Accumulation nation

No wonder Americans have so much stuff to sell off. Over the past decade or so, we've spent nearly $2 trillion annually (much more than we're likely to get back) on things like these.

Homes: $747 billion

U.S. mortgage activity peaked (no surprise) in 2006, when Americans snapped up nearly a trillion dollars' worth of homes.

Difficulty to dump: Home prices are down 22% from their peak in 2006.

Motor vehicles: $407 billion

Green, schmeen -- America likes 'em big. Even though large-truck sales have dropped by more than a third since 2005, they still outsold every other category of vehicle but one in 2010.

Difficulty to dump: Used-car values rose during the recession, but experts say the rebound in new-car sales will dampen that trend.

Apparel: $251 billion

Blame our full closets? In 2009, for the first time in U.S. history, spending on clothing and footwear fell below 3% of Americans' disposable income.

Difficulty to dump: Even Goodwill's got a glut: Donations jumped 12% last year, more than triple the rise in 2009.

Electronics: $158 billion

The typical U.S. household spends $1,350 annually on electronics, more than the average person in Nepal makes in a year.

Difficulty to dump: Some half a billion old gadgets now languish in our homes, more than twice as many as did so in 2007.

Furniture: $87 billion

From 1999 to 2007, U.S. imports of household furniture more than doubled, with more than half coming from China.

Difficulty to dump: Traditional stuff (think middle-class mahogany) is down more than 50% from pre-crash prices.

Household goods: $68 billion

These purchases encompass everything from small kitchen appliances and dinnerware to cleaning materials and, yes, bathroom accessories.

Difficulty to dump: Forget resale. The federal Environmental Protection Agency reports a 23% jump since 2000 in household goods being simply junked.

Jewelry: $55 billion

Diamonds are still a girl's best friend, making up at least 30% of all jewelry purchases in any given year.

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Difficulty to dump: The average sale price of used wristwatches on eBay dropped 28% from 2008 to 2010.

Fine art: $2.4 billion

Call it a renaissance: Art sales at major auction houses exploded in the early '90s, growing tenfold to peak at $4.8 billion in 2007.

Difficulty to dump: Based on lot prices, the average amount fetched at auction for fine art fell 43% from 2008 to 2010.

Sources: American Apparel & Footwear Association; American Home Furnishings Alliance; Artnet; CIA World Factbook; Consumer Electronics Association; CoreLogic; eBay; Edmunds.com; Goodwill Industries; International Housewares Association; Jewelers of America; Kelley Blue Book; Pike Research; U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency