Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stuff Tax

No, I’m suggesting that the world should stuff taxes. I’m thinking about the many costs of owning great piles of stuff. We’ve heard of lotteries as a tax on those who can’t or won’t do math. Those who own too many possessions pay a stuff tax.

I’m not focusing here on things you truly need and use, like a bed. I’m thinking of the things you own but don’t use at all or at least often enough to justify owning them. Some good examples of large items are under-used boats and camping trailers. In the medium size category is furniture we don’t need. Among smaller items are a thousand books that will never be read again and a hundred pairs of shoes.

Here are some different types of stuff taxes:

1. Initial purchase price. The financial drag begins with buying an item in the first place.

2. A larger, more expensive home. If you have enough excess stuff, you need a bigger house to hold it all.

3. Higher house insurance premiums. If the replacement cost of your stuff exceeds the typical thresholds set by your insurance company, you may have to pay a higher premium.

4. Higher moving costs. The more your stuff weighs, the more you pay to move it all.

5. Lost time due to searching. The more stuff you have, the more time you spend sifting through it all to find the thing you want at a particular moment.

6. Lost time due to tidying. The more stuff you have, the more time it takes to clean up for company or during spring cleaning.

No doubt readers could name many other costs that come with owning more stuff.

Given my take on owning too much stuff, you might think that I’m the one in my immediate family who just owns things that matter. In fact, I think I’m probably worst by this measure. I’ve improved greatly over the past decade or so, but I still have a long way to go. The battle rages on.


  1. I am with you here. Owning stuff is troublesome and worrisome.
    Adding to you list life resources are lost on:
    - service and repair of stuff
    - replacement of stuff broken stuff, disposal of stuff
    - upgrade of stuff
    - showing off your stuff to other stuffers
    - checking out other stuffers' stuff
    - discussing how this stuff is better (worse) than that stuff

    Fight with stuff is an ongoing battle. It spreads beyond physical space. Not owning certain stuff allows to clear up relationship, separate people from stuffers.
    Great stuff :)

    1. @AnatoliN: Good list. I thought of another one: the cost of storage if you can't fit all your stuff in your home.

    2. -The cost of buying storage containers for your stuff (which I just did)
      -Buying something again that you already have because you couldn't find it when you need it
      -The TIME SPENT figuring out what to do with your old stuff, what to keep and what to throw/give/sell away

  2. Yes, you see storage locker units sprouting like mushrooms around every community no matter how small these days.

    It's important to remember that if someone you love gives you something, it doesn't mean you don't love them if you get rid of it. A lot of people I know have trouble accepting that and letting things go.

    1. @Bet Crooks: I tend to keep a lot of things for sentimental reasons, but I'm getting better at whittling the pile down to just a couple of things that remind me of a particular departed loved one.