Is Your Old Stuff Really Worth Something?

timecapsuleAs 1999 came to a close (and the Y2K bug had people in a frenzy), our family decided to put together a time capsule. So we gathered all the treasures we felt best represented the ‘90s, and packed them in a Rubbermaid container. We labelled it ‘Time Capsule’ and added the warning: ‘Do not open until 2025’.

Since then, the kids have left for University and we’ve downsized. Our primary storage area consists of a ‘cool room’ under our small front porch. We maximized the space by adding sturdy wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelving.

But as of late, the ‘cool room’ had become the ‘damp room’. Water was getting in and we had to do something fast. We had a specialist come and seal the walls to fix the water leaking issue. So of course everything had to be hauled out of the room. As we waited for rain to ensure that the water issue was truly resolved (it seemed like the driest month ever!), the contents of our storage room was spread all over the basement. And that’s when it hit me: Although everything is stored neatly in clearly labelled, blue Rubbermaid bins, we still have too much stuff!

So I decided to open every container and see what can be purged and what can be consolidated. As I rubbed my hands together with glee, my family members started grumbling…”Here she goes again”. My goal was to have fewer bins to put away once the room was ready.

Eventually, I came across the time capsule. Do we really want to store this for another 10 years? Well, since we were in purge-mode, the answer was ‘no’. So I made an event out of it. I gathered the entire family together, we popped a bottle of champagne, and cracked open the time capsule. To say the contents were rather disappointing would be an understatement. Old newspaper clippings and magazines with Princess Diana on the cover after her tragic death, a People magazine featuring the 25 Most Intriguing People of ’99,  and some toys the kids no longer cared about (Sailor Moon, Tamagotchi and Crazy Bones).

Just for fun, I went online to see if any of this stuff was worth something. Others were selling some of the same stuff, but there were no bids. Nobody wanted it.

There was one magazine I thought for sure was worth something. Sports Illustrated, Nov.2, 1992, with the Toronto Blue Jays on the cover, the year they became The World Series Champions. Surely someone would want this piece of sports memorabilia, especially since they just clinched the AL East title. So I posted it. And there are still no bids. Lesson learned.

It’s funny how we think our old stuff is worth something, when our space and peace of mind is worth so much more!

So the contents of the time capsule went to charity or the recycling bin (although the Sports Illustrated is still for sale on eBay as I write this blog post).

The storage room walls and floor got a fresh coat of paint, the shelving units are back in, and we have fewer bins and enough space to stockpile as much toilet paper, paper towels and cases of water as we want – without having to cram anything in. Oh, and we added a wine-rack which is fully stocked and ready for the next celebration! It looks – and feels – fantastic!

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This post has 4 comments

  • Emma James says:

    Unexpectedly, I have been very ill for the past 6 years with a few months of wellness, here and there. I had an awakening during that time. During the good months, I purged my Christmas décor down even more to my absolute favourites, purged my few childhood toys, my 1 box of birthday, anniversary cards down to the most meaningful, my jewellery and my books. Still have to finish purging my photos. Able to focus on my health this year and feeling better, even though I just lost my favourite uncle and my best friend suddenly died. Your loved ones and your health are the real treasures in your life. Be fully present with your loved ones when you are with them. Have more new experiences in life rather than buying more STUFF. Stuff is just stuff, it’s not love and life. And say a daily ‘thank you’ for what IS good in your life! Lecture over. Ha! Ha! I didn’t mean to sound so bossy.

  • RD says:

    I think it was Peter Walsh who said we don’t use/re-use 90% of the stuff we store! So true! It’s probably closer to 95-99%! Helen, you would be so proud of me & my DH. Recently got rid of THREE Rubbermaid bins of old cameras. Looked them up just to see…nothing worth more than $25. I think the 3 bins cost me more than that! Not worth the time/effort to sell them so I just donated them.