Letting Go: Diamonds and Debt – Part Deux

by Tammy Strobel on September 2, 2011

{Way back in November, I wrote a post about diamonds and debt. At the time I was still trying to decide whether or not I should sell my wedding set. For the full back-story, read the article.}

“What’s the barrier to selling the ring, Tammy?”

I let out a huge breath and told my friend Michelle, “Well, it’s laziness. It seems easier to leave it in my jewelry box, instead of selling it. In addition, I don’t want to spend hours calling consignment shops or jewelry stores. But it’s time to let go of the ring because I never wear it and I feel like it represents the ‘old Tammy’  –  a woman who seemed to value diamonds rather than relationships.”

“What if you hired Andrew to help you? He sold a few pieces of jewelry for me when we moved to Portland and he already has some connections. You could give him 10% of the sale price.”

“That’s a great idea, Michelle! Let me talk to Logan and see what he thinks.”

Michelle and I moved on to another topic of conversation and gawked at the breathtaking view. Soon happy hour was over and I was biking up the hill toward our apartment. The air was cool and crisp and I wondered what Logan would think of the conversation I had with Michelle.

Over vegetable stir fry, I told Logan about the plan. I was a little nervous because I figured he would want me to sell the ring myself. But he was supportive of the idea!

Logan said, “I think this is great! I’m happy to support Andrew, since he’s a friend. Plus, he has contacts in the jewelry world. And it’s obvious that you aren’t going to sell it. You’ve been sitting on the ring for the last 8 months and I don’t want to sell it from underneath you. I feel like you might hold it against me.”

“I wouldn’t hold it against you because the ring isn’t important to me anymore. Besides, hiring Andrew is such a great option. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before!”

///

Whenever I have a hard time letting go, I do the following:

1. I ask friends for help and advice. If I hadn’t brought up this topic with Michelle, my wedding set would still be sitting in my little jewelry box.

2. I mull the problem over. Reflection is essential to my well-being and by doing yoga, taking long walks, and writing I can sort through any issue.

3. I try to remember what I’ve read about loss aversion. Even if something costs a lot of money, there is no shame in letting it go. For example, I’m not going to recover the cost we spent on my wedding set. Diamonds don’t hold their value over the long-run and I’m okay with it. I’m not going to let loss aversion hold me back.

Do you have a hard time letting go of stuff that doesn’t serve you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

1 rob September 2, 2011

And siding for your new house is more useful than diamonds, anyway :)

2 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Rob – You’re right about that! LOL! :)

3 Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate September 2, 2011

I have gotten rid of thousands of things over the past few years, and I can’t think of even one regret.

Katy

4 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Katy – 99% of my stuff has been so easy to part with, with the exception of this darn ring and the cars were difficult to part with as well.

5 traci sabia September 2, 2011

i grew up with a grandfather who was a “pack rat” and held on to everything. when my mother died 2 months ago i started cleaning out her papers and she had things saved for the past 10 years. she saved everything and always said “what if you need it one day”. that day never came. my husband has been saving things as well. memories he claims. i ditch, burn, recycle, donate anything and everything that hasnt been touched, used and looked at. there are those items in ur life that are important to us, thats understandable. i try to place everything of importance into 1 or 2 boxes. if they dont fit they dont stay. its hard and a tug of war in out hearts and soul whether to ditch things, but in the end, as you have mentioned, its not the material things that are important. its the smells of the morning when the sun is coming up, looking into you childs eyes, holding ur husbands hand as you walk down the street…..

6 Sherri Dunham September 2, 2011

I loved letting go of so many expensive things as we prepared to move to Costa Rica. I even donated all of my very expensive crystal (and several other expensive possessions) because it was no longer important for me to get money for them and I knew they would bring joy to somebody else. It is a wonderful thing to release yourself from things – even things that you place high emotional and/or monetary value on. Value is all perception.

