Getting Rid of "Stuff"
Our decluttering marathon has been an extremely rewarding race! We will be getting rid of about 95% of our earthly possessions. What a freedom to get rid of the things that just accumulate without notice. We are choosing to only keep things that spark joy and bring love. Luckily, I have always enjoyed cleaning out and tidying up, but after flying through the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo I was even more motivated to tackle the project. I also enjoyed reading her other book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. If you are interested in reading either of them, check the affiliate Amazon links to the books above or below.
Russ was starting to get nervous that his stuff would just disappear while he was at work. Luckily, he trusted my judgment in what we would actually need in our much simpler lifestyle. We had 4 options for each item – keep, donate, trash/recylce or sell. Kondo’s main point is that everything must have a place to be put away. As I was cleaning out, I was looking forward to finding a final landing place for everything in our 5th wheel. If it didn’t have a place to be put away, we couldn’t keep it.
I know this process is not easy for everyone. I think it is easier for Russ & I because we have never lived in the same place for more than 6 years. Not having children probably made a difference too, we hadn’t created memories with the “things” we had in our home with little ones around. At the rally we attended in May, Linda from RV-Dreams compared this process to “watching your own funeral”. So if you are having trouble with this process, you are not alone. Here are some of the resources and strategies we used that we hope will make the decluttering process easier for you too!
KEEP: This option is fairly simple, these are the items that we be moving into our 5th wheel. If you are fortunate enough to have your RV (travel trailer, 5th wheel, motorhome) before you sell your house, you can put these items away in your RV right away. Things that don’t fit then get moved to one of the other categories. Since we did not have our 5th wheel yet, we moved the items we were keeping into a 10 x 10 storage unit, knowing we might still have to get rid of some of the things that wouldn’t fit. Remember these items must spark joy or bring love to your life!
DONATE: This option is for items that are still in good condition that can be passed on for other people to enjoy.
- Family & Friends - We asked our friends and family to let us know if they were interested in any of the things we were clearing out. This is a good way to get rid of items that mean something to you - pass them on to friends and family. When you visit them you will be able to continue to enjoy your items.
- Local Thrift Store - Great for excess items such as clothing, bedding, books, kitchen appliances, and more.
TRASH/RECYCLE: This option is self-explanatory, these are the “things” that no longer serve a purpose. Random leftover construction debris, unwanted items, non-working appliances, old mattresses, broken furniture or other items that are beyond repair, etc. However, they still need to be dealt with. We used the methods listed below, but another option would be to rent a dumpster.
- Local Trash/Recycling Pickup - This is an easy option if you already have weekly trash/recycling services at your home. Obviously you are limited in the amount you can put out each week, so this method takes several weeks to get rid of a large amount of stuff.
- 1-800-Got-Junk? - I was familiar with the commercials with that catchy jingle, but had never used their services. For us, this was the final piece of our “moving out” process. They ensure that the junk is recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of responsibly. They removed the junk from the rooms where it was located without leaving a trace behind. It was like a magic trick, I pointed at the junk and it disappeared. We had a very positive experience with 1-800-Got-Junk? We appreciated the ease of online appointment scheduling, upfront pricing, and responsible disposal methods. The price is based on the amount of room your “junk” takes up in the truck. If you think you will have too much for the truck, you might want to look into pricing to have a dumpster brought to your house.
- eBay - Great place to sell electronics & collectibles that are still in excellent condition. Search for what similar items have sold for and how frequently people are buying those items. This will give you a good idea of how successful you will be at selling items you list. We sold about 5% of our “things” using this method. Good way to sell higher priced items.
- VarageSale - I stumbled upon the Varage Sale app after getting frustrated by the Facebook virtual yard sale sites. I found them hard to keep up with and my items would quickly get lost in the shuffle. The Varage Sale site kept my items organized and provided an easy way to communicate with buyers and track transactions. I sold 60% of our items using this app. The downside in comparison to eBay is that you have to meet up with people buying your items. It is fairly time consuming, but a great way to get some cash for your “stuff”. There are other virtual garage sale apps doing similar things that I have not tried - check them out Wallapop, 5Miles, Carousell, OfferUp. Visit their websites or search for them in the App Store! Would love to here if anyone has tried any of those out…
- Declutter - Have boxes of old CDs and DVDs that you haven’t opened in a few years? It is time to let them go! If you are ready to take action NOW, use the referral link below, and receive an extra $10 added to your basket! Decluttr offers a super easy way to sell your unwanted CDs, DVDs, Games & Electronics. Download the app, and scan the barcode on the items and you get an instant offer price. While some items might only offer you $0.30, it is a guaranteed way to at least get some cash for each item. Other CDs sold for up to $2.10. Once you have scanned all your items, pack your items into a box and ship them to Decluttr for FREE. Once the items have been processed, you will receive payment by check or PayPal. Scan It, Send it, Spend It - It really was that simple! We sold all our CDs & DVDs this way! We highly recommend using Decluttr - decide this is for you and follow the referral link and get a $10 BONUS!
- BookScouter - We had several bookcases full of books! All of them had already been read and we were most likely not going to read them a second time. It was time to part with them as they would be unnecessary weight in our 5th wheel. Using the app, simply scan or enter the book’s ISBN. Book scouter compares offers from over 50 buyback vendors with a single search. You can quickly and easily find out who is paying the most for your books. Once you pick the vendor, you are taken to their website to complete the transaction. Shipping the items is free, the vendor inspects the books for any damage, and vendor sends payment directly to you. Using book scouter, I sold my books back to 3 or 4 different vendors with no issues. Received payment via check or PayPal very quickly!
- Actual Garage Sale - Items that didn’t fit any of the other categories are being saved for a garage sale we are planning to have after the house sells. Make sure to have a location to keep all the things you plan to sell at the garage sale. We started collecting those items as we started cleaning out and staging rooms to sell our house. We will post about our garage sale once we have it planned.
I know this was a bunch of information about a topic that is very personal. Whether you are reading this article as someone interested in living the full-time RV lifestyle or someone who is reading just to follow our journey, the process of decluttering can be very rewarding. Give it a try and see how to makes you feel. Save only what you need, use, and love!
Have additional info or insight you think would be helpful, let us know in the comment section below — we would love to hear from you!