The first and possibly the most useful idea when downsizing is to get in the right mind. Those who live a minimalist way of life are more productive and happier. Downsizing is not necessarily going to be a trial in torturous distress with the right thinking. OK, maybe I didn't describe that right, but it can definitely be a trial getting rid of your possessions when downsizing.
We have found seven ways to help in your downsizing transition. When ever or where ever you are in your journey, the first step is quite simple. It is just to start.
- Now is the Best time to start
When trying to determine when to start the sometimes daunting task of downsizing, you may feel that you do not have the time, you do not want to start until you already have your RV or think the task of organizing is just too much. No matter where you are, if you have decided to make a change in life to live the RV lifestyle, even if you have not decided on your RV (Motor-coach or travel trailer), the best time to start is now! Just get right to it. Now is the best time!
- Have a vision in mind
Having a idea of what you want to accomplish is important to your overall goal. Being able to visualize your goals will keep you going. Your vision does not have to be a literal. Most goal visions end up being an ideal, a finish line that you will reach at the end of your project. We had a picture of our RV on our phones (it seems a little silly now because we could have easily gotten a print to put on the fridge while we downsized). Being able to actually see the RV kept me able to see my finish line. I could see I was steadily heading towards it with every room, closet, or drawer I emptied. Because I had never lived in such a small area before I had no real idea of what I should hold onto and what should go. It turned out that not knowing made me hold onto to much. When it came to my clothes, it turned out my husband could not really help me. I did a little research and found out the clothes I would need to have a minimalist wardrobe living the RV lifestyle had on board. This way I was able to begin my minimalist wardrobe. My vision was to have a minimalist life, but with the comforts I had come to love.
- Inventory your stuff
Take the time to make a list of all the things that you have, the things you want to keep and the things you need. It will make everything go more smoothly. Most people are visual, not only with learning, but being visual helps with organization as well. Make your lists when you begin and it can make the entire project go more smoothly.
- Mentally Prepare
Some people can do well under pressure and make decisions quickly, but for the rest of us, deciding to donate the porcelain duck given to us by great-aunt Elma when we were twelve can not be made in haste. I know that I am that person that will hum and haw over every decision (in fact, that is what I did). My husband was very patient with me considering the amount of both memorabilia and useless items I had to get rid of. We had a schedule to keep and he made sure that I used the time that I had (when not at work) wisely. He told me to take my time and be sure of what I was donating and what I was trashing.
- Think Positively
Positive thinking will be helpful. Positivity will keep you going when you are thinking it is too hard to let go of your things. At some point in our process, this is going to happen. We have made attachments to our possessions. We do not really want to part with them, but we need to for downsizing. Remember that you are not getting rid of your treasured memories. Think of it like this, you are making room for your new free and organized life on the road.
- Sell or Donate Items
Selling and or donating unwanted or used items is one of the main ways to downsize. This is one of the easiest items on our list to do. Keep in mind that one of the great things about donating your items is that it may benefit others. Selling your items is a good way to have more money for your future lifestyle. It is good to have a little extra money. The closest store to our old place that accepted donations was our local Goodwill. I made several trips back and forth (it was good exercise also). Now, if you are one of the many that can itemize their taxes, do not forget to get your tax receipt for donated items. It may help you get a little more back in April.
Being able to get rid of all my paper and digitize was very important. My husband was adamant about needing to control our overall weight when moving into our RV. Our weight had to be low. So my many years of keeping tax returns and any and every receipt I was given had to stop. I had a lot of work to do. With the little help and a lot of work, I was able to organize, scan, and label most of my items. I still had a little to do when we moved into the RV.
Today there are many devices that can help you organize paper products. You no longer have to do it the hard and tedious way. At the time we were moving in it was 2015. I did mine by hand because I chose not to purchase the necessary software. If I had to do it again, I would take the financial hit. It would have saved me so much time. Of course it was less time for me, because from there my husband was in charge of shredding my papers. He was less enthusiastic about this.
I could not have done my downsize without my husband. With help I was able to get rid of a majority of my clutter. Having another person to be accountable to helped with actually getting things done. I was personally able to do two specific things.
- I Donated a large amount of things I would have no use for in our RV home.
- I had a large amount of memorabilia, books and items passed to me from my mother. This was my source of considerable clutter. I was able to send most of these items to one of my sisters.
I think these two helped me the most. I had been donating items to the local goodwill for years. The problem was I would donate, then go to the store and shop. I would end up with more clutter. This is where my wonderful husband came in. Since he had lived in a couple of full-time vehicles. He has converted his own bus, lived on a great boat and also lived in another RV. He has lived this lifestyle for many years. So it was obvious he would be my go to for any questions about our transition.
He helped me with the idea to scan my pictures and any documents I might want to keep. We have a box with our important documentation, like birth certificates, marriage certificates and Bank info. As we all know there are some papers that we have to keep original documentation for. For all the others he helped me convert them into digital form.
I didn't realize how much I actually had until I started in earnest putting everything in order. I needed a little guidance. I could not see the problem until we talked about the actual dimensions of our new RV space. We had placed our down payment and was well on our way to ownership. I still had an apartment full of clutter and a storage we were making monthly payments burning a hole in our wallet.
These two things along with the help of my husband helped me considerably when downsizing in preparation of moving into our RV. It's important to remember why you are downsizing. Most people transitioning into the RV lifestyle will have 50 percent less space than in their previous home. Another key point to remember is that once you have completed downsizing, you will want to keep it simple. Your square footage will change, so you will not have room for items not absolutely necessary. Once you are in your RV home, clutter will accumulate easily, so you have to stay up on what you have. I suggest you actively stay up on it.
I hope that our ideas help you with your transition into your RV home. Making this a little easier and less stressful for all involved.