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Sell everything (medium.com)
39 points by j0ncc 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 46 comments | favorite

How about selling everything and NOT buying it back? Because halfway through the article he goes:

In Victoria, I bought all new furniture — TV, couches, bed, kitchenware, etc — and still had cash left over from the sale of my old stuff. That’s right, I made money.

This can only work if you're filthy rich. The article ignores 90%+ of the world's population who can't sell everything because they own pretty much nothing. And yeah, these people can be hackers or founders as well. It's hard to think that somebody just learned today what is the default for most of the people and he feels like everyone should profit from this amazing discovery.

A better title for this article would be: How to have more fun with your money by selling expensive stuff and buy more expensive stuff

Seriously. Or call it: Sell everything and then buy it back again. This guy sounds like he's trying to impress people. "Look how Zen I am, you guys." He quotes Tyler Durden and then goes directly against that quote. Tyler Durden didn't say sell all your stuff and then go buy new stuff so you can finally start to be anti-consumerism and minimalistic. The most anti-consumeristic thing he could have done was pay for the truck and not expel resources so he could buy new things. It's like people who wake up and say, "I want to start buying ethical clothing" and then they go throw out their entire wardrobe to buy new clothes. The most ethical clothes are the clothes you have on right now.

This wasn't meant to advocate profiting from selling the stuff you no longer use. An earlier draft even pointed out this would only be possible the first time you sell all the extra crap you own.

I think people are getting hung up on me saying you should do this too. I assumed readers would intelligently apply the article to their own situation. I recognize everyone's situation is different.

The point here was that I didn't re-buy everything, only the essentials I really needed or missed. I ended up having a lot less in the end, and only things I would use.

Bed, couch, tv and kitchenware isnt exactly the model of decadence, even among the poor in Canada.

That's true, but selling everything you have just to buy more is not the best idea regardless of your social position.

If you move to a new city for example you could just rent an apartment that has most of the stuff you need for a fraction of the cost and effort of buying your own.

Please, if you are rich, stop explaining the idea of freedom from stuff as if it’s a trick that even you have somehow mastered.

The only way to own very little and be safe is to be rich.


The article author sees it somehow insightful to sell old things in order to start buying anew (having sold the old clothes, he is glad he can buy the new ones that match). What a discovery!

Volume reduction works great until you get to the kids Legos and Pillow Pets... Isabella the purple unicorn is not for sale.

As a kid my parents would throw a yard sale once a year where we were encouraged to sell all of our old stuff. My parents would suggest low prices to make sure everything moved but ultimately it was up to us to set the prices and we got to keep all of the money. I always thought it was a lot of fun. I might hold on to a prized toy here and there but for the most part I enjoyed selling my old toys.

EDIT: I think the trick was letting us own the process. We helped place the ad in the paper (when we were old enough), we helped design the signs to hang up in the neighborhood, we helped hang them up, we chose which toys to sell, what to price them, we haggled with the buyers (very fun), and we spent the money after (or saved it if you were my brother).

It works really well with children. Having too much crap is thoroughly depressing for them. They don't like the idea of volume reduction to start with but they appreciate it afterwards.

I've brought mine (3 girls aged 1, 6 and 9) up without strong attachments to brands, advertising and materialism. Isabella the purple unicorn has never been an issue for me.

In fact, they're rather more attached to their rain coats as that means we're going out somewhere interesting or their pencil cases as they can create something.

I think the point the author is trying to make that having to much emotional attachment to material objects, with side-effects like hoarding these items, or being upset when something happens to them can be potentially toxic for you.

Sorry, I just don't have the convenience of time, money and means of transport to afford the kind of leisure the author is advocating. For one, I bought a house pretty much owning some electronics, couple guitars and amps, a full backpack, a garbage bag of cables and a couple full of clothes. I pay regular visits to my local thrift store, and they have some really nice mint stuff (or easy to refurbish) for cheap. You can also get a lot of 'sets' of items/furniture if you like your possessions to "match". People like the author sometimes basically dump their entire living room there. Also you won't feel as bad for reselling it if you end up hating the stuff, as you didn't have that big money attached to it, which mitigates a good chunk of perceived emotional value.

Great idea. I'd even say to try to avoid buying a tv, as this is the most powerful brainwashing machine you can get.

In the same vein, I like to say one's freedom in invert proportional to the number of keys in the pocket.

Spot on.

Another TV-free household here.

I had some of my daughter's friends over for a sleep over last year (ugh) and we had a 15-year old 26" Sony Trinitron CRT which I was ridiculed for by them as they all have massive plasma/LCD and 3D units.

For some strange reason I felt slightly guilty about this but after a discussion with the other half, we decided that this was the symptom of a problem with society rather than a problem with us and that it needed fixing.

Couple of days later, it went on the street with a sign taped on "Free TV". Within 10 minutes someone had taken it.

A year later, we all sleep better, we all communicate better and we are all a lot closer and we're also £150 a year better off (we have to pay TV license in the UK).

