For anyone planning to RV full-time purging can seem an impossible task. Before hitting the road decisions must be about every single item you own. It is incredible how much stuff we accumulate during our lives. Once you decide to sell it all for full time RV life, it is hard to know where to begin. Here are some practical tips that will help you purge without feeling overwhelmed.
It may sound simple, but it can be challenging to completely change your thought processes when it comes buying to stuff. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself this simple question: Will I move it into the RV? If the answer is no, then put it back on the shelf. In the long run, it will mean less purging before moving into the RV.
The minute you decide to go full time start purging! Yes, even if it is two years out. Start today. The beauty of purging as soon as possible is you can take your time. Schedule one or two locations a week to tackle like the hall closet or your dresser drawers. The early purges should not be stressful. If you are unsure, keep it. Plan to repeat locations multiple times. Each time you purge an area, it will get easier to let things go.
Donate, Sell, Give Away
Create boxes for each of these categories and put them in a convenient location. Anytime you find an item that you are ready to let go, place it in the appropriate box.
Things You Forgot About
As you are digging through closets and drawers, you will find items you forgot you owned. These can be the easiest to purge because usually, they will have the least amount of emotional attachment. When you find a box that has been sitting in the back of the closet since you moved into your house (yes, this happened to me), donate it!
It Doesn’t Fit
Make this a quick run-through of your closet and drawers. If you are unsure, leave it for later. Anything you have packed away because it might fit one day pack up and donate. Once you move into the RV there won’t be enough room for several sizes!
If you have a stash of broken items you have meant to have repaired, now is the time to toss them. We all have these tucked into a closet or out in the garage. Don’t feel guilty about how much you spent on them. Just get rid of them. Put them in the trash or drop them off at a location that can use them for parts.
If you have a collection or stash of multiples, it is time to downsize your collection. Gather them all together and donate or toss all but the favorite. For me, it was pens and scissors. I don’t know why nurses think they need 100s of pens. I had a gallon size bag of them.
Hang Clothes Backwards
Someone said that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. I don’t know how true this is, but I can assure you we did not wear most of our clothes! Although, before flipped our hangers, Phil swore, he wore all 100+ of his t-shirts! After you wear your clothes, hang them back in your closet with the hanger the correct way. After 3-6 months, you will see what you wear and what you can quickly purge.
Go through your closets, attic, garage or any other storage area. Purge anything you have not used in the past year.
The kitchen can be another challenging room to purge. All of those cool devices you thought you couldn’t live without, what do you do with them? How many can go with you? There is an easy way to figure out what items you use the most. Take all the implements from your commonly used drawer and place them in the drawer that is never used. Once you use an item place it back into the commonly used drawer. Purge anything that remains in the rarely used drawer after a month or so.
Don’t decide if you should purge an item based on what you paid for it. If an expensive item is sitting in a closet or drawer and not being used, then you are not getting your money for it anyway. So it is time just to let it go. You could try to sell it or give it to a friend who could put it to use.
If I had a hard time deciding on an item I asked myself does it bring me joy? You know those items that are sentimental, and you have been told to keep them forever. Yearbooks were our biggest item that was in this category. I had every single school yearbook back to kindergarten along with Phil’s yearbooks and our West Pac Cruise books from the Navy. We decided the yearbooks did not bring us joy. The only time we looked at them was when we packed them for our next Navy move. So we decided to recycle them. What you do with these types of items will be a personal decision. There is not a right or wrong here. Do what works best for you. Put them in storage, give them to family members, or toss them.
If you need more help with the Joy concept check out this book. It will get you motivated to toss everything that is not useful or important to you!
If it is cracked, chipped, stained, or broken, toss it! You won’t have room for anything in the RV that will not be used.
Once you make a decision about an item and it goes into the trash, give away or donate box do not take it out. We call this the touch once rule.
If you are anything like us, you will have a stack of photos sitting in boxes in a closet. What do you do with them? You can scan them and put them on the cloud or drives to preserve your memories. You could also scan them and create photo books with different online companies.
Decide if an item goes or stays quickly. If you are debating, keep it for now. This takes the stress and emotion away from the decision process. Each time you purge an area, you will be able to let more items go. Starting the purge process as early as possible will allow plenty of time to use this tip.
Sell your large items on Facebook market place or apps like Let It Go. You will get more money for them online than at a garage sale. Money that you can use to purchase those much-needed RV accessories!
Don’t be afraid to purge an item just because it was given to you by someone you love. People love who love you give you things to make you happy, not to burden you with the weight of the item. Don’t let guilt force you to keep items that you will need to pay monthly to store for later. Do you remember every gift you have given to people over the years? They probably don’t remember either.
In most areas, you can put items on your curb with a Free Take Me sign, and when you come home from work, your curb will be empty. It is an easy way to get rid of your stuff and allow others to put it to good use.
CDs and DVDs
These items take up valuable space in your RV. With all the ways to stream movies and music, you don’t need to carry these items with you. I allowed the kids to choose which DVDs they wanted and donated the rest. I have purchased several movies on iTunes that are not available on platforms such as Netflix. Whenever I want to watch them, they are always available.
Books take up a lot of space in the RV. They can also add a lot of weight. Unless your book is very special to you, such as my Dad’s Bible, donate it to a library, school, or thrift store. Switching to digital editions will take up less space, weigh less, and save a few trees!
This is another category that is difficult to purge. We spend so much money on our electronics and a year later a new version comes out making our item worthless. When purging electronics don’t focus on what you paid for it. Find out what your item is selling for online to get an idea of its current value. Don’t forget to wipe your devices of any personal information before purging them.
Throwing your electronics in the trash may not be an option. Many electronics contain chemicals harmful to the environment and states have laws against throwing them into landfills. Look for recycling centers such as Best Buy that will take your electronics for free.
If you want to sell a lot of items with less hassle think about an estate sale. I know several people including our friends from Our Epic Field Trip who had very good experiences with estate sales.
After all your hard work you may look at stuff differently and your buying habits may change. We stopped buying stuff for our kids after our purge and now purchase experiences. They have received gifts much more valuable and longer-lasting than many of our previous gifts. Some of our gifted items include: season passes to Six Flags, car repairs, cell phone payments, Groupon gift cards, and gas cards. Think outside the box store. What experience could you gift someone you love? Share some ideas in the comments of experiences you have gifted.
I have to warn you purging can become addicting. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. Every time an item left the house, I felt lighter! I knew we were one step closer to our goal, and it was exciting.
Good luck as you start purging for full time RVing! You can do this! When purging gets hard, decide what you want more your stuff or a life of adventure.
Author Stacy, You, Me & the RV, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019