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Miss Minimalist
4-12-11, 12:31pm
Smart Money recently published an interesting article on how baby boomers are trying to downsize decades' worth of accumulation:

http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/retirement/downsizing-boomers-looking-to-sell-their-stuff-1301517395843/

A short excerpt:

"Born into the giddy postwar climate of conspicuous consumption and weaned on decades of easy credit, they're a generation accustomed to regularly leaving offerings at the altar of retail.

That is, until they hit the empty-nest, time-to-start-downsizing phase—and begin wondering what to do with their mountains of accumulated stuff. With some 8,000 Americans turning 65 every day, on average, and the senior population expected to double by 2050, millions are facing a massive, multifaceted purge that's turning out to be much tougher than they thought it would be. And millions more find themselves in similar quandaries as they deal with the truckloads they've inherited from packrat relatives. Indeed, whether they're leaving an heirloom china set at the local consignment store or packing a stately grandfather clock off to Sotheby's, many are discovering that the resale market is glutted with household goods. And oriental rugs are only the beginning. Got a home full of middle-market, traditional-style furniture to sell? Dealers say that stuff's plunged 50 to 75 percent in value. Elaborate silver tea sets are worth more melted than as decorative objects. And huge heavy items like dining-room breakfronts and banker-style desks are often the toughest to unload. "I once sold a piano for $11," says David Rago, a Lambertville, N.J., auctioneer."

In my early minimalist days, I sold quite a bit on eBay; it was a good lesson on how quickly consumer goods depreciate. It sounds like the glut of items on the market makes reselling even tougher these days. Not great news if you're unloading stuff, but probably a frugalista's dream!

I remember selling an expensive cashmere sweater for about $15 (last time I ever bought cashmere), and a lovely pair of Italian leather pumps for around $10.

Anyone else have tales of woe when trying to resell something "valuable"?

KayLR
4-12-11, 1:39pm
It seems a bit rough on the Boomers to convict them of overconsumption in this article about downsizing...when the stuff they're purging is heirlooms. I mean, when you are bequeathed stuff, there is an element of guilt involved: "I should keep this because Grandma gave it to me." Not that you went out and purchased it.

I do undestand the challenge the story is presenting; I just think it's a bit one-dimensional.

Heidi
4-12-11, 2:13pm
I think we always accumulated stuff in the first half of our lives and tried to get rid of it during the second half. Maybe it is worse now. If we could just avoid the big bulge in the middle of life. I don't even try to sell anything, just list it on freecycle and give it away. So much waste in western societies, it is sad.

bae
4-12-11, 2:24pm
My in-laws, who are divorced and live far apart, each have large rambling Victorian homes, full of huge furniture, sets of china, silver, rugs, paintings, and all sorts of other impedimentia.

They each think we're going to find places for All That Stuff here in our home, and often comment proudly "Oh, the Gigantic Wood Monstrosity will go so nicely here in your dining room. Well, once you get rid of your table, and knock out that wall a bit..." It's not going to happen.

Ebay, my friends, Ebay.

H-work
4-12-11, 3:29pm
I cleaned houses to make spending money for college. One older lady was so enamored by her own stuff. She bragged how much it was worth and how her kids would be fighting over this and that. I tried not to roll my eyes. It was junk. I seriously doubt her family took much of anything when she did pass. Her wonderful silver service that she paid me to polish was silver plate. I don't think you can even melt that down ??

My parent's household was more of the depression-era hoarding stuff, washers, bolts, bread wrapper ties, mason jars. I had over a dozen yard sales and donated truckloads to the thrift shops. Threw out a small dumpster full. A metal recycler picked up about 2 truckloads from my dad's treasures. At the yard sales, I was giving stuff away, right and left. Most things they had were from yard sales anyway, so I didn't feel bad about giving stuff away.

Stella
4-12-11, 3:37pm
My in-laws, who are divorced and live far apart, each have large rambling Victorian homes, full of huge furniture, sets of china, silver, rugs, paintings, and all sorts of other impedimentia.

They each think we're going to find places for All That Stuff here in our home, and often comment proudly "Oh, the Gigantic Wood Monstrosity will go so nicely here in your dining room. Well, once you get rid of your table, and knock out that wall a bit..." It's not going to happen.

Ebay, my friends, Ebay.

