Friday, January 7, 2011

Selling everything

Before we moved out west, we sold just about everything we owned. We went from a 2000+ square foot house to a 8x30 trailer. Everything that we kept fit inside the trailer and the van that pulls it. With that said, I will be honest and say that we do have a few things that we removed from the van and camper and have stored temporarily in my sister-in-law's garage. We just don't want to have to trip over some stuff every day.

I tell people that we did this and they ask why, or they are 'sorry' that we had to sell our stuff. Honestly, selling our stuff was something we look forward to long before we had the big sale. I want to take the opportunity to explain what it is like.

To start, my wife and I have walked through our house on numerous occasions looking for the stuff we thought we could do without. We were sometimes able to get rid of a few things, but indefinitely we would justify most of the stuff that we had in our house because it was a convenience item or because we might need it sometime. When we decided to have a HUGE garage sale and sell most of our stuff, it was fairly easy to walk around and say that we were going to get rid of a bunch of stuff. It was easy to put prices on things and it was fairly easy to take someone's money and watch them walk away with what used to be ours. There just wasn't much that I was really attached to.

When the garage sale was over, the hard part began. There we were, mentally ready to go, but with a house full of stuff that we needed to get rid of. These were things that had value to us. These were items that we had used regularly for years. Nobody bought them at the garage sale, so it left us in a position where we either needed to try again to sell it, or give it away. That was the hard part, putting forth more effort to sell stuff or giving it away.

I'm going to take a little step back and say that it wasn't difficult to give stuff away. From the very beginning we had a pile of give away stuff. It wasn't hard to take the things we had set aside for a good cause to the homeless shelter. That actually felt really good. The hard part was the stuff that we intended to sell. These were items that were not really going to provide someone with a basic life essential. It was just stuff. Stuff people pay for. Stuff that I would now have to give to a charitable organization who would then sell it to make money. I wanted that money.

It was hard because I saw the value in stuff that I was giving away and I saw that someone else was going to reap the benefits of the value. But it was also hard because we just wanted to be through. We wanted the house to be empty and clean (and sold would be good too). We wanted to move onto the next step in the process.

When I left our house, there was still a pile of stuff in the garage for people to come and pick up. Habitat for Humanity was going to get some of it and a friend was going to take the rest. I really wish that had been taken care of long before we left rather than having to be left in the garage.

Now it's a few weeks later. I can't think of a single item that I miss. My wife regrets getting rid of The Chronicles of Narnia, but we'll be able to get those again at a library or used somewhere. I also think that we will miss our couch and love seat. It was Amish built and it was exactly what I like in living room furniture. It will be very expensive to replace (we bought it from Habitat for Humanity and got a really good deal on it). I don't think that the living room furniture can be considered a regret, because there really wasn't a way for us to keep it, but there will be a time in the future that I wish I had those back. Just like I think back at once owning a VW Thing. I wish I still had that Thing.

So far, life with less stuff has been a wonderful experience. I played Scrabble with my kids and my wife this evening. We read more often together. I think it has been really good for us. When I think of getting a new place, I am afraid of getting something too big. I like having my family close where I can be with them as they talk to themselves to sleep, I can hear them sleep. I can hear them stir. I can be the first to tell them 'good morning' when they wake up. So far, so good. I look forward to more experiences with my family. I feel richer than I have ever been. I wonder what my kids will remember when they are my age.


Brian, Piper, Eli, and McKenzie Cleary said...

Would you be willing to rent your house? If so, how much and where is it?

Rindee said...

I love your efforts at simplicity. My husband's job the summer after we were married was to work in a wilderness therapy program in southern Utah. He would leave for over a week with nothing but the pack on his back and return looking like a mountain man. It was an interesting experience for the both of us to realize how little you actually NEED. And how grateful he was for the little things when he returned home. This experience has influenced our lives and he occasionally will mention about how much STUFF we have that is unneccesary. I agree.

I applaud your efforts of putting what is important first -your family. Even though it may seem "weird" to some. Although insignificant compared to your experience, we are making our own changes here and there, but your stories are inspiring. Thanks.