Adventures in Downsizing

How soon is too soon to start when you want to get rid of everything? That’s the question we’re struggling with these days. Is it too early now to start letting things go, or should we wait until next year or even right before we plan to go? Are there things we can live without now versus waiting until next year or right before we leave? Are we ready to embrace real minimalism?

We’ve sold a few things already that have been sitting around unused and taking up space, and that the girls have said they don’t want. A small TV, a lightbox, a lampshade, a Le Creuset baking pan, and my stand mixer have all found new owners. I put our three Japanese hibachis up for sale a couple of weeks ago, more to see if there was any interest, but while I got a lot of views there have were no takers, even after I lowered the price. So, they’re going to be listed at my Etsy shop instead and we’ll see how they do there.

It isn’t easy to figure out what to do with other items we’d like to sell. Would they sell better as an individual item through Buy & Sell, or on Etsy, or at a garage sale? Is the item something I’m willing to ship or would the cost of that outweigh what we can get for the item?

Pricing will the biggest issue we face, especially living in Hawaii. Postage back to the mainland is quite expensive, and could push the price of several items up too high. We have to accept for some items that we will never receive their true value, and will can only hope to get what we paid for them. For example, our beautiful big hibachi table will have to go for thousands less than it’s worth – we’ve seen similar sized hibachis selling online for over $4000, but I know we’ll be very fortunate to get $600 for it here, as well as the custom stand, glass top, and antique plate inside. That’s still more than we paid for everything, but we can’t take it with us and shipping it would be more expensive and more of a pain than would be worthwhile. I will be happy though if someone else is happy about getting it. I can always tell when someone is thrilled to have gotten an item and that makes it easier to let go of.

I’m grateful for the time we have to figure this out. Selling everything is going to be a bigger task than I initially imagined, but if we’re smart, time will be our friend. We were shocked by how much stuff our neighbors still had right before they moved, where they ended up having to hire a truck to haul away what didn’t sell. Our goal is to end up with no more items than will fit into the trunk of our car to go to the resale store when it’s time to go.

10 thoughts on “Adventures in Downsizing

  1. I’m facing a similar dilemma. I’ve been sorting through storage bins of stuff that belonged to deceased relatives and figuring out what to keep (not much), donate or sell. It seems like a never-ending task, but I’m doing this now because I plan to move in a couple of years and want to be rid of all of it before then, so I have a deadline to get the basement cleared out by the end of summer. I estimate I should be finished by the end of July as long as I don’t have too many interruptions. I’m taking a week of in July from work to concentrate on this. It is good to have time to do these things, but time has a way of creeping up on you too.

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    1. I feel your pain. The whole Etsy thing has turned into a much bigger task than I imagined, so I’m grateful I have the time now to work on it versus having to scramble later. My goal now is to be actively doing something *every day* to get stuff out of the house, whether that’s listing items on Etsy, putting something on Buy & Sell, or taking something to the thrift store. Hopefully by the time we leave in 22 months everything will be taken care of, and we’ll have a nice fat bank account!

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  2. I’m trying to donate stuff I no longer want, need or use. I’m in a local buy nothing group on FB. Postage is so expensive here and I have little time to list and wait for people to look. The buy nothing site has good karma – I’ve got things in return. A friend has been encouraging me to use marketplace which I might try for some things but at the moment my time is worth more than what I’ll get.

    Good luck getting what you want/hope for your items

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    1. Pricing items for sale is a major headache. I am offering free postage on my Etsy site, and a discount for multiple purchases, but am only shipping within the U.S., and have to constantly think about what’s the lowest I’m willing to accept for an item and then add on postage. It gives me a headache. Local sales are best, but they are slow going and practical items are best. This downsizing task is probably the biggest reason I don’t want to own much going forward! I am grateful I have the time to do this now, although it takes up way too much of time.

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  3. Should we bring silverware and folding chairs when we visit in September?

    That is quite a project. You are so wise to start this early.

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  4. Shipping is expensive these days, so you’re right that selling outside of your immediate area is going to be iffy. I would try garage sales and donations to Goodwill if you have a center in your area. You can deduct your donations from your taxes with the form they provide(you probably know this).

    Obviously, what is functional for your daily life will wait until later next year. However, purely decorative things can probably go for sale sooner. I heard good things about selling on the Nextdoor app if Hawaii has a Nextdoor community.
    Since your artifacts are mostly Japanese, I would also target consignment stores in Southern California. They may be willing to pay you to ship the items if they already have clients.
    The good thing is that you’ve got plenty of time to figure it out. Good luck!

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    1. Shipping is especially outrageous to and from Hawaii! We are getting started early on selling our things because we don’t want to be stuck with a lot at the end and either giving it away for pennies or for free. It’s nice to see stuff going out of the house, but we need to find a place to collect our yard sale items, local Buy & Sell items, and Etsy items so they don’t get forgotten. It’s a nightmare right now, but I know will get easier as we go along. The girls will be taking lots of things back with them when they’re here in December and that will help.

      I briefly checked out Nextdoor – only a few Kaua’i cities are listed – but I plan to do more in-depth investigation later. Thank you!

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  5. My mother died May 27th. She was a hoarder and I tried for years to get her permission to get rid of things. All she said was that I could wait until she died.
    I have done over 60 loads of laundry and that was just one side of her bed. Unless I hire a dumpster, I can only throw away a few bags at a time. I have been alternating donations between the Church Service Center and Goodwill but they are both getting tired of seeing me. They are not interested in books or cd’s (Kindles and mp3 music) It goes against the grain to throw books out but mama has a couple of thousand. I’m trying to find a flower shop to give them the vases. She got upset with me when I told her I wasn’t interested in keeping her things. It is all so overwhelming.
    I applaud what you are doing. I hope your children appreciate how much easier things will be for them. It demonstrates how truly you love them.

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    1. Vivian: Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. I know from your comments here how close you are to your parents, and what a help you have been to them over the years, so I can imagine how difficult a time this is for you, especially since your loss has been compounded by having to go through and dispose of so many of your mother’s things. I will be thinking of you and sending prayers and good thoughts for you and your efforts.

      I am more determined than ever to get rid of almost everything of ours before we travel again!

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