Whenever I used to get rid of something, the first thing that always, always would come to my mind was how much I paid for it. And if the thing I wanted to go was expensive – shoo – it was a discussion with myself about wasting money.
Like this runner.
This simple, creased runner traveled from an apartment to a house. It’s covered a table, this dresser, another dresser, been boxed up, and forgotten. Why would I cart this around? There’s nothing particularly special about it. The truth is that it matched lots of things, I couldn’t sell it at a garage sale, and by golly I paid full price for it! I ended up giving the runner away to a friend who then got rid of it too but not before I learned two valuable lessons.
Lesson One: I don’t actually like runners. They are adjacent to doilies and my mom (and her mom) love doilies. If you don’t know what a doily is, google it – I’ll wait. Okay, you’re back and yes I appreciate your sympathy. I still have the occasional nightmare of going to dust an end table and the dust matches the doily pattern.
Lesson Two: Sunk Cost. A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. (My college economics teacher would be so proud of me.) Once you have purchased something, (and no longer have the option to return it for a full refund) the cost of the item cannot be recovered.
But Jennifer, you could sell it and recoup the money that way! No, not really. Let’s say that I bought the runner for $20. After using it minimally in the apartment, I packed it up and hired movers to move it (along with the rest of my household things) to the new house. There I used it sporadically, storing it more often than displaying it. When it got to the garage sale phase, I spent time making a price tag ($3.00) for it and trying to sell it on a cloudy, cold Saturday morning.
Had I sold it for $3.00, all that really means is that I would have covered the cost to pack it, store it, price it, and time spent trying to sell it. None of the original cost. Sooooo, yeah.
But Jennifer, my things are antiques! If they truly are, then you may make back your initial purchase. Let’s be honest though; most of the items that people consider getting rid of are not antiques — they’re tchotchkes. I’ll wait while you google that term. Annnnnd, we’re back! You are right, tchotchkes is a really interesting word for junk!
When it is time to get let go of something, please don’t waste time on trying to recoup some far gone cost. Instead, think about what you got out of the item while you owned it. More often than not, you got your value out of it.
Unless it’s a doily.