Don’t Be a Burden

img006Do your kids a favor – clean out your house now! Before you die. Hell, you’d be doing yourself a favor too.

Life insurance companies like to play the ‘don’t be a burden’ to your kids by leaving them a bunch of debt. Which is good advice, but you should do that by not going into debt in the first place, but that’s another post. But what about the burden of all the shit you collected in your 60+ years of adulthood?

And it is a burden. Your children or grandchildren will look at all of your stuff and think because it belonged to you it must have value. When in actuality, it was a light bulb you found on sale and just couldn’t pass it up. Then you stuck it in a closet or the basement and forgot all about it. Now they are riddled with guilt because they know they have no need or desire to keep it, but it is one of the last things that belonged to you so they have to keep it. Right?

But see we don’t think of it that way. When we buy stuff, usually, it’s because it fills a need at the time, whether it’s an actual need or just an emotional one. We’re not thinking of how much dust it will probably collect before we use it. If we use it at all.

We’re not thinking that our time may run out before we get to use it.

I’m not saying we should either. That would be creepy, and depressing. But what it we thought of someone other than ourselves for a change? Spouses, children, whoever buys the house next.

I get it. I used to love to shop the clearance sales at Target. I had a whole bedroom filled with ‘gifts’ for other people. I had clothes I knew, way down deep, that I would never wear, but they were on sale – thank you Kohl’s – and I just had to have them.

Then we put our house up for sale…

We had to move half of our crap to the house we eventually bought just to be able to show ours. The house we bought belonged to R.J.’s grandparents and is the main reason for this post. We’ve spent the last 6 years or so cleaning it out, fighting the guilt one trashcan at a time.

I thought we were finally getting a handle on it until yesterday. I was putting up some of my pictures and nic nacs that I had left in boxes while we were renovating. There’s not much, but it still seemed like a lot, too much.

And that’s when it hit me. I’m getting to an age where I can’t just think of myself anymore. Everything I buy and bring into my home will be left for someone else to clean out.

Do I really want to waste someone else’s time and energy with trivial crap?

Hmm, that’s a really loaded question with different implications, but for now I’m talking about actual, physical stuff. So the answer, obviously, is no. And I’m not so vain as to think that the stuff I own that I do value and use will be of value or important to anyone else. And that’s okay. Whoever has to clean up after me needs to know they have my permission to throw anything and everything away.

But I’m hoping there won’t be much. I’m planning on not having much from this day forward. And I encourage you to do the same. If you find something you haven’t seen for years and forgot that you even had it, chances are you can get rid of it and not miss it.

I know, I know, I feel the anxiety too, but trust me you’ll feel better once it’s gone and you can actually see and use parts of your house you haven’t been able to for years.

Start small. One item a day until you get one room cleaned out. Then move onto the next. And pretty soon you’ll have a house you can breathe in again. Oh, and your kids will thank you too.


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