My financial epiphany has been more of gradual progression rather than a single ‘aha!’ moment. A handful of events each lighting my pathway to financial independence. One of these moments happened when I came to the realization that everything you own is garbage.
Everything You Own Is Garbage
I’ve written about a few of these aha moments, but my first light turned on about 12 years ago when my Grandpa passed away. Grandma had died a few years earlier so we, their remaining family members, were left with the task of sorting through their possessions.
It was eyeopening to say the least.
As Grandpa’s kids and grand kids were cleaning out his home, a few heirlooms and other items were claimed, but the overwhelming majority of the possessions in his house were discarded.
The things being thrown out were the material possessions Grandpa and Grandma had collected and surrounded themselves with during their 80 years on this planet. The contents of their toy closet, which was like a treasure chest to me as a little kid, were thrown out. So was furniture. Dishes. Clothes. Decorations. Ornaments. Trinkets.
Basically everything was tossed out.
Material Possessions Are Just Future Garbage
A few items of value were kept or sold, but the vast majority of my grandpa’s earthly possessions were either donated or thrown in the garbage. Things he’d spent his time, energy, and his hard-earned money on were basically trash.
And that bothered me. A lot.
I was upset that his possessions were so carelessly discarded.
Shouldn’t somebody be keeping all of these things as a way to remember Gramps?
I thought about keeping some of the toys from that toy closet that mesmerized me as a kid. But I didn’t really want those cheap plastic toys. What I wanted, what I truly valued, was the memory.
And that’s when my first light bulb went off:
Everything you own is garbage, or will become so very soon. The “stuff” that we surround ourselves with and decorate our homes with is crap and will be mostly likely be thrown out when we die. What people will hang on to are memories.
I don’t want more “stuff” – what I want is a lifetime of fun, crazy, and unforgettable memories!
Technology becomes outdated. Tastes evolve. Things break or wear out. The things you buy today are pretty much nothing more than future garbage. That’s harsh, but I’m not wrong: everything you own is garbage (or will become garbage very soon).
When my time comes and my progeny has gathered around, I don’t want somebody asking “does anybody want this old baseball?” I want them asking “do you remember that time Ty took us to the baseball game? That was a lot of fun!”
People Matter, Stuff Doesn’t
I try to remember this as I buy things and take inventory of my current possessions. I don’t do this to be cheap or frugal, although I do spend less money when evaluating things this way, rather I do this because it helps me keep things in perspective: Stuff doesn’t matter. People matter.
Don’t get me wrong. I like nice stuff as much as the next person. In fact my wife and I recently spent a small fortune on some new furniture, but I’m hoping that we’ll create a lot of fun memories of us snuggled up as a family on this oversized couch eating popcorn, pizza, and watching movies.
I’m also doing my best to save and invest money like a madman, not so we can spend our cash on stuff, but on the most important thing money can buy, our freedom.
Material possessions can bring a lot of joy, but is that joy permanent or temporary? What’s going to happen to your stuff when you pass away? Have you had to throw out the possessions of a loved one?