Many of us start a collection at some point in life. It starts when you’re a kid: marbles, dolls, sports cards. For some, it becomes a problem as an adult. Starting a collection might seem like a good hobby, but in the end, what have you gained? Maybe it’s time to stop collecting stuff.
Do You Have A Collection?
I’ve started a few collections over the years. I’ve collected sports cards. I’ve collected music: albums, cassettes, CDs. I’ve collected musical instruments. I’ve collected outdoor gear. I’ve collected books. I decided to stop collecting stuff.
There are all sorts of things that people collect: rocks, coins, comic books, shells, toys, dolls, guns, wine, butterflies, action figures, bottles, post cards, leaves, tools, books, beer mugs, cars, clothing, buttons, knives, junk, and so much more.
Why Do We Start Collections?
Often we start collecting something we love. Or we start a collection to remind ourselves of positive experiences. The problem starts when our collections become obsessions. You’ve seen them: collections that overtake a person’s life, their home, their bank account.
A few years ago I started getting rid of most my collections. Why? I began to question the logic of collecting things. What good does a collection really do for you?
- Collections hold little monetary value: Most things people collect decrease in value over time. Some people collect valuables and profit by selling them at some point. There may be an argument for those kinds of collections. The brunt of collections become relatively worthless in a short period of time.
- Collections go relatively unused: Collections sit in boxes or on shelves. I’ve collected things that can be used: books, music, etc. Still, after reaching a certain number of usable items, they go unused. When I owned over 1000 CDs, I listened to the same 50 or 60 CDs. I rarely reread a book. Why keep them around? To show off?
- Collections take up extra space: 1000 CDs and 1000 books take up space. They require shelves. Guns require safes. Cars require garages. Action figures require closets. Collections quickly lead to clutter. I began to question the point of allowing stuff that was rarely used to take up space in my home. Save your space for the essentials.
- Collections can be expensive: Rocks and shells can be collected for free. Still, why not leave them in their natural habitat? Most collections cost money. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on stuff I’ve collected over the years. Some collections lead to debt. Wouldn’t your money be better used on necessities, charity, or your family’s future?
- Collections can lead to hoarding: I’ve never crossed this line, but I’ve known people who have. I’ve had friends who’ve used entire rooms to store books, baseball cards, or comics. One friend collected so much stuff that his yard became storage. It began to look like a junkyard. The city had to ask him to clean it up. He had crossed the line from collecting to hoarding.
- Collections keep you attached: If you collect something, you have a psychological attachment to it. Is that healthy? Collections are material things. I’ve learned that people and memories outweigh stuff. When you let go of unneeded or unused collections you free yourself to become more present for your family and friends.
- Collections can be stolen: Valuable collections can be stolen. You see it in the news regularly. Art, jewelry, or weapons get stolen from someone’s home or office. Sometimes a collection is an invitation to thieves. No thanks.
- Collections weigh you down: I’ve moved across country several times. I quickly learned that books are heavy. Some collections become so great they keep people from moving. Some collections get left behind for your next of kin. I prefer to keep things light. Why collect something that holds you down?
- Collections can be replaced: Most of the things I’ve collected can now be accessed in digital formats. Why let a collection take up space and gather dust. Now I keep most of my music and books on my computer. Even so, I make a point not to create huge files. Collections can be replaced with healthy activities such as active learning and exercise.
Once, I had an old truck that I didn’t want to sell. It sat in the driveway, unused. A friend suggested I take a picture of it and let it go. I did. Sometimes, a picture says everything that needs to be said.
Stop Collecting Stuff That Just Collects Dust
Maybe it’s time to stop collecting stuff. I encourage you to let your collections go. Sell them, trade them, or give them away. You’ll reduce your clutter and free yourself from any unhealthy psychological attachment.
Build relationships, not extra rooms for collections. Collect friends, not stuff. Collect memories, not trinkets. You only live once. You can’t take your collections with you when you go. Why keep them now? A little goes a long way. Stop collecting stuff.