I bet a lot of you were looking forward to putting your car up for sale today. Well, today I decided to be nice, but don’t worry. There will be at least one car gone by the end of the month.

Today I’m going to discuss the management of things, that is, what many of us refer to as “stuff”. It probably holds for most of you, myself included, that you have more stuff than you actually use. By extrapolation (technically induction), it therefore holds that other people has more stuff than they use as well. The cumulative mountain of unused stuff is a symptom of economic inefficiency. Inefficiency is what will slow you and everyone else down from early retirement or even prevent it.

Typical excuses for keeping stuff (around)

  1. I need it. (Answer: Then why haven’t you used it for the past 12 months?)
  2. I might need it. (Answer: Highly unlikely, since you haven’t used it for the past 12 months.)
  3. I didn’t know I still had that. (Answer: Roll eyes.)
  4. This was a gift from aunt Martha. (Answer: How about regifting it aunt Bertha?)
  5. This [antique[ is worth a lot money. (Answer: Then sell it!)
  6. I will just hold on to it a little longer. (Answer: How long?)

I’m sure you can think of other excuses.

The main problem here is that people have grown accustomed to acquiring stuff by buying it new from stores and forgotten all the alternatives. As a result, everybody on your street owns a blender that they have used maybe 10 times over the past year; everybody owns a ladder even though they have only been up on the roof once (I own a ladder, but I’m up there every other week); everybody stock a home library and a private movie collection (and maybe even a private cinema sized projector system); and everybody owns some kind of crafts/hobby supplies that were fun for about a month but which were then put on hold.

This wasteful activity stops right now 😎

There is a major untapped resource here though. You might be one of the few people that actually have some desire to own a blender, if only for a short while. Instead of buying it (on sale, of course, everything is always on sale in this country, ugh!) get it for free.

Here’s how to get it for free. Use freecycle.org. Click on the link and see how it works. Then join. After you sign up you should start getting emails.

Your task for the week, should you choose to accept it, is to find one (or several) of your unused(*) possessions and OFFER it on freecycle. See what happens. If you do not have a bicycle, your task is to get one for free. Simply post a WANTED ad detailing your desire to get one. Oh, and if someone actually offers you a bicycle be sure to pick it up!

(*) A good definition of unused is anything you have not used for one year. If you have used everything you own for a year, then congratulations. You get a C. Move the time frame back to six months. Still good? You get a B. Move the time frame back to one month. If you’re still good, I have nothing to teach you. You get and A and you can skip this exercise πŸ™‚

You will find that most things show up on freecycle sooner or later. If you want an xBox360, we’re talking much later, but I did recently see someone offer a PS1 and I gave away an Atari2600 simulator I got for xmas one year (it was fun for 30 minutes!). Freecycle will also teach some valuable lessons about lifecycle management. Unless you repeat the stunt of our former neighbors, who put an estimated 10-15 large black trash bags of stuff (clothes, toys, …) out for garbage pickup during the last spring cleaning (Disgusting does not even begin to describe that kind of waste!), you will probably see that getting rid of stuff is a lot harder than acquiring it. We truly live in an affluent society, otherwise people would be knocking down your door to get your superfluous things. However, be patient, sooner or later someone will take it. If not freecycle, then craigslist.

The effects of this exercise is

  1. Saving other people money.
  2. Saving yourself money.
  3. Thinking more deeply about future purchases.
  4. Needing less storage and fewer bedrooms.
  5. Having an easier time to move to a new place.

Don’t forget your task: Join freecycle. Give something you don’t need away. Get a bicycle (if you don’t already have one).