Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Too Much Stuff?

Do you have too much stuff? MP Dunleavy writes a provocative article about the cost of too much stuff. It certainly makes one think. I've asked people who are hard-core coupon shoppers, if it's worth coupon shopping to fill your house, where you have rooms of stuff and enough to fill a store, versus downsizing and using the saved downsized money to not coupon? Their answer? No. They don't see the price of their extra stuff.

But is it really worth having a large space to fill? I wonder that now sitting in my home of 1800 sq ft. We used to live happily in 540 sq ft. We never coupon shopped or stockpiled because it would mean moving to larger space and we saved more by living in a 1 bedroom. But then we bought a place 3x the size and I feel have managed to fill it to the brim. Granted part of it is having a roommate, so we only doubled in size. But still I feel extremely luxurious living with so much space.

And now I am a person who fills it with stockpiled toilet paper, body wash etc. Not to a huge extent, but some. Plus we added another dog to the mix and hopefully we'll add a kid while here. But was it worth it?

I'm not sure, so I can see the writers point. The more space you have the more you spend to fill it. And sometimes you start to forget stuff you already have and keep filling it with more identical stuff. That you find you bought a duplicate item you already have. Or you buy something you never use.

Unfortunately I think this starts to happen even worse for people who stay in their final home for 30 years like my parents. I come from a long line of packrats and I sent the article in an email to my mother. I hope she decides to start cleaning her house, which by the way last time I visited, I had to sleep on the couch because she had filled my old room to the brim (no walking space and on top of the bed) full of stuff. And my brother's rooms were the same. This is a 4500 sq ft house for 2 people and there is no guest room because my mom filled it full of stuff.

So what's the cost of too much stuff? Larger heating/cooling bills, more to clean (pay a housekeeper), more to maintain. But how do you get rid of all this stuff? I figure that I'll dump everything into a dumpster when my dad dies and my mom is forced to downsize. She won't be able to afford the house on her only pension/investments. And no way will she live in a house the same size so it'll all go into the trash finally.

I wonder if other 20-somethings with boomer parents are facing the same thing? The massive amount of collected garbage? How are people letting go and downsizing?


I'm Grace. said...

Ah, Living Large--I can only tell you what it looks like from a parent's side. My house is cluttered. One whole bedroom and most of the basement has far too much stuff in it. But not, mind you, MY stuff. Oh, no! It's my kid's stuff. Four are now adults but their stuff lives on in boxes and piles in MY house.

Data Babble said...

I come from a long line of pack rats. The ever present phrase, "I might need that someday!" I've gotten better over the years and have downsized quite a bit out of necessity as I live in a small townhouse.

Living Almost Large said...

Um, Grace, my parents have NO STUFF of their four children. My mom has dispensed of all our stuff. I threw everything out a few year ago.

My mom packed up all my sibs stuff and mailed it to them.

So NONE of it is OUR stuff. NOPE. She tried to blame the kids a year ago, but I said, so what is our stuff when I went home? We looked for my sibs stuff, NONE!

I looked for my stuff, and NOTHING!

Can't blame the kids now.

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

UH.. YEA!!

My parents are total packrats *winces at the idea of having to clean the house*

They won't get rid of furniture that they just pile in the corner because it's "still good" and she paid "$2000" for it when it was new..

Jeez... I'm glad (in a way), that Ex took everything. I'm startin' off with NUTTIN. :D And loving it...

MEG said...

Dr. Phil yesterday (yes, I TiVo and sometimes watch Dr. Phil) was about this issue of collecting too much crap. The last girl on there spends $25K a year renting 4 storage sheds because she can't bear to throw away all the stuff her parents accumulated for decades before they passed away and it won't fit in the house she's already packed full of it. Some of it was sentimental, but a lot of it was pure worthless garbage (like a box of manuals for every appliance they'd ever owned).

I have been in my 1 bdrm apt for just over a year. I started with almost nothing, and now I'm already feeling clausterphobic from all the stuff that is everywhere - files, books, clothes, bags, art, furniture, candles, bouquets, vases, did I get all this stuff???

I think the booming consumerist economy corresponds with the increase in average home price over the last few decades. What's going to happen when we can't build bigger houses to hold ever-more materialistic stuff? Hopefully people will start spending less.

I personally prefer to spend more on a few quality items than pack my home with cheap clothes and knick-knacks I don't really care about.

Living Almost Large said...

It's way to easy to get caught up in stuff.

Financially Broke said...

When I moved to Europe, I realized I had too much crap. I got rid of an entire 3 bedroom house full of furniture, artwork, knickknacks, pots, pans, dishes, dish towels, bathroom stuff.... everything. And I STILL HAD A 3 BEDROOM HOUSE FULL OF STUFF when I arrived in Germany!!!!!

Luckily, while in Germany, I really did not purchase that much more stuff... save for some souveniors of places we went. But I bought wall plaques instead of knick knacks that just need to be dusted all the time.

But still, when I left Germany, Again I gave away at least one bedroom FULL OF stuff.

Then I get back to the States, start opening up boxes, and say to myself, "Why did I ever ship this to Germany? More importanly, why did I bother shipping it back???"

Then I got rid of about 9 transportation boxes of stuff.

And you know what? I still have TOO MUCH CRAP!!!!!!!

I really have no idea where it all comes from. Here and there and gifts, I suppose. But I am getting ready to do a pretty huge house cleaning during spring break. Because I seriously just need to break away from things. Sure, some things I can not get rid of due to sentimental reasons, but most of this stuff can go without any negative impact on my well being at all.

My mother, however.... well, when she ups and goes, I am just going to call in a professional to deal with it. She isnt as bad as that woman on Oprah, but may very well be there when she up and goes. She hangs on to EVERYTHING. She refuses to throw away the lids for containers she no longer can find because everything is just thrown about. It drives me bananas!