This is a tough article
It is not something you should do unless you know you can handle the shock of losing everything you own. On Purpose.
Many of us say we wish we could get rid of everything, but have you actually seriously considered selling every single thing you own?
For myself, they day came after spending three years on the road and coming home each Spring to a beautiful 1800's house that I had filled with 35 years of antiques that were beginning to fall apart. Not like the roof falling off or furniture collapsing, but little things like heavy cobwebs and surface mildew creeping up the legs of my fine oak furniture. The house began to smell like those old houses you wandered up to as a kid, but were too creeped out by the "old people" smell to go in.
We were committed to a life on the road and we enjoyed it. We weren't going to be settling down again any time soon. We weren't capable of running a business and keeping a house full of memories intact. We began to call it the Mausoleum. It was time for it to go.
I decided to sell my worldly goods and give them a chance at a better life. I mentioned this to my Husband, which he also embraced. He had a million tools and no need for most of them.
So we decided to have an auction. We went for the auction plan since we didn't have the time to hold Moving, or Yard sales. We also didn't know what to charge for most things. Finally I came upon an auction site that said, "the only real value of your furniture is the price paid at auction on any given day. If properly advertised, people will drive many miles to pay the prevailing price for your possessions. This would be it's actual value in the market this day." That convinced me to finally let my things go. (That and the basement flooded once again).
I called a local Auctioneer with a legendary reputation and signed a contract. We told him we were having our "Estate Sale" now, instead of leaving a mess for the kids to sort out someday when we'd passed. He understood completely, his life was full of unprepared departings.
We spent the better part of two months preparing for the sale, cleaning, sorting and piling up items to go under the hammer. As the piles got higher, the fever got worse, and soon we were clutching at each others heirlooms and tossing them on the pile with reckless abandon.
As for the rest of those items unsuitable for resale, our burning pile in the back yard shone like the Olympic Torch over the cornfields for two weeks as we torched our past. Soon there was less than a trunkfull of legal papers, (which we shredded mostly), and lots of old clothes.
The day of the auction was stressful, but we got through it thanks to friends and family who arrived, like the calvary, just in time to save the day. they hauled, watched over our things and held our hands. After the day was over, the yard was empty but our Good People were all around us that evening, we didn't feel the loss.
We put the money from the auction and the sale of our home to buy a resplendant Fifth Wheeler RV to live, work and play out of. Now it seems like we are on vacation all the time. Only I don't have to worry about the things I left at home anymore.
- Really think it through before you purge, make sure you aren't just having a bad time of it and want to chuck it all
- Get a reputable Auctioneer, read, understand and sign your contract
- Clean up and organize your stuff, make up small boxes of like goodies
- Have a support group for the days up to and including the actual auction
- Don't over estimate how much you'll make. Not everybody wants to pay a million for your milk bottle collection. Take a good guess and halve that amount. Be ready to make less than you planned on, but at least it will be out of your hands and your life will be less cluttered.
- Have a goal of buying something or paying off something to make it more worth while, there is nothing worse than waking up the next day and saying, "We just sold all our stuff, Now What?"
- Have a plan for the money. Money has way way of slipping away if you don't have an immediate use for it.
Update August 17, 2010:
We are days away from the delivery of our new home and things are at a standstill on the homefront. Even though we had an auction, there is plenty more left to deal with, clothes and other items unsuitable for the auction.
It's been depressing to try and rid ourselves of the last vestiges of our house life, the task seems never ending and the piles seem to grow larger and more ominous as time passes.
This is also our busiest time of year with and event almost every weekend until October.
How can we possibly get it all done? The magnitude of the task has almost frozen me into immobility at times, but we slog through the best we can, and if all else fails we will rent a storage bin and just chuck it all in there to be dealt with next Spring.
So, if you find yourself at this impass, remind yourself that it all will pass with time and that somehow you will get through it all. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would do it.