7 Roberta September 2, 2011

Oh yeah…we have been downsizing now for over 2 years and I still have trouble with the emotions that I’ve attached to my things. Just last month I was “mourning” my furniture again…and that’s okay! I know that I’m mourning it and that it’s a process that I have to go through and I just don’t sweat it anymore. My husband has gotten use to it as well…he knows that I just need my time and space to deal with “the loss” and then I’ll be fine once again. For those of you reading this and scratchin’ your heads over “mourning your furniture”…well yep that’s part of the downsizing process for me. For years, interior design was my passion and I still enjoy looking at beautiful homes and places. BUT the reality for us is that our old furniture no longer suited (or served) us in our new downsized life. AND even though we have embraced and welcomed our new life…there are still things from our past life that I miss and mourn over. Regardless of the fact that my “vision” of what our life was…did in no way reflect our reality…my emotions can still be “stuck” in the old vision. Visions/fantasies like having an intimate dining room where I’ll have romantic dinners with my loving husband…just do not fit in with the reality of us having dinner sitting in our recliners watching the food network…every evening…lol The reality is what it is and we meet in the middle by having occasional, romantic dinners on the patio (when it’s cooler ;) We had a large house for years because out-of-town guests would come and stay with us…maybe twice a year. The reality is…it’s cheaper to put them up in a hotel then to pay the huge mortgage that went with the house. We always wanted to travel more and now we can and that is what helps me “snap out of it” when my emotions get in the way of my purging/downsizing. Hope this makes sense…and it’s good to hear that others are going through the same emotions…no matter your age/living situations…not just emptynesters that is ;}

8 Ryan September 2, 2011

Wow, loss aversion; I can relate. Two friends of mine recently split up after living together for years. I was friends with Nancy first (through work) then met Garth. Garth was always a bit distant and hard to get to know, but we started jamming at his place. I took a bass guitar over there and left it there amongst his amps, cabinets, drum kit, and numerous guitars. Then, out of the blue about three months ago, they split up. Nancy said she was moving out, Garth didn’t say much.
Nancy mentioned a short time after she moved out that maybe I should retrieve my bass. It’s still there. I have two of them and although it is worth something, I’ve decided to let things be for now and leave it there. I saw Garth at a concert about a month ago and things are the same as ever regarding our friendship (from what I can tell) but it would feel weird going back to the house and jamming sans Nancy. I also saw Nancy at a party a couple of weeks ago and she’s happy that I keep in touch.
The guitar is at Garth’s and I’ve made peace with the fact that it may be a while before I see it again because sometimes friendships trump possessions.

9 Jo@simplybeingmum September 3, 2011

I’ve broached the subject of selling my wedding and engagement ring to a few friends, just in passing. Their reaction hasn’t been supportive – bordering on shock! I only now wear a very simple band that my Hubby bought me after the birth of our first child some 3 years after we married (and I hadn’t worn anything regularly for a while but decided to put this on and leave on as it doesn’t get in the way and signifies the start of my family). This is a tough one! I guess they’ll stay put… now the subject of the deteriorating wedding dress in the loft is another matter…

10 Jo@simplybeingmum September 3, 2011

ps – Tammy I haven’t checked in in a while, but have got to say I love the new style of writing and layout. I always loved your blog, but this is a really refreshing way of posting…

11 Roberta September 3, 2011

You can always sell your wedding dress via one of the websites that sells only used gowns…my DIL has looked into it because she knows that she’ll never use/wear it again. Her dilema, like yours, is her own Mother’s reaction. I told her…what she doesn’t know will never hurt her ;) If she inquired down the road just tell her that it got ruined in storage…tragic…but done and gone. Hope this helps.

12 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Jo – If your wedding dress is still in good shape, consider donating it to Brides Against Breast Cancer.

P.S. I’m so HAPPY you like the new layout and the style of writing. I’m trying out more narrative based stories and it’s so much fun.

13 Rose September 3, 2011

Yes, I’m definitely dealing with this. It makes me sick to think of how much I’ve spent on certain things that I didn’t need or never use. So I just hang on to them to try and squeeze some sort of use or meaning out of them. It’s so frustrating! So much of it is tied into my relation to money and a sort of poverty mentality. It doesn’t have to do with the item itself, it has to do with my feelings of guilt over spending money when I didn’t have much to spend in the first place. And don’t even get me started on the things I hold onto due to sentimentality. I’ve found that letting go of “things” is so much about self evaluation, which has been a total surprise to me as I’ve started the process of downsizing.

14 Roberta September 3, 2011

Boy you also touched on another emotional aspect…guilt over the money wasted that I’ve also had over the loss of my furniture…ugh! Expensive furniture came with the big house and lifestyle and the idea of our “dream house”. Lived and learned for sure ;}

15 Sandra Pawula /Always Well Within September 3, 2011

Tammy,

I like these simple tips for dealing with resistance to letting go. Although I don’t place a huge value on material possessions, I still find it can be hard to let go – even of small things – at times. It helps to look inside and see what the hook is.