:) Yes, this. I am SO FLIPPING OVER decluttering my parents and grandparents stuff. It's been years of "Oh my god, you didn't get rid of X did you? Why? Don't you know how much money I spent on it?" Not. My. Problem. Do you want X back? No? Then out it goes. I am not the curator of the family museum.

jennipurrr
4-12-11, 6:38pm
To me it is always funny how much people think their stuff is worth. I think I live on another planet because I buy mostly used. I ran by Saks to try on the Spanx bathing suits (disaster), then browsed the dresses for a bit, OMG...I had to detox at the thrift store and picked up a gorgeous blue silk dress, just what I needed, for $4.99.

DH and I have furnished most of our home, and three short term rentals used from venues like ebay and craigslist. One of our rentals has a sofa that is getting too worn, so I was looking on ebay this past week. I found one that was ok...not exactly what we need, but close enough and the price was low...but, the auction had a reserve that wasn't met, so I emailed the seller to ask what he would take. He replied this morning with $700...for a used microfiber sofa?!?! I think it is going to be pretty disconcerting to the seller when it finally hits him that he will likely get around $200 for this sofa. I run into a lot of people in online land asking waaaaaay too much for their stuff. Sometimes I wonder whatever happens to it? Do they lower their price, just keep it, or does someone finally want it for that much? Doubt it, but who knows.

Stella
4-12-11, 6:45pm
jennipurr I totally agree. I spent like three days when I was in the hospital watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel. It was person after person after person looking to get three times what their stuff was worth and eventually settling for much less.

janharker
4-12-11, 8:45pm
I married into a large house with lots of furniture, china, etc. Fortunately not a lot of clutter; mostly art work. Still, when the time comes to downsize, whatever will we do with that foosball table? And the full-sized billiards table? At least the art will sell. Trust me, if my SO dies before me, I'll be melting down that silver tea set that I'll never use.

iris lily
4-13-11, 12:39am
:) Yes, this. I am SO FLIPPING OVER decluttering my parents and grandparents stuff. It's been years of "Oh my god, you didn't get rid of X did you? Why? Don't you know how much money I spent on it?" Not. My. Problem. Do you want X back? No? Then out it goes. I am not the curator of the family museum.

You ungrateful girl! ha ha ha ha ha!

iris lily
4-13-11, 12:48am
I"m not entirely sure what "middle market traditional furniture " is but if you are talking about newly made, within the past 20 - 50 years, well yes who wants that stuff.

But if it is antique furniture--oh goody, just more for me at bargain prices. Actually, I've not noticed that the things I like have come down in price. I like pre-1900 furniture in cherry, walnut, mahagony or fancy woods. I don't do oak. But dang, antique oak furniture is tough stuff and a bargain because it will last forever.

A year ago I started decluttering and it wasn't painful because I KNOW how much stuff is worth, hardly anything. My main mission was to get the antiques and real collectibles in the hands of someone who would take them as collectibles. I also got a little money for them. I drew a conclusion from The Millionaires Next Door's study of one of the professions with the most net worth (auctioneers!) that those guys see everyday how much household treasures are actually worth on the open market. They aren't impressed, and they don't spend their own hard earned money on crap.

iris lily
4-13-11, 12:51am
To me it is always funny how much people think their stuff is worth. I think I live on another planet because I buy mostly used. I ran by Saks to try on the Spanx bathing suits (disaster), then browsed the dresses for a bit, OMG...I had to detox at the thrift store and picked up a gorgeous blue silk dress, just what I needed, for $4.99.

DH and I have furnished most of our home, and three short term rentals used from venues like ebay and craigslist. One of our rentals has a sofa that is getting too worn, so I was looking on ebay this past week. I found one that was ok...not exactly what we need, but close enough and the price was low...but, the auction had a reserve that wasn't met, so I emailed the seller to ask what he would take. He replied this morning with $700...for a used microfiber sofa?!?! I think it is going to be pretty disconcerting to the seller when it finally hits him that he will likely get around $200 for this sofa. I run into a lot of people in online land asking waaaaaay too much for their stuff. Sometimes I wonder whatever happens to it? Do they lower their price, just keep it, or does someone finally want it for that much? Doubt it, but who knows.

Agreed with it all. Those people hang on to their stuff because they are paralyzed by the indecision that "no sale" presents. I've heard so many people say in an angry tone that they wanted to sell something but a buyer "just wanted to steal it" and they huffily refuse to move further on the deal. Meanwhile, the buy goes of after giving a reasonable offer. Why people think they can get retail prices for their drap is beyond me.

