What's Your Most Valuable Possession?

Pop quiz: What's your most valuable possession? Although we're all increasingly dependent on our gadgets and gizmos these days, I'm willing to bet that whatever you named is more than just a tool—which is exactly what happened when credit comparison site TotallyMoney asked 50 photographers across the world that same question. The resulting photo series, “What We Really Value,” shows that the things that really matter to us are more than just objects — they're memories.

It might seem a little at odds for a credit comparison site to be the ones behind this project, but I actually kind of dig it. When we're stuck in the daily grind, sometimes we lose sight of the things that matter the most — so it's kind of nice to see an organization whose primary purpose is to manage money step back for a moment and take a look at what exists beyond our bank accounts and credit scores. TotallyMoney used crowdshare task sites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and oDesk to get the word out, keeping the assignment simple and brief: Take a photo of whatever you value the most and explain why it means so much to you.

Some objects act as a link to the past and a key piece of their owner's identity. For example, a man from England wrote about his toy bear, “My parents got me A.G. when I was one. He's the last thing I own from my childhood — everything else was lost or given away over the years and many house moves. When my family upped sticks and went traveling, I was allowed to pick one soft toy to take with me and I chose him. He's come everywhere since then.”

Many are connected to loved ones. On photographer chose a coffee cup, writing, “This is cup my grandfather used to drink his coffee from every morning. Now I do the same”; another chose a photograph of her mother, noting, “Everything else could eventually be replaced, but I don't want to forget the face of the one who raised me to be who I am today.”

Even the objects that don't look extraordinary at first glance become extraordinary when you hear the stories behind them. A man living in Pakistan wrote about a pack of playing cards, “This may look like a regular deck of cars, but it is significant to me, because my wife and I fell in love while playing with this deck when returning from a college trip several years ago. I learnt a lot of card magic tricks and games as a child; back then they made for party amusement. Little did I know that one day, they would get me the girl of my dreams.”

TotallyMoney spoke to Nathalie Nahai, aka the Web Psychologist, about the significance of the items people picked. Said Nahai, “What's fascinating about the things people have photographed are the emotional narratives they carry. Whether a beloved childhood toy, a treasured Polaroid, or a well-worn pair of hand-knitted mittens, each item tells a story of love, of loss, or of nostalgia.” She added, “The things we value mose represent our passions and desires, what's meaningful to us, and the moments we are unwilling to forget. They weave a rich tapestry of our lives and reveal hidden worlds of relationships and love.”

Check out a few of them above, and head on over to TotallyMoney to see the full "What We Really Value" set. And ask yourself again: What's your most valuable possession?

Images: agedsenator/Flickr; TotallyMoney