Category Archives: Journey To Fulltime RVing

Cost of Organizing and Accumulation of “Stuff” With Age

A close up of sorting boxes.
A close up of boxes used for sorting small items.

A recent online conversation about yesterday’s post included an exclaimation about using a lot of boxes and the cost.  Actually, the boxes looked kind of cool so in a way the organizer was a part of the everyday office furniture and served us well. We got the boxes for about $3 to $4 each using weekly coupons and acquired them over time.   We used them for many years. As one thing was disposed of other items were stored and or sorted in the boxes. Later we went to cheap Home Depot boxes for the larger items as well as document boxes which are a subject of their own. Those boxes bought in 2011 and 2012 have been swapped out so many times over the years they have more than paid for themselves.

Below gives you an idea of why downsizing was an ongoing process and how we disposed of some items.

We had had previous businesses so we had a LOT of inventory to get rid of responsibly.

Logan made stained glass display.
Wayne made this display which came apart with bolts and wingnuts.

We used to sell stained glass and do shows – most of the glass went to daughter who creates beautiful mosaics.


We had a graphic arts business for quite awhile (T-shirts, business cards, wedding invitations, band brochures, restaurant stuff, etc.).

A client's artwork used to create a business card.
A client’s artwork on a laminated business card.

A lot of the supplies used in our graphic arts business we continued to use for our own products and advertising in our next venture.  We stopped doing graphic arts when computer programs became push a button and spit out a business card.


Bottles and Jars awaiting purchase.
We used to drive to buy in bulk and wholesale and spit bottles into individuals and various sized packs (6, 12, 24, 100, etc.)
A copy of a soap label printed on a muslin bag.
We printed our soap labels on muslin bags.

We sold soap and incense and that expanded into selling soaping supplies, bottles, jars, essential oils and such.  Some of these supplies such as fragrance and essential oils had to be disposed of according to legal restrictions so this took awhile longer to sell.  Eventually I found someone wanting to get into the soaping business so those supplies went in one large purchase with the exception of some soap molds and small items sold previously in garage sales.

We also did gift shop items at the swap meet with left overs sold at garage sales.

All of these businesses had online stores that we sold at.  The only physical selling was the occasional swap meet, products placed in stores and the personal interaction of some clients during our graphic arts business.

So all of that took time and space for inventory. Slowly all of that is gone as are many things sold through garage sales.

If you are young you likely do not have a lot of things to dispose of. But if you are in your 50’s and up you probably or possibly do. Yesterday’s tip will apply to someone taking their time to reach their goal with a lot of living and buying behind them. I’ve had a lot of garage sales and a lot of these items were organized,  cleaned and priced before the sale. I just kept it up over the years and I’m getting there.  Being disabled doesn’t mean you are dead, it just takes longer to get things done and some need help.  So disabled isn’t a good word, I just need a bit more time and it gets done.

I’ve had a fun time doing what I’ve done in my younger years – all those jobs were on top of my husband’s and my full time busy jobs and we worked a lot of hours (I used to come home from work and say, print out 500 custom designed musln bags for a wedding order). Wayne would mail them the next day and be working on his own clients. We worked well together and had a blast.  Whoever brought the client in had the last say if there was a disagreement so it kept us friendly.

If you have a long way to go just start and keep at it as you can.  Eventually downsizing gets done this way.

Sorting Small Items

After we moved across states we found we were not as organized as one would like.  Similar or same items were in various boxes and places.  To continue our downsizing we first needed to get rid of duplicates and unnecessary items.  We had a shelf I began filling with boxes purchased at Michael’s which I labeled with various titles such as light bulbs, remotes, hair supplies, etc.  These were various things that would end up throughout the house which slowly began to be grouped together.  I found the different colors and patterns helped me find the right box quickly in addition to arranging them alphabetically.  As an item was dealt with I’d make a different label.

I used my coupons of 40% off on a weekly basis to amass my collection.  Eventually all items in these boxes were dealt with and they went on to hold and organize other things.  Now only a few boxes remain.  The photo was taken in 2012.

I really liked this system and it did help me to whittle down the small loose stuff.

