Permanent Hiatus - The Great House Cleaning

The Great House Clean Out of 2016

There's Stuff EVERYWHERE

I always thought we were pretty good about only keeping things we use and need; not a lot of clutter and we had a spot for everything. We cleaned out our closets at least once a year and donated anything we didn't wear the previous year. We had even sold many of our decorative items and unneeded furniture in a failed attempt to sell our house in 2014.

Its a whole different game when you are moving from 4,000 square feet to around 400. And you have less than 30 days to do it because your house has sold. You start really seeing how much stuff you have.  Including things like the 40 rolls of toilet paper and 10 bottles of hand soap you purchased at Costco because they were such great deals.

Ripping the Bandage Off

Its a reality check to have to actually go through each and every item in your house and assess a value either in terms of personal need or in terms of what someone else would pay for it.  And then add on that you have to do it quickly.  Here's a couple of realities we ran into:

  • Sentimental value cannot be passed on.  We caught ourselves (over)pricing items that had special places in our hearts (the first piece of grown up furniture, the “perfect” piece of artwork that we found together for the niche in the hallway, the great deal we got by tag team negotiating).  Your stories mean nothing to a buyer.  Write the stories down and take a picture of the item for your keepsake, but don't let your sentimentality get in the way of disposing of items effectively.  If you can't be impartial, find someone you trust to handle the disposition for you.
  • Style is subjective.  Just because you love something, doesn't mean others will.   Don't be surprised or offended when someone disparages your hard won treasures.
  • Value isn't about how much you spent. Just because it was expensive doesn't mean you'll get your money back or others will see the same value.  Many items won't hold their value so you need to be realistic about what you can get in the amount of time you have to sell it. Do your research on each item – it will cost you some time up front, but it will help you make better decisions about the item's disposition.
  • Time flies when you are having fun. Much of our stuff was older than we realized. Its just the two of us most of the time, so most of our furniture and appliance were in great shape, but over 10 years old.  Most items were approaching the end of their useful, albeit well-cared for, lives. This factor had to be considered when setting prices.
  • Recover from retail therapy. You may feel guilty for spending money on something that wasn't used. You have to commit as a family to get over it and move on.  Do not keep something just because you might use it one day or because you spent money on it.
  • Stop the madness.   As soon as we started talking about moving into an RV, we halted most all grocery and household supply purchasing. We worked on using all current supplies and food which meant we had some very odd meals during 2016.

Where does it all go?

Once we made the decision to move into the RV, we started separating our possessions into the following categories: