Once we bought our RV and our truck, we had to step it into high gear to prepare to go RVing full-time. This meant we had to get rid of our stuff. From selling our Kentucky home to everything in it, we stepped on the gas with eight steps to our freedom…from all that STUFF.
“What to do with all of our CRAP?!”
I’m going to be really honest and candid here. Downsizing to this caliper was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever had to do in our 50 years and our marriage. Now, we’ve been through more PCS transfers than fingers but those were a walk in the park compared to what journey we were about to embark on. Looking back, we learned some valuable lessons about the process, our marriage and our individual selves. And, to be forthright, I don’t think we ever want to endure this life-changing event again.
So, let’s get right to it to tell you how we gave up our beautiful 3600 square foot Kentucky home to go live in a fifth wheel one tenth the size.
1) Contact Family
Since we only had one child, this made it a bit easy. We asked our adult son if there was anything in the house that he wanted. However, since he and his ‘then’ fiancé both had their own households already, there was very little they wanted. Removing emotion from his answer, we had to be okay with that. What they did want, our son rented a small U-Haul trailer to take some small furniture items, all of his childhood keepsakes and his favorite toys he held onto.
2) Join Local Facebook Yard Sale Groups
We joined a couple local Facebook Yard Sale groups. Back then, Facebook Marketplace didn’t exist yet so we had to rely on more of a group forum. Since I had already stopped working outside the home, it was my job to get rid of as much as I could. So, I started listing small pieces of furniture, knick knacks, small kitchen appliances, bedding ensembles, etc. Unfortunately, I received many insultingly lowball offers. I had to learn quickly putting my emotion in check to disconnect from all of our stuff because really, that’s all it was…STUFF.
If you decide go this route, we highly encourage thorough communication with potential buyers regarding terms and agreed prices. We quickly learned to not haggle price on public forums. Any offers and negotiations were all done via private messages and email. Why? Because there were some who had no interest in buying that would just haggle down a price just for the sake of doing so. Also, getting it in writing more or less ‘sealed the deal’.
Once prices were agreed on, we made our online-handshakes and met in a public place. I, the seller, was the one who dictated where and what time we were to meet (i.e. police station, grocery store parking lot, fast food parking, etc.). I’d say 98% of the time, it worked flawlessly. I did have a couple who stood me up but that was a rarity.
3) Schedule Yard Sales
We scheduled yard sales; about a month apart. Having been a military family for 30 years and we thought that our belongings were pruned down from all of our PCS’s however…
In the military, when PCS’ing, based on your rank, we had weight limits so each time we relocated we vied never go over that limit; otherwise, we’d have to pay the government huge amounts of money. That said, it was seven years since our last PCS so we got a little lax with our buying habits. Let’s just say I loved going shopping at TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, Home Goods, etc. My bad habit was then punishing me to the point of tears.
Emotion started setting in; not necessarily saying goodbye to all of our stuff but HOW MUCH we really had. I was disappointed in myself for letting it get that far. Oh! And let’s not EVEN get to my craft studio… *sigh*…but we’ll get to that later.
Anyway, our first yard sale netted us about $1700 but holy moly, it didn’t even seem like we made a dent. We both said to each other, ‘we gotta have another yard sale next month’. The month came and gone…another $700 in the pot.
We were starting to see some progress, not only from our yard sales but also our social media yard sale groups. Our bank account was growing but sadly, not at the same as what we’ve spent. I just had to keep the ‘big picture’ in the back of my head.
OH, funny thing is we found out at our closing that the people who BOUGHT OUR HOUSE were at one of our yard sales! More later about that.
4) Start to Disconnect
By the first month of our home being on the market (it was May), our home started looking like a feature home in House Beautiful magazine; everything perfectly staged without clutter. Not that our home was cluttered before, just that we removed everything personal and minimized wall hangings, coffee table books, fireplace mantle things, etc.
By this time, we were completely moved into our Toyhauler at the state campground only five miles down the road. We finally reached that important pinnacle of feeling ‘disconnected’ from our S&B (sticks and bricks home).
Our home became just a house and the stuff left in it just became someone else’s stuff. However, then the hard part (for me at least), purging my craft studio!
I was a creator, craftsman, artist, scrapper, stamper, jewelry maker, draw-er, color-er, painter, glue-er, paper-folding maniac. I admit, I was very spoiled when tiocame to having every tool and craft item known to man. I had it all….as in…ALL of Hobby Lobby!!
In fact, in my craft studio, I had cabinets stuffed with rubber stamps, stamp pads, a crap-ton of scrapbook supplies and paper, acrylic paints of every color and embellishments of every size, shape and theme. Women envied me. It wasn’t until this time that I admitted that I was a compulsive craft supply hoarder-holic (I made that word up).
I can laugh about it now but not when it came time for me to sell it all. It was seriously overwhelming. I was served my punishment for my over-indulgence.
Anyways, I set up our finished basement like a miniature Hobby Lobby and Michaels; organizing by craft. It took me TWO FREAKING WEEKS to set up all ‘my shit’ (sorry, not sorry). When I had it all organized and set up, I had scheduled an indoor craft supply sale via local Facebook groups, friends, took out an ad in the local paper and posted flyers all over town.
At 7:00 in the morning of my sale, I literally had a line out to the street with ladies and their plastic-y shopping bags ready to fill them with my craft crap. I had a bit of an emotional moment because I saw some of my friends in there, but it was short lived. I had serious work to do. By the end of the first day, I sold a crap-ton but again, a very small dent (yes, I had a crap-ton of stuff!).
I scheduled another two weeks later. This one, I saw great progress. I had sold the bigger stuff (small furniture, printers, die-cutters, punches, tools, etc.). I also made deals too good to pass up. I cried inside. I was still a bit defiant.
Then, it came to the point that I no longer had time nor energy to have another sale so I contacted a friend who as a local Girl Scout leader and told her to bring her mini van…EMPTY! She came and we filled every inch of that mini van. She wrote me a letter showing donation for our taxes. I’m embarrassed to say, the written value was in the thousands of dollars. *heavy sigh*
After everything was gone, I sat on the floor of my empty craft studio and cried waterfalls. All the supplies that I made pretties from, memory albums and cute handmade gifts were gone…well, except a few big storage bins of things I couldn’t part with.
The room that I once created so many handmade cards and gifts on sleepless nights was now bare. The cabinets were empty, drawers were bare, countertops were cleared and spotless. No more ink stains, paint spatters or glue. It no longer had personality. It was like an empty hulled out school room on the first day of summer vacation.
This was probably THE hardest for me. I still reflect back anytime I’m in Hobby Lobby.
5) HOME SALE or RENTAL CONCERNS
By late August; we were growing impatient because our home hadn’t gone under contract yet. At the campground, we kept seeing big RV’s with out of state plates come and go. We kept asking ourselves, ‘when is it going to be our turn’ to go?
September came and went. At this point, we were extremely frustrated that our beautiful 5 bedroom 3 bath home in an amazing neighborhood was not budging; actually came to the point of becoming angry. Our ‘once was’ home was just a shell that was staged. Come to find out, our realtor was not working for ‘us’ so we fired her. She didn’t even argue because I think she knew were were onto her ‘other’ marketing strategies that took buyers away from our neighborhood.
After firing her, we took a breather and hired a new realtor out of Louisville two weeks later on recommendation from a friend in California who was a Real Estate Broker. A short 10 days after listing with him, we had a full-asking price offer with no contingencies.
We now were in the its-about-to-get-real mode.
6) Donate what’s left
With less than a month left of home ownership, we emptied all of the closets and drawers of things we didn’t need or didn’t care to sell. We loaded up our dually with boxes and bags of clothes, shoes, books, households, etc. and took them to the local donation place. We asked for receipts for our donations.
Whew! We were so glad that was done. We finally felt like the end was finally near!
7) Estate Sale
Getting rid of the rest of our households and furniture was last on the list. We had a couple weeks to get rid of EVERYTHING. We had interviewed a couple of Estate Sale Marketers and damn if I wasn’t a blubbering mess after that.
I had nightmares of people I didn’t know pawing through all of our shit. We’ve seen it several times prior, driving around the locale seeing Estate Sales with lines of people spewing lowball offers. Admittedly, we were those same people years before but now, we were on the other side of the door.
I didn’t know why that bothered me so much but we kept the big picture in our minds…the one of our RV tucked in the woods near a river or near the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Then something MAGICAL HAPPENED!! Ya’ll might want to sit down and grab your 5’oclock somewhere for this…
The family who was buying our home contacted me asking if I could show her how to properly care for the water garden, measure rooms for area rugs and windows for curtains, and to get some decorating ideas, etc. I invited her over for coffee and pastries. (Something prompted me to say yes.)
As she and I sat in our just-renovated kitchen of granite countertops, mahogany cabinets with seed glass doors, beautiful lighting fixtures, and top-of-the-line stainless appliances, there was quiet. She looked around eyeing every nook and wall of the perfectly staged House Beautiful home she was moving into in two weeks.
She gazed around at the furniture, wall art, pretty pillows, area rugs, candle holders, etc. and muttered, ‘gosh, if only I could just move in’.
She told that she loved the way I decorated; that she really felt like it was ‘her home’. I was deeply humbled by her compliment. I jokingly muttered out of the side of my mouth, ‘well, you know, everything is for sale’.
She hastily asked, ‘well, how much for it all’?
I looked at her with raised eyebrows, jotted a price with a Sharpie on a paper napkin and slid it across the island counter. (Note: we had already had figured out how much we would have netted off an estate sale). She looked at it with her own raised eyebrows and tucked it into her purse. Not thinking about it anything further, we said our goodbyes and good lucks on our closing that was taking place in a couple weeks.
I kid you not, less than two hours later, I get a phone call from her again, “Lisa, just pack your toothbrushes and suitcases, we’ll buy it all!”
Now, for a minute, stand in my shoes. I just got this phone call that was a TOTAL game changer. I was in utter disbelief. I had to ask her to if she was serious. She was.
Almost immediately after we ended our phone discussion, I fell to my knees and started bawling (a blubbering mess again). I was thanking God for this most amazing gift that relieved us of this final chapter before handing over the keys. I don’t think ANYONE could ever imagine the huge burden that was lifted from us. They wanted EVERYTHING, even all of the holiday decorations in the storage bins in the basement utility room and useless stuff up in the garage attic.
8) Turning over the keys
The day of our closing, we went over to our ‘once was’ home to do a once-over for cleanliness and to see if we missed anything. I placed my handmade gift baskets for their daughters on their beds we gifted to our friends and family who stayed in those same rooms.
All of the towels in each of the bathrooms were clean and hanging like those in a 5-star hotel with pretty soaps in the soap dishes.
I put a bottle of cold bubbly and two champagne glasses in the empty refrigerator for the new owners. Cookies I baked in the oven the day prior for their daughters were placed on a plate covered with their names on it. I had even set up the coffee pot that all they had to do was push the button to make their coffee the next morning.
I wrote on another simple yellow stickie note by their two brand new coffee mugs…“WELCOME HOME!” (GOD, that chokes me up as I type that!)
By that time, I looked at the clock that once told us time for dinner or time to head for work. It was now time to head to the closing. I walked into each room taking one more look smoothing one last wrinkle on the already perfect bedspread.
We walked out of our home one last time. We let out big sighs of relief that this chapter of our lives had concluded. We turned our keys and pulled them out of the door one last time. As we walked to the truck, we each turned around to look at the turquoise door of ‘once was’ our light colored brick home and gazed for a quick moment at our perfectly-landscaped ‘House Beautiful’ feeling no regrets.
We felt complete. Our work was done. Our stuff was gone. That home was no longer ‘ours’.
Now, years later, as we look back on this experience, we admit we’ve learned not only about this emotional process but also ourselves and each other. It was emotional in every sense. It’s certainly not for ‘everybody’ and it takes great patience and diligence to get through this.
Though it was painstaking, we kept the big picture in the back of your minds. We were finally those RVers who left the campground headed for our next destination. It was finally OUR TURN!
Finally, the person whom I was waiting to talk arrived in the reception area. The young lady at the desk probably thought I was crazy telling her all of this…
…maybe not!? Maybe that was a nudge for her to go buy her own RV. I could see the wheels turning in her head.