A while back I detailed my plans to get rid of my boat and commuter car and buy a Jeep (you can read about it here).   Well, I’ve done it.  I didn’t get as much for either the car or the boat as I hoped, but I got enough.  That’s the way of things, I suppose.  In any case, I had enough to buy a Jeep and I have (read about it here).  But that’s not the end of the story.

During this process, I’ve done some thinking.  Maybe it’s the death of my father-in-law and the mess he left, maybe it’s just my retirement sinking in, but the desire to downsize and simplify is growing.  I find myself thinking about the stuff I own and why I own it.  More and more I’m finding myself questioning the motives I have for keeping the some of the stuff I own.

For instance, we own a travel trailer.  It’s not top of the line, but it’s nice.  It has all the bells and whistles.  A microwave, water heater, shower, even air conditioning.  We bought it a few years back so we could spend time camping with our kids.  We’re too old for tents and sleeping bags.  We did use it for the first couple of years, but now its sat unused for over a year.

Unlike many people, we don’t let our trailer sit for no good reason.  Our kids are so busy, especially our oldest, we don’t have much opportunity anymore.  Sports, summer camp, other interests, whatever, not to mention other obligations Jen and I have, it just doesn’t leave us much time.  We want to use it, but can’t find the time.  We literally identified two small occasions we might be able to use it this summer before high school football starts, which pretty much prevents us from going period.

So, reluctantly, Jen and I have decided to sell our trailer.  We just can’t justify making the payment while it sits in our driveway.  If we aren’t going to use it, why pay for it?  We both feel a tinge of guilt, I suppose.  We kind of feel we should keep it.  We bought it and it feels a little like failing to sell it and admit we don’t, or can’t, use it.  We worried the kids would object, but surprisingly they didn’t care.  Teenagers!

Well, those kind of thoughts, and others like them, are what keep people from downsizing and simplifying.  They worry about how they will be perceived.  Will people think they are in financial trouble?  Will their kids protest?  Will they feel like a failure by selling what they bought?  Well, I won’t say we are beyond those thoughts entirely, but we are learning to refuse to heed them.

Then, while I was considering selling the trailer, I suddenly wondered why would I need my big truck?  We own it to tow the boat (sold), and the trailer (for sale).  It’s paid for, but it’s also got 125,000 miles on it.  It’s a very popular model and so its worth almost as much now as many midsize cars and smaller SUVs.  Now we’ve also pretty much decided to sell the truck once the trailer sells.  I do like it, but why own something when you have no use for it.

Someone might be inclined to ask why have two vehicles but we need two since we live so far from town, but we don’t need a giant truck.  We’re thinking about a smaller SUV we can buy with cash new or lightly used, mainly for the warranty.  Warranties are nice to have and bring a little financial stability.  Sure you pay for them in the price of the vehicle, but no worries about expensive repair bills.

My oldest son bought a small truck that he planned to fix up for when he can drive.  He decided it wasn’t his thing and he is trying to sell it, so we’re going to buy that from him for dump runs and such.  It’s only $600, so it’s not going to break our budget.  If it gives up the ghost, we’re not out much but it will save wear and tear on our other vehicles.

This all feels kind of strange.  I’ve felt the truck is part of my identity.  I’m a big truck guy, but before the string of big trucks I owned a Jeep and a bunch of Toyota, Isuzu and Nissan small trucks.  So maybe I’m not a big truck guy, but honestly who cares?  If I define myself by what I drive so much that I can never change I need some psychiatric help.

So, big changes around our household.  Soon we will have sold off every vehicle we own and replaced them with something totally different or not at all.  How’s that for downsizing and simplifying.  Lot’s of folks say that retirement is a chance to reinvent yourself and so I guess I am.  Not only are we changing, or maybe admitting to the change of, lifestyle, but life should be a little simpler and we’re going to save money to boot.  Works for me.