When it comes to questions about changing our lifestyle, we get asked a lot about consolidation. How did you consolidate? How long did it take? How hard was it? So, here’s our story!
We moved from a 2,450 sq. ft. home into 215 sq. ft. Airstream, and in making that huge change, we had a lot of work to do. Consolidation basically consumed our lives for several months prior to the move.
We started weeding out our unnecessary things about six months before we first decided to take this trek. I posted items on our local Buy Sell Trade pages almost daily.
As we listed items, we began to set money goals—for how much we wanted to put down on our RV, how much we wanted to earn to help us start booking campsites, and the like. If anyone knows me (Tiffany), they know that I was a struggling single mom for fourteen years, and this has a positive side—it made me super money-motivated! When I needed something in the past, I tried to sell things out of my home to make money for the new purchase, and I used that same tactic to help move things out and make money for our RV adventure.
To the eye, I thought our home was pretty minimal. But as I was consolidating, I kept finding things I had forgotten I still owned and was like, “Wow! I just made an extra $200 off something today that I didn’t even know existed yesterday!” That seriously kept blowing my mind.
I thought it would be difficult parting with all my possessions. But to my surprise, seeing it all go was actually quite satisfying! As a matter of fact, when we initially decided to live out of an RV, we talked about renting our home fully-furnished, whether on Airbnb or as a more traditional rental. Then we spoke about putting everything in storage. Each time we discussed it, we were saving less and less, until we ultimately decided to take a leap and sell just about everything we owned to fully live more intentionally.
We were afraid our stuff would hold us back from exploring and potentially draw us home before we were really ready. For instance, we could take the money we would spend on a storage unit and put it toward visiting more places and having more experiences as a family. We also didn’t like the idea of having things at home waiting for our arrival and costing us money until we returned. If we were going take this new adventure, I wanted to feel free.
Because we owned a deep freeze, we started our food consolidation around three months before our departure. I would pull things out and search for a recipe that included that item as well as a list of ingredients that I mostly already owned; the goal was to buy only the fresh ingredients that a recipe required. It turns out we literally owned enough meat to survive on for those three months. We even brought some with us. Now that’s embarrassing!! I think all those years of barely scraping by turned me into a food hoarder!
THE FINAL PUSH
I continued to move things out of the house, and with each week that went by, I forced myself to post more and more. As we got closer to our move-out date, I was beyond burnt out—just so exhausted. I would remind myself of the simpler life that awaited on the other side to help keep me motivated. It was unbelievable how I would see things moving out of the house but then look around and see how much stuff we still had! So I decided to do the inevitable: have a moving sale. We had tried to avoid this because I dreaded the work that comes with having a sale of any sort. We have two small children, making it impossible to get much done during the day, so I would work some during their naps, and once they went to bed, it was game on. My husband and I worked tirelessly room by room, sorting our stuff into individual boxes for the RV, for donating, and for the moving sale, until each room was completely empty.
Naturally, a lot of our friends wanted to hang out before we left. But when I looked around my home, I knew we didn’t have free time for fun. The amount of work that was left, with just the two of us to do it, was overwhelming. It can be hard for me to ask for help, but with only having a few weeks before our moving day, I knew this was more than we could take on alone. I ended up messaging our friends to let them know that I really wanted to hang out but still had so much to do, asking if anyone would be willing to come make memories pricing garage sale items with me. To my surprise, a lot of them said yes!
My mother-in-law visited us the week before the garage sale, and she had a brilliant idea of getting several large boxes, marking a different price on the outside of each one, and then filling those with the items that needed to be tagged with that respective price. Then, when my friends came to help, we could actually hang out and chat while we priced, rather than having to go through how much every single thing was. I highly recommend this strategy if you are doing anything similar.
Leading up to the garage sale, I continued to post our bigger items online. At this point, I had become pretty well-known in the Buy Sell Trade groups as the lady selling everything to live on the road. I would post how many days we had until departure and list the items I still needed to sell in that amount of time, and people were so generous with their support. They tagged friends to help us move things out, and we had several people come to our house to purchase things so often that we became friends with them! We even had a stranger offer to bring us food to help with the stress of our move. What the what?! And that’s just one example of many friends who offered to come serve us. Trash runs, Airstream help, move-out help… I was blown away by the generosity of our town.
A lot of people from Buy Sell Trade came to our two-day garage sale, some just to meet the crazies taking on this new adventure. Some invited their friends to shop as well, which was a huge blessing, as our garage was packed full of stuff like a can of sardines!
Have I mentioned how vulnerable it feels to put all of your belongings out for people to sort and sift through right in front of you, haggling with you on how much each thing is worth? “Ma’am, that must say $5—surely it’s not $50, right?” Ouch! That’s what people do at garage sales, I would remind myself!
We decided to close out our sale on Saturday by having a going-away party with our close friends. We cooked out and said our good-byes; it was really bittersweet.
After we moved out of our house, we stayed at a local RV resort for the first week to help the kids get settled in and to try and rest after such a crazy season. Surprisingly, the kids did amazing, and I was the one who wasn’t adjusting quite well. And guess what? It was because of all the stuff I tried to cram into the Airstream! Here I was again, being weighed down by my things.
It rained some that first week, helping me realize that while I thought we’d have a lot of things outside during the day, this wasn’t realistic at all. These items were keeping us from being able to walk around in the RV when it rained, so we would move them to the truck. But when they were in the truck, we couldn’t all fit inside to go anywhere! Talk about lose-lose! Plus, we had extra dishes and appliances and such that just weren’t a good fit! I really couldn’t relax until I consolidated again.
I had already invited my moms’ group over for one last hurrah before we left town, and I ended up sending away two trunk-loads of things with them! Can you believe that?! After spending months moving things out, I still had too much stuff!
WHAT I’M LEARNING
This whole process has made me truly realize that I don’t have to have it all. I now make a grocery list for the week, which keeps us from wasting food and money. When we get close to emptying the fridge, I try and take whatever ingredients are left and make a meal of them. I’ll literally Google recipes by naming a few ingredients that I already have and seeing what pops up! Before, a lot of these things would have gone bad and been thrown away; I don’t want to even think about the amount of food I’ve wasted in the past.
Ladies, this one’s for you! I used to walk through Target, looking at everything I liked and wondering where in my house I could make it fit. That was a major struggle for me, as I love to decorate. I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels now to go to Target, appreciate the beauty of everything, and still feel zero interest in buying anything. I even took it to another level and unsubscribed from their emails, and I rarely walk down the home decor aisle because I don’t want to be tempted.
We are obviously still learning, and I purge all the time because I never want to feel that weight again. And with each new purchase I make, I find myself asking questions to make sure we truly need a given item. Does this make the RV or home more functional? Are these useful for the stages that our kids are in? Should I really stock up on this just because it’s on sale? The answer is not always yes, and I’m okay with that.
I know our situation required some intense consolidation, and that not everyone needs to do exactly as we did, but our hope is that our experience helps inspire others to eliminate things from their lives that aren’t bringing them joy. Sell things on your local Buy Sell Trade to fund that dream vacation or to help save up for that espresso maker you’ve really wanted. If you don’t want to sell your stuff, see if your unneeded things can help someone around you—a college student, a single mom in need, a church, a non-profit, a mother who just had a baby, a friend who just turned her life around, a stranger who you feel led to support… The possibilities are endless. Perhaps those items collecting dust at your place could fulfill a need for someone around you, and giving them away can help you experience a new kind of joy.