having to replace an entire wardrobe is time consuming and expensive (car and home insurance companies pointed to each other and neither paid out).
I frequently go through my wardrobe and give away items without a second thought and would have at some point with all the items but I didn’t get to make that choice when they were taken- so I can still remember some of my favourite items that were taken, but have much less recollection of favourite items I have since given away.
Of course I appreciate how lucky I was that my sentimental items (incl my childhood teddy) were safe in my overnight bag as that would have been much harder to get over.
All to say that I have been there and hope never to go through it again, but know it is not the end of the world to lose possessions.
Experience and time over stuff, right? :)
I wouldn’t be particularly concerned if I lost most of what I own. I don’t own much, though. Everything I own can easily fit within a small car. Except for some used-up furniture – a thief can have that. I’d be bummed if I lost my computer, though. Only because I’d have to buy a new one to keep doing what I do. Otherwise, there’s nothing in this world that I really place a close identity with. In the future, I hope to own even less.
Thanks for the food for thought.
I would also support the shelter. People who think that only “certain” neighbourhoods should have shelters are, frankly, snobby. As for theft, I’ve heard that some people literally feel sick when they realize their home has been robbed. They feel violated – which, of course, they have been. The thought that someone was prowling around their home leaves them with an insecurity and anxiety that stays. So it’s no small deal – and not just because of material items lost. When you say, “The guy who robbed me needs it more”, I disagree. So much theft is committed for the next hit of drugs. The guy needs rehab – not your stuff.
True true, lots of reasons for theft I suppose. In either case though they’re in need of much more help than I :(
I love this post of yours.
Would you miss a lot of things if stolen? Yes, because it took so long to accumulate what we have, and I can’t imagine having enough time on earth to do it again – and focusing on acquiring either basics or luxuries is not what I call fun.
“And even if it was, are you supposed to go through your lives expecting a burglary to happen and thus never pick up anything luxurious? (Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad mentality to have! Haha… Your wallet would love you for it! :))”
Actually, we do a variation of that. The more you have, the more that can be taken from you. More than that, the more that is KNOWN that you have, the more vulnerable you are. You can’t lose your home to the health care system if you rent. Nobody is going to key your BMW if you don’t drive one, and mechanics (and others) will screw you to a lesser extent if you drive a less “status symbol” car.
It’s sad that there is such animosity shown toward both the rich and the poor, because we have intrinsic worth that has nothing to do with the dollar. It isn’t about money; it is about the content of one’s character.
Preach! Great insight!!
I don’t really have too many expensive things. My most expensive thing is my computer and it’s my work’s :) But no I wouldn’t miss too much!
“are you supposed to go through your lives expecting a burglary to happen and thus never pick up anything luxurious?”
I kinda do that :) But while I don’t covet much, I value the few things I have because I’ve worked hard to save and only splurge on a few things. It’s not that I value them above people, of course, but simply that I’ve learned to appreciate what I have rather than wanting more and more. So from that point of view, I guess being less avaricious sets me up for more pain and resentment if it does get stolen!
And in the end, it’s much more the violation of my sacred (to me) living space that would get me extra-steamed. Things can be replaced but people get hurt in burglaries gone wrong. I’ve had family who walked in on one and were hurt badly and they didn’t even have anything of value!
Back to that conversation, though, it feels like that’s false equivalence. The objection to attempt to address homelessness is “but we don’t want to invite them into our spaces because then they’ll steal from us.” Ok, but if you don’t try to do anything about it, that doesn’t make them not exist. Whether you have nice stuff or not really only changes how much they benefit from stealing from you, if they’re going to steal from you. If they weren’t going to, again, it wouldn’t matter much whether you had nice stuff or not. People who aren’t going to steal won’t be inspired to do so because your crap is nicer than the other neighbors’ and people who are willing to do so aren’t going to stop because your crap is too crappy… unless it’s REALLY crappy. Which is when I’m happy to keep reusing stuff til it’s embarrassingly broken :)
Always love when you stop by and drop some knowledge :)
Growing up I thought I wanted all sorts of fancy things, but I’m so thankful for the military lifestyle and my appreciation of experiences over material possessions! When we moved overseas, I realized I didn’t miss a thing in storage, nor did those things make my quality of life any better. I prefer higher quality on things I use regularly, like my mountain bike, workout bras, and MacBook Pro, but I don’t need a ton of material possessions to make me happy. I try to use things until they’re ready to be thrown out before replacing them. (Of course if they’re torn and ratty I’ll get rid of it, I’m practical not cheap.) Limiting material possessions allows for more time and money! We love to travel! While I see the benefits to prioritizing purchases, it does not give anyone else the right to steal.