All it does is consume time and divide people.

Out of interest, what do you do when you want to watch a film?

The way I see it, you either go to the cinema, whereupon you pay some outrageous sum to see a limited range of new releases (most of which are appalling in comparison to the body of classic film that exists), watch it on some cramped computer screen, or go to a friend's house and use their television.

None of these options appeal to me, and it's one of the main reasons I haven't acted on the "throw away your television" mantra.

Another TV-free household reporting in, here. When my family and I want to watch a movie, we do indeed cramp around my 17" laptop and watch it. Its quite comfortable, four of us on the couch, and the screen propped up properly in front of us. We all see it, we're all quite comfortable.

I feel I must define TV-free, though. We have iPads and other tablets, and ample computer resources throughout the house, where its not really fair to say we don't "do the vegetable video brainwash thing", because we do. Its just that its not per some broadcast schedule and we choose, entirely, what we want to watch instead of having it imposed upon us by a Programming Director.

We never pay for video, though. Maybe once in a few moons my wife and I might go to the cinema, but unless the movie is really good, we don't bother. I have absolutely no problem with the idea of bankrupting "Hollywood", which I see as a disastrous cult that must be de-funded. Both of us have sort of made up our mind that mainstream entertainment is mindlessly boring, and so we do try to get involved a little more in the process of discovering new things. We do pay for art where we know the author of it, or have a way to pay them directly without having a Brand engine in the way.

The TV "spot" in my living room is occupied by a nice computer monitor. When I want to watch a film I usually get it off iTunes (for subtitles, of course).

The smaller size (23") is offset by a sharper picture and colors compared to most TVs. I also love the lack of the bs "features" that TVs seem to be loaded with these days.

"watch it on some cramped computer screen"

Why is your computer screen cramped? My livelihood and several hobbies depend on my computer keyboard and screen, I've designed and decorated appropriately.

My experience with the whole "throw away your TV" thing is that it works better as an effect, not a cause. What I mean is I don't watch much TV. Its boring, all hyper formulaic, narrowcasted while I'm not the narrow audience, seen it all before to the point of being sick of it. Its also way too passive for my personality... I'm supposed to sit here and watch other people do stuff, for endless hours? No way, is not happening. Then the effect kicks in... Oh I'd like another tropical fish tank, maybe if I get rid of that thing I never use...

My wife and kids are somewhat addicted to TV so I'm stuck with it now.

I can't say I have wanted to watch a film yet. If it comes to it, I'll probably go to the cinema.

How much time now gets spent on desktop/laptop/smartphone per day per family member? Just curious if these numbers jump after the TV goes.

Very little. Kids and wife dont use computer at all. I use it for work and HN (currently HN whilst waiting for compiler!). We have one smartphone but it's rarely used unless commuting.

Good to hear. Sometimes I feel, in the "consume time and divide people" department, the Internet beats TV hands down.

Also it is one of those easy roads to take, as it keeps the kids fully occupied. So it's nice to see what you guys are doing. Keep it up!

I've heard of a few parents who have gone TV free but allow their kids phones, iPads and laptops for homework, etc. End result, they see less of their kids because they're all in their rooms watching streaming TV or videos. Results may vary of course

I disagree... I use a large LCD television for my laptop's main display. I don't have a subscription to cable or satellite service, but when I want to watch Hulu or Netflix, it works very well.

Hard to beat $8 dollar Netflix.

I just googled "one's freedom in inversely proportional to the number of keys in the pocket" and found nothing. You have just written a really powerful sentence. I lived mostly traveling for the last 13 years and I have very little stuff. I constantly write/think/discuss about it and I rarely found such a great sentence. Congratulations.

That's why one keeps a pickset?

Ha! A true hacker answer :-)

Love the "keys in the pocket" line


Cut cable, save the money, buy a projector after a year, hook it up to your computer, subscribe to Hulu/Netflix and enjoy some media when you want without TV. I hate TV anymore, mostly because when I do watch media, I watch comedies and commercials diminish my enjoyment.

The title made me assume this post would be about downshifting. But no, it's about "refreshing" your looks and furniture by throwing everything away and buying new stuff. Ehm, OK.

It's easy to get rid of your stuff when you're moving. You're being forced to do either the chore of moving it or selling it.

I haven't figured out a way to get myself to go through the pain of sorting things, throwing them away, and selling them when I'm not moving. So, things pile up.

It really bothers me too. Someone could profit by helping me with this problem. Maybe a company that comes to your house and takes away everything you don't want for a base small fee, then make a profit by selling your old stuff? Maybe they take 50%?

"I haven't figured out a way to get myself to go through the pain of sorting things, throwing them away, and selling them when I'm not moving. So, things pile up...It really bothers me too."

House rule, example not so much as allowed to hang up a new piece of art in the living room until the office cleanup is completed; Exactly one room is in "redecorating" mode at any given time, no more no less. Secondary house rule not so strictly enforced is the one room undergoing redecoration must be the oldest; rotation.

