CHISWICK, WEST LONDON – Greetings from London…
My family and I are a hobo family. For the past three years, we’ve been living out of a suitcase and blowing from place to place, like seeds in the wind.
Then, my mother died in London at Christmas.
We came to London a month ago to say goodbye to her and liquidate her estate. This means selling a bunch of antique furniture and valuable family heirlooms (like these), as well as her beautiful row home in Chiswick.
We’ve been here a month now. And the thing is, we’re really struggling to pull the trigger.
Why We Converted Our Savings to Gold
As regular Postcards readers know, in 2018, Kate and I converted all our savings to gold. Then we sold all our things, cleaned out our apartments, canceled all our bills, and hit the road with our kids and a small suitcase.
We chose to make gold our home currency during our travels, instead of the U.S. dollar. Why?
I study economics while we’re on the road (while the kids do their schoolwork with Kate). At some point, it became clear to me that the U.S. government is broke.
No one says it this way. The dollar is still the world’s king currency. The U.S. government still functions perfectly normally. From the outside, everything seems fine.
But if you look beneath the surface, the facts are clear…
The U.S. government cannot fund itself without the central bank printing money.
We saw it again in September 2019, when the repo market blew up…
And we saw it in March 2020, when the U.S. Treasury bond market started imploding. The Federal Reserve had to print more than $1.6 trillion in four weeks to keep it functioning.
That’s why I say the U.S. government is broke.
It only maintains the illusion of solvency because the Fed prints dollars… and it channels those dollars to the Treasury via the banking system.
As we’ve seen over the past year – with the Fed printing more than $6 trillion to fund coronavirus relief programs – there’s no way the U.S. government will ever rein in its spending.
So it’s very obvious that the U.S. dollar… and all the international paper currencies connected to it… are about to see their values drastically debased.
Not against each other… but against goods, commodities, hard assets, and especially gold. I call this a “synchronized global currency devaluation.”
That’s the main reason why Kate and I converted our savings to gold in 2018.
Letting Go of Mum’s House
Now that we’re here in London, my family may need to put some of that gold to work. And that brings us back to Mum’s house – and why I’m struggling to sell it…
For one thing, this house, and everything in it, has huge sentimental value for me.
Not only is it where I’ve lived off and on for 35 years, but it’s filled with things that belonged to my mother, my grandparents, and even my great grandparents.
Also, the house is in a great spot…
It’s safe, near parks and playgrounds, near the River Thames, near lots of little shops we can walk to, and near a subway station for getting into central London.
Here’s Penny watering the garden…
Penny (8) watering Mum’s garden
And here’s Miles watching out for rain at Chiswick Cricket Club this weekend…
Miles (11) watching out for rain
We know all our neighbors. And my extended family all live within 100 miles. If we were ever inclined to live in one place, this would be a great choice…
“I can’t go through with selling this house and all Mum’s things,” I told Kate yesterday. “Why don’t we stick around for a while and see how we like it?”
“Can we afford it?” she said.
“We’ll have to buy my brother out, which will mean giving up a lot of our gold, but we can make it work.”
“Okay,” she said…
– Tom Dyson
Reader comment: I have been burdened by family furniture and effects. Some dating back to the 1700s and many items from Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Malaysia, from when the family had sugar factories in Indonesia in the early 1800s. I am proud to keep these heirlooms for the family as there is history and blood in these items, and it ties the family and its history together.
Reader comment: I have two homes full of antique English furniture. I had the fun of making friends all over England and buying the beautiful handcrafted furniture! It was a history lesson and a lesson in camaraderie! This was from 1978 to 1984.
To me, each piece is a memory that will never be repeated by the young people! I am sorry that today’s generation does not have the knowledge to appreciate the handcrafts of the world. What an experience your mother’s generation had to acquire something that was dear, lasting for generations.
Reader comment: Writing from Wiltshire, England. Your mum had a beautiful home. I admire you for giving away her things to people who will love and care for them rather than just selling them on for a quick buck. I am sure that is what she would have wanted. All the best and good luck in sorting things out.
Reader comment: My grandmother was the youngest of six children from a famous English glass manufacturer. As the youngest woman at 30 (in those days, women past 25 were considered old maids and unmarriable), she was asked by her father’s largest American customer to be his second wife after his first had died five years earlier.
She said yes and three years later, my mother was born. With all that wealth and family history, after my grandmother died in 1948 and my mother passed in 1980, there were many glass and furniture antiques to be split between my sister and brother.
Now, I’m 80 years old and I realize what you are going through. My children do not want ANY antiques. I’m sad to know how to dispose of them. Keep up the wonderful Postcards series and travels.
Tom’s note: As always, thanks for your kind messages. Please keep writing us at [email protected], and I’ll do my best to respond in one of our Friday mailbag editions.