6 Things to Ditch Before They Become a Burden for Your Kids
My dad saved film canisters of old Laurel and Hardy movies, thinking they'd be valuable someday. Nope.
My mom saved piles of costume jewelry, thinking my sister and I (or our daughters) would want them. Nope.
It used to be common for parents to pass furniture, china, silver, and other "family heirlooms" to their children, and some Baby Boomers are no doubt planning to do the same. In reality, these pieces may be more of a burden than a blessing for heirs, who do not want them and need to somehow dispose of them.
You thought wrong.
It might be hard to learn that most of the stuff we value isn't valuable.
Even the things we worry about the most, the things we think are so good that we hardly use them for fear of breaking or staining them, have little or no resale value. The market has been flooded with castoffs such as china cabinets, entertainment centers, tea sets, crystal, collectible figurines, and more. Millennials, the next generation of buyers, don't want them.
After all, Millennials have student loans, marry later, move often, and tend to rent for many years before buying a house (if they ever do). They don't want to move a piano, grandfather clock, or fragile once-a-year china from apartment to apartment.
There are three things you might have in your house that currently have some resale value:
- fine jewelry
- vinyl records (in excellent condition and with the original cover)
Many experts agree that the following items are most likely to bomb as a "valuable inheritance."
6 things to let go
1. "Antique" furniture
If you're saving your great-grandmother's ornate, marble-topped dresser thinking it's a family treasure worth a lot of money, think again. There's been a huge decline in the value of antique furniture. Keith Meissner, of Meissner's Auction in New Lebanon, New York, says "Dressers that used to sell for $1,500 now sell for about $200."
Heavily carved furniture, often called "brown" furniture by modern dealers, is no longer popular. Well-made Mid-century Modern designs are trendy right now, but Gen Xers and Millennials don't care for the older styles. If they do buy antiques, they expect to get them cheap, and paint or otherwise refurbish them.
2. Coin collections
"People get sucked into buying shiny new mint products thinking they will be valuable for their grandchildren, but mint products often sell for less than the purchase price," says Randy Briggs, owner of Coops Coins in Redlands, California. "Most collections just aren't that valuable."
You used to see "We Buy Gold and Silver" signs, but they aren't so common now. Meissner says, "When the price of silver was $34 an ounce, a silver platter would sell for $1,000. Now, at $18 an ounce, silver isn't as popular." And most of the silver you or your parents may own is silver plate, which was never as valuable.
Experts agree that sets of china don't bring the price people think they will. People just don't do formal entertaining like they did when I was a child, so unless the set has a winter/Christmas theme, it may never be used at all. Charlotte Hall, of Landrum Antiques and Furniture Company in Landrum, South Carolina, says, "People don't want china. You can't give it away."
"Barbie dolls aren't as valuable as they were 25 years ago," says Hall. Meissner agrees, and adds, "We've seen a big drop in the value of German bisque dolls. The market for these used to be huge, but the younger generation just isn't interested in them."
I totally get that. Those things stare at you.
In the past, owning an Oriental rug was a status symbol. But with neutral colors currently popular in home décor, they're no longer in demand. Meissner says that truly high-end carpets (hand-knotted silk or wool rugs, for example) hold their value, but prices on mid-range items have dropped dramatically. And let's be honest, what most of us have, or will inherit, is mid-range.
All of us need to let go of the idea that physical possessions represent great value. That was never true, regardless of how much money you might have paid for something. If minimalism teaches anything, it's that possessions are valuable because they're used, and aside from that they're either decorative or in the way (i.e. clutter).
Rather than creating burdens for your children or grandchildren, and hanging on to more than you need for yourself (which is also a burden), now is the time to let go.
You do have things of value to leave to your children: your love, kindness, humor, the skills you taught, and the stories you told. They're worth so much more than furniture, china, or copies of Laurel and Hardy films.
Downsize Now: The Joy of Decluttering For a Fresh Start.*
* This blog is reader-supported. If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.
Whether you actually move from your current home into a smaller living space, or simply undertake a radical declutter, it's a challenge. But it's also a chance to reinvent yourself and carry just the essentials into your new life. By releasing decades'-worth of accumulated items, you can emerge with more energy and freedom. You're ready to look ahead, not back.
Downsizing can be hard, or it can be easier. Downsize Now will give you the tools and inspiration to get the job done so you can start enjoying all the benefits.