Selling the things you love

Michael Caputo, who helps run Minnesota Public Radio Public Insight Network, is looking for stories about whether you’d sell the things you’d love to pay the bills.

Here’s his story:


Okay, money doesn’t buy happiness. And accumulating stuff shouldn’t make us whole.

But there are some possessions that have value greater than the pricetag. And yet, in a recession, when the times get tough … you sometimes have no choice but to part with these sentimental items.

Take the case of Jonathan Stimes. More than 20 years ago his father gave him several gold coins. They were a gift of labor, Stimes said, for work that father and son did on a family farm in Illinois.

But Stimes, of Burnsville, has lost his sales job and needs to keep the house paid for. So he decided to part with those gold coins. He tells the story from here.

“My stoic Norwegian Dad would have just shrugged and said, ‘well, this is what we put it away for.’ But when I handed (the coins) over in exchange for the check, I became rather emotional and had to leave the shop quickly. There are tears in my eyes as I write this now because I still miss him and I know deep down he would have rather that money gone for something more special than a mere two house payments.”

Stimes wrote this in response to a question Minnesota Public Radio news posed: Have you considered selling something to boost your income?

What we heard was illuminating — not only because of the reasons that people sell items, but because of what these items meant to them.

Some have peddled (or contemplate peddling) beer can collections, amphibious ATVs or fluke scopemeters (I had to look that one up). Some sold items to increase cash flow, to get out of debt problems or to stockpile money for the rocky road ahead.

Others, like Chris Carlson of Mound said that initially he sold stuff to pay the bills. But now the business owner says he’s peddling possessions as a lifestyle choice.

“I continue to sell my good unwanted items as an alternative to the land fill. Its amazing with the exposure you can get with online listing services there is always someone out there that wants whatever it is. I typicaly list for 1 cent or 99 cents to ensure it gets bought. I now do it for the environment I even keep the packaging peanuts from work that would normaly be discarded and box them up and sell them”

So is anything possessing you to part with your possessions? Are you needing to suppliment your income? Is it a lifestyle choice? Are you parting with something that means a whole lot to you?

What are you willing to part with to make ends meet?

  • All those things were sold in the mid-80s when I went back to college. But in the intervening years I’ve seen several friends turn their music, comics or book collections into livelihoods through Amazon and eBay.

    But you’re asking the wrong question. The question real survivors have already asked and answered is “How much do I really need?”

    The answer is: Much less than you might think.

    Enough of consumption based economics. Let’s make the switch to conservation based long term survival. Respect the planet and respect yourself in the morning. Don’t buy anything you don’t need, and try to buy durable goods, not cheap throwaway crap. If nothing else you’ll have something to sell if Republicans ever take control of our government again.