Giving It All Away

Of all the preparation which comes with moving into a 40 foot by 12 foot box on wheels, the toughest thing is making it all fit.


We’ve been homeowners since 1998. Our first house was a modest (by Texas standards) 1200 square foot, single story home built in the late sixties. Five years later, with both of us working full time professional careers, we moved into a two story dream home with 2700 square feet. Hardwood and marble, vaulted ceilings, and light bulbs I had to change with an extendable pole – we had it all.

Now we’re about to move into less than 500.

Granted, this has been a gradual process. We scaled down from that 2700 square foot dream home and now live in a rental closer to the size of our first house.  This move allowed us to make a first pass at decluttering our lives.

Over those years, with all that square footage behind us, we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Stuff we didn’t need. Stuff we did. Stuff our parents dug out of their attics. Stuff we’d stored in our own and forgotten. Rooms and rooms and rooms of stuff.

We’ve resigned ourselves to long term storage because there are heirlooms and keepsakes which we can’t possibly part with. Plus, our son will need his things once he’s no longer stuck in a shared dorm. But we want that storage unit to be as small as possible so we’re giving away and recycling as much as we can.

Photographs and important documents are all being scanned. Shelves and shelves of physical have been donated or sold to secondhand book shops in favor of the eBook versions. (I kept a few dead tree classics, naturally.)

For the things we can’t digitize, we’re constantly asking ourselves the following question: When you touch the item does it bring you joy and happiness? Or is it associated with regret and negative feelings?

This basic step learned from Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has helped guide us through parting with the more personal keepsakes which can’t be judged purely on usefulness. But they don’t necessarily end up in the trash.

One of our favorite ways to find new homes for our stuff is through charitable donations. In Texas, we use Recycle to Support. A single phone call and you can schedule a pickup for one of six charities. We’ve also made plenty of trips to Goodwill and our local Friends of the Family.

When we first started, Maaike suggested eBay (something I didn’t want anything to do with.) So far it’s been a steady source of stuff-culling with electronics and DVDs seeming to sell quicker than most other items.

At one point, she opened a full-blown eBay store. You pay a monthly fee and get special marketing and customization tools and even a supply of shipping materials. Plus you save on listing fees and a few other perks. Over time, the benefits of the store weren’t being realized with the haphazard jumble of things we were selling. Now, she still sells on eBay but through a standard account.

Another service we use is an app called LetGo, though this one has been more mixed. People using the app are straight up flaky. Last minute cancellations and no shows account for many of the responses we’ve had to our postings. Still, we’ve passed on some larger items to locals this way which we’d rather not ship through eBay.

Facebook has also been useful. Our neighborhood association’s Facebook group helped us get rid of a piece of furniture or two. My wife also maintains an account linked to her eBay selling activities for added exposure.

It’s hard to measure what all we’ve gotten rid of to date. Boxes and boxes of stuff. Truckloads. Rooms full. Just this past weekend we spent the afternoon in the garage. One side of that two car garage is full of more things slated to be sold or given away. And we’re not through yet.

This weekend we also took Discovery out for a spin. It was hard not to to keep driving and start this adventure of ours. Sure, we’re giving away a lot of things, but we’re gaining a newfound sense of freedom. Overall, a worthwhile trade.

Image CC Y-SA 3.0 – Original by Nick Young –

Categories: Discovery

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2 replies

  1. One of my most important summer projects is to declutter our house. The whole family is going to be involved in it, too, by hook or by crook. 😉 I CANNOT WAIT. While we don’t have near the space limitations you’re going into, I kind of want to pretend that we do!

    • Sounds fun! By nature I’m a fairly minimalist-minded person so while this is tough and time consuming, I’ve enjoyed the process. Great idea to drag in the rest of the family. We’ve always made sure to involve Bryce, even when he was younger and every little rock or Happy Meal toy he’d collected seemed precious. I like to think he’s developed a pretty healthy outlook on “stuff” because of it.

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