Monday, July 7, 2014

Minimalist in Overdrive

Few things will give you a solid shove from being a minimalist-at-heart to a minimalist-in-overdrive like the prospect of moving three times in two years. While I've always been a minimalist-at-heart, as many people are, putting it into practice amidst everyday life and while married to a life-long collector is a whole different ball game. The problem is that once you realize you have way more stuff than you need, and that box of things you thought you might need at some point has gone untouched for half a decade, you then have to find the time to start sifting through it all. The take-away lesson here being: don't let the stuff accumulate in the first place. But alas, it happens. And sometimes it takes a huge life decision like moving your family of four out of your 3-level house and into a single bedroom and bathroom in someone else's basement to really light that minimalist fire under your rear.

Thankfully, we were making a lot of progress before the decision to move had been made. My collector husband reached the realization a while back that we would likely never own a home large enough to display the vast amount of toys he had collected over the years, and if we did some day own that much space we probably wouldn't dedicate it to toy display {I mean... seriously}. So over the past couple of years he has drastically reduced his stockpile. At the same time we've really paid attention to what comes into our house and have made it a twice-yearly tradition {once in the spring and once in the fall just before the holiday season} to donate any and all unused household items to a nearby shelter. We've pared down our wardrobes, toy shelves, linen closet and kitchen cabinets/drawers significantly. Still, despite these efforts we have a lot more than we need, and way more than we're willing to haul with us for a 3-part move.

Since we'll be in a 1-bedroom situation for the first 6 months, the majority of the things we keep will be in storage. We'd like for that to be absolute essentials and things it doesn't make sense to just replace later. On the other hand, inexpensive items or things that we're not sure we'll even want or need when we finally settle into our own place are all being sold or donated. The less stuff we have to store, the less money we have to spend on storage, and the more money we're saving for our future forever home. Beyond that, it's just less to move, unpack, and find a new place for when we do settle in a permanent house.

Here's our 3-step plan to dramatically minimize our possessions as quickly as possible:

1. Trash what can't be used.
Our HOA rents a dumpster twice a year for residents to throw out larger items that can't be put out for regular weekly trash pick-up. We knew that was coming up, so we planned ahead. We hired my niece to hang out with the girls one weekend so we could go through a bunch of stuff and set aside everything that needed to go when the dumpster was here. We had a decent amount of pretty big stuff, which was a great start to clearing out the clutter.

2. Sell what's worth selling.
This is where we are right now. In our sorting process, we set aside things that would be worth selling on Craigslist or eBay. I even created a Facebook photo album in case friends or friends-of-friends are interested in any of the items. A lot of it is nicer stuff that we just haven't used but aren't sure we're going to need and don't want to store "just in case." The first things that went were our kitchen table & chairs, our kitchen island cart, and an area rug. There have been a bunch of other smaller items that have sold and we still have lot of stuff listed. Since we're on a time schedule, we've decided we'll give our stuff 5 weeks on the market, and at that point we'll schedule a Salvation Army pick-up for whatever's left.

3. Donate what doesn't sell.
As I just mentioned, we have plenty of stuff in good condition that we just don't need to hang on to. We'd love to sell it since it's in decent condition- some of it is even new-  but we don't have forever to wait on that. So after 5 weeks, anything that's left will get picked up by Salvation Army and go to a new home!

That will be three weeks before our scheduled move. At that point we'll be left with only the things we absolutely want to take with us. If you've ever purged your space of unneeded items, it's a huge relief. You don't think it matters to hang onto a bunch of stuff in case you want it one day, but there's totally a freedom in letting go of it. That feeling is seriously intensified when there's a real need to part with the stuff rather than just a desire. This stuff has to go before we move, so watching it disappear day-by-day is not just a relief, it's sanity-saving. It will greatly simplify our entire packing and moving process. Perhaps best of all, when we do finally settle in to a permanent home we'll have much less extra "stuff" to instantly clutter our fresh new space. Instead we'll have just our necessities and most-loved items with plenty of open, uncluttered space to live in and enjoy. And we can't wait :)

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