Over the last two months, we really ramped up selling our stuff to prepare for our departure date. We started this process with a two-bedroom house plus a garage and a ginormous basement, meaning we had a lot of sh*t!.
The goal was to get rid of basically everything except family heirlooms and hard-to-replace outdoor gear, which we are lucky enough to be able to store at our parents’ houses instead of paying for storage. Since we had some relative success in the process (i.e., we are not pulling our hair yet, are still talking to each other, and have made a bit of cash), I outlined our method of purging below.
Step 1: Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to maximize your purging inspiration.
This book by Japan’s decluttering expert, Marie Kondo, is a step-by-step guide to organizing your home. Her method instructs to only keep things that bring you joy.
Although I followed exactly zero of her kooky steps, she successfully got me in the organizing mood and motivated me for weeks.
Step 2: Start Organizing in a small space.
Start with an area that feels manageable, like a cupboard or a closet or even a room in your home. The first items to go for me were anything I was surprised I even owned. Useless stuff like our zucchini noodler, gone. Basically, if a thing wasn’t being used, it went buh-bye.
Next, I removed things I didn’t really need, such as the third and fourth candles in a room, old beauty products that never made it into my routine, and extra towels or linens.
I like my home to be pretty cozy so I was worried about decreasing the number of candles and/or throw pillows and/or blankets and/or rugs and/or knick-knacks (you get the idea) but all-in-all, removing the extra stuff just made my favorite candles, pillows, etc. feel even more cozy. Not sure how that science works but if I can survive with only one candle, and one throw pillow then you can too.
If things go well, you may even have a pile of crap stuff to get rid of. Success!
Step 3: Create Two Piles—Sell & Give.
We divided all the remaining stuff into two piles. The sell pile should include things that are still functional, in medium condition or better, and are relatively clean. The exception here are items that Goodwill will not accept (mattresses, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc.) or things you simply don’t want to take apart or move.
True story: I sold a clothing rack for $1 simply because the metal makes icky noises that make my teeth hurt when you take it apart so there was just no way I could disassemble it and transport it to Goodwill.
The other pile? Take all of that to Goodwill. Poof! Gone. Don’t forget to write the total value of your donated items on your receipt. That could be valuable come tax season.
Step 4: Post the Sell pile on Facebook Marketplace.
Why Facebook Marketplace? Well, it is a hidden gem for people wanting to buy things quickly and because it is linked to your Facebook account, it is much easier and less creepy to manage a lot of communications. (I mean, you could go the old-school garage sale route, but that is a lot of work putting up signs, laying out, and pricing all your stuff and then waiting on people who only want to spend a few cents.) To get more views on your items present them as nicely as possible. I recommend doing the following:
- Remove clutter from your photos, keep the image focused on the item for sale. Make sure there is good lighting, and shoot square images with your smartphone.
- Write very descriptive titles and snazzy descriptions. Longer descriptions tend to get more views. I also like to suggest recommended uses for the item so if you are selling a blanket, mention how cozy it will be in the coming winter months. Cheesy, but effective.
- Include measurements of your item in the description along with the original purchase price. Most people will ask you for these so it is best to include them right off the bat.
- Respond as quickly as possible to all inquiries. This may mean you become an active Facebook messenger user but it is worth it to sell your stuff quickly for cash.
Step 5: Repeat prior steps every weekend until you only own the essentials. Good luck!
That last part might seem ridiculous but we started slowly selling our stuff about four months before our moving date. Initially, Andrew thought I was crazy (what’s new?) for starting so early but now that our departure date is approaching, it feels good to have a nearly empty house. Now that we got rid of all the less-desirable items, we only have things like TVs and couches that typically sell quickly.
For me, starting early also made the process less emotional. Getting rid of 90% of our worldly possessions in one weekend sounded like a nightmare. But getting rid of 5% of our stuff every weekend was totally manageable. Somehow the less you own, the more you realize you do not need. Having very little is now becoming freeing. Freeing us up to travel the world and move wherever we please afterward.
Disclosure: The link to Marie Kondo's book is an affiliate link. Meaning, if you buy her book by using my link, I'll make a few cents at no extra cost to you.