Letting Go of Your Stuff

yard sale finds

Photo by Kim Piper Werker.

We gave up so much to move to Alaska. I’m not just talking about things. We sacrificed being near our family and our amazing church. I also lost some family members in the process. This move was about us, our family. This move helped define us as a married couple and as a family. We also gave up almost all of our stuff.

We sold all of our furniture, except for our sofa. I think I will send that off to college with my baby sister. We came to Alaska with 5 suitcases and I had 3 boxes shipped up. Essentially, we came with our clothing, Ava’s toys, my sewing machine, and my Pampered Chef stoneware (priorities, ya know!). We do have a few things in storage in Florida: Ava’s baby clothes, the bench I built as our guest book at our wedding, our Christmas decorations, my Kitchenaid stand mixer, and our cat. Okay, the cat isn’t exactly in storage. He’s at my brother’s house.

Take a moment and imagine selling everything you own. Some may see it as selling their memories. I’m not going to lie, it was extremely difficult.

I think the hardest thing to part with was Ava’s bedroom furniture. I spent so much time and energy setting up her nursery before she was born, I wanted it to be perfect. She was 10 months old when we sold it and she had never slept one night in that crib.

Now that we have moving to Texas, I know I’m going to have everyone saying “I told you so.” Everyone tried to tell me to put everything in storage “in case” we came back to Florida. Do I regret selling it all?  Not even for a second!

Selling all of our things was incredibly freeing. It made moving incredibly easy. It also allowed me to part with things that I didn’t love. You know, those things you feel obligated to keep for one reason or another. Everything except that stupid sofa. The one thing I couldn’t wait to get rid of is the only thing we haven’t sold.

Are you thinking about that room full of stuff yet? I’m giving you permission. Let it go! Don’t feel guilty. It will set you free. Lets break it down into a few simple steps.

  1. Survey you home. Take a look around, what do you see? Anything that you own that you do not love, or could repurpose and love, needs to go.
  2. Set up piles. When I was cleaning out our house, I set up my piles in different rooms. The guest room was the “storage” pile for anything that would be going into storage. Ava’s room was the “pack” and “has another home” pile. You would not believe how much stuff we had borrowed or was on long-term loan from someone. The rest of the house was the sell pile. If you’re not moving, you could do something on a slightly smaller scale.
  3. Touch everything!  Take the time to look at every item you own.  This may be very time-consuming, but oh so worth it.   You will probably find things you hadn’t seen in years.
  4. Make a decision!  As you are going through everything, make a decision whether to keep it, sell it, trash it, or return to its owner.  This will help move the process along while also keeping you from having an “undecided pile.”
  5. Sell, Sell, Sell!  Begin by listing any large or valuable items in your sell pile on Craigslist or EBay.  If you aren’t sure where to price your items, look up what others are selling similar items at.  You can also check completed listings on EBay.  Everything else will need to be sold at a yard sale.  You may be tempted to just donate everything, and you can, but you are missing out on possibly thousands of dollars.
  6. Set up your yard sale.  There is actually an art to having a successful yard sale and I could go on all day, but I will save that for another post.
  7. Set your limits.  For your larger and more valuable items, set your prices comparable to what others are selling for.  If you price your items too high, no one will call.  I had originally priced our bedroom set at $950 with my threshold at $600.  I didn’t get what I wanted immediately.  We put it in storage and I listed it on EBay with a Buy it Now or Best Offer.  I received a lot of lowball offers.  I eventually received a $650 offer that I was happy with.  It took me 4 months to sell it, but it was worth it.
  8. Don’t store the extras.  My mom is notorious for this one.  After your yard sale, don’t stack everything in your garage with the plans to have another sale in a few months.  Unless you’re going to have another sale the following weekend, it all needs to go.  You have two options: you can donate everything, or you can post for pick up on Craigslist.  After our sale, I piled everything that didn’t sell into the center of our garage floor, about a truck full.  I posted on Craigslist that I had yard sale leftovers.  Within 2 minutes I was bombarded with phone calls.  I had about 20 people willing to pick up everything right then.  One warning: only post this when you are ready for them to pick the stuff up.  A couple came and picked up everything and my garage was clean.  Success!
  9. Be a non-consumer.  You now have a clean and organized house, don’t ruin it!  Don’t buy things just to buy.  Try buying at thrift stores.  Not only will you save a ton of money, you will be more deliberate with your purchases.  I have a running list on my phone of things I am looking for (It’s an essential list for setting up a house).  I will share my list with you soon.

I hope this helps you clear your clutter and live a little simpler.  If you need more specific advice, I am more than happy to share.

Have you ever done a mass clean out?

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