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Help I'm Drowning in Stuff - How to Downsize to hit the Road

Several years ago, when I had this insane idea that we would sell all of our belongings and hit the road I really had no clue how much stuff I had or what to do with it. So we sat down and came up with this plan. It worked really well for us and helped keep everything organized during the whole process. We will be doing 3 parts to this series, looking at the downsizing process, tools we found helpful and what we actually kept and moved into the RV.

In first installment of the series, we will look at our process for sorting through and having a successful garage sale.

6 simple steps that teach you how to have an epic garage sale

Step 1-  gather your supplies...... You are going to want to have everything in one easy to find place, trust me as you are digging through stuff you will ask a million times "where is the Sharpie?"

Helpful tools for preparing for a garage sale include Dymo Label Maker, Sharpie makers, Scissors, Glad Trash Bags, Ziploc bags and garge sale price labels

I love these Sterilite Show Off storage containers they are big enough to hold everything and easy to carry. In it I place the following items:

You will also want to have Totes to put things in, if money is tight moving boxes will work but the totes are more sturdy and can be used in the rv as well.

Steralite and tough totes make downsizing and preparing for a garage sale

We purchased 15 similar to this one

Ours are 16 gallons, these are more flimsy and we sold or donate most of these when we were done. We did keep a few for basement storage of the lighter weight items like kids outdoor sand toys and inflatable pool toys.

And then 5 of these super sturdy totes . They became a part of our permanent storage solution in the rv, they are great for all of the hoses. These have lids that lock down tightly and will not open in the wind so are great for tossing in the back of the truck. The ones we bought 5 years ago still going strong.

Step 2- Begin Sorting

Once you are all set up, pick a room and take all of your supplies there.  Label your bins as Keep Store, Keep Take with, Donate and Sell.  Set up a trash bag for trash.

Then the fun begins as you open every drawer, every closet and evaluate everything you own.  Price items as you put them in the sell container so you don't have to touch them twice.  If you have a higher dollar item you want to try to sell outside of the garage sale, set it aside.

When a "donate" bin gets full put a lid on it and set it aside, that evening take all "donate" bins to the donation center of your choice.  They will empty the bins and give them back to you so you can reuse them.

When a "Sell" bin gets full, resist the temptation to over fill it.... I know this will be hard, you will want to but trust me it is so much easier to stack them and carry them if you don't.  Words of experience here people.

And speaking of filling the totes, be aware of how much weight you are putting in them, if you are emptying bookshelves fill them only half way and then load the top with lighter items.

If you find small parts and pieces (those will little ones understand my pain) that are separated from their sets, put them in your supplies bucket, it will make it easy to reunite them with their friends when you find them.

Put clothing in garbage bags, don't waste your totes and don't price all of your clothes.  Evaluate conditions and consider doing all 1 price except for high end items.  You could also consider doing everything that fits in this bag is $X.XX type of sales too.

As your pull out electronics, label the cords with the device name using your handy dandy label maker and put all of the cords into one bag for the items you are keeping.  Trust me on this one, we didn't do this for one move and we still have a bag full of cords we don't know what they go to. 

And on this same topic, if you aren't jumping into an RV but rather using these tips for moving prep, disconnect all of your own electronics and bag up the cords, take the bag of cords with you in your car.  DO NOT let the movers pack them up....again voice of experience, they for what ever reason will put the cords in multiple boxes that have nothing to do with said electronics and you will be staring at a dvd player, with out a power cord, listening to your kid whine about watching a movie for weeks.

Step 3- Organize

Once you are done with a room, move all of totes and bags into a designated spot.  We chose out guest bedroom for the upstairs items and our office for the downstairs items and then stacked all of the sell totes in there on one wall and the keep on another.  

Step 4- Advertise your Sale

Utilize social media to get the word out.  Many communities have local yard sale groups and posting it on Facebook helps also.

Advertising for your garage sale will help make it a sucess

Put it in Craigs list but don't give your exact address if you live in a subdivision or it is easy to find.  Lesson learned when we had to cancel our first due to rain..... people showed up and were extremely pushy, we wound up letting them see what we had in the garage but keep in mind we had nearly nothing in there because it was staged in the guest room and office so they bought nothing and wasted our time.  Second time round I used the phase "In the 100 block of My Street Name Ln".  This let people navigate but in the event of last minute cancellation no knocks on the door.

Step 5- Have your Sale

The night before move all of the totes close to the door so they can quickly be moved outside.

Arrange to have plenty of tables, we were lucky enough to have a park right across the street from our house so we had it over there and utilized the parks picnic tables.

Have a friend (or lots of friends) come help for the set up.....we failed here, we didn't want to burden people but we could have used extra hands for set up.  Have 1 or 2 people stationed outside to unload the totes, designate a table for each type of items (all kitchen stuff together, seasonal stuff together, home fashions stuff together ect) and as you unload place the items on the correct table.  

Have 1 or 2 people bringing totes out, remember that we told you not to over fill your totes? Well if you listened you can rent a furniture dolly and use that to help get the totes out and it can be an easy 1 person job. 

As tables get filled up, turn your empty totes over and use them as additional space.

And speaking of not wasting your tables.....Don't take up space on tables for clothing, plastic drop cloths and lay them out on the grass.  Have extras in case the weather turns to rain, you can return what you don't open

Medium weight was thick enough not to tear easily and had some weight so it didn't fly away

Sell sell sell..... Let people know you want it gone, wheel and deal with them.

Step 6- Donate

But wait you say, I'm having another sale surely it will sell then.  It might, depends on the item.  Evaluate as you are putting things up.  Is it really worth putting away the item you marked for $0.25 and storing it until the next sale or could you use the space (and tote) to get more stuff out of your house?  Furniture in good shape, keep and try again...chotskies maybe, clothes unless it is kids most definitely donate.

To make this task easier, I recommend calling a donation center that does pick ups. We scheduled the Salvation army to come and pick the evening of our sale so we didn't have to worry about driving it there. It was really nice because we were so exhausted afterwards!

And there you go! The complete guide to preparing for an Epic Garage sale, be sure to sign up for our mailing list so you don't miss the blog posts on what we kept (and what we still have in the rv 5 years later) and what apps, checklists and websites helped make preparing to get on the road easier.

6 easy steps to start your path to minimalism by downsizing and selling your items at a garage sale

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