November 2019

What Is The True Cost?

My wife and I just finished moving to our new home, taking only the items we wanted to keep. The old home was left with an assortment of flotsam and jetsam. Basically “junk” we had accumulated from our previous lives, and from the brief amount of time we had spent together. Old furniture, unfinished projects we were no longer interested in, family “heirlooms” that we carried out of obligation. In addition to this, there were half-filled paint cans, extra motor oil from a previously owned car and other assorted household chemicals that you simply could not throw in the trash. And then there were financial records from pre-internet times (no, they were not written on scrolls).

Given the time setting up the new house, raising and shuttling kids, and work, cleaning out the old house was a daunting task, which led me to explore the rapidly growing industry of junk removal. It appears to have grown exponentially, which based upon the proliferation of stuff, should be surprising. We hired
JunkLuggers (an appreciative shout out to Glen Seeberger and his team) to do the clean out. There are other services, but Glenn offered a combination of competitive price and that extra level of service that put his team ahead. They securely shredded the documents, found places that accepted donations for almost 20 items, and responsibly handled all the hazardous waste. Whatever was left they divided into recyclable, or just junk. All that was left were a couple of stray paper clips and one cat toy (they always had something somewhere).

What something’s true value is, and conversely, true costs, has always been of interest to me. It got me thinking that on the cost side, while many people factor in the initial acquisition cost (the price you pay when you buy something), they forget other costs. Yes, the costs of buying on interest is well documented (but given credit card debt levels, maybe not well controlled), and the cost of maintenance is usually understood (especially when something breaks). However the cost of disposal is rarely considered. Especially if you are going to dispose of it properly (to minimize the impact of the environment and cost to lug away). That became very apparent to us during this move. The amount of stuff we accumulated, that we didn’t actually need, cost of significant amount to finally dispose of. That money could have been used for a family trip, needed improvements in the new house or just keeping in the rainy day fund. So now, when I buy something, I have an additional cost to consider, the cost to dispose of.