Home > Why do we have stuff?

Why do we have stuff?

February 26th, 2021 at 02:01 am

I feel like we have a lot of stuff.  We don't have a huge house so it seems like we have more stuff than we really need because of it.  I have friends who say "oh they don't have much stuff." But when I point out that having a 4000-5000 sq ft house you probably have more stuff than our 2000 sq foot house it's hard to argue.  Mostly I argue this point with my mom, who has aforementioned 4000 sq ft house and 600 sq ft condo.

So there they are with two homes packed literally to the gills.  Stuff is in every cloest, every cabinet, everywhere.  There is no dealing with the amount of stuff.  Patient saver got me thinking as she managed to get her hands on her mother's art.  The sentimental value is astronomical.  That being said will her own children value it the same?  Or will they only focus on maybe 1 piece?

I was thinking about what it means to have all this stuff.  My neighbor I walk with is an only child.  Her dad passed 3 years ago and her mom is in a facility since January 2019.  This year around September she went to her parent's home and rented a uhaul and drove to a storage facility everything she thought was important and valued.  Everything else she left.  The interesting part is she hasn't done anything in the past 2 years.  Her mom moved into a facility with 4 suitcases 2 years ago and they "pretended" that she was just trying it out and my neighbor would take her back to clean her house.  It never happened.  I can't help but think that might be me.  Avoiding the experience of actually cleaning the house but rather instead just waiting until the person passes even if they don't live in the house to go through things. 

So here's an interesting tibit to chew on 8.5 years ago my grandmother moved out of her apartment and into my aunt's home because she couldn't live alone anymore.  But my mom and aunts instead of cleaning the apartment and throwing stuff out literally packed everything in boxes and put it in my aunt's garage.  They promised that one day they would go through it with her.  8.5 years later they haven't unpacked most of it.  Instead she lives in a tiny with only a few things and everything that was SOO important to throw away they just shoved into a box and went on living.

I know that's what my neighbor has done as well.  I wonder is that the fate of my parents things?  For me probably not.  By the time I have to deal with it, my dad will for sure be passed and my mom at 69 well I don't know.  My dad is 90 and when he passes can she really deal with it? I doubt it.  Will I do the same thing? I don't know.

But how do you actually get rid of all the stuff?  And how do you let go enough to give things to people? I'd love a few of my grandmother's art pieces she made (at least 1) but no one wants to give anything might be valuable.  So instead it's hung onto. 

Ideally i think it'd be nice if parents would ask kids before they are forced to deal with it.  What to do?

11 Responses to “Why do we have stuff?”

  1. mumof2 Says:

    we have written in our wills what our kids will get from us..many things they have asked if my hubby dies first they will get what it says straight away and vice versa...we have never put much stock into material things (especially me) so they can keep what they want and get rid of the rest...I started doing that with my mother about 2 years ago when she moved we were packing up her things and she had drawings from her grandkids (which are now in their 40's) and I said no mom you are not taking all this stuff..they don't even remember that they did can keep 1 thing from each kid thats all (there are so many kids), she had some of he hubby stuff (he passed away 23 years earlier) I said you don't need it, you have the memories you don't need much she really decluttered...seriously she got rid of over half the stuff she had...she said when she moved she felt better and much lighter..and was glad that I made her do was sentimental to her but once I convinced her that all she needed was the memories..she was good with that

  2. My English Castle Says:

    Have you read Swedish Death Cleaning? It's a great spur to getting rid of stuff. It's written by an older lady and she has a great attitude toward it.

  3. Turtle Lover Says:

    I say the same thing ... I don't clean out (get rid of stuff) my own house very much but I have memories of helping my friend's dad move from a big house to one room in assisted living and he insisted on keeping a bunch of stuff so that stuff just sat in boxes until he died about a year later and then we were cleaning out that stuff. We had to clean that room out in 1 day and a lot of it went in the dumpster. It was sad. I hope to not be like that but sometimes I find myself keeping stuff for no "real" reason just can't let it go yet .... sigh.

  4. Carol Says:

    I have too much stuff and I have been downsizing and giving away for several years now. Before that, we had my MiL' s and my mother's stuff to deal with. Eventually, it becomes expensive to get rid of. Big dumpsters are not cheap.
    People who help you sort and deal with stuff are not cheap (but can be very helpful!).
    This thread is reinspiring me to continue to get rid of!

  5. Single Guy Says:

    Thankfully my mother has been doing a slow clean out over the past few years. The best part is being an only child I can do a slash & burn of her things should I ever need to do it.

