Casita Living | How We Minimized our Stuff

Wedding in Redwood Forest

 

So often when talking about our tiny home, people want to know “What did you do with all your stuff?”. We live in a 60 square foot camper, so the space is very limited. We probably only kept about 5% of what we originally owned. People say “I could never do that!” or “I have too many clothes” , “ I could never get rid of my (fill in the blank)”, the list goes on. We had a lot of stuff too. Everyone who knew us knew Josh was loved collecting outdoor gear and big expensive toys and I loved bringing home funky thrift store finds. You might be surprised to hear that about 90% of it was really easy to get rid of. That last 5% was really hard. I know so many of you have asked for a post on our minimizing process, and I’m sorry it has taken us so long. However, now that we’ve just celebrated our one year anniversary with Roamy, I figured now is the perfect time to share.

The first step is reminding ourselves that its all just stuff. That first 90% was so easy to get rid of because it was wasn’t anything extraordinary, or irreplaceable. I’m one of those people who had a closet full of clothes, but always gravitated towards the same few outfits. I had a whole bunch of cute thrift store finds that I decorated my home with, but now that I was moving into a new space, those old looks were pretty easy to part with. We actually sold our condo with all of the furnishings and decor, which made it even easier on us. (Note: If you’re moving out of your place, just talk to your realtor about putting this in your listing. It was a godsend!)

 

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To start my minimizing, I went through all my stuff in a few different rounds. First series was: “Have I used/worn this in the past year?”, then “Have I used this in the past 6 months/most recent season?” Its pretty amazing how much was eliminated in this round. This is the stuff that we buy “just in case” or “why not” and maybe use a few times but then throw to the back of the closet. I had so many pairs of shoes and dresses and sports equipment that I got rid of in this round.

The next round was “ Will this work with my new lifestyle?”. This also eliminated quite a bit, as large obvious things could be eliminated. I didn’t need a toaster, or coffeemaker, or vaccuum. This helped eliminate a lot of my clothes as well, as I needed to focus on well-made, sturdy and outdoorsy outfits for year round camping. I further eliminated by laying out all the clothes that potentially made the cut and making sure  I could mix and match them into at least 3 different outfits. While I call this one round- I actually had to do several mini rounds to reevaluate things and ponder over them. By the end, most of my stuff was gone.

 

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Anything I had that I thought was worth $5 or more, I listed on Craigslist. I had boxes of stuff to sell, so I listed them for “Porch Pickup” to avoid meeting with every single purchase. This was pretty much based on the honor system. I’d give people my address when they told me they planned to come by for my item, leave the items out on my front deck for them to check out, and if they wanted it, they left the money in a little zip lock bag under my doormat. This system worked incredibly well and helped us make a little extra cash for our big road trip across the US. There was only one time when someone didn’t leave enough money under the mat, but hey, I planned to donate everything I couldn’t sell anyway, so something is better than nothing. Everything that I did not sell was piled in our truck and donated to my very favorite thrift store in the area, Dorcas. This is actually where I bought most of my stuff anyways, so I kind of felt like I was just returning it to its other home. :)

 

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Still- sentimental value kept me holding onto certain things that were clearly not practical, but impossible to get rid of. Take Josh’s wedding suit for example. And my wedding dress. When would we ever wear those again? But something just felt so wrong getting rid of them. (By the way- how awesome that he still fit in no problem! Actually it even looks a little baggy on him. Way to go Josh!) I felt so guilty letting go of the gifts people gave me, thinking they would be mad at me. I had even hoarded a large stack of birthday and christmas cards in my drawers over the years that I couldn’t seem to let go of. And then- just in the knick of time, I discovered a new book that helped me through it all: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

 

(Note: Your house will be a complete disaster as you go through this process- but the reward is great!)

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Marie Kondo says that her book is about Tidying, but really its about minimalism. Its easy to be tidy when you have less stuff to pick up and put away. There were two really key points in her book that helped me sort through that last pile of stuff:

  1. Does this item spark joy when you touch it?
  2. Gifts are made for the joy of giving.

The “Spark Joy” phrase helped me get rid of some things that remained because they seemed practical, but I just didn’t love them. Sure that backpacking rain jacket was ultra practical, but I loved the look and feel of the other more fashionable one- so that’s the one I always ended up wearing. The backpacking jacket sparked zero joy despite how practical it was. GONE.

The “gifts are made for the joy of giving” is still something I utilize quite often. Marie talks about how gifts are simply a way for people to show they are thinking of you. The gift has achieved its purpose as soon as it has been given. There is no need to hang onto it. Hearing this was so freeing. I still enjoy receiving gifts from clients, family, and friends, and see it simply as a kind gesture. I don’t feel guilty when I can’t hang onto everything that is given to me as its simply impossible these days. I am thankful for the thoughtfulness of the gifts as I donate them to be appreciated by someone else. Seeing gift giving in this way also has made it much easier for me to buy gifts for others- as I can base my decision more on thoughtfulness than on practicality.

These two points are really just a small fraction of Marie Kondo’s book. If you are looking to minimize like us, I highly recommend reading it or listening to it on audiobook. I’ll tell you that Josh and I do not miss any of the things we got rid of. Its been about a year and we are doing great with the very little we have. Everything we have gets used often, everything serves a purpose, and we only have what we really need. We have 2 sets of dishes, 2 bowls, 2 sets of silverware, all the clothes we can fit in our little cupboards, and only as many outdoorsy toys as we can fit into the bed of our truck. I never knew how freeing it would be to own so little, but its like a weight has been lifted. Its something we didn’t understand until we really did it ourselves.

Please let me know in the comments below if you find this article helpful or have any of your own anecdotes to add.

Happy Trails! Shelley + Josh Hartman, Traveling Wedding Photographers

 

Wedding photographer Redwood Forest

 

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