The mohawked numismatist is known throughout the personal finance blogosphere to be someone completely devoted to what he calls “tiny pieces of metal.” Yet he’s reflecting on whether such attachments are entirely healthy.
“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,” he wrote in a post called “When it’s time to detach yourself from your things.”
The collection was “the last remaining ‘thing’ I owned that I was still overly attached to and didn’t want to be anymore.”
I get it. Marie Kondo and her “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is all the rage right now. The underlying theory is good: Get rid of what you don’t use/may never use/no longer matters.
But allow me to point out that fads come and fads go. Minimalism may be one of them, and joining in could mean shooting yourself in the frugals.
To be clear: I do think it’s possible to have too much stuff. According to an industry group called the Self Storage Association, the United States has about 2.5 billion square feet of rentable, under-roof storage space.
That’s 78 square miles of cubbies, folks – and users aren’t just apartment or condo dwellers. About two-thirds (65 percent) of all self-storage renters have garages, nearly half (47 percent) have attics and one-third have basements.
Less isn’t always more
Some people are attracted to minimalism after reading blog and magazine articles on the topic. Just as it was easy initially to believe that buying More Stuff would make us happy, it’s alluring to think now that Less Stuff is the real ticket to contentment.
But today isn’t forever. Starry-eyed by the idea of a potential solution for your Life Issues, you might jump on the Kondo-wagon and make decisions that will cost you money – or anguish – later on.
Less isn’t always more. Sometimes less is loss. When the infatuation with minimalism wears off we might second-guess our decision to have dumped so much ballast all at once.
Here’s a sad story: When I was seven or eight I really wanted to be a big girl. So when my mom was putting together a box of stuff to donate to Goodwill, I gave her my several dolls – including one that my great-grandmother had made for me.
Almost immediately I knew I’d made a mistake. While I didn’t sleep with the rag doll she sat against my pillow during the day, and the bed just looked wrong without her. But I was a big girl now, and wouldn’t allow myself to admit I’d blown it.
You know what? I still miss that doll. Sometimes I wonder what my mom was thinking, not setting it aside in case I changed my mind or as a family heirloom. Then again, she had a tough childhood. Maybe to her it was normal not to get too attached to things.
Don’t do anything rash
A close friend still has her childhood bear. Does she still play with Prince Panda? No. Does she get wonderful memories when she looks at him? You bet.
This friend is currently donating/selling a lot of the stuff she’s accumulated in eight decades of living. The bear is staying put. He matters to her.
Before you divest, think — really think — about your own Prince Pandas:
If you feel a serious pang at the thought of ditching an item, hold off for a day or two.
Ask yourself why you’re purging. Is it because you truly feel you have too much? Because you think that gives you frugal bonus points? Because a friend did a Kondo on her condo and can’t stop talking about how much her life has changed? (Hint: Your mileage may vary.)
Will you need to replace it? Get overzealous about the expulsions and you might wind up have to re-buy tools, clothing, cookware or whatever.
Can you replace it? As noted above, I still miss that rag doll. Is my life irreparably harmed because she isn’t in it? No. Do I wish I had her back? Yes.
How about it, readers: Have you ever gotten rid of stuff, only to find you really needed/wanted it later? Or was your decision both final and gloriously successful?