A few months ago, I confessed to how emotional I was when attempting to get rid of 90% of my stuff. It wasn’t just a simple fact of not wanting to declutter and part with my things, it was much more than that.
I experienced so much hate, anger, confusion, and worst of all – shame. Selling items I held onto since high school (I’m in my mid-thirties) made me realize how much of my identity was tied to stuff. Just stuff.
In fact, I had nicknames dedicated to the things I collected and was proud of it. I was so proud to have large collections of Pez dispensers, and surrounded myself with shelves upon shelves of these cute little candy holders.
Before we move on with this story, let’s backtrack a bit so I can explain why I challenged myself to get rid of 90% of my stuff.
The Infamous Storage Unit
When I my husband and I were overseas for about 8 years, we rented a storage unit to house some of your furniture and small knick knacks. I was really excited to open it up when we finally settled back in the US. Let’s just say apart from the smell, I didn’t have a good feeling in my stomach. I want to delutter everything and challenged myself to get rid of 90% of my stuff based on how many of those items weren’t necessities.
In the first part of this story, I talked about how I sold off my record player and vinyl records. It was the first of many times I felt angry at selling off my things. I felt like that without any of these items anymore, that I wasn’t a worthy person to be around. It’s like if I keep surrounding myself with cool things I could hide the fact that I wasn’t cool.
I also learned that I had a lot of spending triggers to still deal with when I kept decluttering. Basically, I came to terms with my emotional spending years ago and how I could release them. When decluttering, I realized it wasn’t just about getting rid of things, it was getting rid of habits and identities that no longer served me.
Selling Off my Pez Dispenser Collection
Working to declutter my clothes, books and other random items were easy compared to the 500 Pez dispensers I was selling off. Yes, you read that right: 500. I was pretty shocked myself at how many I bought.
I had to stop myself many times from calculating how much I had actually spent on them. Let’s just say it was a few thousand dollars. Typing that is making me choke up!
The idea was to put up a bunch of listings on Etsy and sell them all off. From the suggestions of a few sellers I bundled some of them up by themes and “collections” (like Disney collection, etc.) so I could get rid of them even faster.
Why Pricing Made Me Want to Vomit
I won’t lie, it was really fun to take photos of these Pez dispensers. My son even got in on the fun by grabbing a few by the box and helping me “arrange” them. I wrote out simple descriptions and had set my Etsy account, ready go to.
Then came time to decide on the prices, that was no fun at all.
I can’t tell you how long I actually spent researching, but it was more than a few hours on eBay, Etsy and online forums to see how much my collection was actually worth. Yes, I wanted to try to make my money back and then some. However, I wanted to sell them all off as quickly as I could because it also made me sick to my stomach thinking about them.
Back in high school, I was pretty much known for having a huge Pez collection. In fact, people nicknamed me “Pezgirl.” I got Pez dispensers for Christmas and birthdays. I’m really appreciative of all the relationships I’ve built up over the years, I can’t help but wonder if without this novel quality of mine whether I would have been able to make friends. So yeah, selling these off as fast as I can means I don’t have to think about those weird memories anymore.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to get ripped off. There are ton of collectors out there who would pay a killing for the collection I had. I felt weird thinking I was greedy for trying to sell it all at the best possible price. I even decided that all the profits from the sale (I had to buy packaging to send them off) would be donated to charity.
In the end, I priced my items a bit lower than what other sellers had them on eBay.
The Avid Buyer
I was doing pretty well selling off my collection. I was coming to terms that it’s ok to not surround myself with things as part of my identity. I even worked on a lot of forgiveness around my need to do so. It was going great.
That was, until one person on Etsy started buying my Pez dispensers rather quickly. No sooner would I ship something off to them would they buy more. Initially, I was really excited as I finally decided on a charity I wanted to donate my money to.
After work one day, this person decided to message me asking to buy the rest of my collection. By this point, I still had half of it left to sell. If you read the last post where I talked about being angry when I was selling off my record player, the same emotions surfaced again. How dare this person try to get a discount on my stuff! Don’t they know that I already priced it pretty low?
My mind kept telling me that this person wanted to rip me off. Perhaps they wanted to resell it all at a much higher price. Maybe they wanted to take advantage of me.
I had to take a few days to come up with a decision. Not going to lie, I cried about it. It wasn’t that I was afraid of letting go of parts of myself this time, it was that I was feeling so ashamed yet again. I couldn’t believe how I could have let myself buy all this stuff and wasted all that money.
They say forgiveness is a never ending process. Whoever said that is totally right. I may preach to others that you need to forgive yourself for past money mistakes, but I still have to learn that lesson each and every single day. It took me 10 years to forgive myself for my crazy breakup, overspending, being angry when I went to declutter my things, and a whole slew of bad decisions. It was the toughest 10 years of my life. I know that I’ll continue to make mistakes and work on the whole forgiveness thing all over again.
I spoke to the buyer and negotiated a pretty fair deal for everything. It turns out, this person was just a really avid collector of Pez dispensers. Good for them.
Life After Decluttering
I can’t say going through months of the whole process has completely changed my life, but it has shed some light on a lot of money issues I need to keep working on. You may think that getting rid of stuff is just that, a simple process to declutter your things, but it’s so much more than that. It’ll test your limits to the max, I’m pretty sure of it. Not having so many things around you will force you to face those not so pretty parts of yourself.
That’s a good thing. Most of us go through life thinking of we can hide the ugliness so we can work on making more money and just focus all the things we dream of. But it’s through those ugly parts that reveal to us what we’re doing to sabotage our efforts, and that if you don’t come to terms with it, you’ll never raise your net-worth.
For me, learning to declutter forced me to see my beliefs about how worthy I was as a person. It wasn’t fun, but it has been worth it.
I encourage you to comb through some if your possessions to see what comes up for you. Who knows, it might be scary but also freeing.
Being a badass with your money is as easy as asking yourself what you want.
Download our values-based spending guide and figure out how to revolutionize your financial decisions ASAP.
(psst...we also send you occasional emails on how else to live beyond the dollar. You in?)
Latest posts by Sarah Li Cain (see all)
- A Nourishing (and Hopefully Painless!) Ritual For Your Finances - October 23, 2018
- Perhaps the Secret Reason Your Job Sucks Is…You? - July 25, 2018
- Can You Fix Your Finances in Just Ten Minutes a Day? - July 10, 2018