Would You Consider Selling Everything And Starting Over?

by frugalrvers

Do you think about selling all your possessions and changing your life? We grew tired of just thinking about selling everything and starting over, so we actually did it...

Would you sell everything you own (or almost everything) to start a whole new chapter in your life? We did - and it was the most liberating feeling ever. Just the accomplishment of doing it boosted our self esteem, even with our fears, because we finally turned words into actions.

But to sell everything means little, and can be disappointing, unless you know why you are taking on this cleansing in the first place. Is it your dream to simplify your life? Travel? Donate most of it to charity? Or do you just want to start over but end up similar to where you are now?

These are important considerations and I hope you will jump in and share your thoughts with others in this article.

Sell All Your Possessions - The Basic Guidelines

Sell Everything And Travel - Our Personal Experience

When we tell people we sold everything to travel in an rv, we are speaking of most materialistic possessions. For the sake of this article's clarity, it will help to know we aren't talking about everything but our toothbrushes (though some people do strip down that far!)...

We had a large, beautiful home in NW Montana, right up by the Rockies (which we couldn't afford). It had a living room, dining room, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, laundry and garage. Being very tidy, it wasn't overrun with knickknacks and the like, but there was a LOT inside of that home.

When we began selling, we went wild. We actually made up large garage sale boxes that said "today" and plopped them out by the road whenever we were home, opening our garage to anyone pulling up looking for bargains. We did that for approximately three months.

We also went through every movie, CD, book and sold them on Ebay and Amazon. Anything that wasn't sentimental or potentially useful was sold.

We got Rubbermaid bins for everyone's memories, photos, etc. and neatly labeled them, to place in a small storage unit we rented. We also held onto some furnishings that belonged to my grandparents (not much), which we weren't prepared to part with when all of the other changes were happening. So yes, we still have some "stuff" but at this point in our lives it is too precious to let go of. We may go through the storage unit one day and downsize further, but we feel pretty confident we got rid of every materialistic possession we had that wasn't necessary.

You should also know that our goal was to simplify our lives - we were drowning in the expenses of having cars, a house and all that entails. We pulled out way before "retirement" age with no savings, investments, CD's, etc...just the things in the rv and the storage unit...that was it.

So let's get started - and keep this definition in mind...you get to keep any precious memories/papers/photographs and a few pieces of your grandparent's furniture - at least for the first few years!


If You Sold Everything, What Would You Do?

Sell Everything You Own - The PROS

For us, the decision came down to a few simple things. We took a moment to breathe, looked at our lives where we barely had time to say hello each day and thought "what is WRONG with this picture." It didn't take long to see that we were busy because we needed to work. We needed to work because we had expenses (cars, house, debt). We bought those things because we thought it would make us "happy" but all it did was chain us to jobs we didn't want to go to each day. You get the picture...

We felt the key to happiness was to stop feeling we HAVE TO do this or that. Did we use or enjoy our stuff? Nope. Did the stuff take away the awful feeling on Sunday night, after 48 brief hours of freedom, that it was 5 more days at the office once again? Nope. So we had to pay for stuff that we cared little about...and having that stuff forced us to keep living a lifestyle we didn't want.

So we decided to unload the stuff, even if we took a loss - to owe basically no one anything anymore...to truly feel free and able to feel alive once more.

We aren't alone. A few years ago an amazing book (visible below) came out, showing that American families were studied for 4 years and the research that shows they can't put cars in garages due to too much stuff, they are stressed having to care for all the stuff, they have nice patios but only spend a few minutes outside each day, etc...It is AMAZING...and sounds like the life we were living - we could relate back then....

Is It Possible To Live Cash Only (no credit cards, no mortgages, no auto loans)?

We Do...And It Can Be Rough...What Do You Think?
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Yes, It Is Possible To Live Cash Only
Pamela on 10/27/2014

I would LOVE this. I am close with checks and debit - no credit cards. But I have debt. What do you think would happen to the economy if EVERYONE in the U.S. for ONE DAY ONLY paid cash for ANYTHING they needed. No wire transfers (that's electronic) No credit card. No debit card. No checks. The economy might crash but even MORE IMPORTANT - one would see the power of the masses vs the power of the the few. It would be liberating. (OK what list did I just go on). :o) IMAGINE the Possibilities.

