It’s been 5 years since we committed to living in our RV. It took until this week to finally get a handle on our crap. I can’t even bitch about it because the universe tried to help us. When we first wanted to live in an RV, we were forced to hang around for an extra winter. That’s an additional 6 months that we could have been responsible adults. But while it snowed and snowed (and I bitched and bitched), did we take a hard look at our crap and actually attempt to get rid of it?
No! No, we did not.
We boxed it up, stashed it in a paid storage unit, popped on a video game, and called it day. What a winning idea! It was like all our problems magically went away and we could just jump right into instant gratification, travel, and good times. Go us. I have been hating on ‘past me’ for that decision ever since.
Since we’ve returned to the East Coast—three years ago—there hasn’t been a single spring or fall that we haven’t had to go into that storage unit and deal with what seemed to be an ever-replicating pile of crap that we know damn well we don’t want, need, and shouldn’t keep. For example…
I literally moved a box of trash.
This weekend, as I was pulling the last of our boxes from the shelves in our storage unit, I noticed something. I was holding a box filled with scraps of paper and cardboard. It was trash. Literally a box filled with the trash of packing other boxes. Want to know the funniest part about it…?
I put the box of trash on the truck and moved it with all of my other stuff!
What kind of a sadist does that?!
Here’s the problem with storage…
It’s expensive. I figure we’ve had that unit for roughly 56 months. At $127 per month, we’ve spent over $7000 just hanging onto junk. That’s a used truck… the Argosy I’ve been eyeballing… 5 acres of land in New Mexico… whatever. It’s a lot of money and it’s stupid.
I get that there are certain things in life that we just can’t get rid of. (Mike’s a little more guilty of this than I am, but I own my role in the collective.) Things like family photos and small personal trinkets with deep emotional attachments are some of the hardest items to downsize. It seems impossible to look at a box of memories and, knowing that it has no value to anyone else on the planet, just throw it all away.
But that’s just it: it only seems impossible.
My advice: Just do the thing!
- Stop holding on.
It’s not about the stuff. It’s about your attachment to it. That scrap of paper your mom hung on the refrigerator 35 years ago isn’t YOU. By throwing it away, you are not symbolically throwing yourself away. If the object is only about having the memory, take a picture and move on. (I promise you won’t look at the photo either, but at least it takes less space and it’s there if you want it.)
- Your time has value.
Selling your junk isn’t as easy as some people make it sound. Sure, with some effort I was able to recoup some of my cash but after all the headaches of taking pictures, posting it online, getting ghosted by ‘interested parties,’ and sweating my ass off during a yard sale… it just wasn’t worth it.
- Just give it away.
I found that it was a lot easier to give away my things than it was for me to sell them. I started actually listening to my friends and family and paying attention to their needs. When I saw that they could use one of the things that I had, I gave it to them. Just gave it away. The action helped them, it helped me, and it got rid of one more thing.
So what’s the tally?
Storage Unit: Gone!
Stuff: Mostly Gone!
Patience: Definitely Gone!
I’m not going to lie and say that we’re all done. Not even close. We still have a bunch of boxes of crap to deal with. I’m getting more ruthless as we get down to the end of it though. Items like my wedding dress, my portfolio of original art and school reports, and an entire trunk of family photos that came from digital prints are all on the chopping block.
By the time we’re done with this next round of downsizing, our goal is to have all of our things fit in a small tow-behind trailer. We’re closer than we ever have been.
If you’re interested in following future installments of “Why didn’t I just burn it all?” please give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. There will be updates coming in the next few days as we get into the nitty-gritty of downsizing the things with actual emotional value.