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Ask Dave

Selling Sentimental Stuff

William asks how you make a decision to sell collectible memorabilia when you're getting out of debt. Dave explains that there's a spectrum of emotions to consider.

QUESTION: William on Twitter asks how you make a decision to sell collectible memorabilia when you’re getting out of debt. Dave explains that there’s a spectrum of emotions to consider.

ANSWER: There’s a spectrum on collectible memorabilia of emotional involvement. “I have a Mickey Mantle card that I got when I was 8, and my dad stood there with me and got it signed.” If that’s you, then you would not sell that card. That has a personal story having to do with your dad. You met Mickey Mantle—all that kind of stuff. “I bought a Mickey Mantle card four years ago. It’s gone up in value. Should I sell it?” That kind of a thing, then yeah, probably. That’s a hobby. But something that has sentimental value in the collectible memorabilia area, you would keep that because that is a one-of-a-kind. It’s like you don’t sell your engagement ring to get out of debt—unless the engagement broke off. You just don’t do that because you get one of those. You don’t get a second shot at that. If it has a real heavy emotional involvement, I would keep it. If it doesn’t, if it’s just stuff …

I know one time I was sitting and talking to this military guy—he was debt-free—about his wife and how proud she was of him. I’ll never forget him. In Financial Peace University, I’m sitting there one night in the small group discussion, and this great big guy—I mean he’s totally muscle bound, totally ripped and probably 220 pounds—drives a 4-wheel-drive truck, has got cowboy boots. This guy’s a manly man. He’s sitting there, and he finally gets that they need to get out of debt, and he turns to his wife, and he says, “Well, I’ll sell the knives.” I didn’t know what that meant. He’s going to sell the knives? What? Come to find out, this guy had an unbelievable—like $25,000—collection of knives, and it was just a hobby. He’d just built them up over time. It was really probably very few of them that had sentimental value to them. She broke down and started crying that her husband would put his family and his wife ahead of his personal hobby that did mean a lot to him, by the way.

“I’ll sell the…” You fill in the blank to get us out of debt. It really did mean a lot to him, but it wasn’t something his grandfather gave him. It wasn’t something like that. It was just a collection that he had built over time that he enjoyed doing. The fact that she sat there and witnessed her husband putting her and her children and their future ahead of his selfish desires—it broke her. I’ve never seen a woman change the way she looked at her husband so quickly. It was pretty amazing.