I never thought of myself as a packrat or hoarder until I started trying to go minimalist.
I asked myself questions like, “If I lost everything in a flood, what would I need to replace fastest?” And, “What do I have that if I lost it would make me very very sad?”
Ideally, if I end up packing up and moving far away for a time I’d like to be able to fit all of my favorite stuff and memorabilia into my foot locker, and get rid of the rest. Some things are obvious to me: my teddy bear, baby blanket, Laura Ingalls Wilder books, the photo I have of Lindy and the Spirit of St. Louis, and my sewing machine – if it’ll fit.
Ultimately, though, I was thinking: does this possession give me joy?
And I thought of my coin collection. Actually it’s a combination of mine and my grandmother’s. When she died my mom gave it to me and it’s been mixed with everything I’ve collected.
I’m fascinated by coins. I even wear a 1945 dime as a necklace every day. I like to think of their history. Did someone put this in an offering plate or use it to buy a loaf of bread? Did a soldier carry it in his pocket while he was overseas to remind him of home?
So yes, my coin collection gives me joy, even if I only pull it out a few times a year.
But in the interest of not being a hoarder I decided to try to pare it down.
I took a full weekend to sit down and go through everything – with, um, LOST playing in the background…
I decided to basically only keep stuff that was older than 1930, or if there was a spot for it in one of the coin books my grandma had. There were a few exceptions like a bicentennial coin or such. But I figured I don’t need more than one or two of anything, unless it’s REALLY old and I don’t have multiples of that stuff anyway.
At the end, I ended up with a bag of random coins with the goal to get rid of them. You should have seen the pizza guy’s face when I gave him a $3 tip that night in Eisenhower dollars from the 70s. He thought they were sweet, too.
I took the rest of the bag to the bank, along with my grandma’s collection of foreign money – which don’t interest me as much as American. The American coins were dumped in the counting machine and $50 was added to my checking account!
The clerk flipped though a reference book for several minutes trying to match up the foreign bills I presented. The English, Scottish, and Canadian notes were easy, but two bills were harder to find. We eventually discovered they were old Swiss francs that aren’t made any more but could still be exchanged. They were also worth $30! Combine with the other bills and I got another $50 in my checking account!
A hundred dollars, just for reassessing what was important to me.
I’d love to say that I put that $100 toward my travel-abroad fund, but instead I renewed my Norton Antivirus subscription. Exotic, right?
Oh, in case you were curious, the bank won’t take foreign coins because of the cost associated with shipping them back to their home countries. Anyone want a baggie of random pounds, kroners, pesos, pence, pennies, pfennigs, einschillings, deutsche marks, francs, and something that looks like it’s from Denmark?