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Jack Simpson - Compulsion to collect continues during rough economy

Even when the economy is as bad as it now is, some folks have just got to keep on accumulating stuff. They are compulsive collectors. For these individuals, acquiring goods and having a place to keep them makes the world go around.

Are you included among such people? Check your pockets or purse. I would bet you a Coke Classic that you are carrying around stuff you do not need. I've got a bunch of keys, and I don't have any idea what most of them are for!

What is in your car? Stuff you think you might need sometime, like a blanket on the back seat or a folding chair in the trunk? How about tennis shoes? You might want to take a hike somewhere. Don't tell me you don't have maps, a flashlight or a first aid kit in your glove box. Hey, this is stuff you might really need some day.

Those with real money collect big stuff like fancy cars, boats, motorcycles, beach houses, clothing, shoes, and the like. Know what I am saying? Goods, personal property, paraphernalia, chattels, raw material; yes, stuff.

The trouble is that the more you get, the greater the storage problem. With a bunch of stuff you better not have a foreclosure, 'cause then you'll have to rent a place to put your belongings.

Not everyone has unlimited funds, so the economic downturn has caused many people to hold off buying more stuff. After all, it is a choice of eating, buying fuel, paying the mortgage, medicine bills and the like, or picking up a new Barbie doll or a whimisical collectible. Times are hard and money for items that are not necessities is scarce these days.

Senior citizens can testify to the problems stuff can cause in their later years. What happens to all the collectibles in a health crisis, or when the person who bought these things has to go to a nursing home?

One older lady recently told me she collected stuff all of her life. And, rather than cause others in her family disposal problems, she rented a booth at a flea market in hopes of selling it. This lady reminded me that she had years of fun traveling and collecting, meeting new people and turning her house into a private museum for stuff that caught her eye that she felt she just had to buy. Sharing her collectibles and memories with family and friends enriched her life and gave her hours of pleasure.

Younger people just starting out in life don't have enough stuff and long to accumulate more. They even run up credit card bills trying to satisfy the desire to possess nice things. Collecting is fun, but remember that one day there will be a day of reckoning and you will stop asking, "What am I going to do with all of this stuff?"

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.