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1 September, 2014

How to Get Rid of Your Shit (Questions to Facilitate Downsizing)

Comments : 4 Posted in : Uncategorized on by : nommom

downsizingIn the process of massively downsizing we are trying to consolidate 1.5 households into a 10×15 storage unit while we travel. The difficulty of this is compounded by the fact that we both are small business owners and have business related items as well.

Thankfully, NomPa recently informed me that the last 7 years of monthly bank statements do not need to be saved (link here) – this alone has allowed me to reinvest a small forest back into recycling for other uses.

I come from a long line of hoarders. When my great aunt died, I helped her children go through not one, but two storage units in addition to her home, including half a storage unit of smoke and water damaged items from a housefire that insurance had deemed unsalvageable. We do not part easily with our things.

To facilitate the purging process, I am going through my belongings with these questions in mind:


Why do I want to keep this?

Have I used this in the last year?

What purpose does it serve?

Would I be willing/able to pay full retail for this item today?

How will this be indispensable to me upon my return?

Does this have bad memories attached to it?

This forces you to justify every item you keep in a box, have an intended use attached to it, ascertain if the purchase is worth doing againĀ (or indicate it’s too expensive or difficult to replace) and allows you to get rid of all things attached to bad memories of the past. Never liked that pair of earrings your cousin’s ex-husband gave you? GREAT. Now you can toss them out! Those guilt inducing skinny jeans you haven’t fit into for three years – outta there!

There are some items which fall out of this handy checklist. For instance; precious hand-me-downs, heirlooms and vintage items that have strong sentimental value. While I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with that 100 year old quilt my great-great relative stitched by hand, I certainly cannot part with it.

Despite a considerable genetic hoarding gene and ridiculous amounts of nostalgia coupled with the tendency to see possibility in everything and everyone, I have successfully parted with most of babyNom’s hand-me-downs which will not be useful upon our return, the remaining yearbooks I held onto for some inane sense of obligation, 20 year old high school essays, loads of papers, several boxes of books and expensive business purchases that ended up not being particularly useful. This hoarder slowly makes progress.

When I look at how much stuff I have that I am giving away, throwing away or otherwise getting rid of it really forces me to face the extent to which I have succumbed to American materialism. Even now, I am tempted to find the right “mom purse” to make traveling easier and NomPa wants to get a compact stroller for the road. Do we actually NEED either of these? Probably not. BabyNom can probably learn to sleep without being walked; we’re just terrified to try. I can survive with the organized purse stuffed in a backpack and deal with the digging around for items. Or I can just get rid of my purse altogether. Now there’s an idea!


4 thoughts on : How to Get Rid of Your Shit (Questions to Facilitate Downsizing)

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  • Stephanie Slavin
    September 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    We do understand! See comments on moving to Cuenca, Ecuador 18 months ago….
    Our method was to go through each room and ask, “What one thing would I take from this room?” When we decided to ship a container, we repeatedly took “one more thing” from each room! As nomads leaving only a storage locker behind, your process is a little different.

    Anyway, I did bring the 7 quilts made by our two grandmothers that we had inherited. Last Christmas, we lugged two back to the US to pass along to grandkids. And, while I gave up two horses, I did bring my saddles and bridles—for “someday.” So far, I’ve ridden a dozen times using other people’s equipment, and have dreamed of riding in my own stuff again.

    We’re retired and our move is permanent, so I’m glad we brought books, art and musical instruments that we can’t get here. Everyday I look at some item I thought I could live without and am so glad we brought it. On the other hand, I feel so much lighter for having sold, donated, and thrown away a ton of stuff. In 30 years, we had also succumbed to a lot of materialism!

    So, we wish you well on your adventure. If we can help you in Ecuador (it’s a small country, but very charming), let us know.

    • nommom
      September 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Oh, yes. This would be a very different sorting process were we deciding on a permanent move! I’m looking forward to feeling lighter; currently it’s just messy over here!

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