ITs your own fault you own expensive stuff but someone taking expensive stuff doesn’t justify anything. I would be ok with the shelter going up as long as it is policed and orderly all of the time. If not then I might have to change where I reside, because If I do not commit crimes, why would I live near people who do want to commit them.
What an interesting conversation. I guess I need to get out more so I can meet random strangers and turn it into blog material, haha. :)
I recently moved from Japan to the US with my wife & 2 kids. As part of the process we had to evaluate the monetary value of all our belongings. The total of *everything* we own was estimated to about $25’000, and we have reduced some of that since then. I know some people who own a car more expensive than everything we possess!
It feels good to me to think that if one day all our belongings were stolen or destroyed, well, it wasn’t worth that much in the first place. It helps me sleeping at night, thinking that burglars would be disappointed in the content found at our place, and would probably steal the computers/phones then leave.
That’s a neat exercise to go through actually! I might have to see if I can run such a thing :)
If you enter my one bedroom condo, you would think I just got robbed! I sold & donated everything that I didn’t use (which seemed to be a whole lot) over the last 8 years. Paid my mortgage off on the one bedroom condo over those same 8 years. Lost 80 pounds and became lean and athletic over those same 8 years as well, and to my own surprise, managed to retire right before I turned 40, just a bit over 2 years ago.
I am still amazed how things are connected in life with a fine invisible line that seems to thread everything together.
Once the stuff left the house, my mind cleared up. My diet cleaned up. I cleaned up my investments that I had just thrown in a Sep IRA account for years without looking at them let alone managing them. Thank goodness that I at least did throw the full amount allowed in the account once a year for all those years.
But I would say all of it started from clearing out the closets. I have very few items now and whatever I need I can purchase, but amazingly, I don’t need much and I don’t buy much. Just food and supplies for household, tickets to travel, utility, insurance and that’s pretty much it. I even got the renewal for my home insurance and saw that they covered $25,000 in personal property. I literally laughed. I don’t have half of that amount in my house. So I called the insurance company to see if they can drop the limit and reduce my bill and they told me that was the minimum coverage! Amazing. I mean to keep $25,000 worth of stuff in a household is way too much in my opinion. Put that in a fund or in Lending Club and your asset will start to give you money rather than turning to an old couch that no one wants or an old stereo that is worth nothing.
Loved your post J., it reminded me of the start of my journey 8 years ago when items seemed so important. Right now, I would not miss a thing if I opened my front door one day and there was nothing inside. I would just mop the wood floor, go get a rug and another couch. I don’t have a TV, I don’t have a stereo. If they even took my lap top, it would cost very little to replace it. Other than that, I think if anyone came to my place to take anything, they would find out that they have wasted their time.
Fascinating!!! It’s like you stumbled into some alternate universe and everything just clicked. I love it. And even more so that you took the time to share with us :) Thank you.
We have such a shelter in the neighbourhod and it’s actually pretty OK. No problems so far and it’s been there for at least a decade. The rules are VERY strict there, so the people using such services do behave.
We try to get stuff that works for us and is of decent quality. This means that, we’d ‘feel’ it, if stuff was stolen, but it’s not that expensive. I do have a good, car, but not an expensive make, I have a laptop, phone and other gadgets, but, again, not that expensive.
Interesting about the rules!
I’d say the only thing I would miss would be 2 musical instruments. The first is a banjo I got with my dad and it’s a great story behind how we found it, and the day we spent looking all over Nashville for it. The second is a 1947 acoustic Gibson guitar my grandpa (dad’s dad) owned that I now have. It’s not worth much, but a LOT of sentimental value and memories of it around their house when I was little. Everything else is replaceable if it needed to be.
I’d also miss losing all our pictures if they and their digital brethren all disappeared though.
It would be pretty cool to PLAY those instruments too! Do you know how?
That actually did happen to me. I was moving and they stole the U-Haul right off the street, with an entire houseful of my stuff. Everything except my 2 dogs, my cat, an alarm clock, crappy moving clothes and a book I hated so much I threw it away because I’d be damned if I was going to keep that of all things.
I remember lying on a friends sofa and thinking how easy it would be to bag it all and just be homeless. I had no job, no boyfriend, no stuff. It didn’t help that the cops just laughed at me when I reported it. To add an additional insult, the old guy who rented me the U-Haul didn’t check the box on the contract that said I paid for insurance. Which I had, but had no way to prove it. Fortunately I had a little money in the bank to start over with very cheaply. I bought everything at Dollar Stores, thrift stores and deep clearance racks from discount stores. I slept on the floor in winter until someone gave me a kitty peed-on mattress. Yep, it was a sad story. For years I would look for something I once had then remember it was stolen. Gone.
