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Americans have too much stuff

News, 30 August 2016

SEATTLE, WA: Almost half of Americans feel their homes are cluttered with stuff they don't use, and the pressure to keep up with friends and neighbours is costing them financially and emotionally, a new report has claimed.

A survey of 1,000 Americans for OfferUp, a mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers, found that one in seven had a room in their home they couldn't use because it was filled with things they rarely used.

And, not surprisingly, a majority (72%) believed they would gain more space in their homes by getting rid of such items.

"After years of experience working with clients, one thing is very clear: Americans have too much stuff and it's causing them unnecessary anxiety," said Collette Shine, owner of Organize and Shine LLC and president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

According to anthropologist Grant McCracken, this abundance – and associated diversity and obsolescence – is driven by the objectives of our culture.

Certain patterns of consumption need to change, he acknowledged in a Market Leader article, before contending that "consumer goods capture us because they capture the meanings with which we construct our lives".

Be that as it may, Shine recommended that people sell off unwanted and unused items, which would not only declutter their lives but ease the financial pressures that very many face.

The study reported that 84% of Americans had financial concerns, with almost half (46%) finding it difficult to meet typical household expenses on time each month.

While emergency savings, retirement and housing payments topped overall financial concerns, one third also said they were stressed about medical expenses, while 24% reported concerns about affording holiday and birthday gifts for their families.

And while a minority were borrowing money from friends and family (25%) to make ends meet, or running up credit card debts (24%), more were taking practical long-term action to address monetary shortages, typically revolving around food.

Thus, 68% said they cooked more often instead of eating out, while 55% had cut down on meal expenses; fewer were scaling back social activities (46%) or skipping holidays (39%).

Data sourced from OfferUp; additional content by Warc staff