Sunday, July 22, 2018

Moving = Downsizing Tool

I will never forget moving back to Pennsylvania with this collection. It took up an entire checked bag and several post office boxes, and some of it still arrived damaged. Now, this was partially my own fault: wrapping hundreds of items quickly wore on my patience, and as a result, I didn't pad everything as much as I should have. But it's also just a simple fact of life that, if you're packing a boatload of makeup and putting it in the hands of people who have to move very heavy things as quickly as possible, you're going to experience some casualties.

I've downsized all of my possessions gradually over the last few years, but things really kicked in to overdrive at the start of 2018 because I knew I was moving across the country. As compared to my post-grad school move, which cost me thousands, I was able to fit almost everything I wanted and considered irreplaceable in three checked bags, two large USPS flat rate boxes, one medium flat rate box, and a bookbag. True minimalists could obviously move with much less, I'm sure, but a computer and a camera set up take a lot of room (the computer had its own checked bag, actually), and I'm not willing to give up the tools I need for my hobbies and career for the sake of space saving.

In fairness, I was not moving any furniture: nothing in my bedroom was especially precious to me, and my fiance and I knew we could furnish our apartment with rummage sale findings and leftovers from friends and family. (One of our goals for this coming week is to move and scrub an old loveseat and armchair set his parents had packed away in a trailer for the last five years.) This will obviously not be the case if you have, say, a very expensive couch or a family heirloom of a coffee table, or if you're moving to a place with no friends or family present. There are also things that just made zero sense to pack, i.e., I now work from home and therefore do not need dozens of dress clothing items. And most importantly, my cat has a safe place with my parents until I can figure out the safest way to move her. I know not everybody has those luxuries.

That said, makeup is a very different beast from pets and loveseats; in theory, it should be easy to move. And being able to fit all of my makeup in to one 12" x 12" x 5.5" box and ship it for less than $20 felt like such a coup. There are several thoughts and realities that guided me as I downsized, e.g., "It's okay to get rid of products I like if they're not being used enough. It does not mean I like the product any less." But the big question I asked myself--and the one that really worked for me--was, "Do I really want to go through the hassle of moving this a thousand miles?" If I asked myself this question and my response was anything less than, "Duh, I love this thing," I realized it likely wasn't worth keeping.

I kept saying this to my mother, actually, because she would ask me if I was packing $20 pans or every single $5 thrift store shirt I owned: it's not worth paying for more post office boxes or checked bags. She eventually caught on to what I was doing and didn't even bat an eye at the 4+ trash bags full of donation items I gathered. I mean, can you imagine if I'd tried packing all of that stuff? What a mess.

I suggested that my fiance try asking himself this question, and he said, "Yeah, my imagination isn't that strong; I know I'm not moving a thousand miles right now and I can't pretend I am." (We moved to his home state, so all of his possessions are a short drive away.) So I suggested he try a variation: "Do I really want to go through the trouble of packing this for my new apartment? Am I going to make sure it has a place, that it's stored properly? And when I move out of this apartment, will I want to pack it?" Remembering that we dream of settling down in several other states has helped him much more.

If you're a visual person, try getting a small-ish box or plastic tote and pretend it's the only space you have to pack your makeup. If you hesitate to put something in the box--if you start thinking, "Well, but that will take up space, and then..."--put it off to the side. When you're done, look at the products you've set aside and ask yourself if you really love and regularly use those products. You can also put those set-aside products in a box and hide them somewhere, like under your bed or in your closet, and see if you miss them over the next few weeks. Context is important, of course; if you only wear burgundy lipstick in the colder months and you live in Texas, well, that's likely why you aren't reaching for that lipstick right now. But I think most people have the critical thinking skills to keep that in the back of their mind.


  1. I'm moving in about a month (not too far, but still), and that will likely spur a destash for me as well. I'm fairly happy with the size of my makeup collection at the moment (though I might do a super-quick instagram sale), but I have a feeling that quite a few nail polishes will be getting the axe. And God knows how many old clothes that haven't fit in five years are lurking in my attic.

    Best of luck with the rest of your move!

    1. Best of luck with your move! Getting rid of things that didn't fit me or that I definitely wouldn't wear again was huge for me.

  2. After cleaning out my late mother's 2800sq ft. hoarding nightmare, the only things I have trouble parting with are video game collectibles and makeup. I spent the past year eliminating unnecessary amounts of clothing and going through my vanity for products I had only used once to take to our local women's shelter. I still have too much...but your blog definitely helps me get a grip on what I actually use regularly. I still struggle hard when special collections come out with beautiful packaging, but if I realize I purchase something unconsciously, I'm trying to be really adamant about either donating at least that collection's worth of barely used or untouched items that are currently in my drawer or send it back once I receive it and realize I have dupes. Strangely, my vanity drawers are so shallow that I just did a "move" test and everything I currently have fits comfortably into a small Lowe's moving box. The next test is the hard-sided carry-on suitcase, as that and an under seat roller are all my husband and I own for luggage...we are also preparing for a possible cross country move from Ohio to Northwest Oregon or Southern California.

    1. Yes, seeing and/or working through the possessions of a hoarder can really change your mindset. I've been there.

      Best of luck with your move! If you DO need more luggage (just because two checked bags ends up being cheaper than 5-6 large post office boxes), it may help to check your local thrift store. We got a practically brand new large luggage for $5 at our Goodwill, and I just covered it in Lysol and left it outside for a while. That's the bag that carried my camera and tripod to safety. :)