Do you dream of traveling the world?
Well you are not the only ones. In 2011 my husband Michael and I made the decision that life was too short and it was time to see the world whilst we were still able. We planned to travel for at least a couple of years and had an inkling that we might travel indefinitely.
Our biggest question was ‘what should we do with our home and our possessions’?
We had spent 17 years accumulating stuff. Every room and cupboard held a substantial collection of useful stuff, but we had all the other stuff too. You know a punch bowl that might get used someday, or a stack of old magazines we might get around to reading.
Did we really want to get rid of everything though? What about when/if we came back to settle down. Wouldn’t we have to replace everything?
We now know after 8 years of living ‘light’ that going back and trying to replace everything would be akin to a butterfly returning to its chrysalis and morphing back into a fat bloated caterpillar. Not going to happen folks, not once you have experienced the freedom of being a butterfly.
After much deliberation, dreaming and planning. We decided that if we truly wanted to be free to travel we had to break our attachment to our possessions and drastically downsize.
The first step of turning the dream of traveling the world into reality is deciding what you want to do
If you just want a six month sabbatical it wouldn’t make sense to drastically downsize. However if you want to travel indefinitely, the less possessions you have the less ties and responsibilities.
Your planned length of absence will determine whether you choose to store your belongings or say goodbye to them. Before you choose the storage route though do be aware that some people store stuff for years. When they finally get around to emptying the container they realize that they paid thousands of dollars to store what they now consider junk.
Whether storing or downsizing you have a lot of work in front of you, even if it is only packing up your possessions for storage.
If you have decided to go the more drastic–and the more liberating route–you also have a lot of work ahead. Plus you are going to have to deal with the emotional attachment to stuff.
Let’s look at a couple of examples-
Paula & Greg
For Paula and Greg their dream of traveling the world revolved around sailing the Caribbean for a year or two and work on their book. They gave notice to their landlord, packed everything up and put it in storage. Then flew off to the islands where they bought a boat, learnt to sail and knuckled down to enjoy life on the waves.
Fourteen months later they were back in their home town. Surprised friends asked why? The answer was ‘we never really felt free, every time we saw that storage fee go out it was a nagging reminder that we had stuff back home and how much we missed it. Although we loved the boat we could never really relax and kept adding up how much it was costing us. So we decided to sell up, come back and regroup.
Then there is yours truly, Yvonne & Michael
We wanted to travel and see the world and perhaps find a place where we could eventually retire. We saw this as being a lengthy process and decided to reduce our possessions as much as possible. In just a few months we reduced the contents of a four bedroom home into a dozen bankers boxes (stored with relatives).
Over the following years we sold our remaining vehicle, reduced the boxes to five and went completely paperless.
Seven years later we have visited over 40 countries and have no plans to settle down anytime soon. Getting rid of our belongings was at times hard but it was also a liberating experience. We have less stress, less ties and love the freedom it gives us, wouldn’t change it for the world.
As you can see storing their possessions was the right choice in our first study. It is a lot easy than selling, you simply pack it up and pay your monthly fee.
It’s when you decide to get rid of everything, that the real work comes in.
5 Ways to turn your possessions into cash
Your local Craigslist or Kijiji is a great place to start, it’s free and easy to use.
To generate more interest in your items for ‘sale’ use attention getting headlines, such as ‘Stunning dining room set at a fraction of manufacturer’s price’.
Use at least one good quality photograph of your items too. You can take your own or use a photo pulled from the manufacturer’s site. Also be sure to include dimensions for all items of furniture.
You want how much?!
Deciding on how much to ask is not always easy. First check to see how much the same item or a similar one would sell for at retail cost. This is merely a starting point as you will seldom sell it for as much as a brand new item. Realistically you will be lucky to get half of what you paid; in fact a third is probably more realistic. Also check to see how many other similar items are also up for sale at the same time. Determine what price they are listed for and how quickly they are going. For instance if there is a current demand for chest freezers or snow blowers you can ask for top dollar and get it.
Watch out for the scammers! Do not accept Money orders and bank drafts especially when they are long distance purchases. The draft may appear to clear your bank and be deposited into your account, until it is discovered that the issuing bank does not exist. As your bank can not get the money you are then liable for the amount. If you have already shipped the item you are well and truly out of luck.
