Notes on Clutter
It’s true with collections, old electronics, old clothes, and most posessions eventually, that they stick around long after they outlive their value to us. One reason for this is that we maintain that these objects are valuable. The value that we see in this particular kind of object, however, (take, for example, my old collection of Magic: The Gathering cards) is more often than not based on external measures, and not on any kind of personal evaluation.
It helps to look at the ownership cycle.
1.Decide that a given object is worth more to you than the money you will spend to purchase it.
2. Ownership, and presumably use, of the object (playing lots of fun games with friends)
3. Stop using the object, (stop playing magic) and find a place to store it until you either want it again, or want to get rid of it.
4. Reuse the object (back to step 2) or offload the object.
By the time you get to stage 3 with any object, presumably the object has decreased in value for you. It is the case, however, that many households hold on to old objects because of a sense of debt that the object owes to them. If I pay $20 for a cd, I’d sure as hell get my money’s worth, even if I’ll never listen to it again after uploading it to itunes.
The same is true for any item we buy, we want to make sure that we get all of the value that we paid for, that we offset the initial transaction. I think that more commonly, people never realize/reach this place, and fall into a pattern of holding on to old objects. Look at any given basement or garage, and you’ll see old appliances, couches, etc, siting unused. It may be that a lot of these items are being held for some future use, but I think that in a large percentage of cases, they’re more likely sitting dormant and unused.
The upshot I guess, is that when you look at the things that you own, you ought to try and assess what the value is to you. To use magic as an example, I know a lot of people who hang on to cards because they spent lots of money, and the card boks say that the cards are worth something. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to make some money, so you hold onto the cards, even if you realistically will never hop on ebay and sell each card for what it’s worth. In this case, the cards might have value, but might not have that value to you. To someone, yes, the cards might represent a chance to make money, but if you’re not willing or likely to maximize the value of the cards because it’s a hassle, the cards may in fact be worth far less to you than the appraisal book claimed.
So the value of things is relative, and while it can be hard, it’s probably best to train yourself to recognize the value of your possessions relative to your reality.