Just thinking about writing this post makes me laugh. If you can learn anything from us, please start this process much sooner than we did. Kevin and I have always been people who have bitten off more than we could chew, but the timeline that we set for ourselves to get rid of almost everything we had accumulated over the course of our entire lives was way too rushed, even for us. We had about a month to go from an 1,100 square foot house with a 2 car garage to a 272 square foot tiny house. What were we thinking?
The ideal way to downsize would be to start at least 6 months prior to your move. Make things easy for yourself and start with one room at a time, or even one box at a time. For me, it was easiest to go with one category at a time. So, I did everyone’s clothes first, then moved onto the 13 bins of teaching materials I had collected, then moved onto the 10 boxes of books we had accumulated, etc… I always kept the total amount of space that we had to store those things in the tiny house in the back of my mind so we wouldn’t be stuck with a ton of stuff that wouldn’t fit on moving day. This actually worked out really well and made moving day go so smoothly. I would even reference pictures from our visit with the builder if I was uncertain about the amount of space that we had. If I remember correctly, we only had one small donation pile after moving in and one small trash pile, which made me feel very proud.
Something else that really helped was keeping a spreadsheet of the things we were trying to sell. I made a simple list in google docs and then listed everything that I thought was worth selling. I included the price I listed it for and the price we actually got for it after haggling. It kept Kevin and I on the same page and allowed us to see the fruits of our labor on paper as the selling process is not always easy. If we would have started the process much sooner, I do believe that we could have sold so much more. Unfortunately we were in such a rush we ended up donating some killer items, so start this process early because it can take time to find the right buyers.
The unfortunate part about going tiny is that more often than not, you need what you have, but in a smaller form. Selling things can help with the purchases you need to make though. We built a small 2 by 4 foot closet that traditional hangers wouldn’t fit in, so I had to give away 100’s of perfectly good hangers only to buy new 12 inch hangers that would fit in our new, tiny space. Trash bins usually need to be downsized and you’ll probably want stools or folding chairs for your dining space as opposed to traditional chairs. We also had to buy a smaller couch that was multi-purpose, so it has storage under the cushions and fits the exact 72 inch space we had allotted. All of the purchases add up and selling what you have can really help with the financial burden. Also, collecting the things you know you’ll need to purchase over time so you can spread that burden out is helpful. Or, start searching thrift stores and talking with friends 6 months in advance. One mans trash is another mans treasure!
There were definitely some things that were hard to get rid of, but the process was liberating and reminded me of the things that truly matter. My mother kept so many things from when I was a child; I had yearbooks dating back to 3rd grade that I just had to toss, boxes of notes friends and I wrote in middle school, baby blankets and so many pictures. If you really aren’t wanting to get rid of all of your pictures, you can actually have them digitized these days, which helps with space saving and allows you to share them with other family members. If there are things that you’re wanting to keep for nostalgic reasons only, consider taking a photo instead of holding onto bulky items that you’ll never actually use. It can be hard to let go, but I promise you that you won’t be sitting around regretting it a year from now.
Ultimately, the downsizing process is incredibly overwhelming and a little bit scary, but so worth it. As we were nearing the last week in our “big” house, it still felt like there was so much left to do and I was to the point of burning the whole thing down (not really of course, but you know what I mean). Taking the first step and sticking with it is so important. Even if you aren’t moving into a tiny house, this process can be incredibly freeing and you can help others in the process by passing on things that are just collecting dust in your house, but would be put to great use in theirs. As you shed belongings, life becomes just a little bit simpler, and every little bit makes a difference.