Myth: He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins
The Malcom Forbes quote “he who dies with the most toys wins” is a myth and, for most of us, living by this motto can be financially deadly.
Key rings can offer insight into how people are affected by this myth. Have you ever noticed that some people carry an extraordinary number of keys on their ring? Besides being awkward to carry and use, these keys can represent a heavy drain on your finances.
A Key Ring Exercise
Let’s do an exercise to test what you know about your keys.
- Collect up the keys you own. Don’t forget the ones in your:
- Pocket or purse
- Glove box of the car
- Junk drawer in the kitchen
- Desk drawer
- Jewelry box, etc.
- For each key, list:
- What it goes to/unlocks
- Any outstanding balance owed
- The annual registration fees
- The annual insurance costs
- Any storage fees (annualized)
- The last day you used the item
- Any sentimental attachment
- A guess at the price that item could bring if you sold it today
- Total up the outstanding balances
- Total up the annual carrying costs
Now is a great time to toss those keys that no longer go to anything you own. For the rest, it’s time to think about making some changes that could make a big impact on your finances.
Make Some Decisions
For each item on the list, consider the financial drain it may have on your finances compared to how often you use the item and the enjoyment/attachment factors. Then, ask yourself if you would/could let it go. Here are some things to think about when trying to decide:
- Am I hanging on to this item for the right reasons?
- If I sold it, would I really miss it?
- If I love doing what this item lets me do, could I rent one from time-to-time and save the carrying costs associated with owning it?
- Would selling it lower my debt?
- Would selling if get me out of paying for storage?
- Can I give it to someone who could use it or needs it?
- Do I keep this out of guilt or obligation?
- Does this thing keep me from having new experiences because I can’t afford them and/or I feel obligated to use what I own?
Did you identify anything that you would be willing to part with? If so, highlight those items on your list and begin to take action!
Sell, Give, Toss
For those items you identified that you would be willing to part with, do the following:
- Items to sell: Determine a reasonable asking price, take photos and list the items on CraigsList, ebay or some other selling service. I have some recent experience selling on CraigsList and ebay. For whatever it’s worth, I had no luck with CraigsList (in fact, I was inundated with scam-type responses). Ebay, on the other hand, has been well worth the cost of fees to list and sell. I’ve had qualified buyers respond resulting in sales.
- Items to give/donate: Call the person or organization you want to give the item to and arrange the hand off. Be sure to transfer title if applicable and cancel any insurance or storage services.
- Items to toss: If you are holding on to things that no longer serve you and you cannot sell or find a new home for them, maybe it’s time to toss them out. This can clear clutter and possibly save you on storage fees.
Allocate the Savings
Now that you’ve eliminated some keys from your ring, make good use of the sales and savings. Consider the following:
- Apply the proceeds of sales to reduce debt.
- Allocate savings from monthly or annual bills (like savings on storage, insurance, registrations, etc.) to debt reduction or investment funds.
While it can be hard to let things go, it can also be freeing. Just think, you have thinned down the keys on your ring, freed up cash and eliminated some debt. The relief that brings should help offset any sadness over parting with some of your things. In addition, you may now be able to consider doing some new things in your life that you previously couldn’t because you were tied down by your stuff.
Additional Resources: Key rings are just one indicator that we have more “stuff” in our lives than we really need. Here are some links to other useful information along these lines.
- Marla Dee’s Awesome Audio Book: Get Organized the Clear & Simple Way: Reclaim Your Home, Your Office, Your Life (affiliate link)
- Andrea Dekker’s Website: Simple Organized Living
- Escaping Dodge Topic: Spender Vs Saver—Which One Are You?
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on this topic? Did you do this or a similar exercise? How did it go for you? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below; we’d love to hear your story.