Stella
4-13-11, 1:24am
You ungrateful girl! ha ha ha ha ha!

:) Grandma? Is that you? LOL.

They knew I was an ungrateful girl. I've been proving that since I was three. :) It kind of surprises me that they thought I'd roll over on this issue.

kitten
4-13-11, 10:22am
My parents cured me of so many things - things like ever wanting to participate again in family life (yes I've got some issues, I do see a therapist), and also of ever wanting to have a house full of the kind of awful things they were addicted to buying all the time. Furniture was all about class striving for them, though they would never have admitted it. I've only begun recently to realize that this is a huge part of what made me uncomfortable as a kid, why I never felt at home. What the place looked like was all about what "other people" were going to think of it.

And other people's houses were often no better. Most people's living rooms were shrines to the TV. There was a certain thing I used to see, like, ALL the time in the eighties - a low-ceilinged room with pale walls and carpet everywhere, fake Queen Anne furniture upholstered in a tiny pink and blue floral print, and one wall entirely taken up with the entertainment-center-encased television. I always disliked those and could never articulate why. I can see why they evolved though. A TV on its own just looks wrong. I guess you need something to surround it or enclose it, even hide it away.

When I was on my own and drooling over shelter magazines for the first time, it was really eye-opening. You could have a floor without a carpet - unbelievable! I became enamoured of furniture, because I suddenly realized that it wasn't all ugly.

But I can't afford to create the interior that would satisfy my soul. So if it's a choice between cheap crap and no furniture, I lean toward the latter - although I've had to make concessions. Our bed (no frame or headboard) is the best thing we ever bought. But less is definitely more!

Madsen
4-13-11, 9:32pm
> So if it's a choice between cheap crap and no furniture, I lean toward the latter

I've come to this conclusion as well. I've recently established a sinking fund in Quicken to save for a nice club chair. I've been wanting one for years and years --- time to make it a reality! :)

http://i.imgur.com/0B6Rw.jpg

KayLR
4-13-11, 10:48pm
NIIICE!

fidgiegirl
4-13-11, 11:09pm
Sigh. Yes. My parents are hoarders, and this is terrible to say "out loud," but I would much rather hope that they stay in the house until they die and we deal with it after they are gone than have to move them and deal with any of it with them looking on and trying to manage the process. (And that said, let's hope that either event would be many years away). There is so much, and so much of what they think is worth a ton of money has been ruined by animals, water damage in the garage or basement, cigarette smoke, 25 years of dust sitting on it, sitting under a pile of a million other items that squished it, etc.

Tradd
4-13-11, 11:53pm
My parents had lived in the same house since a few months before I was born in the late 60s. About two years ago, due to a VERY botched blow-in insulation job, the house and contents were contaminated with formaldehyde. The house has warning signs on it. They had to move out to other housing after six weeks when tests came back, but within 24 hours, they knew something was wrong when the nails were popping out of the drywall from the insulation swelling and bulging out the drywall.

Contractor VERY at fault and all I know is that legal action is being taken.

Anyway, my parents weren't hoarders but they were very pack-ratish. I was dreading when I was going to have to clear out the house after the last one was dead. I've got a brother, but I'm the responsible one. 'Nuff said. As a result of the situation, much of the house's contents had to be pitched. I lost my clips from when I was a newspaper reporter and my high school yearbooks, but since I'd not seen them in a decade, not that big of a deal. When I first heard about much having to be trashed, all I felt was relief (my parents and I are not close, which is an understatement).

The entire house is going to have to be gutted and redone, due to the contamination.

saguaro
4-14-11, 10:20am
When I first heard about much having to be trashed, all I felt was relief

DH's folks were somewhat packratish types that had tons of stuff in their home that ended up getting trashed by a flood. Have to admit that both of us were relieved. It was also interesting how their own perspective on holding on to that stuff changed then. We went over there to help them clean up and it was far easier to trash things that were damaged; they had no worries about getting rid of things that previously held onto because they believed it was worth "something".

