Considering just how I was going to get to the point where I could ride my bicycle around the country, it quickly became clear that leaving behind a vacated fully furnished home containing all of my worldly possessions was not going to be the right thing to do. I didn’t want the extra burden of a cold, empty, lifeless dwelling on my shoulders for six months. That lead to the next idea of renting out my house and putting all of the remaining stuff into a storage locker somewhere. No thank you. Which lead to selling my house and then putting everything I owned into storage. Nope. Which ultimately lead to the idea of selling my house and selling all of my stuff, thus freeing me up for this little adventure of mine.
Can you just DO that?!? Get rid of EVERYTHING?! Just like that? You don’t really mean ‘everything’ do you?? The answer to that is YES! I sold everything! (well… except for a small storage area of mementos-and-return-to-society-stuff… oh yeah, and a car). ‘Everything’ for me (and maybe you) consisted of decades worth of stuff. Enough stuff to completely fill a big house on a hill and it’s attached three car garage. Clothes, ham radio equipment, shop tools, furniture, guns, boat, TVs, work benches, dumb bells, bicycles, electronic equipment, popup camper, woodworking tools, books, Harley, fly fishing gear, computers, old cell phones, CDs, DVDs, wrapping paper, decorations, beds, spoons, knives, forks…. The whole lot of it.
The hardest part was first overcoming the overwhelming internal pressure that I was doing something insanely shortsighted, rash, and … just wrong! There was a mandatory RE-programming of ‘self’ to be very open to a necessary change from my previously programmed life pattern. This kind of change is pretty big. In order to work, the change had to violate learned behavior supporting the ongoing belief that life is an ever expanding accumulation of wealth and material stuff! I had to change belief systems; abandon the old one which was driven by that most excellent feeling of desiring, then acquiring and then savoring something ‘new’. And then when those feelings subsided (which they always did), I had to replace it with another desire/acquire/savor cycle, all the while, funded by my dwindling bank account.
Let’s face it, getting rid of all your stuff can’t be that easy, right? Easy? No. But simple it certainly is! I just followed these five steps:
Step 1: Give It Away
I found that several of the items reminded me of either a friend or family member, or even the odd Craig’s List stranger that I could entice to drive way out to my house. My uncle got a box of woodworking tools, a load of finish grade trim wood, and my leather motorcycle jacket. My friend with a new home was given my patio furniture (which, by the way, was given to me by my sister… which, by the way, was given to her by my mother). Another friend was given one of my unused bikes. An old, beautiful, but huge and non-digital TV was easily given away to someone from Craig’s List. Finally, many, many items were simply hauled to the local charitable donation center.
Step 2: Throw It Away
Weekly, I tested the patience of my trash guy with heavier and heavier trash bin loads. I was fully expecting to come home some Tuesday evening to find stuff angrily scattered all over the driveway with a nasty note stuck to my front door: “Mr. McCoy, Please cut the crap!! You want this to get ugly?” So I tested further… Dead desktop computers, dusty fake plants, old nasty Tupperware, boxes and boxes of unused nails, an old bicycle frame, a big, huge, piece of lead. It all went into the bin on Tuesday morning and I happily retrieved the empty one each Tuesday night.
Step 3: Sell It
- On Craig’s List
Killer pricing, cash only, coupled with a tightly controlled ad, detailed macro photos, and most importantly, YOU gotta make human contact with ME… by voice… on the phone! Navigate the maze of scrambled encoding of my phone number (FiveOh5-Three4one-Zero0…) launch your phone app, stab at its keypad, clear your voice, and speak… with me! Simple, not easy. But doing this certainly eliminated the majority of potential riff/raff and produced for me a safe (except for one), highly motivated buyer at my doorstep, holding cash!
- Via eBay
$20 rule: Nothing less than $20
Nothing bigger than the USPS drop-off hopper
Many detailed, snazzy, macro photos
Absolute honesty on history, operation and condition of the item
No International shipping
Everything, and I mean everything is auctioned with a 99 cent starting bid.
Shipping is flat fee, then $$ doubled, then weighed, and PayPal purchased for USPS dropoff.
I maintain 100% buyer satisfaction (except for that one guy a few months ago that finally dropped off my six month eBay seller rating horizon)
- The Classifieds
I considered the local newspaper classified ads to be a kind of last resort or when I was looking for a wider audience with more money. My big Dodge diesel truck, the Larson speed boat, my cherished Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide, couple of specialty guns… and a highly used hot tub. In each case, I was satisfied with motivated cash buyers and pleasantly surprised with cash money plus hauling service for the hot tub. (I would have given the thing away simply to rid my yard of its presence)
- Moving(Estate) Sale
The entire remaining contents of my home (sale pending), plus several garage shelves worth of stuff piled high with choice flea-market type stuff were readied for the BiggestSingleDayEstateSale ever!! My philosophy with garage sales is no different than when I haul truck loads of stuff to the flea market: It’s ALL getting gone! Whether it’s sold or I haul it to Goodwill, I don’t intend on keeping any of the leftovers.
Step 4: Store It
- Obviously, there will be a few ‘things’ that will need to be kept. For me, these were things like: Photos, personal mementos, return-to-civilization-clothing, favorite tools, a couple of pieces of cherished ham radio equipment, car (maybe), minimal furniture and some household items. I visualized a 10×10′ storage unit that I would rent while I was away. Based on some real world suggestions from a close friend, I didn’t want to end up with clothes, bedding, and furniture that inherited that well known (apparently, but not to me) ‘storage funk’ smell, so the big decision to forfeit years of accumulated furnishings was easier.