Thoughts on Value


Value is in the eyes of the beholder. More importantly, value is in the eyes of the buyer.  It is NOT in the eyes of the seller.

Basquiat 110M paintingRecently a Basquiat painting fetched a whopping $110 million fee at auction.  Personally I’m not sure I’d give two cents for it.  I don’t find much inspiration in the thing, but someone with a lot of money plunked down a boatload of them to buy the painting.

Not long before that a Picasso was sold for a paltry $45 million.Picasso 45M painting  Both artists are long since dead, so there is some sense that rarity gives value and I understand how that works.  Whether there is anything instrincially more artistic or ‘valuable’ to Basquiat’s work than Picasso’s I have no idea.

But it brings to mind the age related issue of value.  And for those who have gone full time RV’ing I’m sure there is a very poignant tug on their heartstrings when they think back on the experience of downsizing sufficiently to become a full timer — and to divest themselves of much of what they owned — and perhaps much of what they inherited or saved from the lives of others who went before them.

I know that for Peg & I the experience of downsizing was a monumental trauma.  Partly it was because we had retained things from several generations of family and the thought of divesting all that was like turning one’s back on their heritage. But the bigger problem was the practical one of how to physically manage selling all that stuff, and how to value it for selling.

Before and after our experience I have talked with multiple other couples/singles who did the same thing — or who tried to downsize and found the process more than they could handle and decided, in the end, not to go full time RV’ing after all.

On some levels there is the issue of wanting to get as much for your memories as you can.  But, of course, any buyer has no memories associated with your treasures.  When ownership of your treasure ends, so ends the treasure itself because the new buyer will not carry your memories forward.

Then there is the question of how much to ask for your memories.  And of course in many cases our idea of how much is directly related to our memories.  But I bet a lot of us also base our idea of how much to charge on the original cost of whatever-it-might-be.  And of course there’s the rub.  A very expensive film camera in 1960 might be worth pennies in a decade where no one shoots film.  A posh leather chair might have been worth thousands when new — before the age checking, and cracking that happen to leather occured, but we are more likely to remember to price tag than the wear and tear on the chair.

Even if we aren’t the sort to go full time RV’ing, and there’s no reason for us to downsize our affairs — at some point, someone in our life is going to have to do that.  And they will then bear the brunt of accepting that other people do not value “our life” (the component parts as represented in our possessions) the same way we do.

I have not been saying much abour our coach for sale.  We think we have a buyer for it — we’ll know around the end of May.  We’ve had the coach for sale with PPL in Houston for about 3 months now.  There’s another couple we know who have a 5th wheel that they have been trying to sell for over 2 years.  I do not think that there’s anything wrong with their unit; but it has not sold.  They have had offers on it and their comment to me, about the fact that the offered price was so low, went along the lines of “We aren’t going to pay them to take it.”  Of course that was an exaggeration — they were offered a sizeable price — but the fact of the matter is that they were indignant over how much they were offered.  And instead of accepting a cash-on-the-barrel-head deal they are keeping their RV, and paying storage on it, and not using it, and gradually it’s losing more and more value.  And they are angry that they have not sold their RV that gave them so much happiness and good memories.  But, of course, a new buyer would find different happiness, and make their own memories and there’s nothing in the world you can do about depreciation and obsolescence. It’s a fact of life.  Sometimes your best bet is to cut your losses and move on.

Now that we are settling into a new life I find it hard, but important, not to re-accumulate too many belongings.  I’d like, when we are ready to sell up down here to be able to sell the house fully equipped less personal belongings and drive away with a fully loaded car and not much more — no trailer to haul, or truck to rent to carry belongings to a new place.  To do that we have to be rigorous about not accumulating new things and that’s not easy to do.  Suffice it to say, we’re trying. 🙂

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