We’ve all heard the sayings: Keep it Simple, Less is More – and they are true in so many different areas of life. That’s what downsizing into RV life is all about, right? Or downsizing into any situation really.
You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule. We use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. So why do we hang onto 100%? Probably because getting down to the LESS is so much MORE work!
When we started our timeline of 37 months, we knew we’d have to get started right away on getting rid of our stuff. The first thing we did was to have a yard sale. That was a lot of work, but netted us about $600. That got rid of the first – and easiest – layer. Stuff we hadn’t used in years, toys left over from the kids’ childhoods. Things like cassete and VHS tapes, and a lot of outdated decor and some stuff from our home staging business. A few antiques and collectibles found their way into that sale, but we still had so much more. Not the kind of stuff you can sell at a yard sale.
My kids were also going through getting rid of stuff – they had an estate sale after their dad’s passing and I helped with it. Unfortunately, I ended up bring home even MORE stuff. They couldn’t get rid of any antiques either, so my daughter found a Peddler’s fair for “Glorious Junk” and we went in together and rented a booth. We took a van FULL of stuff to that event and only had a few things we had to cart back home. That purge was a little harder because the items were so dear to us and some were family heirlooms. But our future generations want nothing to do with that old stuff, so out it went.
Tom also started listing things on e-bay. This is a time consuming process with taking all of the pictures, getting a good description, finding the right catagory and pricing and figuring out shipping. This avenue is still ongoing: sometimes items will sit there for months before finding the right buyer. This is how Tom got rid of all his Harley Davidson shirts, and how I got rid of my Barbies. Yep, the ones I’ve had since I was a kid. Did I mention that Tom and I both have hoarder tendancies? We’re not like the ones on TV, but we both have been attached to our stuff.
Some things are just harder to part with than others. Tom’s coin collection that was given to him by his grandfater. An old typewriter that made the coolest vignette in my office. But there is no room in a small space for sentimentality. I gave myself permission to keep one plastic tub of personal momentos in storage and that’s it.
Once you gain some momentum, it gets easier. Also, the closer we get to Take-Off the less time we have to fool around with emotions. I’m probably better at purging now than Tom. Yes, I finally threw away my Pom-Poms from 1975!
So we were chipping away at it when we closed the store. That was a whole other set of purging problems. We were litterally giving stuff away at the end, but still ended up bringing home enough stuff to fill up a 10X10 storage unit. Tom sold most of it on craigslist – right out of the storage unit. But we decided to only pay for 2 months – then we had to haul what was left home.
That combined with more stuff from our cupboards filled one half of our two car garage. We decided that it wasn’t economical time-wise to have another yard sale, so we called a local church who was able to come to our house to load up. THAT was easy, and we made the decision to donate most everything left, only taking the time to sell what would bring us in the most money.
So each week we would work on loading up a big box or two and taking it to the local version of a good-will store.
By now you’re probably thinking that our house is looking pretty empty. Nope. Just this last week I went through some jewelry drawers. “Isn’t gold worth a lot these days?” I thought. So some research on the internet found a local jewelry company that bought stuff. We’re still in the process of trying to sell previous wedding rings and coin collections.
What I’ve really learned is that the things we hold dear and consider valuable are just unwanted possessions to others. Now we are so happy that we’re doing all this work so our kids won’t have to down the road. And we’re getting there. But the physical aspect of downsizing has definately been the hardest part of this journey.
At least the letting go is not as hard now as it might have been 15 years ago. That’s before I left my first marriage and most all of my accumulations behind. After that giant purge, I did replace a lot of things – like an electric mixing bowl, which I’ve only used RAREly in baking in the past few years. And an iron.
When Tom and I moved in together, we had two of many things. His & hers vacuum cleaners. His and hers drills. And his & hers irons. We just recently got rid of all the duplicates. And the iron that we chose to keep (hers) is much too big & bulky for the motorhome so it will have to be replaced – if we even need one.
While packing for our last long (5-day) trip, it really hit me how little we really need. I took all the food out of the cupboards at home that we may use – and of course left behind more that 80%. Same with clothes. Of course it was a short trip, but there are so many things we think we need that we really can get by without. Like an electric mixer.
So I spent Monday evening getting groceries, and Tuesday evening getting our bill paying up to date, and then Wednesday evening was laundry and loading the trailer. It went pretty smooth – of course I won’t know what we forgot until we need something – but I had a couple of revelatory thoughts as I was packing: 1st – that we really don’t need much get by. For 5 days of personal hygiene etc, I probably took about 2% of the stuff from my bathroom cupboards and drawers. Looking at what was left behind, its all stuff I don’t really need – like half a tube of some product that didn’t work but cost too much to throw out. In the full-time rv life I’ll either have to – one, not buy products on trial basis, two, use them up whether I like them or not, or three, toss them out right away if they’re not working.
The second revelation was how much room there is left in the motorhome (which we still call the trailer). The “pantry” – behind the slide – will hold way more food than we’ll need to stock at any one time.
So all in all, I’m getting my mind used to a minimalist lifestyle. Which goes against our consumerism lifestyle. But opting for an alternative lifestyle is what started this adventure. And we’re all in!
Peace & Love, Joy