    Bigger problem is all of my stuff. I have been going through and throwing out stuff for about 2 years. Still have way too much stuff, though going through it all has convinced me to not buy anything for the past few years. That extra money has been great for my investments.

  6. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    My grandmother had a 1 bedroom apartment and they literally packed up pots and pans and sewing machine and desk and stuff and moved it into a garage. I don't want to say insane but in some ways it really is. I mean it's never been used since I had my second child which is when she moved. She moved because my mom was coming to help me for 2 months after my second child and decided she couldn't live solo. Well 8.5 years later, my mom said they thought she'd be dead by now.

    Haha the jokes on them she'll live another 10 years with them. And here is all this crap never been touched or looked at. My mom says she'll sit down and go through box after box while my grandmother is still alive but I doubt it'll happen. I mean why after almost 9 years? It'll never happen. When she dies they will still likely not touch it until they absolutely need to maybe when they themselves go into a facility.

    I mean my great grandmother has been dead 11 years (right before my dk1 at 101) and my mom still has her stuff in her house. She barely wanted to get rid of her furniture and said "oh it's in such good shape. They don't make furniture like that anymore." But gave it away to another family member who needed furniture and my mom was like "i should never have given it away."

  7. disneysteve Says:

    Being the person who posts the Decluttering threads on the forums, I totally agree with this.

    We have a very unhealthy and unreasonable attachment to stuff. We put far too much value on physical things. We get hung up on sunk costs - "Oh, I can't give this away/throw this away. I spent $XYZ on it".

    I haven't read the death cleaning book but DW and I have both read Marie Kondo's book and watched her Netflix series. We've used her method several times to get rid of certain categories of things. Admittedly, we haven't done it as much as we should or need to but it definitely helped.

    Over the past 3 or so years, I've really been working on getting rid of stuff. It's a slow process and it's kind of hard to see the results. I highly recommend taking before and after pictures to stay motivated. I know our garage is way better than it used to be even though someone looking at it today would still think it's a mess. Also, keep some sort of log of stuff eliminated. You don't have to write down every single item but even something like "3 bags of clothing and 2 boxes of stuff to Goodwill" helps you recognize your progress.

    Over the past few years, we had 2 big yard sales. Each time, I vowed that anything that didn't sell was being donated. When each sale was over, I loaded the van with 10+ cartons each time. Various other times I've taken cartons to donate. All together, I've probably taken out 50 cartons of stuff - and the house is still a mess. It's outrageous how much stuff accumulates over a lifetime.

  8. disneysteve Says:

    One aspect of this that has been extremely difficult for me is letting go of stuff that has monetary value. I have had a collectibles business since 1986 so I'm very tuned in to what things are worth. But I've had to learn that at this point in my life, I don't want to be spending hours listing items on ebay, managing sales, packing, and shipping. Sometimes it's better to just give them away.

    We've made a lot of use of our local Buy Nothing group. I've also sold numerous items on Facebook Marketplace which is way easier than Ebay. I encourage anyone trying to declutter to make use of both of those resources.

  9. rob62521 Says:

    You are right, we all have a lot of "stuff." My house is packed.

    When my mom died, I was still working full time, DH was working full time, so we made a decision. We called a guy and sold him everything. I took 4 things out of the house simply because I had plenty of stuff of my own. The deal with the guy is he took it all, except the clothes which were not worth keeping and we pitched. If I had spent the time piecing it out and listing it we probably would have made more money, but all I could picture was boxing it up, putting it in storage, and dreading it, so taking a lot less was far worth it. The four items I took, well, one was a radio that I used until it died, one was a large Coke bottle that I held on to awhile and then sold to another collector, and two spoons. One was a slotted spoon I use all the time for vegetables, and the other is an oversized spoon that belonged to my dad; he claimed it belong to his mother and it is basically useless, but it is one of the few things I have from my dad's side of the family. I could not see paying to store the stuff nor could I see already filling my house with even more. I read an article about how many of those storage units there are in America and how much people are paying to store stuff they hardly use. No kidding!

  10. disneysteve Says:

    I'm going to be dealing with this soon. My cousin is terminally ill and when he dies, we will be responsible for cleaning out and selling his house. He lives pretty simply so doesn't have as much stuff as many others, but it's still a lot to deal with. Part of me wants to sell what I can sell to get the money out of it, but part of me just wants to call a local charity to come get it all. I'm not sure what I'll end up doing.

  11. terri77 Says:

    I’m on a mission to downsize. Whether it be through sales or gifting, I want less stuff in my home.

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