Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lessons from B

I've been helping a lady in my ward clean out her house in anticipation of moving into some sort of retirement community. It's a sad job, and it's been made particularly difficult because one of the reasons she has to move is because she can no longer afford to live in her home.

We've sorted through a lifetime of possessions, files, memorabilia, clothing, inherited items, and other stuff and rubble.

Here's what I've learned from this adventure:
  • Don't buy trendy things. Stick to quality wardrobe and household items that will last for years without going out of style.
  • Be thoughtful about the things you purchase. Your children likely will not want your pile of "collectible" thingamajigs no matter how much you paid for them thirty years ago.
  • You will never get back what you paid for anything so make sure you love it on its own merits and not for what you perceive it to be worth.
  • Sentimental value will not increase the garage sale price.
  • Don't postpone the cleaning out of drawers, closets, cabinets, attics, etc. A stressful, sorrowful situation combined with a sense of urgency will make these jobs more difficult, not less.
  • Things are not a satisfying substitute for good relationships.
  • The acquisition, maintenance, and care of things is a both a burden and a blessing. Make sure your things add value to your life, not just more work. If they only add work, out they go and the sooner the better.

And the number one lesson I've learned from this is this - the kind of life you live when you are old and tired and possibly sick will be directly affected by the planning and preparation you do today and every day until then. You will get old. You will need more money than you think at a time in your life when your ability to earn money may be drastically reduced. Instead of buying the latest gadgets and toys and the most fashionable clothing and the most exciting vacations, save and invest your cash. Manage your resources carefully. It's wonderful and fine and desirable to enjoy life along the way, but oh my, be wise.


  1. That is good advice. What a hard job to do, though. Good luck!

  2. I need to call B again. We Craigslisted a bunch of her furniture and now I'm wondering how much of it actually sold. We looked up prices for the "collectibles", which do not necessarily appreciate in value as generally anticipated. My view on collecting is if you don't LOVE the item for itself more than the space it takes up, you may as well not collect it. Of course, my trouble is books. I love too many of them.