From the shoebox we moved cross-country to medical school, where we started out in an orange-tiled one bedroom: our square footage doubled! And our belongings grew with our space, as medical texts, professional clothes for me, and short white coats for him filled up our shelves and closets.
Our next move was to a townhouse with the same orange tile, and man, does a seven-pound baby come with baggage. After two years in our townhouse we moved again for residency, to a house! 1800 square feet to fill, and attic space to boot. Our old Geo (may she rest in peace) would be rolling in her junkyard if she saw all the stuff that eight years of marriage and two small children accumulates.
We have a few years yet before our next move, but we know it'll be back to an apartment, and probably a small one. And so I've begun the purge.
I started with the medical books. My favorite place to sell books is Amazon buyback--Amazon will directly buy books for a set fee, and they cover shipping. Your only responsibility is to print a label, stick it on a box, and drop it off at your local post office. Hasta la vida, libros. If Amazon isn't currently buying your books, try a local used bookstore, especially if you have a medical school in town. The closest ones to campus are generally more willing to accept textbooks. If nobody bites, donate them to Goodwill, or to a local medical student. He or she will be more than happy to take them off your hands.
I'm a total e-reader convert, so I also sold some of my hardcovers that were taking up space. Buy the digital copies with the money you make if you miss them!
Clothes were next. I am a packrat, and I've hardly gotten rid of any clothes over the past . . . since high school. I had a very full closet plus several large totes in the garage, and let's be honest, my body's changed since having babies and the only time this full-time momma wears professional gear is when I'm curious if it still fits. (You guys! it does! mostly.) I was ruthless going through my closet. Haven't worn it in a year? Gone. Fits but will look better if I lose a few pounds? Gone.
I separated the clothes into a few piles. I ordered bags from ThredUp.com and LikeTwice.com; both are companies that buy old clothes. Pay attention to the brands they accept--ThredUp takes more brands, but pays less upfront. They also take more expensive items on consignment, which pays out well. LikeTwice is more particular about its brands, but their customer service is a lot nicer and they pay more per item. They also have an easier return policy if you want to get your items back for any reason. Between the two companies, I got rid of all my garage clothes and made a nice chunk of change in return. (And hey, if you want a hookup, I can email you codes to get $10 off an order at either place!) Anything else, I donated to Goodwill.
My last attack was on my kids' toys. After sorting out anything that was incomplete, broken, or unloved, about half their toys were left. I'm in the middle of organizing their remaining toys into bins and boxes for easier cleanup.
It's a good feeling, having less stuff. Getting dressed each morning is easier, since all my clothes live in my closet and I love all of them. My kids have an easier time finding toys they actually want to play with, since all the distracting and broken toys (and...pretty much any toy that makes noise. Sorry, boys) are gone. And my husband is refilling his empty shelves with books that actually apply to his specialty.
We still can't fit our belongings in a car, and our lives will never again fit in that adorable studio where we began our marriage. But we have less stuff than house, and I feel like my life is in order.
Until the next box of toys from Grandma comes, I guess.