Gregg
4-14-11, 11:21am
My parents were very frugal, but Dad took it a little farther than necessary. When he passed away we found things like a couple of coffee cans full of rubber bands from the morning paper (that's what, maybe 30 years worth?). Believe me, that was the tip of the iceberg. In the years since Mom has done a WONDERFUL job of decluttering. It was hard for her at first, but now she has moved into a much smaller house and, after 3 or 4 yard sales and an auction, could easily fit all her stuff in a very reasonably sized truck. That is a great relief to her children and an example I wish to follow.

bae
4-14-11, 1:54pm
My grandparents on my mother's side lived in a very small farmhouse'which wasn't particularly cluttered. It sat atop a small hill.

When my grandmother passed away, my mother went out to help out my grandfather, cleaning up, teaching him how to cook and do common household things, and so on. He'd never cooked for himself all his days, or done "inside work".

Well, they'd lived in that house since 1946, about 50 years. And it turns out that over the years, Grandpa had hollowed out the hill into what I now call "The Basement of Dr. No" - easily 4x the size of the house sitting above it. Machine shops, tractor/auto repair area, and...Grandma's storage. It took my mother 3 months to clear out Grandma's stuff. She had enough preserves tucked away down there to last decades. Magazines dating back decades, neatly filed. Mountains of craft stuff.

I think if The Cold War had become warm, they could have lived down there in comfort for the rest of their days. But it was a serious task to clean up, and, it started out pretty organized.

kitten
4-14-11, 2:12pm
That would definitely make the cut for me too ;)


> So if it's a choice between cheap crap and no furniture, I lean toward the latter

I've come to this conclusion as well. I've recently established a sinking fund in Quicken to save for a nice club chair. I've been wanting one for years and years --- time to make it a reality! :)

http://i.imgur.com/0B6Rw.jpg

Fawn
4-18-11, 10:15pm
Me--100 things or less. I'm a Baby Boomer. The kid's dad misses the cut by 2 years. He will leave them 150 years of farming antiques and misc., despite the family homestead buring to the ground about 6 years ago. Who knows, maybe those 100 year old rusting bales of wire will be worth something during the apocalypse...

JaneV2.0
4-19-11, 3:30pm
... So if it's a choice between cheap crap and no furniture, I lean toward the latter ...!

I was raised in a household where almost all the furniture was antique or at least old, solid, and substantial. Modern furniture was anathema. Naturally, I lean strongly toward modern design in all things. And now, in my dotage, I find myself drawn to "cheap crap." Or at least easily disposable stuff I can move by myself. Pieces that fold down, come apart (preferably not at inopportune moments :help:), and can be left behind without a backward glance. I have a big oak bookcase I've threatened to take a chainsaw to, and an iron bedstead that defies the biggest bruiser to move it an inch. I won't miss those two, not one bit.

Stella
4-19-11, 6:15pm
LOL. Jane I'm becoming the same way. I think I've moved quality furniture one too many times. I got rid of a lovely old dresser a few years ago after moving it up three flights of stairs for the last time. My clothes are now stored in IKEA wire baskets on wire shelves in the dressing room. My toddler could move them if he had to. :)

It drives my grandmother nuts. "Why!!!! are you getting rid of that nice *fill in the blank* and keeping this cheap stuff?!" Because the cheap stuff doesn't think it owns me. :)

Madsen
4-19-11, 8:40pm
That makes me think, does quality = heavy?

iris lily
4-19-11, 8:55pm
ahhhh, "heavy" furniture.

I remember one of the first conversations with DH in our dating days that got me to thinking that our approach to "stuff" was not the same and might be a source of conflict in a shared household. He talked about "quality" furniture being "heavy" and I remember thinking to myself, those uber high end early American (think 18th century Philadelphia and Boston) pieces aren't all that "heavy" and one of those pieces would give us an early retirement. The mark of good furniture is not in poundage.

But I completely agree, I like pieces of furniture that I can move myself, even if it means sliding it across the wood floor. I HATE sofa beds, they weigh a ton.

Bronxboy
4-19-11, 10:36pm
That makes me think, does quality = heavy?
In the case of upholstered sofas and chairs, yes.

It is a quick indicator of a hardwood vs. pine frame. You shouldn't be able to pick up the end of a sofa with one hand:D.

iris lily
4-20-11, 1:10am
In the case of upholstered sofas and chairs, yes.

