Dear RV Shrink:
My wife and I have been traveling for a couple of years and have decided we like this RV lifestyle enough to pull the pin and sell our home. The problem is we have many family heirlooms that we just can’t sell. We have been cultivating our detachments for several months, but there are many family items we just can’t part with. Is this a common problem? How should we handle the family jewels? —Family Problems in Florida
These items are called heirlooms for a reason. You give them to your heirs. Now sounds like a great time to do that. Another way to handle it is to pretend you’re dead. Now that you’re dead, what is going to become of the family heirlooms? That should give you some direction as to where they will end up.
Another more expensive option is storage. For those on the fence in deciding whether full-timing is for them or not, storage seems to be the better choice. You may decide to drop anchor again, buy a house and furnish it. At that time you may miss the family heirlooms. A combination of these ideas would be to let your heirs store them for you for a couple years. You may have a family member that has extra storage space or may want to use some of the items in their home. If you don’t have any heirs, turn these items into oral history. Sell them at an auction and tell stories about them for the rest of your life. I know how you feel. It is hard to give up things that have good memories attached to them. You can also take pictures of the items before giving them up to remind you of the memories.
My dad had stuff. My mother always said he would go to the dump with one load and come back with two. When he died he had three generations of stuff. I had a yard sale just so older people would stop by and tell me what some of the items were.
Even though we live full time in a motorhome, we still have a small place for stuff. You might consider down-sizing. We have a beautiful natural piece of property, low taxes and one of the best campsites in Michigan. We come back a couple months every year to regroup. I enjoy being able to work on the rig and have all my tools handy.
It is surprising how each year things become less valuable to you. It’s like throwing out ballast to keep the balloon airborne. Think of this as an opportunity to be creative with your lifestyle. Don’t do anything rash. There is always more than one way to skin a cat, if you’ll pardon the old but now non-politically correct expression. Take your time and consider all your options before deciding what is most important to you. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
Editor: AARP has a very helpful book by Marni Jameson: “Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go” – which offers “practical wisdom and heartwarming advice so you know with certainty what to keep, toss or sell” for any reason for downsizing. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.