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February 28, 2013



I've concluded that I am a big consumer. It's not even worth trying to understand why---if it's my American upbringing, family habits/role models, inherent personality traits or learned behavior----none of that matters now. What matters is that I've identified myself as a buyer/collector/cunsumer with an addictive personality (luckily, not to drugs, alcohol, gambling or other such vices, but instead to collectibles like radios and watches, firearms and home improvements). I've also gone through periods in my life where I collected (and still have) hundreds of records (vinyl LPs), spending considerable money on that hobby. Shoes/sneakers. Sunglasses at one point, when I didn't need a prescription to correct my vision. Baseball cards. Come to think of it, this stuff has been going on since I was a small child. I've decided that rather than trying to "change" and "correct" my behavior----I am going to accept it and try to exercise some moderation/control. That isn't easy. There's a dollup of "obsessive/compulsive" in this too. "Just one more" of that style of radio will "complete" that part of the collection. Yeah, right. Next time I'm on E-Bay, I'll see one in a different color, bidding low---and convince myself that to REALLY be complete, I'll need at least one color, in addition to the black one I already have. Then, when reading about that style of radio, I'll find out the only three colors were black, red and blue----and since I already have black and blue, I just need the red to REALLY, REALLY finish it. Then I find out there was a black one made with the shortwave band...this can go on and on. Ditto with watches, guns, etc. As long as I'm not blowing my retirement or kid's college fund on the stuff, so what? Honestly, the biggest problem is clutter in my house, and I'm trying to reorganize/declutter/store properly. So for me, the idea is to accept it for what it is---and just try to be mindful of staying within limits, working to sell off some things once in a while, to "say no" when something seems to cross the line into a danger zone of spending too much or buying something I don't have space for. As for home improvements----I think a lot of us are afflicted with always feeling like something needs attention----I've had my house painted, new shutters installed, driveway widened, sunroom addition, etc. I guess the good news there is that the money spent might increase the value of the house and also make it sell faster when I do go to sell.

Keith Beesley

There's no shame in being a collector or accumulator of something, so long as it hurts no one. There have been many famous collectors throughout history of just about everything imaginable--coins, stamps, art works, musical instruments, cars, etc. You have to examine each item periodically and ask yourself, am I really still enjoying owning this, or is it just cluttering up my living space.

I think the idea of selling off items one has grown tired of or rarely uses, to conserve space and provide cash for the purchase of new items, is a good one. Personally, I haven't mastered the art of Ebay selling yet, so my accumulation is pretty large at this point :-).


Keith: I agree with you. And the funny thing is----people who can't stand clutter----AKA "neat freaks" are the ones who often point to collectors with a messy house as having a psychological disorder, with the need to hoard. In fact, I can easily turn that around. If someone is unable to be in a cluttered room without feeling stressed----without having a need to start organizing, cleaning, decluttering----I find that to be every bit as "unbalanced" as I am for feeling security in having junk around me (Sadly, mid '70s Panasonic radios are considered "junk" by people who don't know better.). And I get a "high" or sense of satisfaction winning an E-Bay auction in the last minutes for a watch I've been wanting, a radio----even a Cuckoo clock that I recently picked up. I've been fascinated with cuckoo clocks since I was 5 or 6 years old----never got around to getting one, though I've considered it a few times. Finally, I did my homework and found one I really liked----and went for it. Junk? Clutter? Waste of money? I don't know, but who's to judge?


Good stuff, fellas. Angelo, I could have written your post - although maybe I'm a slightly more toned down version. My current watch craze (and it is a bit crazy) is just the most recent one, although also the most expensive. In the past I've gone nuts with music, books, even books and hobby miniatures for fantasy role-playing games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons), which even at 39 I still enjoy. I enjoy the collecting part of it as much as the actual items themselves.

An interesting thing happened to me just a couple weeks ago. I've never been all that into clothes or shoes, but my wife - who takes great care in her appearance (much to my enjoyment) - has wanted me to get more into clothes etc. Anyhow, just a couple weeks ago she convinced me to purchase a pair of $300 shoes. I did it because it was the first time I had ever really wanted a pair of shoes - they were just really awesome, handmade shoes (Cydwoq). Here's a picture:


Very stylish. Given the New England snow we've been getting and the resulting slush, I haven't worn them. But for the first time I saw how I could get into shoes and other accessories...maybe not a good thing, but my wife will be pleased. I have the feeling that she's subtly trying to convert my watch fanaticism - which she tolerates, although claims she can't tell the difference between any of them (we have a show-and-tell planned but haven't gotten around to it yet).

Keith, I do manage to sell stuff off, although usually for a loss. I'm OK with that - occupational hazard, so to speak. Even if I buy a watch and then return it for a loss of $15-20 for shipping both ways, I don't mind - hey, at least I got to see the watch.

The good thing is that even though I might buy two or three watches a month for $500-800 - which is well above my budget - I'm actually not spending that much, more like $200-300, which I can afford, because I'm also selling off watches. The problem, of course, is the law of diminishing returns. Maybe a good rule of thumb for me is to be able to pay for at least half of what I buy with sale-created PayPal funds. We'll see how it unfolds.


Angelo, there's a wide variety of degrees; I'd posit that "Hoarder" and "Collector" are on a similar spectrum, but that the former is unhealthy while the latter is just a bit nutty (but in a good way). There's a difference between this:


And this:


The former is pathological - a sign of actual mental illness, while the latter points to an interesting eccentric.

To put it another way, embrace your eccentricity but watch out for pathology.

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