Funding Your Retirement on eBay
I had lunch a few weeks ago with my friend Pat, and she told me that she'd read somewhere that a lot of retirees are funding their retirement by selling stuff on eBay.
How interesting that you spend so many years of your life accumulating a lot of stuff you don't need, or even want, really. Then you either come to the realization that none of those possessions really matter, and start to lighten your load. Or you realize that you can't afford to live without selling off some of your junk. Or, worse, you realize that you can't afford to buy more junk unless you sell off some of the junk you have.
In the decade before she died, my mother - then in her seventies - definitely went through a de-acquisition period. In addition to the food she'd try to thrust on us after we went for a visit - including bags of bread that'd been in the freezer for a year; now, her wonderful home-made soups were one thing, but a bag of freezer-burned bread: no, thanks, Ma - she'd often give us some item of family importance and great sentimental value.
Thus, I ended up with the little water colors her friend Ann Curtin had given her for an engagement present, and the yellow plate with the fruit painted on it.
No, you never left my mother's empty-handed unless you really wanted to.
Simultaneously, Liz went through an acquisition phase, in which she brought home all these knick-knacks from the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, where she volunteered a couple of days a week. (After her death, as I unloaded carton after carton at the Thrift Store, someone working there asked me, "Are you sure these are all things we can use?" I assured her that 90% of it had come from St. Vinny D's to begin with.)
My mother, of course, never got on eBay, which was really just taking off about the time she died. (Boy, we could have made some money on all those LP's she had.)
But the thought of selling off all your junk has some appeal.
Of course, I don't know what I have that anyone else would actually want to pay money for.
Costume jewelry, some of it very nice. (Those turquoise beads are probably worth plenty.) Lots of books, half of which I'd probably find were moldering if I actually opened them up for a re-read. Lots of CDs. Some costumer jewelry-equivalent art work, including those Anne Curtin watercolors that I paid a small fortune to have framed. Lots of nice, arty bowls and vases. Tons of Christmas ornaments.
What I don't have is much left over from childhood.
Let's face it, anyone with pristine versions of their toys, dolls, and games is unlikely to have grown up in a large family with boys in it.
The only toy that survived my childhood is my stuffed dog, Sniffy. And he's not going anywhere.
No Tiny Tears (who probably wouldn't have survived, anyway, given that the plastic/rubber she was made out of would likely have decayed). No Ginny and Ginnette - who go for beaucoup d'argent on eBay, by the way.
No Easy Money - the sleazy version of Monopoly we had. (I'm sure having his kids buy and sell the Kit-Kat Nightclub held some humorous appeal to my father. My mother must not have read the fine print: she would never have approved.)
And I suppose I can't blame my brothers for all of the destruction of childhood things.
I was the one who used the Magic Marker to try to make my Ginnette doll's eyes bluer-than-blue. Too bad I managed to mark out the whites of her eyes, too.
Kath and I were the ones who used the heavy black kitchen sheers to cut the legs and arms off Little Lulu because we were pissed off that we had to go to bed when it was still light out. (So there!)
We were all just hard on things in general. Everything got handed down, used up. We didn't have all that much to begin with, and none of us particularly cared about hanging on to it as we grew up and out of it. (Who cared about an old Flexible Flyer, anyway?)
Anyway, I find it interesting to think of all these retirees, forced or electing to make some money on eBay.
I do know one thing: their kids may be annoyed if a few "treasures" fall out of the family. But mostly they'll be delighted that they don't have to get rid of all this crap for themselves.