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Simpson: Are Americans overburdened with their own excess 'stuff?'

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

If you have watched that "American Pickers" show on the History Channel, you begin to wonder if many of us are too preoccupied with our stuff. We don't all have extra barns and outbuildings to store it in, but still we keep on accumulating it until storage does become a problem.

Think about it. We carry stuff in our pockets, our purses, our cars. Sometimes the family vehicle is so full of stuff that passengers have trouble with comfortable seating. Have you looked in your trunk lately? I would bet you there is more in many vehicle trunks than a spare tire, jack and a few tools.

How is your glove box? Dare you open it or is it like Fibber McGee's closet? When was the last time you changed the batteries in that emergency flashlight in that glove box?

Stuff is goods we buy, collect, keep adding to over a lifetime. The older we get the more stuff we seem to have and yard sales do not help us get rid of it all. Houses, sheds, and barns eventually overflow and yet we keep on collecting. People simply have got to have their stuff.

In fact, some folks have such a strong desire for stuff that they willingly go into debt for it. Big sale going on. Buy one, get one and folks show up in large numbers. Here is a chance for getting more stuff at a bargain. Storage a problem? Rent space and cram it in.

Load up the car and haul some of it to Goodwill. They will welcome you with open arms. When you get rid of some, you'll be able to buy more new and different stuff.

Remember when you buy new stuff, that storage will eventually be a problem and disposing of surplus will become a challenge.

Keep your stuff manageable. Be sure you really need what you buy and don't become an impulse purchaser. What is just the right amount of stuff? Who knows? I don't because I am guilty, probably moreso than the next person, when it comes to collecting and hoarding stuff (particularly clothes).

Right now I live in fear that some relative or friend might die naming me to inherit their stuff. Where in the world would I put it? How in the world would I dispose of it?

One fellow I know who had this happen to him put a large inherited estate into his barn, put up an estate sale sign out front and spent a year or better getting rid of the deceased's stuff, probably for pennies on the dollar!

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