The Hidden Value of a Paperclip.

"The" paperclip.

The original paperclip.

Kyle MacDonald. Ring a bell? You might know him, or not know him at all, as the man who traded a paperclip for a house. The Canadian blogger posted in 2005 requesting a trade for his red paperclip. His first trade was for a “fish-shaped pen,” which he promptly exchanged for a hand-crafted doorknob. Next came a camp stove, followed by a generator. The generator was traded for an “instant party,” which was passed on for a snowmobile. Kyle would continue to trade for larger and more valuable items until nearly one year later when (on his fourteenth exchange) he traded a movie role (yes, you read that correctly) for a Canadian farmhouse. Kyle Macdonald, your “average-joe” blogger, had in approximately one year traded a paperclip from his desk for a house.

I tell you this story to illustrate the idea that we are all very capable of much more than we imagine we are. The same principle can also be applied to our possessions. The objects around us have all subconsciously been assigned a value. Kyle’s goal from the beginning was to barter his paperclip for a house. He understood the potential that his idea had, and it is because he reshaped the value of his object that he was able to achieve what he did.

I’ve found it important to take some time (if just once a year) to reevaluate my possessions. Much of what we toss in the closet or bury in our drawers has more value than we attribute to it. Much of it may not hold much weight in our minds, but might be useful to others. Kyle seems to have understood these relationships, and used them to earn him his house. The story is a testament to the hidden value of what we own. So I offer the following tips to discovering the hidden value of your own paperclips:

  1. CLEAN. Your closets, drawers, shelves, and anything else that serves as a magnet for clutter.
  2. SEPARATE objects that are to be kept from those that are not. If you are indecisive about anything, put it in the “don’t keep” pile. You’ll know immediately if an object is a necessity or not.
  3. EVALUATE your objects on the web (using tools such as eBay, Amazon, etc). Assign them cash values. This will give you an idea of what they’re worth to the general population.
  4. GET CREATIVE. Can any of these objects be used in creative ways to generate a better return then selling them? This may require a lot of thought, but you may surprise yourself at the potential of your possessions. You also have to move past the idea of appealing to everyone, as it’s a select few who will really value what you’ve got.
  5. DONATE. When in doubt, nearly everything in your “don’t keep” pile would be treasured by somebody, somewhere. Find outlets to donate some things (e.g. Salvation Army, Goodwill), or list them on your local “Freecycle” website.

In terms of our financial assets, it could prove useful to assess if our money is being used as effectively as possible. Is our money working as hard as possible for us? Keep an eye out for a hidden gem in your portfolio, one you might otherwise miss. Take advantage of it. You won’t regret it…

…and you could be the next Kyle MacDonald.

Did you find any hidden gems (physical or financial) in 2010?

For more information on the One Red Paperclip project, visit the blog here or the Wikipedia page here.


4 responses to “The Hidden Value of a Paperclip.

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