On the bright side, I’ve recovered from that horror story and no longer look for lost things. They were just things. Replaceable things. Yeah I miss family mementoes but they were also just things. I still have the memories which is the most important part! Oh, and a crappy story to share! :)
What a nasty thing to do!! Especially ALL your stuff like that, damn. You got to see what “no stuff” felt like in one swoop, ugh :(
What was the book, btw?? I’m so curious now!
The last tour I worked on got robbed actually and while it was majorly irritating to go through the bother of replacing stuff like contacts and all my underwear, I was mostly thankful that we were all safe, I didn’t really care much about anything that was stolen, and I had plenty of money in my bank account to replace the essentials. A lot of the others were not so lucky.
Hmmm…someone breaking in would def make me feel unsafe. Before we were able to move into our house someone went into our backyard and stole all the oranges off our tree. I was pretty angry (those were good oranges) and felt unsafe. After we moved in I put a golf club under our bed and it’s still there. That was just my backyard too!
We don’t have a ton of pricey stuff, but some stuff. Like my beloved Kitchenaid mixer. I’ve been working on not feeling so tied to “stuff” but easier said than done! The stuff I would miss mostly have emotions attached to them. Plus my computer of course!
When my boyfriend and I purchased our RV, we specifically purchased a reliable one that was at a fairly low price relative to our net worths. We paid $14k for it, so $7k each. I felt relief knowing that if we were to completely total it or otherwise mess up the RV somehow, we could literally go out and buy another one if needed and get back on our feet.
Having less expensive stuff helps me sleep at night!
I still admire the crap out of y’all that you went the RV Route. If only I had my mindset now before kids! :)
I don’t think I would be too upset if someone stole my stuff. I’d be more annoyed. Homeless shelters create these debates because everyone wants to help, but no one wants them in their backyard. Maybe it’s too much of a reminder that not everyone is as fortunate?
The only thing I would be upset about is that someone broke into my place. Thinking about actual items: I would be upset if something happened to my pictures or my computer. And thanks to the cloud-I can find them easily.
Well, I think most burglars would be disappointed if they broke into our home as we have nothing of any real value. We have stocks, but they’re on a computer somewhere and we have the house, but that’s a bit difficult to steal :)
One great thing about having nothing expensive in the house is that we also have the cheapest insurance :-)
Maybe I’m missing the full context of your conversation with the wise older gentleman, but I take his wonderful comment a little differently.
So many people complain and worry about their financial obligations, or they are weighed down by them or can’t save because of them – the car payment, the electricity bill, the credit card that’s due, etc. But the simple truth of that man’s statement is that it’s no one’s fault but your own.
You bought whatever home you now have to heat, cool, furnish and insure. You chose the car, boat, bike, or RV that is dragging down your budget. If you don’t have enough left to give generously, or if you cling to your possessions jealously, or if you feel trapped instead of free as a result – it’s really due to the stuff that YOU chose to buy/keep.
Just last year, someone broke into our house and took expensive stuff such as laptop and my computer consoles. It was really hard to accept the truth that these things I worked for were gone. But, I gotta move on and learn something from that incident. Now, it kinda affected the things I buy nowadays. I rarely buy expensive stuff.
I learned the hard way that i really dont care about stuff. I lost everything in an apt fire now 2 years ago and i live much more simple now because of that. I buy quality over quantity and I shop for almost everything second hand. There is a lot less stress now about losing it all. And a lot less clutter!
Oh wowww, I’m sorry & congrats at the same time! :) Good for you for making the change and adapting like that!
Our society has become really materialistic. After getting married and moving to another country, I now realize how hard it is to earn money and how much we need to save in order to retire and live well. We have learned not to buy things that we not need (i.e. clothes, purses, makeup, shoes, etc.). I don’t even buy brands anymore. I go to the thrift store. My husband is kind of icky about this, but I am slowly showing him the way.
I have also become a great salesperson. I am slowly decluttering our home. Part of my success is GREAT mobile apps! OfferUP, LetGo and Wallapop are all great! I use all three to sale our stuff. It’s really easy to post our things. On average I make at least 50$ per month (last month 100$+, so far this month 33$!).
Nice!! I’ve used OfferUp before (they just raised $100 Million btw – they’re blowing up!) but never heard of the others… Feels great getting rid of stuff and bringing home $$$ instead! You don’t ever need to declutter that! :)