16 Gretchen September 3, 2011

Thank you so much Tammy for your post today…I literally sat on my couch in tears reading your words. My husband and I have had the dream to go sailboat cruising for awhile now…yesterday after two years of hard work for me to declutter, pitch things, and finally have a yard sale two weekends ago we went to the liquor store for boxes (rethinking not buying some tequila too ;0)) The new agent we have hired brought another agent yesterday who strongly advised we stage the house since we have had it on the market 10 months now…we have an eclectic mix of furniture…I was so proud of how much I have gotten rid of, donated, sold…we are talking multiple industrial size trash bags, multiple pick up trucks, lots of stuff. I was so proud until yesterday when I feel defeated again that I haven’t quite gotten rid of enough, that my house doesn’t look perfect enough! BUT deep down I know I have accomplished so much, my perspective has changed massively, and that I am on that final stretch where the really tough decisions will begin. We are fairly sure we are going to move onto the boat as of yesterday before the sale of our house…this was a big realization to take in yesterday and suddenly I felt all my mental work crumbling…my fears, insecurities, and deep challenges regarding letting go were triggered…that in between figurative space when I am going to be mid flight letting go of the trapeze of this life I have been living, to the new cruising life that I am reaching for…I have to have Faith, and that my friends I have not practiced enough lately…in my efforts to control that which I can.

Sorry to be so wordy, but I wanted you to know how much I needed to hear your message above today and everyone else’s responses. Roberta’s response especially strikes a chord for me…I was just explaining my deep sense of loss as I let go of things in my life…mostly sentimental…I know where this comes from now and I am getting so much better at letting go…

Off to pack up some boxes ;0)

17 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Gretchen – WOW. I’m so touched by your comment and I’m so impressed by all the downsizing you’ve done. Just remember it’s a process and everything will work out. Just give it time and remember to breath. As Walt Whitman once said:

“I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.”

Best of luck! And please stay in touch. :)

18 Roberta September 3, 2011

You go Gretchen! AND remember…realtors/professionals are people first and they have opinions just like everyone else. We went through 3 realtors trying to sell our first home and it took over 15 months and we took a loss…but number do not lie! When I calculated how much we would have paid out in mortgage payments if we didn’t take the “loosing” offer then we would have lost even more money. Once I crunched the numbers and showed my hubby the totals then he was on board as well and let his emotions get out of the way of getting rid of the house. We had 6 months of yard sales, craig’s list, consignment shops and finally goodwill before we got rid of our stuff. My final purge is coming in October and most of it is going to charity because what I’m paying to STORE my stuff in an off-sight storage facility would pay for a lot of plane tickets over the year ;) Hope this helps, fondly, Roberta

19 terry September 22, 2011

Gretchen, it’s good that you’ve decided to move onto your boat before the house sells. You’ll find it gives you a better chance to decide exactly what you need in your new life. We live on our sailboat, but still have access to a house and it’s been a learning experience. Some of the things I thought we’d need and want have worked out well and other things turned out to be unnecessary after all. Things that served well on land aren’t necessarily needed or as multipurpose and useful on a sailboat.;-)

There is now very little at the house that matters to us. It’s involved lots of downsizing, which we wanted to do anyway!:-) I wish you well in your new adventures. BTW, we love our boat and now that we’ve adjusted, we prefer being on the boat over being on land.:-) Enjoy your new unencumbered life. Terry

20 Kelly September 3, 2011

Tammy. This hit a big nerve. I still have my diamonds from a marriage that ended in divorce a year ago. It is strange, but I tell myself that I am saving them for my son if he gets married. And then I get a twinge of conscience that says – why would you burden him with a “jinxed” diamond? and if he can’t afford to buy a girl a ring himself then maybe he should rethink about getting married until he can. And then I tell myself that I should save them in case the economy collapses even further and then sell them to put food on the table. But, really, if things are that bad who would buy diamonds? The marriage had been bad for a long time and for the last year I couldn’t even keep up the farce of wearing rings that had lost all meaning of commitment due to his behavior. They sit in a box. I have some last bit of credit card debt that I got stuck with in the divorce – maybe I should sell the diamonds and pay it off. You have gotten me to think about who I could hire to sell them….