It is a quick indicator of a hardwood vs. pine frame. You shouldn't be able to pick up the end of a sofa with one hand:D.

ha ha ha that is EXACTLY my test when I find a sofa in the alley. If I can lift it with one hand, it goes on to the next round of evaluation.

ljevtich
4-20-11, 10:12am
My Parents and Aunt and Uncle used to do estate sales when we were growing up. But it really has changed and now with more and more "stuff" out there, I would hate to be in the business now, and especially hate to have to sell things now. I'm just glad we got rid of things when we moved into the RV.

They totally dissed Craigslist and eBay and did not even mention Amazon for electronics, books, DVDs, - saying that it is too much work! But this is what we did before we moved into the RV. We had been getting rid of stuff for over a year before we sold everything and moved into an RV. The biggest thing people need to realize is that a $1,000 piece will be sold for $100 or less!

I am scared for when my in-laws will have to downsize, they are still buying stuff! and it is the heavy stuff! UGH hope that day never comes. And I hope they are not relying on the stuff to give them a profit later in life. It just will not be.

Zoe Girl
4-20-11, 10:50am
I am VERY grateful that my parents are more anti-hoarders than hoarders. Okay my dad is most likely OCD and he barely allows my mom to put art on the walls but she pushes to have a house that looks nice too. They are pretty spare in their stuff, and what they have is sooo organized due to dad, but still their house is pretty large for 2 people. I figure my brother and sister will help when the time comes but since my grandma is still alive in her 80's it may be some years and that is okay.

I think my boyfriend and I agree on the anti-hoarder deal. He used to have a house with all the toys, entertainment room with special chairs, formal living and dining, the whole deal. Then his wife left and he got rid of most. He is bringing the family formal dining set to his brother this month and will even save storage now. I want to do more of that, I have so many photos and memory boxes from homeschooling my kids that I need to take time and just make a few albums out of.

bicyclist
4-20-11, 2:16pm
I am one of those boomers seeking to reduce a cache of furniture, appliances and clothing accumulated over three generations and almost a century of people
living in a large three story house near Philadelphia. The process has taken me not several months but several years of off and on work. I am pleased to say that I have made a lot of progress recently, dismantling several steamer trunks, two artist easels, large cardboard boxes and broken appliances. A huge mess really.

It has made more sense to throw stuff out or recycle it than attempt to sell it to this point. We also have things like paintings and sculpture which might be valuable. I am going to seek out knowlegable people to find out if I am right and how much the pieces might be worth. Where are you "Antiques Roadshow?"

Spartana
4-20-11, 3:19pm
> So if it's a choice between cheap crap and no furniture, I lean toward the latter

I've come to this conclusion as well. I've recently established a sinking fund in Quicken to save for a nice club chair. I've been wanting one for years and years --- time to make it a reality! :)

http://i.imgur.com/0B6Rw.jpg

You just need downsizing rich (er...deep in debt and unemployed but too lazy and snobbish to sell their stuff) friends. I just got great leather furniture, a king size pillow top bed never used, and tons of other household furniture and stuff for free from a friend who was downsizing their house and couldn't be bothered to sell it. (yes, I'm now an evil leather ensconced hippocrite vegan. Oh well... it was already dead and made into a lovely soft ottoman, couch and loveseat and so I was just trying to save it from the landfill :-)!)

loosechickens
4-20-11, 4:27pm
hehehehe.....that's how we feel about our leather Ekornes recliners......the poor cow was already dead (since we bought them new, couldn't use the landfill idea)...... so the "cow dead already" is our excuse and we're sticking to it! ;-)

HKPassey
5-29-11, 10:52pm
My mother had a lot of stuff that she kept for the "history," including some gosh-awful paintings done by my great-aunt (whom Mom despised, actually). Actually, she just had a lot of "stuff," but most of it we just boxed up and donated or threw away when she was gone. Both of us also had quite a few things my grandmother had made, also, painted tablecloths, hooked rugs (salvaged yarn, not genuine rag) stuff like that. Having the memories was nice, but... boxes and boxes, sheesh! Plus, my little brother decided everything should belong to him, and was spoiling for a fight. On reflection, I realized that except for one or two items my grandmother had made especially for me, I didn't really care about physically having the items, so I used my digital camera to make a record of them to put into a scrapbook, and shocked my brother practically into a coma by offering the stuff to him. I also have custody of the family photos, back to the tintype era: if I ever have time to scan them, he can have most of the physical photos as well.

cow-hi