RV Life Step 1: Getting Rid of Stuff
I’ve lived in this house for eleven years. And no matter how hard I work at getting rid of stuff, I still have lots of extra crap.
Clothes: “This vintage dress is so awesome I’m afraid to wear it!”
Kitchen gadgets: “I might need to pit a bunch of fresh cherries!”
Books: “I’m never going to read this again, but I paid retail for it so…”
Random crap: “I have space so I might as well keep these manuals for the first computer I bought in 1995.”
These justifications probably sound familiar. But when you’re going to shrink your possessions down to an amount that you can fit in your motorhome, you have to start ruthlessly getting rid of stuff.
My paring down started a couple of years ago, and I did successfully cut my clothing in half, but there’s so much more to go. Now that we own an RV, even if we don’t have it in our possession yet, it’s time to get real.
No matter how you plan to sell your stuff, you have to be prepared to let go of how much these items cost or how much you think they’re worth. It doesn’t matter. What is important is what other people believe they are worth.
So here’s my multi-prong approach to getting rid of stuff.
Selling on eBay
eBay will be most worth your while if you put up a lot of stuff at once. Then if something sells for $0.99 it won’t be the only thing you have to take to the post office. And it won’t be discouraging when you have other items selling for more than you expected.
Here’s my method for selling on eBay. First, you will be surprised at the things that will sell. Get together a pile of stuff that needs to go. Now, start looking them up on eBay. Search for the item and then refine your search for sold items. Then determine if the thing sells for a price that makes it worth your while to take pictures and post it.
Consider what the thing is and how easy it will be to ship. Also, how much it will cost to ship. If something is worth less than $5 but will cost $20 to ship, that’s an item to save for a yard sale.
Look around for small things you can sell that can ship in a first class envelope. Surprising things like this that I’ve sold are installation disks for Mac OS 8.6, water damaged ’76 VW Beetle owners manual missing its cover, replacement earbud covers for Bose in-ear headphones, a broken antique silver lighter, etc. You get the idea.
Clothing is challenging.
If you can’t take a bunch of well-lighted photos on a model or dress form, you might want to try to find a consignment shop instead. I do have a dress form and have been pretty successful in selling clothing. And adding accurate measurements will help it sell as well. This process is time-consuming so make sure someone will pay enough money to be worth your time.
Books are hard.
It’s not worth it to ship them, even by media mail, when you can find popular releases all day long at the thrift store for less than a dollar. But, if you have textbooks, indie or rare books, you might have some luck.
If you think the book is unusual, check eBay to see if any has sold.
Otherwise, eBay has another section just for books and media called Half.com. (Half.com is no longer. It’s just eBay but you can mostly follow the same procedure.)
Books don’t sell quickly on here, so be prepared to put the box aside as they sell piecemeal. I started doing this about a year ago. In the past six months, I’ve sold five books. So, sloooooow. You can go in and lower your prices periodically, which I obviously need to do. I’ll just keep them on there until they’re in the way then I’ll take them down and give them away.
Selling on Craigslist
Craigslist has been relatively kind to me, but it is still hit or miss. And it’s a pain to coordinate to have people see the item or meet them somewhere.
I’ve had good luck selling fitness equipment and bicycles through Craigslist. But not electronics. I really would rather sell electronics through Craigslist than eBay so the person can have the opportunity to test the item out first.
But after either being lowballed or getting no bites, I ended up selling an iPhone and a MacBook Air on eBay and was happy with the result. Well, I just shipped the computer, so hopefully, that doesn’t bite me in the ass. (So, this did indeed bite me in the ass. The box doesn’t match the computer even though I’ve been the only owner. So it’s getting returned. Bummer. This return is exactly why I prefer Craigslist!)
Oh, I almost forgot about Decluttr! Decluttr is an app that you can use to sell your CDs and DVDs. All you do is use your smartphone to scan the barcodes. Then the app will tell you what they will pay you for it. You can accept or reject that.
After you scan everything, box up the ones you want to sell them and they will give you a shipping label. Then they will send you a check.
When I used it, I think the service was relatively new. I did have to contact them to find out why I hadn’t received a check yet. But then I got it quickly. I used this to get rid of all my CDs that I didn’t care about or were readily available online. I may or may not have digital copies of everything anyway.
Update: I used Decluttr for the second time recently to get rid of another batch of media and everything went smoothly. When you sign up through this link, you’ll get an additional $5 the first time you sell them at least $10 worth of media. We used to also get a bonus for referrals but we’ve maxed that out.
Having a Yard Sale
Last Fall, I had a yard sale that wasn’t that productive. Afterward, we ended up donating some of the stuff and then put the rest in the basement for another yard sale. So that’ll be happening soon.
Putting It Out
If you live in a city, you can probably just put stuff on the curb, and it’ll disappear. We do, and this works. After the yard sale, the “good” stuff will probably be donated, and the rest put out. And I’ve got some things that are large and no one will want so a trip to the dump will happen as well. Our NextDoor community is active, so I’ll post on there. Freecycling is also an option I’ve used in the past.
Whew! Getting rid of stuff is a job in itself. I think that’s why so much ends up being donated or going to the landfill. Did I miss any ways of getting rid of stuff? What worked for you?
About the Author
vegan. full-time traveler. rv dweller. food lover. cow petter.
OK. You’re off grid with 30 pounds of fresh fruit and veggies. They need to be wash and stored. There is no potable water at your location. How do you manage?
Hi Laurence. I also so your message to us. Your situation is a challenging one. You’ll probably need more refrigerator capacity than most people. Maybe you could have two of the big chest-style refrigerators and have them slide out of the way under your bed. Just make sure your power set up (solar, generator) is enough to keep your batteries going.
As for water, we have an 80-gallon freshwater tank on board. We also have two water cans and a gravity fill so we can resupply without moving the RV. I’m betting that ambulances already have water tanks but I don’t know what size they would have.
If you will just have the ambulance and no other vehicle, you might consider washing and prepping all of your veggies when you buy them and are in a town near a water source.
I haven’t heard of anyone needing to keep this much fresh food on board, so I don’t really have any resources for you. You might consider researching what boaters do for ocean crossings for some ideas.