I originally published this post in 2016. I think more people are considering tidying up and downsizing with the popularity of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. She has great ideas that make it easy to start the process.
We moved into our Little House in April of 2016. It is small but we LOVE it!
Our Little House
No, it’s not a joke.
I live in a 780 Sq Ft house with no basement.
This fact surprises a lot of people since I sell homes for a living.
We were willing to attempt to squeeze into this house so we could live on the water. We really wanted less to maintain so we had more time to enjoy the beauty lakeside living provides.
It’s a dirty word to most people. Why give up what you worked so hard to achieve, a good size house, the furniture and family items that have provided comfort through the years.
In order to make our dream of living on the water happen, We had to downsize to fit into our newly renovated little house.
Thankfully I have a good friend who coached us through the process of possession purging. It was not easy! I was surprised to find out how much emotion a small glass dish can evoke at the thought of sending it to Goodwill.
Not only did we have to purge our possessions but the Little House came with all of the former owner’s belongings as well!!
Obviously, it is almost unheard of to purchase a home with all of the existing stuff, but you might end up sorting through someone else’s home at some point (a relative, or friend who is unable to sort their own things or who has passed away- see Moving Others).
Should it stay or should it go?
There are a number of reasons why we keep things. Sometimes we keep items out of guilt. There are three basic categories of guilt.
Emotional Guilt- We keep things because someone gave it to us or made it for us. We keep things because it was grandmas or our children made it for us. It is hard to give items up that hold special memories.
Aspirational Guilt- We keep things because someday we are going to learn to play guitar, make a scrapbook, finish the wood project, knit a sweater…you name it because you know what you have stuffed somewhere undone.
Financial Guilt: We SPENT a large amount of money on it! Or it is for sure worth a lot of money.
Every item had to pass a test if it was going to come to the little house.
These were some of the questions I asked myself:
Was it still useful? And the bigger question- did I still use it? Had I used it in the past year?
Was it really a family heirloom or did I just feel guilty for getting rid of the cribbage board my aunt gave me?
How much will it cost to re-buy it at Goodwill for the one time I want to use it in 3 years?
Could I modify into something else that would be useful in my little house?
Does it work in my new space?
Can I take a picture of it so I can keep the memory? (but not keep the milk can turned into a floor lamp)
Does someone I know need it?
The items I got rid of also had to pass a test so I could determine the best way to get rid of them
How much is it worth?
Should I sell it on Craigslist?
Dumpster or thrift store?
It’s Worth A lot of Money!!
A big hurdle to get over is the “It might be worth something, I should sell it” dilemma.
Here are my thoughts, 98.5% of the items you are getting rid of consider this, You already spent the money on the item when you purchased it so stop thinking about recouping it.
Hopefully, you enjoyed it, or it served the purpose it was originally intended for. Donate it to a worthy cause so they can make a little money and keep looking forward.
If you really think it is worth something you could try to sell on Craigslist, eBay or take to a consignment store.
You could have a garage sale but consider how much your time is worth and how much you really think you will make-might be more cost effective to take to the thrift store.
Downsizing sounds sexy!
But it is a lot of work and there are a lot of decisions to make. Having someone who can help you be objective helps. Start with the least emotional items such as clothing and books. Avoid photos and other items that can take you down the emotional rabbit hole until you have the rest of your possessions sorted.
For my husband and I, it is working to live with less. We watch a lot more sunsets… and I have only missed my divided relish tray once!