5 Hidden Costs of Our Belongings

The average American owns a lot. In fact, the Los Angeles Times stated the average U.S. household has over 300,000 items in it. Wow, that is a lot of stuff! As you look around your home, how often do you take into consideration the cost of all you belongings? Is that something you think about?

Sitting here in my living room, looking around at all we have, the first cost that comes to mind is the purchase cost of everything we own. How much did we pay for our couch? Or the chair I am sitting in? For insurance purposes, you may have done a mental calculation of what it would cost to replace all the items in your house. This is probably a pretty large cost, and the one people think of most often.

When we want to acquire a belonging, the first thing we think of is the cost to buy item. How much will it cost us to buy it? Can we get it on sale? It is a better value for our money than another option?

As we progress on our journey toward a simple life, I have been thinking about all the hidden costs associated with the items we own. Lately it seems, at least for us, that we are spending a large portion of our time and money on our belongings. Where does this money and time fall?


The cost of maintaining everything we own is astronomical - both in terms of money and time. Because we are a pretty money conscious family, (read frugal) when it comes to maintaining what we own, we do a lot of it ourselves. In the past week, I started a list of what my husband has been working on which includes fixing a broken lawnmower, giving the car an oil change, greasing parts on the ATV, and fixing the rust on my truck (more than a one-time project). These have been pretty low cost in terms of money, but have taken a lot of time. Looking back over the last year, we have also had a lot of monetary costs associated with fixing things in our home.


I have seen some really staggering figures on the storage costs the U.S. pays for the "extra" items we own. A quick search for storage units in our area revealed a cost of $100 a month for a medium, 10'x10' unit, or about $1200 a year. Multiply that by a few people and it can really add up. I remember seeing the storage units in my first apartment building. Nothing ever changed in these units, they were just a place to put stuff. Unfortunately, once we put items in storage, we rarely pull them back out for every day use. A few exceptions are seasonal storage, such as we pay for each year for our boat, and holiday decorations. Either way, there is a cost: the cost for the storage unit, and the opportunity cost of the items sitting in storage.


Our insurance bill exceeds any other bill we have. Between our cars, home, land, life, health, and boat, we pay a lot of insurance. Two other policies that have now expired were the college insurance for our daughter (similar to renter's insurance) and a rider for some of my jewelry. Yes, I feel all this insurance is necessary. Unfortunately, it is really large portion of our expenses each month. If we owned less, our premiums would be less.


For the most part, this is an issue of time. The more we own, the more time it takes to clean - whether it is our home, cars, clothes, etc. Occasionally, this cost is monetary when we have to pay for cleaning  such as dry cleaning, or maids. Either way, our time is precious and the time we spend cleaning is a huge "cost". Additionally, there is some stress involved in cleaning. Often we feel like it is something we never get to, or always have to do. Also it's not easy to clean when you have to move multiple items in order to clean properly (think nick knacks).

Moving Costs

If you had to move right now, how much would it cost you? Even if you tried to do the entire move yourself, there would be a time cost involved, along with gas for multiple trips. When we moved into our home, we hired a mover for the larger items, and moved the boxes ourselves. This was pretty manageable because we had only been married a few years. Today, I can't even imagine what it would take to move all our possessions, even though we have started decluttering many rooms.

While I am not advocating getting rid of everything, I do feel it is beneficial to declutter what you are no longer using; along with really evaluating what you purchase from today forward. Our family is on such a journey. We have done some decluttering and have been limiting what we purchase; however, we still pay a lot (time and money) to maintain these items.

What other costs do you experience with your belongings?


  1. I don't even want to think about the cost of moving if we had to right now. We are in an on going project to get rid of half of our belongings. We have so much stuff to get rid of still.

    1. I'm with you. I keep joking that if we ever move, we should just have an estate sale in our house and try to sell everything first!


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