Whoa, did you read that title right? Half of my stuff? Whaaa? Yep, that’s what I said. And that is exactly what I did last week. Well, I started it, at least. We are in the early stages of packing up to move to our new house and we had originally planned to start packing up all the things we aren’t currently using first. But as we started going through our stuff, we realized that the things we weren’t using were things we actually didn’t need at all. Every time I would go through a closet or kitchen cabinet to pack up the unnecessary items we won’t be using within the next month, I’d quickly realize that not only will the item not get used in a month, but it actually hasn’t been used in a year.
So right then and there, my Minimalist In Training mindset kicked in. I decided I wouldn’t pack up anything I wouldn’t use often. Because first of all, why waste a good box (they’re hard to come by these days!) on stuff I shouldn’t really have in the first place. And second of all, moving is freakin’ hard. The less crap I can take with me, the easier the move will be. Less boxes to shift, less time to unpack, less labels to write, and less space in the truck. That simple change of mind was the beginning of how I got rid of almost half of our belongings in just one weekend.
This is the kicker. Yes, you may have used an item in the past. And yes, Grandma Susie may have given you that serving dish twenty years ago. But how often do you really use it. And would you really buy it all over again if it were full price in a store? If you can’t justify buying it again, you really can’t justify keeping it.
People seem to get this emotional attachment to stuff. And a lot of times, it’s not even stuff you really even care about at all. But it’s yours so you think you need to keep it. I want to stop you right there and realize that your stuff does not define you. It does not make or break your career. It does not build or tear down your family. It has no feelings, so it doesn’t get sad when you give it away. It’s just stuff.
Let me go ahead and disclaim this by saying “I did not do this.” I’m one of those Go Big Or Go Home type of people and I don’t practice what I preach. But I know that I work better when I’ve got deadlines and full to-do lists. My husband, however, is not that way at all. A short deadline or massive dry erase board filled with tasks and blank check boxes is crazy-overwhelming for him. If you’re more like my husband, it’s totally okay to start small. There’s no rule that you have to clear out your entire house in 48 hours. Start by emptying out just one kitchen cabinet. Then move to a linen closet. Then a drawer in the bathroom.
By taking it one small step at a time, you are more likely to finish your decluttering process. You won’t end up with your entire kitchen piled in the middle of the floor while you’re sobbing the dining room in a full-blown freak-out not knowing how in the world you’ll ever get to the stove again.
Ask Hard Questions
This is the kicker. When you ask yourself difficult questions, you really have to take a minute to think about your answer. When you’re cleaning out your craft closet and you dig out your old sewing machine, you immediately think to yourself “Oh, I need to keep this because it was expensive.” Or “I have to keep this because my mom got it for me as a birthday gift ten years ago.” Guess what? You don’t have to keep anything. That’s the joy of being an adult. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. (Except go to work, ’cause you know, bills.)
When I encountered things during my Purge Weekend, no matter what or where they were, I always asked myself the following questions.
- When was the last time I used this?
- Will I need it in the near future?
- Do I have another item like this that I use more?
- Would I buy this today if it were full price in a store?
- Do I really want to pack, carry, unpack, and find a new place to store this item?
If you can’t justify at least three of these questions, you probably don’t need to keep it. This is definitely the hardest step because we are so attached to our “stuff.” If you find yourself having trouble answering these questions to yourself, have your spouse, friend, or even one of your kids ask you instead. My husband did a great job of this last weekend because as I was making piles, he’d see me put something silly in a Keep pile and say “Why are you keeping this?” If I couldn’t come up with a good enough answer, it got moved to the “Get Outta Here” pile.
Get Rid Of Things ASAP
The longer your “Get Outta Here” items stay in the house, the more likely you’ll end up keeping them. To combat this during our Purge Weekend, we took a few proactive steps to make sure we had no way to change our minds.
Utilize Online Sales Pages
If I decided to get rid of a big ticket item, I immediately snapped a photo of it and posted it on Facebook Marketplace. In my area, things sell pretty quickly. So the minute I had a buyer lined up, I knew I couldn’t keep it. That was my big Stop Sign on second-guessing my decision to get rid of it. The pieces I was selling went to a certain spot of the garage and we went out that evening to meet up with our buyers and make the exchanges. Then we took ourselves out for ice cream sundaes with some of the cash. I’ll sell things for a Baskin Robbins Banana Royale any day.
*Bonus tip! If you’ve got the extra time, you can also hold a yard sale and get rid of a lot of stuff all at once. We didn’t have enough time in our schedules to pull this off, but it was definitely something we considered.
Schedule A Donation Center Pick Up
If you were to make piles and piles of bags and boxes to take to the donation center, you may never even get them there. Let’s be honest here, you probably don’t have a car big enough to haul it all off at once. And you probably don’t have time to load it all up, make multiple trips, and wait for the dude outside to finish his smoke break to come check it all in. (Personal experience. Our donation center check-in guy takes more smoke breaks than actual working minutes.)
To avoid that pile of stuff hanging out in your garage until moving day, schedule the donation center to send their truck over to pick it all up. Not only does this create a hard deadline to finish your purge, but you don’t have to even leave the house. Most donation centers will pick up furniture for free, so as long as you’ve got a few large pieces to donate, you can send out all your small boxes and bags with them.
Rent A Roll Off Dumpster
This was the superhero of our Purge Weekend! We had a roll off dumpster delivered on Friday evening, and scheduled it to be picked up on Monday morning. Over the course of the weekend, we filled that sucker up with as much as we could fit. All the junk in the garage, all the things in our storage shed we were holding onto for no reason at all, all the things we didn’t think the donation center would realistically sell, and all the stuff we just honestly didn’t want to deal with.
It did cost us about $500, but it was SO worth the money to watch our trash just drive away. And I’ve got to tell ya, it felt pretty freeing to throw things in there. Like a weight just lifts right off your shoulders.
We never really realize how much stuff we actually have until we try to pack it all up to move. By being honest with yourself, letting go of emotional holds your belongings have on you, and being smart with how you get the unwanted stuff out of your house, you’ll make your move so much easier and less stressful.
- Be realistic with why you keep things, how often you use them, and whether they’re worth the storage.
- Decide whether working on small spaces a little at a time or taking on a massive project with a fast deadline works best for you. Then stick with it.
- Question yourself on your reasoning for holding onto each and every thing you own. Get others to ask you, too. If you can’t come up with a good enough answer, just let it go.
- Sell valuable pieces on online marketing pages like Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up, and schedule meetings as soon as possible. Or plan a yard sale if you live in a busy neighborhood.
- Have your donation center bring a truck to pick up all your donated items. As long as you’re donating at least a few large pieces, they’ll usually pick it all up for free.
- Rent a roll off dumpster. It’s so easy to trash all your junk and watch it all just drive away.
How Do You Purge Before A Move?
I’d love to hear your stories and advice in the comments below! Share what worked for you, what didn’t work, or what you’re struggling with in your own move right now.