Selling “Everything” (Part 2)

Some ten years ago I heard of a practice called 5 in 5: get rid of five things every day for five days. Being an overachiever I played the game 10 in 10. LOL! I played that game several times a year, only decluttering my own belongings.

Here’s how I approach the procedure. I’d open a cabinet door, a drawer, or closet door to pull items from. If my heart sank or resisted getting rid of anything, I’d close the door/drawer and move to the next one. I worked my way through the house doing that. By the time I got back to the first door/drawer I was often able to pull at least something out. When I had my 100 items I’d take them to the thrift store …and then start again.

Thankfully, that practice — or game, as I played it — prepared me for helping my parents move out of their house of 40-plus years. I pared their belongings down from filling a 3,000 square foot house to comfortably fitting into a 1,200 sf apartment. Among the family, Goodwill, and an estate sale, the rest of the items were shed. Wow, what a feat that was!

As time passed I continued my 10 in 10 game/practice. Last year I was so fed up with the growing clutter in the garage and pantry I took six months off work and did some drastic trimming. When I was done I was content with being able to walk through the garage, find things in the pantry, and that a storage shed was emptied. Bravo!

Good thing I did all of that, because when we set our plans to sell everything to move onto a residential cruise ship, we gave ourselves 6 months ultimately to get rid of everything. Ha! Tell the Universe your plans and it brings the big challenges out for you. We accepted an offer for our house two months after listing it with a 1-month closing date [gulp]. We went into hyper-drive to get rid of things. Randy started wishing he’d been playing 10 in 10 with me all along.

It’s weird to put all your treasures out for people to paw through — so they can offer pennies on the dollar. (Photo: Artificial Photography via Unsplash)

We held a Shed Sale — kind of like a garage sale, but we held it in the now-empty storage shed — two consecutive Saturdays. Then we upped the game and held an all-day sale for everything in the living room and dining room. Several of the people who had come to the all-day sale came back within a day or two to buy even more. That was successful enough that I turned the all-day sale into a private-showing sale.

As closing day neared, we dropped prices and gave more things away. Our Buyers had offered in the purchase contract that what we couldn’t take or get rid of, just leave and they’d deal with it “to make your move easier.” On a Wednesday we closed up our house for the last time, leaving quite a bit of stuff for the Buyers to deal with.

I cleared out family heirlooms, favorite art pieces, and cherished items. Having been in the practice of clearing the house for so many years, it was pretty easy to get rid of the non-heirloom items. Having the motivation of moving onto a residential cruise ship made it easier to get rid of heirlooms and treasures.

The funny thing, in my mind, was as I got to the end it became harder to part with things. The chatter went something like, “I better keep that hair tie. I know I haven’t worn a hair tie in years, but it’s purple!” before it ultimately was tossed.

My intention had always been to not store anything. Randy’s intention had always been to store a couple of banker’s boxes of important documents and can’t-part-with mementos. We ended up storing a bit more than our initial anticipation: some artwork was added to that pile. Not bad, not bad at all. The resulting stash was small enough to fit into a friend’s closet, out of the way.

A rule I’d made for myself as a result of moving my folks was that I couldn’t acquire an item unless I got rid of a similar item. That helped me from collecting more stuff. Continuing to play 10 in 10 helped lighten the load. During the 6-month purge, I started feeling lighter and my creative juices started flowing again. What a win for us!

So as Randy says in Part 1, start now. Make it a game and it’ll go easier.

Last Updated October 14, 2023
Originally Published October 14, 2023

10 thoughts on “Selling “Everything” (Part 2)”

  1. Welcome to the club! We “unstuffed” (my word for it) in 2012. Took a five bedroom, living room, family room, den sized house on a 1/2 acre lot and got it down to furniture for a small 2 bedroom apartment. Gave away, equipped households of three adult children, Dumped on Goodwill, Rescue Mission and local church pantries. Repeatedly.

    Put the small amount of furniture in storage and went overseas, living in a part-of-the-compensation furnished two bedroom duplex on campus while teaching postsecondary level classes. Did that over several times.

    Many folks we know and those we don’t hear the story and say, “I wish I could get rid of all my stuff!” I say: you can! just do it!

    • What a great feeling it is to have released all (99 percent) of our stuff. It intrigues me at how many people argue they can’t do what you and we have done. But, I do recognize to have our creature comforts around — memories, beauty, heirlooms — connections to family. I’m choosing to stay light though I wonder if I’ll accumulate stuff at another time.

  2. We had to sell everything when we moved from South Africa to Canada, so it was a surprise when we downsized from a house to a condo, ten years later, that we had to get rid of even more stuff. We did a Swedish Death Clean and it worked out well enough. One of the best pieces of advice I got was, if you really love something but it has to go, take a (digital) photo of it. You never have to look at the photo again (and I haven’t looked at many of them), but the knowledge that it’s there helps.

    Neat concept! Pretty much what we did …to an extreme. -rc

    • Oh! I’ve never heard of the Swedish Death Cleaning before. I took that approach when I started clearing stuff out years ago. I cleared out so much so fast that at the end the little inconsequential items became hard to part with. Friends came to my aid to help me toss those silly little things.

  3. Your comment “Tell the Universe your plans and it brings the big challenges out for you.” reminds me of an old Jewish saying: “Man plans; God laughs”

    Good on you both for getting it done and moving on to the next phase of life!

  4. Hi both, sorry if I missed it, but, when do you actually move aboard.

    When they’re ready! I’ll believe it when they say they’re ready for us to arrive, since nearly all of these ships slip their launch dates for one reason or another, which I’m planning to write more about. -rc

  5. I could never throw away the thousands of things that belonged to half a dozen of my relatives. Mom collected thousands of books and knick knacks. All I have is memories, no present or future. That’s why I’m staying 100% alone and unloved in our 19 room house on 5 acres until they take me out in a body bag. Then, my niece will likely trash things like the thousands of photos of relatives that she has no idea who they are. I have nightmares of bulldozers flipping the dozens of animals up in the air in their cemetery. Alas, my niece (only heir) doesn’t want to live here ever or save the house or land.

    The thing is, your treasures will be thrown away unless you do something about it, starting now. You can upload the photos to (for instance) with identification as to who they are so they’re not anonymous names or faces: they’re faces with names and a place in a family tree. You can donate your mom’s books to libraries where they can be read, studied, or sold to fund their operations (to someone who will read and/or study them). Same with the knickknacks. Actual treasures can be sold if you need cash, and others can enjoy the stuff for awhile. All of this gives you purpose (and something to do), AND ensures the things you treasure will continue to be treasured long after you’re gone. Or you can do nothing and it’ll all be hauled off to the dump. The thing is, you have a choice. What will you choose? -rc


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