Countdown Series #3 – Your Favorite Possession

In Retirement Thinking, The Insider by Adam Cufr

In our journey toward some sense of financial peace and contentedness, I think it would be a shame to not talk about stuff. Not just clutter stuff like we did last week, but the good stuff instead. Specifically, I wonder if you have a ‘prized possession’.

When I was a kid, I took to playing drums in a big way. There was just something about the feel of the drumsticks in my hands and the sound of a drum that made me hunger to play as often as I could. So after cutting my teeth for a couple of years in the school band, I woke on Christmas morning to find a key under the tree that opened up a newly-locked room in the basement that housed my very first drumset. It was mind-blowing. And while it wasn’t the world’s greatest set of drums, it set into motion decades of joy for me that led to my prized possession.

From this beautiful yet humble set of silver drums, I saved my money and traded them up for a black set, then another black set – only a much bigger one this time – then finally to the pinnacle of drums, my Yamaha Recording Custom Drums in Antique Sunburst finish. I actually took out a three-year loan in 1994 to buy these drums because they were simply out of reach to me financially unless I took a risk. When they arrived at our house in boxes, I set them up in the living room (sorry, Mom). With each unpacked box, I grew more and more excited; they were the most beautiful drums I’d ever seen. They still are.

I’ll bet you have a similar story but I suppose the ‘prized possession’ descriptor can be a little blurry. Let’s try this: if there was a fire in your home, besides family and pets, what item would you most like to get out no matter what? What object holds the most meaning to you? Which object feels the most irreplaceable?

This all matters because we often go through life without taking the time to be deliberate. By choosing to be intentional, I believe we can enjoy a deeper and richer experience. To pretend that all stuff is clutter and void of meaning would be a shame. Further, I suspect that if we can pinpoint the most valuable items in our lives, we may be better able to strip away that which is not valuable to us. We can also let the people who love us know more about who we are when we share with them what possession makes us most joyful.

My pristine 26-year-old set of drums holds a very special place in my heart because of the joy I derive from owning them and the people I’ve met because I choose to keep playing them. That’s the secret magic to some stuff; the act of stewarding and enjoying it leads us to cross paths with others who may share a similar passion.

Before I leave you to think I have only one prized possession, I have to confess that I really have two. I haven’t discussed this publicly, but my Dad and I spent 15 months restoring an old car together. I bought it from a friend who’d stored it in pieces for 28 years. Working with my Dad every weekend and many weeknights for almost a year and-a-half was one of the most cherished experiences I can recall. Sure, the car is very cool and turned out amazingly well and far beyond my expectations, it was the experience that really mattered most. If I outlive my Dad, I’ll have a car to remind me of his generosity and craftsmanship. Sometimes stuff connects us to people in ways not possible without these bits of metal, wood, and leather to bind us together.

So, I hope you can point to an object and feel proud to be its caretaker. Of course, we can’t take the stuff with us, but we can leave a few objects behind that have our fingerprints on them, which can provide someone a powerful connection to someone else. That’s the good stuff, not the stuff itself.

What’s your prized possession? Why? Is this something you can share with others somehow, to build a greater connection? If you’re willing, would you consider hitting reply and telling me about it? I’m not a big fan of stuff but a prized possession is altogether different.

All the best,

Adam Cufr, RICP®