Confessions of a Wanna Be Minimalist

IMG_0132We just sold or donated all of our stuff.  Well, almost all of our stuff.

All that remains is a full 6 x 8 foot trailer on its way to Denver and what we packed into our GMC Acadia for Florida.  One may argue that we sold our sanity in the process.

You might wonder how we did it and what we learned during the process.  Or, maybe you’re not wondering.  If you’re not, then stop reading here.  But, if you want to know what it takes to sell most of your possessions to afford the chance to move freely without the “clutter” then read on.

We knew that disconnecting or unplugging from our house at 1228 Ridgewood Drive wouldn’t be easy, but we had a plan.  It involved garage sales, Facebook virtual garage sale groups, Craigslist posts, selling to friends and family, donations and in the end, even the trash.  It also helped that the family buying our house purchased a lot of our furniture and outdoor items.

Even with months of planning, selling and donating we weren’t as prepared as we should have been for our final launch into minimalism.

Here’s what we’ve learned…

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  • We Were Out of Control – Even in the four short years of living in our house, we accumulated too much stuff.  During this time we were all smug and patting ourselves on our backs saying, “we aren’t those crazy Americans addicted to consumerism.”  We tried not buying the kids “that many” toys, not buying “that many” new clothes, or even “that many” gadgets.   But, much to our chagrin, we WERE “that bad”.  ADVICE: For every new item you bring in the house (toy, shirt, gadget) try to sell 2 other items.
  • Buying New is Stupid – There are so many good deals on Facebook virtual garage sale sites, Craigslist and garage sales that you should always think twice before buying most items new.  The best example we have of this is the story of our elliptical machine.  We bought it for over $1,100 a couple years ago and sold it (barely used…such a cliche!) for $480 – a great deal for the buyer!  ADVICE: You can get stuff for 75% off from your neighbors.  You just need to look and have a bit of patience as you may not be able to buy it immediately.
  • Always Negotiate – We were desperate to get rid of our stuff.  We had a deadline (our closing date) and needed to get it out the door.  Any of the people who negotiated online or at the garage sale got a great deal.  ADVICE: Start with offering 20% off or more from asking price to test the seller.  You’ll quickly bring down prices.
  • Make a Pile – If buying from garage sale or person selling a lot online, offer to buy multiple items at once.  Again, we were happy that lots of items were leaving the door.  ADVICE: Don’t negotiate price as you go, just make a big pile of stuff and offer a total price for bulk discounts.
  • Sell Brand Names Online – In some areas (namely the Chicago’s North Shore) you can fetch good prices for brand name stuff.  ADVICE: On Facebook sites you’ll fetch more moola if you post brand name items by themselves and not as a big lot.  Once it gets to the garage sale, you’ll lose the brand name value.
  • Some People Just Want to Talk – It was funny to us how many people just wanted to talk to someone.  Certainly at garage sales we had many people coming up with minimal interest in buying items.  ADVICE:  Be nice and have a chat.  We had one couple come by and only bought a beer pitcher for $1.  He asked if it came with a beer so we cracked open a couple cans of brews.  Why not!

So, if you want to start down the path to minimalism, get ready for some hard work and tough love to detach from all that “stuff” you’ve been accumulating.  Trust us… it’s worth it!

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