Doesn't mean I'm obsessive about remodeling... due to life pressures etc I think the basement utility room once spent about two years in remodel status. Eventually I really wanted to replace the broken blinds in the living room, generating immense motivation to finish the utility room...

"Someone could profit by helping me with this problem."

I've got plenty of money. Gift economy. Everyone implementing this house rule should donate $5 to the EFF and we'll call it even.

This was on HN just a few days ago: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/05/one-click-selling/

This startup is doing exactly that - http://usesold.com/

"800 got junk" is a 20 year old franchise operation using more or less the business model above with hundreds of franchise locations.

A 150 year old non-profit with a nearly identical business model is the Salvation Army, although they only do donations and don't pay for junk other than kind of optimistic tax donation forms. They do have the model down WRT truck rolls up to house and junk disappears to be sold at a resale store, however no money officially changes hands at junk acquisition time.

There are also innumerable decade or so old ebay resale operations which frankly are shoveling junk. Yes I'm sure there are some, but not many, specializing in "non-junk".

I accidentally left my suitcase on the Gatwick Express airport train this morning, containing practically everything I now own save for my passport, ukulele and current Macbook Air, which were all on my person... I only realised 10 minutes later when I got to the check-in desk.

As I was on the shuttle back to the train, I started laughing. Everything I own? That's everything I own?

I realised I didn't need any of it. A bit of a cliché, sure, and I'm a comfortably-off 25-year old single white male, apparently.

When I got to the platform, I found my suitcase sitting on the train, about to trundle off into the morning. I looked at the case, a full 21kg of junk - the last 21kg - and suddenly felt weighed down, as if all these things were a constant restraint. One suitcase.

There is a movement towards casting off our possessions to discover who we are; it's a tired story, as old as the hills. It points to the moon but it's not the moon.

The junk we most want to lose, and most deserve to realise our freedom from, is metaphorical, it's spiritual baggage, attachments to stuff.

My point here: if one suitcase of stuff is enough to be a mental burden, then when will I be happy? When there's nothing left? What about this body? Why not shed that also?

You can have a monk in the Himalayas with more 'stuff' than the executive with a condo full of Ikea furniture. It doesn't matter. Depth and space are created (no, discovered) when we lose the attachments, not when we lose the stuff.

Losing the stuff can be helpful and healthy, but it's not the ultimate truth. In truth, it's even a distraction for many.

So I read this post and my laughter increased. All this stuff: it's all a joke!

Just some thoughts as they come.

"There is a movement towards casting off our possessions to discover who we are"

That doesn't work if who you authentically are is an artisan, or at least for some arts.

Some artisans/craftsman/hobbyists/makers/whatever are incredibly lucky WRT fitting the whole "throw your stuff away" meme. Your ukulele fits in your arms. Good for you. I need a forklift to move my larger metalworking machines.

If I threw away all my tools, it wouldn't really help me as a tool creator/user.

"Losing the stuff can be helpful and healthy, but it's not the ultimate truth."

I'm convinced a lot of the push for it comes from profit seeking intermediaries. Sell you a hammer every year, so you use it once and throw it out. I occasionally still use some of my grandfathers inherited tools, which must put those people into fits.

I'm not sure you read what I wrote regarding the first point. There is this movement (ukulele or metalworking machines regardless), and this movement does not inherently imply nor guarantee spiritual growth.

I moved many times. My golden rule is - when packing, give/throw away 50%, then by unpacking give/throw away another 50%. And try to move once in 5 years. Keeps you sane and fresh. Oh, and because of all that "training" i really can relaocate to anywhere (like another country) with just a backpack and smile on my face.

I appreciate stories like this more when the author just tells their story. When you like something I guess it's natural to want other people to follow. But writing that uses this mode of "you should" seems to assume too much about the audience. We might be in a totally different situation. For example I'm just settling into my new apartment after living in dorms and collectives all my life -- it's my first time even owning a couch.

I don't have any problem with the writer assuming the reader can intelligently apply the article to him or herself.

That's where I'm coming from, too -- which is why I prefer to just hear the author's own story. But let's not quibble...

Then, buy the same thing.

...except your books.

I know, intellectually, that some books simply expire. They simply aren't relevant any more. Such books can't be given to a library and can't be offloaded to a book exchange.

Some even, due to changes in the world they refer to, have taken on a negative value because they can deceive a trusting reader. In good conscience these cannot be given to someone else.

I console myself with these thoughts whenever I dispose of a book. Because I find the disposal of books to be thoroughly traumatic. Giving up my old law books was heart breaking. So too my teenage copies of Learn to Teach Yourself C++ in 21.75 Minutes for Dumb Idiots.

It all hurt.

Beds? Chairs? Clothes? Meh. I would be OK with starting from a scorched earth. But my books are sacred. I do not choose them lightly, because I know that parting will be so painful.

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