Dealing with a Decades’ Worth of “Stuff”

When we decided to put our house on the market, we knew that we had to clean out the basement and the bedrooms. At this point we were also set on the RV life, so we knew we didn’t have a lot of room to store things in the future. Thus began the months-long purge of STUFF from our home. I’ve always prided myself on cleaning out regularly and sending trash bags and cardboard boxes full of clothes and housewares to Goodwill/Vietnam Veterans regularly. I think I got this from my mom, who is the same way. Hi, Mom, and thanks! I never thought my house was cluttered by any means. But it’s just amazing what you can accumulate in 10 or so years, ESPECIALLY when you have a big basement. It’s so easy just to put stuff down there and forget about it.

I’m trying to think how I even started such a huge task. I don’t even really remember! I’ve blocked those memories from my mind! Ha, no, but really. I’ll share what I know and what I learned in the process.

  1. Facebook Marketplace is the best way to sell things locally – I tried Craigslist + FB Marketplace and had better luck with FB Marketplace, although Craigslist worked for us, too. It’s easier to communicate over Facebook messenger vs. anonymous Craigslist e-mail. We sold a lot of large items this way – freezer, refrigerator, Smith Machine, all of our weights, treadmill, etc.
    The Hammock – Quite a Hot Item on FB Marketplace for $20
    Tim Dragged the Extra Fridge up from the Basement

    Parting with the Treadmill – I Never Liked You Anyway
  2. Poshmark is good for selling brand name clothes/shoes – But really, only bother if it’s brand name. They take a pretty big cut (20%) so it’s not worth it unless you make more than $10, because you also have to print a shipping label and take it to the post office drop off bin. I’ve sold a lot on Poshmark and have made over $1,000 but it’s not “easy” money. I no longer sell there, because I no longer have “excess” to sell. Yay!
  3. Don’t give away anything for free – You try to be a good person. You list free stuff on Craigslist then deal with the barrage of responses. How does this reward you? By a man threatening you in your driveway while you have your 8 month old in the car and you begin to fear for your life because the man is SO angry. Yes, this happened. All because some guy decided to show up at our house for a free item that someone else already took. After that, we never gave anything away for free. We donated it.
  4. Donating rocks – Donating your stuff to a charity of your choice is the easiest way to get rid of things. I’ve shopped at the thrift stores these items go to. Most people at these stores are shopping there because they need to, not because they want to. Your stuff will go to a good home, with people who want it. You can write off donations on your taxes at the end of the year. The Vietnam Veterans of America  (https://pickupplease.org/) will come pick up the donations from your porch. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
    Just one of dozens of carfulls to Goodwill

    Donation Receipts
  5. You Might get Lucky – Our homebuyers purchased just about all of our furniture from us. This was a huge burden lifted because we didn’t have to deal with selling it. They even bought our riding lawnmower.
  6.  Don’t Bother Selling (Some of it). – No one wants your Target clothes. Your jewelry from LOFT. Your Nine West purse. Your Victoria’s Secret perfumes. You can spend a LOT of time photographing, listing, and trying to sell these things, for very little reward. Consider the time you are spending and the money you are making back out of it. I decided that anything less than $20 was not worth my time. Donate instead.
  7. Sheets/Blankets Help Local Animal Shelters – I bagged up sets of sheets and blankets and dropped them off at the Beaver County Humane Society. They use them in cages and when animals get out of surgery.
  8.  Porch Pick Up is your Friend – I loved when my buyers would do “Porch Pick Up.” I left the item on the porch and they would leave the money under the mat. This way I didn’t have to drive somewhere to meet them or risk them not showing up. Never had anyone take advantage of this and steal anything.
  9. You May Need a Dumpster  – We didn’t think we needed one. We don’t have that much stuff! I’ve always purged! We donated the rest! What would even go in there?! Umm…we got a dumpster. We filled the whole thing. Not our proudest moment. Mostly with construction/building materials and things that were not able to be donated.

    Paying $250 to throw stuff away? Fun!
  10. Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Part – REALLY!! – After you part with the items, you won’t miss them. Was it easy for me to get rid of so many things that I liked? That I worked hard for? NO. But I also haven’t missed any of them.
  11. Keep a Box for Memories – I designated one of our plastic totes as a “memories box” and anything special goes in there.

Lastly, I want to say that this process sucks. But the only way through it, is through it! And it does get easier. You don’t realize how much your physical possessions bog you down mentally until you part with them. You really do feel lighter. Remember that most things can be replaced in less than 20 minutes for less than $20. You can do it! “You’re crazy, Hannah. I like my stuff. I’m keeping it!” Fine by me!! Just because this is what we did, doesn’t mean you need to do it too. I’m just sharing what worked for us, going from a 1500 square foot house + basement + 2 story garage, to MAJORLY downsizing.

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