Or rather your local buy and sell groups on Facebook are great places to advertise and sell your gently used items. Treat it much as you would Craigslist with regard to uploading photographs etc. Do be cautious about giving out personal information to your potential buyer though.
If meeting buyers in person is not going to work there is also Facebook Marketplace . This is another sales app with mixed reviews as to its pro’s and con’s.
Selling Online with Sales Apps
Eight years ago when we were de-cluttering there where already a few online sites such as E Bay & Etsy. However the online sales world has grown in leaps and bounds since.
Never having used this method ourselves it does have its merits. Especially as it cuts out having to face to face sales.
This article covers E Bay & Etsy and a few more and gives some pros and cons as well. The second covers 21 different apps that can be used for selling online. It is now huge business and makes the task of de-cluttering so much easier.
Consider selling clothes on assignment.
This is a great option, especially if you have good quality classic pieces. Check your area for consignment stores. Then pay them a visit, to see what they sell and discuss how the process works. Some stores only take seasonal items, so as soon as you decide to downsize pick out a few current season pieces and get started. If time is short, see if you can find another store that will take all seasons at the same time. Do be aware that your dearly beloved outfits may not be considered so desirable by the store owner. They know their clients and have a good idea of what will sell and what will not.
The remainder of your excess wardrobe will always be gratefully accepted by any number of charitable organizations! Developmental Disabilities Association, Big Brother, Salvation Army and local thrift stores allow you to de-clutter and help a worthy cause at the same time. How awesome is that?
Some consignment stores sell furniture and household goods so keep your eyes open for those as well.
One of the ways of selling your unwanted items is to hold a yard, estate or moving sale. These can be advertised on Kijiji, Craigslist and in your local paper. Try to come up with a catchy headline as it will get more people’s attention.
You may find that it is not worth paying to advertise in the local paper. The real action is on the online sites which are FREE! Most areas have a Craiglist and it is very easy to post your item, garage sale or event.
Tips for your yard/garage sale
Seriously consider whether or not to include a phone number on your advertisement. You may be bombarded with calls from people ‘aka dealers wanting to get a head start on their competition’. These dealers will likely be looking for bikes, stereo equipment, and jewellery at rock bottom prices.
If you do decide to give a number, use a cell phone. Then record a message giving directions and saying how much interest you have had in the sale. Then turn the cell off until after the sale.
If you have time, we recommend you sort and price all your items. It saves multiple queries as to price and is really helpful if you have some extra hands to help on the day.
The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese!
Be refreshed and alert as you will have an early start! The “Early Birds” will see to that!
Despite your scheduled start time of 9 am you may be interrupted during set up by more than one friendly, smiling soul who just happened to be in the neighbourhood and would we happen to have a…………………… ? As their niece, nephew, wife, husband needed one!
Dealing with these intrusions will put you way behind with getting your stuff out and displayed!
A solution is to include ‘NO EARLY BIRDS’ in your advertisement and if possible make it difficult for them to get in. Temporarily roping off the driveway can be a very successful deterrent.
Beware of the sharks!
We have no problem with people making a little profit from their efforts and our stuff! However, some of the tactics are downright insulting, “Oh! This is all I have left” as they toss a handful of small change into your palm instead of the measly $2 you had agreed to! Or the “will you take $5 for this?” Instead of the $15 it is priced at and which is already deeply discounted from retail!
On the flip side it can be a lot of fun, especially if you like to barter and haggle. You may like us, meet some interesting people, like the young fellow who grew up in our house years ago. One lovely lady zeroed in on one item, paid the price willingly, without bartering and told me that she collects them and knows the real value! We were also able to help one half of an estranged married couple who had been sleeping on the sofa. One spare bed sold!
Frickin Huge Moving Sale
Our “Frickin Huge Moving Sale” was a great success we turned our unused items into cash and stopped “stuff” from ending up in the landfill! It’s a Win, Win for all!
It can be tough to sell your beloved possessions for a fraction of what you paid for them. It is easier if you remember that they are now second hand and that you do not need them anymore. If you keep them, they could cost a lot more in storage fees.
We cover all of this and much more in greater detail in our book Selling Up To Travel.
A practical guide for turning the dream of traveling the world into a reality.