Fortunately for me, I’ve lived my entire adult life in apartments, and that has limited the amount of possessions I could own at any given time. To date, I have gotten rid of about 6 trash bags full of stuff in preparation of living in a small RV. About half of them have been clothing, the other half has been everything else: a combination of books, movies, stuffed animals, and random decorative nick-knacks. This past summer, my roommate and I moved, so most of this downsizing happened just before that, so that there would be less to pack. Laziness was a pretty good motivator for me: “Eh, do I really want to pack this up in the moving truck? Nope, out it goes.” But since the move I haven’t done any more downsizing at all.
I’ve already disposed of all the easy stuff, things I wasn’t attached to and served no good purpose. Now it becomes more challenging as the things I have remaining I’m either emotionally attached to, I feel like it might come in handy while full-timing, or I feel like I could make a little money off of selling them. Some other items like the majority of the kitchen stuff I’ll be hanging onto until just before the move because I’ll be needing them right up until then.
If you’re just getting started downsizing yourself, or have started but are currently stuck, here are a few things to consider.
Like with most projects, if you are just starting try to get a scope of the size of it. How much downsizing is going to be necessary in your case? This includes factors like are you keeping a residence, how much storage your rig is going to have (not just general ‘space’, but actual storage room and cargo carrying capacity – it can vary widely even among rigs of the same size), do you have friends or relatives who are willing to hold onto some things for you, and are you willing to pay for a storage locker, etc.
If you are now looking at the amount of stuff you’ll need to sort through and despairing over how big of a task it’s going to be, try this. Just like in my Planning For Your Dreams article, instead of looking at it as one big task, break it down into smaller parts. Maybe pick one room or closet or cabinet, whatever you feel like you can get done in a week, and only worry about that small section at a time. Looking at the whole project at once might be daunting, but if you can just focus on one piece at a time, it will happen slowly but surely. Also, if possible, give yourself enough time to get through it all without rushing, and start downsizing long before your planned departure date.
Then comes the difficult task of figuring out how to actually get rid of the stuff. There are a number of ways to go about it of course, and likely you will be doing a combination of a few different methods. Think about your relatives and friends and what they might be able to make use of. Then there are charities like Goodwill and such that are always looking for donations. If you feel some of your stuff is worth the money and effort to sell, you should consider yard sales, consignment shops, and online sales venues like Ebay and Craigslist.
Here is where I have run into some difficulty. I have some old console gaming stuff that I no longer use but I feel like I could make some money off of. I’ve tried selling some of it through Craigslist without luck so far. In the end, will it be easier to just give it away and be done with it? If you also find yourself in this situation only you can answer this. You will just need weigh the pro of having one more part of the downsizing complete with the con of not having that extra money. In my case, I’ll probably give it one more go on Craigslist and if that doesn’t work, give it away. Yes, the extra 20 bucks or so would be helpful, but it isn’t necessary, and having the stuff gone will be a weight off my shoulders and one less thing to worry about.
On the other hand if you are having problems downsizing because of emotional attachment, here are two tips that are helping me. For starters, don’t worry about trying to get rid of everything in one fell swoop, this advice follows along the lines of my advice to break the job up into manageable chunks.
Get rid of what you can now, then keep going back and doing more as you feel able to let things go that you had an attachment too. The passing of time as you gear up for your exciting new life on the road will allow you to look at things in a different light and should make getting rid of sentimental things easier.
Distance can also help. Try packing up the items that you just can’t let go of a box and put them out of sight for a while as you work on other easier downsizing stuff. If you’re not being reminded of their presence every day, their hold on you will lessen. At some point you may not even remember exactly what you put in that box anymore, and at that point getting rid of the contents will be easier.
It’s also very possible that some heirlooms and items will just mean too much to let go of. If you have some things that fall in this category and no house to keep them in when you go off RVing, then follow the advice above and try seeing if a relative or friend will hold onto them for you, or look into renting a spot to store them in.
Some people who go full-timing will end up getting rid of everything from their old life that they aren’t taking with them in the RV, and some people won’t. Remember that RVing is a highly individualized activity, and wherever you fall along the spectrum, it’s okay as long as it feels like it’s right for you. It’s also pretty likely that your opinions on the matter will change along the way. Perhaps you’ll start off with some stuff still in storage that you think you might end up needing while on the road, and once you discover that you don’t need it all, you’ll get rid of it.
So, if you’ve started downsizing already, what kind of progress have you made and what has been the most difficult thing for you to let go of? If you haven’t started yet, how much time are you planning to allot for the task?
Image courtesy of puuikibeach
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