Selling Everything You Own - The CONS

We are creatures of habit. Many people go through the pain of bankruptcy when too far gone to dig out on their own, only to breathe a sigh of relief...and start building up debt again!! Years down the road, they are right back where they started from.

But there are cons of selling it all - here are a few:

  • If you don't have a plan, it will feel like loss - For us, we had no problems watching nearly everything we owned getting piled up into stranger's cars...because we knew what we wanted - freedom! The RV was sitting in the front of the house and we couldn't wait.
  • You can get too romantic about it - Life still happens, whether in a mansion or an rv. I lost my mom unexpectedly, way too soon this past year and I still struggle with it every day. If you think you are escaping life, you will be disappointed. However, even in tragedy, having the freedom I did made coping with grief so much better than getting two weeks to grieve, then back to work.

Again, when there is a reason for unloading the "stuff" it can feel like rebirth. I would recommend you take time to think about what you hope to achieve from this slimming down...then go for it, if you feel ready. Stuff in these modern times is like a security blanket, in my opinion. You will hold on tight, because it feels like your identity...but true identity, I think, lies in what we do with our lives, not what we put in our homes.

Some day, we will be remembered for this unconventional life we are living, not for the neat truck we used to have, the size of our tv or the pattern on our dishes.

When You Think Of Your Home, Do You Feel You Have Way Too Much "Stuff?"

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Absolutely, I Have Too Much Stuff
Shelby on 11/18/2014

It's not that I'm a "collector", I just have collected many things. I'm stuck in a job that is slowly going under financially and taking me with it. I can't find another job, not because I don't have any job skills but to find another job that will pay me what I need to afford my home and debts is the problem. I've been so focused on finding a new job that I've failed to see the possessions as the problem. I'm not upside-down on my house so that is positive. I want to feel a sense of freedom and being in control again. I feel chained to an unhappy job because of my inanimate objects and that seems just stupid. I'm scared yet kinda excited. I'm going to start making a list of items to sell, room by room and call it my freedom list.

Pamela on 10/27/2014

Way too much. Recently, I was looking around - I am a collector and OMG - i have more stuff than ANYONE needs. So - I thought - what do I really want here that means anything to me. Very very little. I even questioned what I have considered my prize posession - my piano. I have had it for 20 years and never had it tuned. How much does it REALLY mean to me. So I decided that over the next 6 years, I am going to sell everything I own. I just don't know where to begin. Perhaps the garage. I could use some pointers.

Pamela on 09/23/2014

I want to sell everything I have and downsize considerable over the next 5 years.

Living On $20 Per Day? Check Out These Folks

Anything Is Possible If You Put Your Mind To It

We stumbled upon this site all by ourselves - without the help of a certain similarly-named website. Jim wanted this book so badly, so I caved and got it for him on Father's Day. It's called "Vanabode,'" a word that is used mostly as a verb and sometimes as a noun.

The Vanabode Ebook is a how-to guide and a travelogue combined that tells you how to live on $20 a day, like the authors do, while doing exactly what you want to do. Not how to travel through an area of the country or take a vacation for a short time and go back to work, but how to actually LIVE on $20 a day.

We were immediately attracted to the site because the couple who write about their travels and knowledge apparently spend quite a bit of time in the northwest corner of Montana, a place we like to call home. Their pictures of Glacier Park reminded us of why we did this full-time RV thing in the first place - to enjoy the beauty that this world has to offer, and to do it while living free. And that's what Vanabode shows you how to do.

It's not just a how-to book, either - it's an encyclopedia and a philosophy on wheels. Jason Odom, the author, and his wife Kelly, basically have managed to create a life that's as free as it's possible to be from government intervention, from the burdens and responsibilities of property and debt, from feeling obligated to behave in a certain way just because you're supposed to.

It seems like a great way to live and we are trying our best to live the same way. We think that this book and the whole lifestyle it's based on is just what this country needs right now - downsize and enjoy it, and live every moment of every day to  the max. If they can vanabode, so can we, and so can you.

Updated: 04/18/2018, frugalrvers
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frugalrvers on 08/10/2012

Thank you Brenda!!

BrendaReeves on 08/10/2012

Great article by the way!

BrendaReeves on 08/10/2012

You are right. Owning stuff is our identity. For a while, I didn't own a home, and it made me feel worthless. I would love to live in an urban area without a car, but lots of coffee shops where I can meet people and feel a sense of community. Or, get a little RV and go traveling with my pets.

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