‘Stuff’ I Learned by Selling our Home

As we've gone through the process of selling our first home, I've learned a few important things.

As I write this, my family is 35 days from moving out of our starter home and into a newer, larger house. By the time you read this, we will hopefully be in our new place and not surrounded by boxes. As we've gone through the process of selling our first home, I've learned a few important things.

Lesson No. 1: Our kids have too much stuff. When we first decided we would try to sell our house, we knew we'd have to clean up in a big way. We first tried to sell the house in 2010 before our two boys had accumulated so many toys and other stuff. This time around, we couldn't just throw a few things in the attic — we needed an overhaul. If you remember the old TLC television show "Clean Sweep," this will sound familiar. We organized everything into three piles: keep, sell (or donate), and toss. A lot of the boy's unwanted things ended up at a consignment store or Goodwill. Little "junk," including plastic toys from Happy Meals and birthday parties, went to new homes or, more often than not, the trash. Some of what was left over, but too large for our space, ended up in storage.

Lesson No. 2: Our kids don't miss the stuff. I was concerned that Tyler, 6, and Chase, 3, would have trouble parting with their things. That couldn't be further from the truth. They had no trouble parting with things. We were even able to reduce Chase's giant stuffed-animal collection. (You know you have too many plush toys if there is a storage net or hammock in the corner of your kid's room filled with stuffed bears and characters). Tyler hoped he could sell toys back to stores and get the full price paid in return. I explained that much like a car driven off a lot, a toy taken out of Target depreciates by 20 percent right away, and then more for every year after. It's only been a month since we said goodbye to a lot of stuff, but neither of the boys has asked about any of that stuff.

Lesson No. 3: Stuff doesn't make any of us happier. Understand that I am not even close to being a minimalist. I have my share of unnecessary electronics and other things that I enjoy, and so do my wife and kids. Once we have what we want, we get bored, and we want something else. This is true for both kids and adults. I'm not suggesting people get rid of all possessions and go live in a shack off the grid in the mountains, but it just might be time for us to spend more time doing things together rather than getting or having more stuff. Whether it's a vacation or a bike ride, or going out for doughnuts as a family, that stuff really makes us happy. Pare down all the things, sell some of it and use that cash to do something as a family.

Moving into our new home means we will have nearly twice as much room for stuff, but my hope is we fill it with more new memories than new things. That is what really makes a house a home.