Downsizing - the How and Why

Reducing our belongings to fit into a less than 400 square foot space has not been the easiest! We have been working on this since January of this year and now the time has finally come - it's moving week! People keep asking, "are you ready for this?" And the answer is a resounding YES!!! When we moved to Kansas from Colorado, we did not get rid of ANYTHING! It took us two separate long trips, including 2 moving trucks and a trailer to get allllll our stuff to KC. Then we moved that stuff from two storage units, John's parents basement, and my sisters garage to our rental in Gardner which was only 1400 sq ft. And finally we had to get it down to 370 sqft to fit in our travel trailer.

Before I get into how we did it and all the feels we had along the way, let me first list what we kept:
  • Sentimental items that people made for us or were just too special to let go of - blankets, wooden rocking horses, kids rocking chairs, wooden sleds
  • 1 tote of pictures - we hope to have these scanned eventually so that it is all digital
  • 1 small stack of artwork - no we did not keep every piece of artwork our 3 kids made. I chose a few from each kid and the rest we scanned into a special folder on Google Drive (and then <gasp!> recycled the originals!
  • My Kitchenaide mixer and a few kitchen items (my bread maker, my grandmothers rolling pin and our food saver) that fit into 2 totes total
  • Our family room TV - it was given to us and is in good condition - we wavered on this one but in the end it didn't take up too much space so we kept it instead of selling
  • Our Washer and Dryer - These were purchased brand new less than a year ago and have a 3 year warranty.  We did not feel we would get our money's worth out of it to sell.  They are being stored in John's parents basement (Thank you!!)
  • John's Craftsman Tool Chest - The only tools we kept are those that can come with us or that could be stored in his tool chest which is being stored in his parents garage.
That is it! With the exception of the tool chest and washer/dryer, everything fits into his childhood bedroom CLOSET.  We did not keep ANY furniture - no beds, dressers, tables, shelves... nothing. We also purged 90% of our clothes, shoes, toys, books, kitchen gadgets, decor, and linens.

Read on for the full story or skip to the CliffsNotes! Haha! 10 Ways To Purge

More stuff shoved in the garage.
Our Garage was so full we couldn't park in it.
The next big question people ask us is "Why?" Aren't you going to have to buy all new things when you get back? Yes and No. Here's the thing - we never had expensive furniture to begin with.  Most of the things we owned were passed on to us or purchased second hand. And we are 100% ok with that. That means they are also 100% replaceable. We plan to use Facebook market place and Craigs list to furnish our new home when we settle back down. There is plenty out there to be had and even some really nice stuff at that. But here's the real kicker, WE DON'T EVER WANT TO GO BACK TO LIVING LARGE. What is the point in "keeping up with the Jones" if we have to kill ourselves to get it? When all you do is work for what you have than all you have is work. We don't want to live like that. We would rather live small - with little to no debt - and spend our time together. So, the plan is to NOT fill a big house with lots of stuff ever again.

How did we do it? We started off in January.  There was a weekend where the highs were in the 50's so I jumped at the opportunity and held garage sale number one. I went through the house on a Thursday, and looked for what I call Stage 1 things.  Stage 1 things are those that are simply extras.  They aren't that hard to get rid of because there is little emotional attachment and frankly, little use period. We made about $500 with that sale! I was thrilled even though it didn't really look like we had even made a dent.

Next there was a huge kids consignment that I've sold in before called Here We Grow Again.  They do two sales a year and one was coming up in February so I again jumped at the chance to get in on it. There were two ways to participate - 1) you tag everything to their specifications and you keep 70% of the sale or 2) you let them tag and you keep 40%. I opted for the express tag and simply dropped off bags and bags and bags and bags of kids clothes, toys and books. A month later I revived a check for $240! Easy peasy.

In April we went through the house and looked for Stage 2 items. These items were a little harder to get rid of. Pieces of furniture we used but could stand to sell.  Microwave stand, bookshelves, closets full of "stuff" we have kept from several moves that we thought we would need someday, items from our garage, outdoor patio furniture, and another round of toys.

We held garage sales 2, 3, and 4 with some success. During this time I also took many photos and posted items to Facebook Marketplace.  I must have met people at Casey's Gas Station at least twice a week to make an exchange.  Finally in May we did a Stage 3 sweep.  We sold everything in the kids room except their beds and one hanging closet organizer each for all of their clothes.  John and I wittled our wardrobes down to 75 pieces each which included all seasons, pjs, undergarments and shoes. We allowed Chloe to keep 4 shoe boxes full of toys and the boys each got one tub each (they do not have a ton of toys anyway). The kitchen cabinets were emptied of anything that wouldn't go on the rig with us. We moved everything out of the basement and I sold all of my Lularoe clothing and supplies. (I intend to pick back up once we are settled into a routine but will not be keeping a large inventory.)
This was my Lularoe Room - I sold all 800+ items
Throughout all of this there were several places we took items to donate or sell and we did take things over to John's folks house to store in his old bedroom closet.

We had many mixed emotions as we went through this six month process of getting rid of all our things.  Most of the time it was excitement - we collected over $3500 selling off things we were basically finished using anyway.  I mean, we got our money's worth of use out of them and still made money.  It was fun putting it into our "Adventure Fund" each time something sold. Other times it was a little like a gut punch. It wasn't easy recycling art work or letting go of trinkets - even broken ones. Decor I made for our mountain home, clothes I kept from high school memories but would never wear again, baby items I could recall using with all three of my babies. Sometimes the feels would surprise me - like the play kitchen of Chloe's.  It was one of the last things of hers that we sold. She hadn't shown interest in it for a while but when the lady came to buy it from us Chloe wailed and begged me "don't let them take my kitchen mommy!" We both shed some tears over that one. But the best feeling we had was freedom. It is incredibly freeing to be free of STUFF!

All of Chloe's toys!

Ready for the rig.
And that brings us to this week. Soooo much to do this week! We are officially moving into the rig.  We still need to organize things, clear the house completely, take the last of the items not coming with us to Goodwill, make sure our utilities get canceled and all our trash gets set out, patch and paint walls and finally deep clean the whole house.  Whew! We will be so ready for the lake trips! When we leave for the Lake of the Ozarks, we will be off for real!

Even if you are not doing something crazy like traveling full time in an RV downsizing and simplifying can be so satisfying. If you have any great tips, we would love to hear!