A few months before we bought our RV we decided to start over. We gave away all our stuff, simplified our lives, and learned to live a more intentional lifestyle. These entries talk about why we gave it all away, the process we went thru, what happened, how my kid felt, and how we currently feel about our adventure. Enjoy and feel free to let me know your story about freedom from things!
So we decided to give our stuff away. That is very daunting! You would think it would be easy, but it took weeks. Then at the end, it took just a few hours.
We set a few boundaries. We would keep the beds we slept in. I had a recently injured back and needed it. We also choose to make sure our kid didn’t have to give anything away. We made him organize all his things nicely in his room. That way no accidental giftings would occur.
We also made people who took our stuff promise to never give it back to us. They could sell it or regift it – but they could never give it back to us no matter what. Taking something nice from us and giving it to us for Christmas was not allowed!
Our parents had also given us a few high end items. We contacted our parents and offered it all back to them. Anything that was a family item or had family sentimental value we gave to our brothers and sisters.
We also made a point of not letting everyone in on our plan. We didn’t advertise to all our friends what was happening. We didn’t put up a twitter or Facebook status announcing it. People just found out as they would get things. We didn’t want to make a culture of anticipation that if we talked to you, you would get a free piece of swag.
We realized rather early in the process that people wouldn’t just magically appear to take our stuff. We were going to have to work at it. Tracy set a date. We would have a deadline.
Like all families we had some junk, and we had some high end pieces.
We began to give our high-end items to friends and family. We gave Tracy’s parents the TV. We gave my brother my ps3. We mailed items to our friends out of state. We gave families we saw who needed things various items from our house, even though they had never asked for them.
Tracy began looking in craigslist for people who needed things. We gave things to a girl who just got out of the military and had nothing. We gave a bed to people who had been sleeping on an air mattress. We gave a bunch of kitchen items to a girl moving into her first apartment. Her widow father was so grateful because he had nothing to give to her.
It was actually fun. When people would come over for an item we would give them the items and then all the accessories. Then anything we could shove into their arms on the way out. It was rewarding to see their grateful reactions.
It was also hard to give stuff away. We did have items that we loved! I gave my tv away the day of the deadline! I didn’t want to give it away!
It was also interesting that we had to convince people to take things. People don’t like to accept gifts! We gave a lady an expensive item and then had to convince her husband that it was ok. Some of our friends had to come over 3 or 4 times before they accepted anything.
While we gave stuff away people tried to repay us. Others just randomly heard about it and tried to give us new things.
One of my favorite memories was the look on a friends face when I gave him my iPad. He made a joke in church about how everyone couldn’t have a nice iPad. I hesitated for a few minutes. I really liked my iPad. I then went into settings and reset it all to factory new, and gave it to him. I think he had to wipe a tear away
He had no idea about the giveaway. I had to convince him to take it. It was fun!
As the deadline for the giveaway grew closer we sealed off the living room, borrowed some tables and then put everything we owned on them. We put a few ads on craigslist and free cycle and announced a freesale! I remember it started early. I wondered how many people would come. For the first 2 hours we must have had 40 cars in front of the house. It was a mad house!
Tracy stood on the inside and said “Yes, it is actually free” about 10,000 times. I stood outside drinking coffee and smiling.
I remember a lady with her toddler outside. She had Tracy’s 3 month old bicycle, all my tools, and a few boxes of stuff. She was on the phone pleading with her husband to come pick up the bike.
I saw people on the lawn calling their friends on their phones “come quick! come quick! it’s real!”
At first I was a little taken back by how people were picking over everything.
But then one by one a few would shyly come over to me. Their fever subsiding after the rush of taking free stuff from the house had somewhat subsided: “Why are you doing this?” “Are you crazy?”
I would just smile, “Do you like what you picked out?”
“Yes thank you!” they would say.
No one ever really stuck around to hear why we were doing it. I think they were afraid we would change our minds and take it all back.
I just remember seeing something on a few peoples faces. It was gratefulness. Many people came and were very picky.
But you would see those who were just grateful. They would ask the questions:
Do you have towels?
Do you have any bedding?
This is valuable – are you sure its ok for us to take this?
Those where the fun people to work with. The people who were not just taking things because they could take things. It was the people who took things because it would actually bring joy and value to their life.
In about 2 hours the house was pretty clean. Tracy then started going into the kitchen and basement. Pulling out boxes of plastic bags, aluminum foil, Christmas decorations. It didn’t matter. If it wasn’t nailed down she brought it to the living room.
And people showed up and took it all!