Monday, April 18, 2011

Do you really need all that "stuff"?

An article from Smart Money Magazine appeared this morning in my news feed. It's about aging Boomers coping with the inevitability of getting rid of all their "stuff" as they decide to downsize or simplify life. The point of the article (link below) is with so many people entering the stage in life when they are deciding to simplify, the market (and value) of the stuff is dropping. Simple laws of supply and demand. The more stuff, the more supply. The more supply, the lower the value.

I guess many of these sellers of stuff were counting on it for some added value in their retirement accounts. That won't be the case if grandma's old upright piano fetches $11 as the article claims. I read with interest the hypothesis that many of these aging Boomers are buying smaller homes - we see a lot of that each day in our communities. And there's the school of thought that says the American Dream of home ownership is changed forever and many are choosing not to buy again, if they can sell what they own. There are opinions and arguments to be made on both sides of both of these.

What I'm interested in is the longevity of "stuff" going forward. What matters most today? With our consumer culture of planned obsolescence where today's new release of almost anything is outdated almost as soon as the hard-to-open packaging is discarded, what is our relationship to material things? How deep is our relationship to these goods and things? Is a wedding gift of a silver tea service as coveted as funds toward an experiential honeymoon? If so, will there come a time, 40 years from now, when the married couple looks around and realizes they don't have a sterling silver flatware set to pass to the next generation? Or will new kinds of family traditions begin to emerge, less tied to things, and more tied to something else?

Read the article that spurred this thought here:

1 comment:

  1. Just this afternoon my family was talking yet again about getting rid of more STUFF -- in part due to my father-in-law's recent move and the resulting unpacking of his stuff. Seems like it is a never ending battle to manage stuff, organize stuff, giveaway outgrown stuff, etc.

    And then this evening, I finally figured out a way to take some of my great-grandmother's old clip-on earrings and turn them into earrings I can wear -- without squeezing the living daylights out of my ears!

    I wonder if over the years she considered throwing them away when they went out of style. I never saw my grandmother wear them once they were handed down to her. In fact, I never saw them until they were handed down to me. During the couple of years I've had them, it has often occurred to me that without being able to wear them, they were just stuff in a box.

    Then inspiration finally hit, and I can't wait to show off how I've made them into...well... good stuff! Now if I could just get inspired to clean out the stuff in the closets and attic.