“When we retire, let’s sell the house, get rid of ALL of our stuff and travel!” It all sounded so adventurous and romantic! But the honest truth is that getting rid of all your stuff can be pretty traumatic, at least it was for us.
It’s fair to say that we didn’t have anything particularly valuable in our home. We lived in a modest home, and didn’t have a lot of storage space. From the early days in our relationship we’d planned to ditch our stuff and travel, so we’d never “invested” in expensive things. And yet our small house was full of “stuff”
We had already started to cull through our things before my retirement in early December, but the house still seemed to be full of things that we needed to get rid of. We had a hard date for our move to Italy on February 15, 2017. so we got serious about emptying the house.
It was time for our 5 kids to step up and help out. Nick and I sorted through photos, report cards, art projects, essays, school awards and horse show ribbons and gave each child their own childhood memories for safe-keeping. It was bittersweet to read their smart, sweet and funny school projects and to see the teacher comments on their report cards. Both of us shed some tears as we divided up these memories.
We worked our way through each room in our home and moved truck loads full of stuff to their homes. I’m unconvinced that the kids wanted any of it, but we were determined to place our treasures in good homes. We had a few special requests from our kids for certain items, but mostly Nick and I decided who got what.
Nick sold his huge collection of tools and equipment on Craigslist, eBay and at a local farm auction. The auction brought far less than the stuff was worth, but at least our shed was (almost) empty. We attended the auction, and it was surreal to see our stuff being sold to the highest bidder. Nick actually bid on some of his own things and brought them back home.
I took a handful of my high-end clothing items to a consignment shop and made a whopping $35. I gave my daughter Allison some work clothes and the Salvation Army got the rest. I didn’t keep very many clothes. I mean, how many black cashmere sweaters do I really need? (The answer is 2. I need 2 black cashmere sweaters.)
Our trash cans were filled to the brim every week as we threw away bag after bag of things that we purchased not that long ago. As the house emptied out, we realized that we didn’t miss any of the things that were gone. Not once. It felt good to unclutter.
As we condensed down to our “critical mass” it became apparent that we couldn’t bring ourselves to get rid of everything. We ordered the largest storage POD available and had it delivered to our home. At that point, we started packing things instead of getting rid of them, saving things that I knew we should be throwing out or giving away. But it gave enabled us to move forward and empty the house.
Someday, in a year or so, we’ll have to go through the furniture and boxes in that POD and I think we’ll wonder why we decided to save these particular things. I mean, I got rid of my Christmas decorations, but I saved my ironing board? Seriously? We might even feel a little silly as we realize that we spent a couple of thousand dollars storing stuff that we don’t really want or need. But I think we both just needed to hold on to a little bit of our old life so that we could get on with our new one.
So throw the last box of junk into the POD and let’s go to Italy!!