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BEACON Senior News

Enjoy your stuff, but are you prepared to let it go?

Feb 20, 2024 09:34AM ● By Dr. Glenn Mollette

One of life’s perils is putting too much value on “stuff.” 

“Stuff” encompasses a wide range of items, comprising both what we possess and what we lack. Our lives often revolve around our stuff: our homes, cars and belongings within them. Our stuff that’s stored away in garages, storage units or barns. 

It’s not difficult to accumulate lots of stuff. And often, it’s way more than what we need. 

We paint, stain, groom and polish our stuff. We put some of it in cases, drawers, cabinets and safes. We know how difficult it is to buy and accumulate. Stuff is expensive.

We take pride in our stuff. We admire, adore and feel good about what we have. We remember days when we didn’t have much—how it felt good to get a check and even better to put a few dollars in the bank.  

Me, myself and I often became our most significant heroes. We applaud ourselves because we did it—whatever it is. We acknowledge the paths we’ve walked and the potential outcomes— where we could be, what could have been or what even might be—if luck, circumstances and health had been different.

The problem with stuff is that it changes. It fades, erodes, rots, burns, is stolen or loses its value. What was once considered valuable may become worthless.

If you have a lot of stuff, then you have a lot to worry about.

Eventually, all of your stuff will belong to someone else. Your land. Your prized possessions. All that you have worked to collect and preserve will be passed on or gained by someone else. 

You can meticulously plan to pass your stuff on to someone who may not truly value it, only to have it handed over to a complete stranger. Once it’s out of your hands, who knows what will happen to it?

When we die, we’ll take nothing with us. All of our stuff will be left behind, destined to eventually end up in a junkyard or trash heap. Fifty years from now, strangers might be sleeping in your house, provided your house still stands.

There was once a man who amassed so much wealth that he had to build multiple barns to store it all. One day, he was heard speaking to himself, “I have accumulated enough to last for many years. I will take it easy, eat, drink and be merry.” 

However, that same day, he passed away. Jesus shared this parable in the Bible, Luke chapter 12, highlighting how easy it is to become consumed by our possessions, just like the man in the story.

Enjoy your stuff but be prepared to let it all go. 

Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 13 books including “Uncommon Sense,” “The Spiritual Chocolate” series, “Grandpa’s Store” and “Minister’s Guidebook.” His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.

How to ensure your possessions go where you’d like them to after you pass:

  • Honest conversations. This might seem like a no-brainer, but just because a possession means a lot to you, that doesn’t mean it will to other family members. See what items pique their interests or hold sentimental value.
  • Start a document. Along with the recipient of the item, include any family stories that enhance the meaning of the item. Alternately, you can affix a label with the recipient’s name on the bottom. Or both!

    While Silver Key’s Five Wishes primarily addresses medical wishes, it also allows you to express your wishes regarding your belongings and specify your desire for your loved ones to honor these wishes, even if they may not agree with them. To obtain your free booklet, contact 719-884-2300 or email [email protected].
  • Know your items’ worth. You can gauge a lot by going on eBay and finding similar items. If nobody wants your antique but it’s valuable, you don’t want it going to Goodwill. 
  • Recycle. The goal isn’t to make more landfill waste, but to give anything that isn’t broken and still has life a new home. Clothing, kitchen items and furniture can go to thrift stores, books to used bookstores, unexpired food to food banks, craft supplies to Who Gives a Scrap? and so forth.
  • Pets. Leave your furry friend (with some money for food and care) to someone responsible. You can work with your estate attorney to create a pet trust for the care of your animal.
  • Car. Consider donating your vehicle to an area non-profit, gifting it or leaving instructions on how it should be sold.
  • Planned Giving. If there is a cause, charity or ministry you feel strongly about, consider the gift that keeps on giving. (For more on planned giving, see page 8.)
  • Will. The surest way to have a say in where your things—and your money—goes is to draft a will with an attorney. A whopping 68% of Americans do not have a will. In that case, the state decides who gets your prized possessions, which may not be in line with your wishes.

What are your plans for your stuff after you're gone? 

Nancy Spradling

“Going from 2,500 to 1,150 square feet gives you a whole new definition of ‘stuff’ and how much is too much. When you have all that space, you don’t think about needing less. Having come to grips with that, my hope is that my family will simply take what they want and find a home for the rest of it.”

 Mary Sprunger-Froese

“We’re still figuring things out, even though we’ve done the ‘5 wishes’ seminar three times. We don’t have a lot of things. We’d like to give our house to a nonprofit, but I understand that’s fairly involved. I’ll donate my keyboard and bike. I have some paper archives, but since we don’t have children, I’ll ask if any relatives are interested. I don’t want to burden anyone with anything.”

Rachel Ortega

“I’ve lived in the same house for 17 years. I tell my daughter I’m giving her the contents of the house, and she says, ‘But it’s so cluttered!’ She doesn’t want to deal with it!”

Mary Galusha

“If it seems like my cat will outlive me, find a home for her. Since crafting is my passion, give all my craft supplies to the new Colorado Springs Senior Center (when it’s completed) for their annual craft swap event. And everything else, keep, donate or toss!”

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