By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Are you preparing to head out into the new world of full-time RVing? Congratulations! But if you’ve been a sticks-and-bricks dweller for many years, you’re probably face-to-face with a BIG problem: What do I do with all this stuff? Yep, accumulations of possessions can be a major issue when moving out of the “big house” into the house on wheels.
In a recent Minnesota Public Radio post, the issues of “downsizing” came up. While the story wasn’t directed toward the full-time-wantabee community, the principles outlined in the story apply well. When it comes to getting rid of stuff, here’s a boil-down of the psychology and practicality of shrinking your possessions.
The psychology involved: When you “downsize” it may not be painless. One professional who engages with folks to help them reduce their stuff says this: “If we’re asked to cast away one half of our things, in a certain sense we’re casting away parts of ourselves. And we’re going to have to become different selves. People have to be ready to do that.” Are you ready to get rid of things?
Hire some help: If you’ve got mountains of stuff to move, think about hiring an estate seller. They’ll definitely take a bigger cut than if you sold it yourself, but they may save you loads of time, and stress.
Dealing with emotional attachment: Over the years you’ve probably inherited stuff from your forebears. Keep in mind, while it’s nice to “keep it in the family,” the newer generations may not have the desire or even the physical space for a lot of the big stuff. Is there room in your rig for some small objects with real meaning? And if not, is there possibly room in kids’ homes for the smaller stuff that you just can’t bear to part with?
Here’s to long-range planning: Years ago when our daughter was young and a new mother, we offered some of the bigger stuff to her — and she happily accommodated us. But now, her house is full, and had we waited to make the offer, well, who knows where that World War II hand-made coffee table would have ended up. There’s no time like now to plan for downsizing in the future. If the kids don’t have room — do you have grandchildren who are out on their own?
When you work on it, take it in small chucks: Going through years of memories can be time-consuming — and emotionally draining. Experts recommend you don’t take more than a few hours at any one stretch to work on sorting out what to keep and what to dispose of.
Before you worry about the sell-able, sort out the paper: That means, that big stash of old tax records, insurance policies, medical information. While some of these things may have important value, say stock certificates, you won’t be selling them. Sort out what you must keep, and SHRED the rest.
Have a balanced view of monetary value: Just because it’s an antique doesn’t mean it’s worth a lot of money. Those collectibles that were the “thing” of the day (think Beanie Babies or Hummel figurines) are now worth as little as a few dollars — or a few pennies. Don’t get overwrought if you find you can sell your treasures for more than a the price of a filling up the generator fuel tank.
Shoot it: If you’re going to get rid of something that has emotional value, by all means, take a picture of it. Yes, the object will be out of your life when it’s gone, but you can still rummage around in those tiny digital files and get back giant-sized memories that won’t take up much space in your RV.
Downsizing The Family Home:
What to Save, What to Let Go
Whether you’re downsizing to go full-time or for other reasons, this best-selling AARP book will guide you through the process, from opening that first closet, to sorting through a lifetime of possessions, to selling your home. The author helps you create a strategy and mindset to accomplish the task quickly and rewardingly, both practically and emotionally. Learn more or order.