How We Got Rid of 70% of Our Stuff

 

Pro tip: All the stuff you have in your house is never going to fit on a boat.

Once the excitement of purchasing a boat wore off, reality set in. We now had to figure out how to get rid of about 70% of our belongings. And it was not easy.

Neither of us wanted to stick all of our crap in storage for an indefinite period, so that meant downsizing. Here’s how we did it.

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Deciding What to Keep

Downsizing was an incredibly daunting task. We had two bedrooms, tons of closets, a kitchen, living room, dining room and garage filled to the brim with STUFF. It took me several weeks to wrap my mind around this project. But, once we got started, things got way easier.

I created a downsizing game plan using Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was a total lifesaver. I can’t say that I followed all her instructions (sorry Marie!), but her approach was beyond helpful. These were my biggest takeaways:

  • Clean by category, not room by room (I started with books and clothes)
  • Save the sentimental stuff for last (You have to work up to this one. Start small with an easier category like kitchen stuff or junk drawers!)
  • Don’t hold onto things just because you feel guilty about letting them go (If you’re just keeping that sweater because your Nana gave it to you seven years ago, its time to donate it. Nana will understand)
  • Most of your stuff has already served its purpose (You’ve already read that book, played that game, and worn that shirt. They brought you joy, and now they don’t. That’s OK!)

I was shocked at how much I was ready to let go of. This process made downsizing infinitely easier.

 

Yard Sales

Once we had a handle on what we’d be getting rid of, I signed us up for a citywide yard sale. For $30, I was able to reserve a large space and a table. We borrowed a truck from Brian’s brother, loaded up boxes (and boxes and boxes) of stuff at the crack of dawn, and set up shop.

It was a busy day, but we walked away with about $300. Honestly, I was expecting a bigger profit. But, in the end, I was just happy to have gotten rid of so many things. Our biggest sellers were books, DVDs (yes, DVDs lol), stationary, lamps, and décor (candles, frames, baskets, etc.). I also learned that I’m a terrible negotiator and priced everything way too low. Facepalm.

Whatever we didn’t sell, we were able to donate to Goodwill on the spot. Well played, the city of Sausalito.

 

Nextdoor vs. Facebook Marketplace vs. Craigslist

With the exception of an end table and a couple of lamps, none of our furniture was going to fit on the boat. Which meant that we’d need to sell everything – dressers, beds, couches, tables, chairs, TVs, appliances, etc. Rather than lugging all of our furniture out onto the street for a garage sale, we decided to post our larger items on sites like Nextdoor, Facebook, and Craigslist.

  • Nextdoor: I had the most success with this site. While I received fewer inquiries for each posting, the people were legit, lived nearby, and were ready to pick up whatever they were buying quickly. I also liked that the people I was dealing with felt less anonymous. As much as I try not to live my life from a place of fear, those Craigslist murder stories were always in the back of my mind. Another interesting Nextdoor plus? Virtually no one tried to negotiate on price.
  • Facebook Marketplace: This board is intense, guys. I received hundreds of inquiries for almost everything I posted. I found it a little overwhelming and tough to manage. People were also a little slower to respond and often wanted to negotiate. Most of the interested buyers lived farther away, making pickups more of a challenge. That said, I sold several items through Facebook Marketplace, and like Nextdoor, I felt like I was dealing with actual people (not anonymous Craigslist users)
  • Craigslist: Ah, old faithful. I’ve sold tons of stuff on Craigslist over the years (I’ve also gotten a couple of jobs through Craigslist, too), so I’m definitely not anti-Craig. That said, I did find the inquiries I received to be pretty flakey. I found this site to be most helpful when I posted a “Free Garage Sale.” It worked like a charm!

 

Donations

In addition to whatever was left over from our yard sale, we also donated tons of clothes and shoes. I think I counted about 14 garbage bags! Goodwill makes donations super easy – we drove up to the back of the San Rafael location, unloaded our stuff, and drove off. The whole thing took less than five minutes.

We didn’t write off any of our donations. You absolutely can, but we were lazy. There was so much going on that itemizing our contributions felt overwhelming. So, hopefully, we’ll get some kind of karmic tax return. Or not. Whatevs.

 

FREE STUFF!

Never underestimate the power of free stuff. Posting a “free garage sale” ad on Craiglist seemed to awaken magical elves who appeared out of nowhere to relieve us of our remaining belongings. No joke – we got rid of everything we had left in a matter of hours. I did worry that I might have been inadvertently enabling someone’s hoarding addiction, though. Like, did anybody really need our marionettes? Why did we even have those in the first place?

 

Garbage & Recycling
 

After all of that cleaning, selling, and donating, we were left with a sizeable pile of junk. We did our best to re-home everything that was usable and resigned the rest to the junk pile. Thankfully, our city has a decent recycling program! We were also able to arrange a large, one-time trash pickup through our garbage service. Avoiding a trip to the dump was a really nice plus.

 

Getting rid of about 70% of our belongings was a huge project. And it took us a few months to get everything done. Sometimes we fought, sometimes we lost sleep. It was hard. But, I’ve found that all of the best things I’ve experienced or accomplished in life so far have involved some serious hard work and lots of growing pains. So, I shouldn’t have expected this to be any different. And now, on the other side of this massive downsizing, I can say that it was 100% worth it.

You need way less of everything than you think.