21 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Kelly – Well, the final decision is up to you. But I think selling the ring would be a really good option. Using the cash to pay off your credit card debt would rock!

I thought of holding onto my ring for my niece. In the end, I didn’t want to give her something “jinxed”. And who knows if she would even like the style in twenty years? If your son decides to get married, maybe you can help him with the wedding costs?

22 Melita September 3, 2011

This is a really interesting conversation! When I asked my husband to marry me, I gave him my green stone pendant (this had been a gift to me – they are designed to be gifted from person to person). I never expected to want an engagement or wedding ring, but when we got engaged I found that I did want something to signify what was a really important life event for me. We purposefully don’t own very much and really had a lot of discussions about whether we ‘needed’ rings. We found a small, but beautiful engagement ring at an antiques fair. It was very inexpensive, but the stories of the previous owners accompanied it – a huge part of its attraction! My wedding band was made by a small local jeweller from recycled gold and I made my husband’s ring. It is wonderful to let things go, but sometimes it is also helpful to think about the things you ‘want’ and decide whether there is a way to have what you want without ruining your bank balance, your values, or the environment.

23 Tammy Strobel September 3, 2011

@Melita – Thank you for sharing! That’s such a beautiful story. :)

24 Donna September 3, 2011

Terrific post! My sister and I are trying to downsize out of our parents’ old home, and hopefully get to the point where we can fit a few odds ‘n ends into a tiny U-haul and venture off, unfettered, to a small condo on the Gulf Coast of either Miss., Ala., or Florida. I used to be the world’s worst packrat, but no more. As soon as it gets cooler, I plan to start a major cleaning in the attic, then work my way down!! Right now, the only jewelry I wear is a – honest – 1980s Swatch watch that I keep alive with Walmart batteries. I used to wear a small diamond ring and a small garnet ring, but developed ‘detergent rashes’ that were itchy and annoying. Besides – freed-up fingers work so much better on (any) keyboard!!

25 Gretchen September 3, 2011

That does help Roberta! The new realtor we have hired is trying to give us our best chance of selling in a really bad market, so I understand logically, just mentally I took a hit. But I am back. Thanks for the quote Tammy. It will be tough to leave the present home we live in. It is active and passive solar and beautiful. Check out our website for details which will soon be our cruising blog when we officially get going…Tammy your blog is bringing together so many incredible stories!

26 Roberta September 3, 2011

Oh my…Gretchen we are neighbors…we live in Raleigh now ;) Your house is beautiful and I sure wish you all the best in selling in this market. I love the fact that it’s solar and the lot is beautiful…I’m sure that you’ll meet the right buyer soon. Fondly, Roberta

27 Cathe September 3, 2011

Never love anything that cannot love you back.

28 Colleen :) September 5, 2011

Recently I found out my hours at my job may be reduced (I am an instructor who does one-to-one tutoring). To prepare for this, we’ve been trying to reduce our debt and lower our monthly bills. I have been struggling with this topic and am glad to hear others are, too. I once read an article that gave the following advice: If you have something you inherited and it gives you pleasure or you find it useful, keep it. If not, sell it and use the money to get out of debt, or if you don’t need the money, donate what you make to a charity…..

29 Kate September 6, 2011

Thanks for the post Tammy. It got me thinking about the huge dining room set taking up my entire dining room area of my apartment I have been “meaning” to sell after the move from my house into an apartment. After a year at the new-smaller space (I just signed a new lease) it still sits there and is used as a place for mail, etc. I got my son’s outgrown clothes packed up and want to donate them to a women’s shelter nearby. Now onto the table, a couple hundred dollars could go towards paying off my remaining credit card balance. Last year I gave away probably half of my belongings to my local “freecycle” group members, so many people wrote how much they appreciate it the things, etc. many never expected the quality of items they would be getting. And the BEST feeling I have felt probably since my son was born is the exhilaration of freedom from all the STUFF I was getting rid of, not missing anything, just happiness and emancipation. Now, onto Craigslist with the table…. thanks for the constant inspiration Tammy.

30 Mark Powers September 9, 2011

Good for you, Tammy :) I hope the eBay listing goes for even more than you’d like or expect!!

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