People always ask us, “What are you going to do with all your stuff? Get a storage unit?”
The short answer is, “No.”
We will inevitably store a few boxes full of photos and albums, as well as instruments, random memorabilia, and just a couple wall hangings, but the rest of our stuff will have to go. Meaning: returned, trashed, sold, Goodwilled, leant or gifted to someone.
Since we were working with a limited amount of time, just about 6 weeks, I had to move fast. Even still, I feel like there have been several stages so far to this purging process. Here are the first couple:
Stage 1 – Goodwill
First, I had to find all the things in our house that actually belonged to someone else and make sure they got back to their original owner. I remember our first “monumental” move when we returned a larger item back to a close friend. It was kind-of like a personal statement saying that we really were doing this.
After that, the next couple days, I collected things for my first trip to Goodwill. In this process I found many things that didn’t even deserve to go to Goodwill, so they went in the trash or recycling bin. I also found other things that I knew some friend could possibly use, and so I kept those in a spot to give them later.
But the rest of the STUFF gathered around my door and eventually made it into the back of our vehicle and out to Goodwill. It was great. It was the very beginning of our purge.
After those first couple trips to Goodwill, I decided to just keep working my way through one section of the house at a time. One closet or pantry at least each day. So in the corner of my kitchen, a pile kept growing with things I knew we could sell or give away. My daughter added a lot to the pile, and so she was really motivated to have a garage sale and make some money! (Garage Sale would probably be our Stage 3.)
Stage 2 – Craigslist
But before we jump ahead, we can’t leave out Stage 2 of dealing with STUFF. This would be selling things on Craigslist. Craigslist is great because people are already in the market to buy what you have. They might wheel and deal a bit, but for the most part, they value what you are trying to sell and have likely already been looking for it.
The key to selling on Craigslist for us has been to have a great post with pictures included, a great description of the item, its original cost, and the value that it’s held for us. There’s usually been a bit of work involved in landing on an agreed price and time/place of meeting. Sometimes people really didn’t want to pay as much as we were asking. So, often, we had to lower our price and republish in order for an item to sell. But many times, if we were just patient, we’d get the asking price.
Before we knew it, we had cash in hand, and our rooms were quickly becoming sparse. The kids didn’t mind a bit. They embraced the new space as areas to play with balloons and balls. I improvised with transitional places for clothes, etc. It’s wild how quickly we could adjust to having less.
Stage 3 – Garage Sale
I don’t think I really planned to have a formal garage sale. Initially, I thought we could just set up all my daughter’s things inside, invite a few friends/neighbors over, and they would leave us with an empty room. So, that’s what I did. I just casually invited over neighbors and friends one Friday morning. Only two people came to buy something. It was pretty sad. So, the next morning, we pulled up our bootstraps and set up shop outside, adding as many more items as we could to the stacks. I put a sign in front of our neighborhood, a typically busy street, and before we knew it, we had many customers. It was really a fun morning of a Garage Sale.
But at the end of the day, when our items were literally melting in the sun and our kids had all hidden inside in the AC, we loaded our vehicle one more time and delivered the rest of the STUFF to its temporary destination, Goodwill.