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Are you downsizing for a move overseas, embracing minimalism, or undertaking a nomadic lifestyle? Here’s how to get rid of (nearly) everything you own.
I stood in the center of the mostly empty living room, furiously stuffing the contents of our linen closet into a donation bag for the ASPCA. At the bottom of a stack of old towels, I saw a familiar lump of black, white, and green fleece. My son’s baby blanket. With tears streaming down my face I took a deep breath and shoved it in the bag.
I had to be ruthless. We had decided to become digital nomads, get rid of EVERYTHING, and downsize from a 2,500 square foot townhome to six suitcases/backpacks and eight storage tubs.
Going from a regular, run-of-the-mill consumer to an ultra-minimalist was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. What follows is the guide I wish I had when I started–the steps I followed to get rid of (nearly) everything we owned.
STEP ONE: GET RID OF THE EASY STUFF
Start with these five categories of things to get your feet wet discarding, donating, and selling. You’ll exercise your de-owning muscle and strengthen it for the harder stuff to come.
This one seems obvious, especially to those of us who aim to keep a really tidy home. However, even the cleanest home probably has some items in it that could easily be trashed or recycled.
Do you have stacks of papers that need to be shredded, old cosmetics that can no longer be used, or pairs of underwear that are so ratty you don’t even want your spouse to see them?
The next time you put your hand on an item that no longer provides value to anyone, toss it in the trash.
If you’re hoping to sell your items, the very best time to do so is when everyone is looking for them.
- Lightly worn high heels and evening wear might be easily sold around the time your area holds its school dances.
- Halloween costumes your family will never use again are greatly in demand beginning in late September.
- Everybody wants sleds, Christmas decorations, and old winter clothing when the weather turns cold. (I listed our toddler sled on the Facebook Marketplace just after the weatherman predicted our first snow of the season and started a bidding war!)
Keep a mental or physical list of some of the items you’re trying to downsize, and the season when they’d most likely go. Pick a date once a month to list these items on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor. If they don’t sell by the next month’s listing day, donate them to charity.
Items that irk you
These are all the things that make your life worse for owning them—the pair of jeans that makes you feel frumpy whenever you try them on, the fitness equipment that reminds you you’re not working out, and the kid’s toy whose song is like fingernails on a chalkboard. If you’ve got stuff in your home that makes you feel bad for any reason, let it go.
Do you have 50 T-shirts, 30 coffee mugs, or 1,000 ballpoint pens which may or may not write when you need them? Remember that you only have two hands and that there are only seven days in a week. Your surplus could really help someone else out.