It seems that creating a more minimalistic lifestyle is all the rage these days. Even people who aren’t planning on living on a boat are seeing the benefits of downsizing, getting rid of the clutter in their lives, purchasing experiences instead of material things. Everywhere I look there are articles about how to spring clean your life, but equally there are also all the advertisements and flyers in my letterbox encouraging me to buy more stuff!
Studies that show that in the long term, purchasing experiences make you happier than that big flat screen TV. The issue people have with this is that experiences, like show tickets, or a holiday, only last for a short time, but TV’s and new cars last for a long time. Still I’m sure there aren’t many people who reminisce on their death bed how enriched their life was after they bought that TV or new couch. Travel on the other hand brings many rich rewards and experiences. Same with a boat!
The sooner you get started the better. Think of how much money you would have saved had you not purchased these things in the first place! Material possessions can end up being a hindrance to living more freely. The thought of having to move all my household goods from one house to another sends shivers up my spine.
And if you don’t have lots of material possessions, think of how much money you will save by not having to insure those items as well!
Well we made a start on this last year, and this year I plan to continue. I feel it has to be easier if we are able to spread this out over a few years. A large pile of unwanted things is accumulating in my garage as we speak.
Here is how to go about it.
Getting rid of your stuff can be a painful and time consuming process. Even if you are a year or two away from sailing, the earlier you start, the easier it will be. You will have time to come to terms with the things you will need to leave behind, and figure out the best way to deal with them.
Think about the $$
If you have opened a boat savings account, you can deposit any money saved or money earned from selling things in to that account.
Stop Buying Things
Sounds simple right? The rule is that if I buy anything now, it has to be something that will come on the boat with us. No more glass vases, no more furniture, cut back on buying makeup, fancy dresses and high heeled shoes. Try to use the things that I already have instead of buying something new. Put the money I save from not buying so much stuff in to the boat savings account.
Make a list of what you need
A great idea from Jesse in the comments below: Tell your friends and family that you are downsizing. If you have a list of the things that you are going to need on your yacht/travels if anyone wants to buy you gifts for birthdays or Christmas, they can get you something useful that you are going to need – as opposed to something that you will potentially have to store/get rid of, as you get closer to the time.
Your list can also keep you on track for the things that you are saving up for. You can do research on the various different products available, or purchase things when they go on sale. Having time to make these purchases means you can get the things you really want, as opposed to making impulse decisions when you go to move on the boat.
If you are feeling really daunted about the task ahead, then read this book. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Houses are great spaces for accumulating lots of things you don’t actually need or want any more. But you are loathe to just chuck them out. I don’t want to contribute things that someone else might find useful to land-fill.
Start in an easy room – perhaps a spare bedroom. Take everything out. Give the room a good clean out while it is empty.
So what are you going to keep and what are you going to get rid of?
Now go through all the things you have removed and make four piles:
- Stuff you are going to keep – put it back in the room
- Stuff you can sell – take photos and put them up online as you go
- Things to give away/donate – put them straight in your car and deliver them round to the people you are giving them away to in the next day or two.
- Stuff to throw out/recycle – put it straight in the bin!
Try to minimise the pile of things you really aren’t sure about getting rid of. If you can’t bear to part with them right now, put those things in a box and stow them away in the garage. Revisit those things again later – when you’ll need to be a bit more ruthless.
Consider that the stuff you’ve got stored away that you aren’t using could be super useful and really loved by someone else.
Set a goal to do one room a day or a week, or just a single wardrobe/cupboard/bookshelf at a time. Don’t try and do your whole house at once as I find its just too exhausting. Try to keep the momentum going though.
You are bound to have a few treasured memories that you can’t bear to part with. You’ve got a couple of options.
I have got two big plastic tubs with lids that contain things like photographs, letters, cards, school reports etc. I have got a separate one for Seth. All those special little things that you like to look back on every once in a while. The tubs can either be stored in the corner of a garage, or under a bed somewhere out of the way.
Another suggestion is to digitise these memories. Scan the letters, photos, take a photo of the special item. Keep the memories that way.
I am a bit of a (boating) magazine hoarder. Instead of keeping the whole magazine, tear out the pages, or even better, scan the pages that are of interest to you and create some kind of filing system for keeping that information. Recycle the rest, or take them down the your local doctors surgery waiting room.
Buy a Kindle and download all your favourite books. Sell, donate or give away all your other books.
Go through your clothes and immediately remove anything you haven’t worn in ages, anything you don’t like and anything that doesn’t fit. From the things that are left behind, put your hangers in the wardrobe backwards. Then when you wear something and put it back in the right way round. I read something that says that you only regularly wear about 20% of the clothes in your wardrobe…
Anything you don’t want, you can either donate to a charity shop, have a get together with friends and do a clothes swap session, or there are sometimes shops that sell clothes on behalf – they usually take a 50% commission on the sale price.
We always hand down kids clothes to someone a bit smaller. We have done well from people who have given us their kids clothes once they have grown out of them. A great way to save money too when they grow so fast.
I do some work for a storage company and am constantly amazed at the amount of money people spend on storing their junk. You really don’t need more space – you need less stuff! If you are going sailing for a few years and want to keep some of your things, calculate how much it will cost to store that lounge suite vs how much it would cost to buy a new one when you get back.
If you do decide to put things in storage, shop around for the best price, take particular care to ensure that things are packaged well. Consider potential water leaks and rodents in storage units and pack accordingly.
Renting out your house furnished
If you are planning on keeping your home, and you want to keep some of your things as well you could consider renting it out furnished. You probably wouldn’t want to leave your favourite antiques and personal stuff in the house, and you might want to consider getting a property manager to do regular checks, and keep an inventory of all the items. You might also want to think about wear & tear on your things, and also bear in mind that if you rent it out furnished, then you are also responsible for repairing any of those things that break – like appliances for example.
If you have a large garage, you could think about shutting all or part of it off and storing your things in there, or leaving your personal bits in boxes in the attic.
I have copied all my old DVD’s and CD’s on to the computer and now have all my music on iTunes.
I still like printed photo books for displaying photos, however now lots of our photographs are now published on Facebook, on the blog or stored on our phones or computers.
How about scanning all those instruction books on to your computer? Do you really need to keep the paper copies in 20 different languages? Again I do like paper copies of reference material. Perhaps you can just cut out the pages of your preferred language and store them instead.
The issue with having everything digital of course is if you lose your computer somewhere along the way, you can also lose all the original data. Andrew has got a Time Capsule system, where everything is backed up every night. Hopefully we can transfer that on to the boat somehow as well. There are also great cloud storage systems, but they can be a bit difficult to access when you aren’t near any internet coverage.
While we are on the digital theme, how about having a clear out on your computer?
Get rid of any old documents you don’t need, set up a new filing system for the ones you want to keep, delete duplicate or bad photographs, clear out your emails, unsubscribe from any email newsletters you don’t need or read, ‘un-like’ any Facebook pages or groups you don’t want to follow any more, ‘un-friend’ any people you don’t want to keep in touch with any more – particularly negative people who fill up your timeline with distressing stuff, delete any music you don’t like from your iPod etc.
The 20/20 Rule
Another article I read suggested don’t bother keeping anything that you can buy for less than $20.00 from a shop less than 20 minutes away. Hmm I am not sure on this one. Although I see its merits.
Any other suggestions and tips? Everything we own will need to be reduced down to fit in here!!