December 20, 2014

Decluttering your Home from “Stuff”

We have spent countless hours over the past year reading blogs, websites and articles about selling all your belongings, whether its simply decluttering your home or preparing for a move abroad.  Having left our lives in Canada just last weekend, we figure now is a great time to share our experiences.  We’ve left jobs, sold houses and cars, and most importantly reduced the amount of STUFF that we have by either selling or donating.


Jonathan quit edmonton police

Melissa meditation yoga omLeaving jobs was a relatively simple part of our move, Melissa leaving part time jobs at both Prana Yoga Studio and Optimum Health and myself leaving the Edmonton Police.  While it was difficult to “pull the pin” and hand in our letters of resignation letters, we found co-workers, supervisors and family overwhelmingly supportive of our decision.  It even sparked up some fascinating conversations with these people you thought you knew, until they open up and share their stories of travel, back packing, moving abroad, or other types of adventures.



Mel and Jon sell houseThe biggest reality checks for us was selling off our house and cars.  Your tomorrow doesn’t change much after selling a circular saw. But, to no longer have a set of wheels to get around town, or to suddenly no longer have an address that is yours to put on forms…it can all feel a little odd.  On the flip side however, the feeling that you are cutting loose from these anchors to set sail on a new adventure are equally stimulating and will fire the feeling of excitement within!


Now, when it comes to the stuff… where to begin.  There are so many reasons people will take cleanse like this, whether to move internationally, downsizing, just wanting some new things, or shifting to a minimalist lifestyle overall.  First step we feel that is helpful is coming up with a plan either on your own, or with your spouse and/or family that will be coming along for the ride.  Its best to have everyone on the same page and a direction for the kinds of things you want to keep, and the amount of stuff that is “worth” hanging onto.

packing for adventure travel abroad

Gotta love vacuum packing bags!

Once you have a game plan, find a portal that you can use to show off your inventory.  For us, we posted most of our things on kijiji and also had quite a bit of luck posting things on our Facebook pages.  And the best bang for your buck is going to be returning things that qualify, we have learned a ton about different companies return policies and will share some interesting stories with you!

The benefits of Kijiji:

Free to post, decent exposure within your local area, and you never have to pay any commission for items that sell.

The downside of Kijiji:

People are unreliable to appointments, you will receive some ridiculously low offers for items (and I seriously mean ridiculous!!), and you will have strangers coming to your house to check things out/pick them up.

The benefits of Facebook:

You know the people you’re dealing with, so you won’t get low balled nearly as bad, and you feel safer having people come to pick things up. (You might even have a chance to reconnect with some old friends!)

The downside of Facebook:

Just because they are your friends doesn’t mean they won’t flake out on you, haha, and with this you’re reach is limited to your Facebook friends which for most of us won’t be nearly the size of a kijiji audience.

If you are skimming over this article… THIS paragraph!!!

So return policies vary from company to company, and I can almost guarantee that we’ve all thrown stuff out or donated items that literally could have been taken back for a full refund.  We will share with you three scenarios that could save you a ton of money.

  1. Costo

    • –> They have an amazing return policy on almost everything in their store, even their food.  Their one restriction is electronics which limits the in store returns to 60 or 90 days.  For everything else if you are not satisfied with how long it lasted, how the clothes are fitting, or just simply bought something on a whim and have never used it, take it back and talk with them, more likely than not they’ll take it back!  If you want to hear one of the best stories of a return, send us an email, its priceless but not something we want to post publicly 😛
  2. MEC outdoor gear

    Mountain Equipment Co-op

    • –>  Being a co-op they offer some quality products a very reasonable prices so for the items we returned here, we were very careful not to return stuff to waste their money and time, as that would in turn drive up prices in the future.  But on items that you buy and never get around to using (for us we bought a bunch of bike accessories a month before selling our bikes, so all of them were still in a condition to go back on the shelves), take it in and explain the situation, they are more than reasonable!
  3. Clothing stores

    • –> There are a number of clothing stores which offer customer satisfaction guarantees on their product, so if you are sitting at home going through you’re closet and you have something you have almost never worn because it just doesn’t feel right, then take it in and explain, many will let you pick something new, and some might just refund it.

So you’ve tried selling it, thought about returning it…BUT, now before you burn it….consider whether someone less fortunate could use such an item.  There are dozens of places to take gently used clothing and other items that can be given to those in need.  Shelters are often willing to take your donations, as well as places like Goodwill or Value Village, all of which operate on your generous donations.

Now the load is getting lighter and your house is becoming less cluttered!  You might even be shocked how much space you really have now that its not full of STUFF.  We just want to finish with a couple key questions we asked each other almost on a daily basis while sorting through our belongings:

  • How many times have you worn it in the past year?
  • Is there an item on the market that can do the job of both of those? Is it worth investing in that?
  • Sporting goods –> How many times a year do you ski, golf, or whatever else?  Would the cost of renting be cheaper than the depreciation on your clubs, skis, or whatever other toy you have stores in the garage????
  • Is it cheaper to ship it or buy a new one once you land?? (For long distance moves)

moving abroad packing adventure

Landing in Chile, we carried with us two checked bags and one carry on, containing everything we felt that we needed.  Sure there are a half dozen boxes stored back home with some less useful items that carry more of a sentimental value.  However, over the past 12 months we have learned that the basic necessities of life are quite simple.  We have learned that buying something because it is on sale is not saving you money when you don’t need it in the first place.  And together have started focusing our money and attention into things that will open up our minds, and maintain our health.

The world is our playground don’t hunker down in one place and miss your chance to explore!

Chao from Chile!

Mel and Jon

…Here’s a great video if you’re thinking of de-cluttering your stuff! –>

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