This Saturday we are holding a Garage Sale at Little Rock Martial Arts.  It is a fundraiser for The Alabama Project. 

 I thought it appropriate to raise funds by getting rid of all of this STUFF I have.  We have.   So that we can help those that have so little. I hope that at least 30 of our families will participate.

 That will be a lot of stuff.

 It starts at an early age.  My daughter Keely had a play date Sunday.  It was the first time she had been to this little girl’s house.    I asked what they had done.  They played with Barbies.  They played with 

“Ashley’s” toys.    And then it started.  It seems “Ashley” has more Barbie’s than Keely.  More Hannah Montana stuff.   More everything.    Keely has some Barbies.  Some Hannah stuff.  But now she needed more. 

 Fifteen or twenty years ago I read the book “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.  It’s still in print and available on  I’m going to read it again. So many things stuck in my mind but I need a refresher. 

 Stanley and Danko set out to research how the wealthy got that way, and what their spending habits were.  

 First, wealth is not things.   We all know that.   Technically, your wealth is your net worth.   Subtract all of your liabilities (debt) from your assets (cash, stocks, depreciated value of fixed assets.  The difference is your net worth.  Hopefully it is positive, and not negative. 

 Here are some things I got out of the book.  Now, let me put a codicil on this.  It’s been twenty years or so since I read it, so I’m not saying this is exactly what is in the book.  I’m just saying this is what I got out of it….

 Many of the millionaires bought their clothes at JC Penney or Sears.  Not Saks or Neimans.

Many of the millionaires bought their cars used.

They clipped coupons.

They stayed in their first home instead of buying bigger and bigger homes.

They saved instead of spending.


Think about this.  How many of us stay in the first home we purchase?  Barring moving because of school or career, why do we move? 

 So we can move up?  Bigger house?   Better neighborhood.  More amenities?  Because our friend from college or work moved and now our house is not good enough?

 If you buy a bigger house, you have to have more furniture.  More stuff.  

You know what happens to most of us after we’ve bought and bought and bought?

 We get rid of it.

We retire.  The kids are gone.  We don’t want to polish the silver, clean the crystal, and dust the stuff.  We buy a smaller house or a condo; get rid of all of the stuff. 

 My first house was a 10,000 sq. ft former home for disturbed children that my husband and I renovated.  Three stories, a ball room in the basement, nine bathrooms, seven bedrooms.  Then we went to 5,500 sq. ft house down the street and renovated that one.  Then a 4,000 sq. ft renovation in the country so we could have horses. Then, when we thought we were retired and the kids were gone we moved into a 2,000 sq. ft. home.  Now that I’m single, I’m in a 1,200 sq. ft. house.

 Every time we downsized the garage got fuller and truckloads of stuff went to the Goodwill. 

 I think back to the amount of time I spent cleaning those big houses.  Rooms that were used a couple of times a year.  Thousands of hours gone forever.  Now, it takes about two hours to get my little house clean.  And we live in and use every square inch. 

 No matter how large the house, our family actually used and lived in just a few rooms. Bedrooms of course to sleep in, bathroom, family room, kitchen.  Those were the rooms we used.  We didn’t really need the 14x 28 dining room, the third floor play room, the library, formal living room.   

How much money did I give to utility companies for electricity and gas to heat and cool all those unused rooms?

 One of my goals this UBBT year is to be much more thoughtful about what I buy.  To free myself of this need for “things”.

 The first step is this garage sale.  I’ve been going through the house and the garage, sorting. 

 I think after Saturday I’m going to feel lighter.  

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