I blew up a photo to read the old labels and thought I’d list them here to give you an idea of how I used them (I could get 3 lines on a label, I list them horizontally here):

Cell Phones, Cell Chargers, Cell Headsets

Clothes Pins

Crochet and Craft, Etc.

Film, Tapes, Etc.

Flash Drives, Scan Discs, Floppy Discs & Drive (<— old huh!!)

Garmin GPS

House Phones and 2-way Radios


Kodak Camera

Misc. Business Cards, Etc.

Monster Cables



Office Supplies – Misc. Staples, Etc.

Pens & Pencils

Rechargeable Batteries & Chargers




Sony Direct DVD



USB Cables

Zippers & Elastic

Plus 2 blanks for misc. sorting.

So whatever you tend to have a lot of and is small makes for a good label.  This helped me find missing parts to electronics and other items.

Then you kind of duplicate this system using bigger boxes for other items one needs to deal with until one day you can put the sorting away and move the few items left into your tiny house.


Costs of Restoring An Old Class B

White with brown striped 1989 Dodge Class B camper van.
The original paint job. This was an EXACT MATCH to the photo I cut from a magazine and posted on my “Wish Board.” Never discount the power of a Wish Board.

What’s In A Year?  Quite a bit when it’s 2007 and you are looking at a 1989 Class B.  Having owned my share of older cars when I bought them, one even being a previously owned Class B, I knew it was a roll of the dice when it came to price versus future repairs and believing the salesman.

Sage green paint in two tones make for a very nice makeover on the camper.
The result of years of work is a real facelift.


Now that it’s been 10 years ownership and we are getting ready to sell her I had gathered all the auto receipts I could find and put the information in a spreadsheet.  When we purchased the camper we were assured of it’s great running condition and previous care.  We flew from CA to OR and spent the first night on the way home in the new camper waiting for AAA service to help us continue on our way.  Sigh.  He lied.

The Class B is a great choice for a camper as it doubles as an everyday car.  It fits in almost any parking space and there is room to make U-turns at 4-way stop signs.  Backing up is easy and there is plenty of room inside – you can even stand up in them.  Ours has bed, stove and tons of cupboards as well as a trunk area for storage.  A small bathroom and a dinette that doubles as a single bed all make for a comfortable cabin although small.

We chose this as our retirement vehicle for our extended vacation in the future and as my everyday car for work, etc.  So fixing it and restoring it were high priorities and we had plenty of time.  When it came to restoration projects it was important we had plenty of space as well so we were fortunate for long driveways and necessary tools. Due to a disability it took many, many years to bring the camper to its current appearance.  It is at the stage inside where decisions need to be made that would directly affect the owner and thus there are things we have left, such as the dinette, which we had planned on making into an office desk/sitting area.

As for the mechanical issues that took lots of time and money.  The spreadsheet was a real eye-opener.  I have receipts for $11k plus another about $2.5k from the previous owner.  Our goal was to complete the work and any problems before we set out for our very extended trip and we’ve done that the best we can.  We continued to do so even when we knew we were probably going to opt for something bigger after living in it for a month with 2 adults and two 50-pound dogs while looking for a new home after moving across states.  Once snow hit we knew we had to go bigger.

We had time before retirement to complete the project.  In late 2009 disabilities hit which kept the trips to minimum times and close distances.  My use of the car for travel was minimum which kept the mileage low that would have otherwise accrued in the past decade.  We continued to make the repairs because it was our second car and it needed to be reliable.  It was also our weekend or vacation camper.

1989 Class B Repair List Spreadsheet

Because you might be thinking of buying an old van and fixing it up we thought it would be helpful to see the possible road one can embark on when taking on a  journey similar to ours.  I give you below our repair list, note that this is primarily only the mechanical issues and does not list curtain and flooring materials nor paint, sealants, etc.  I did include the fantastic vent, new waterpump and bathroom sink but the remainder is mechanical and I did not keep the upholstery and other receipts.  One last note before I go, those carpet and upholstery repairs required a lot of TIME and SPACE to work on the project.  There remains work to be done.  Remember that if you think you want to take on a similar project.

We will be selling “As Is” with no claims attached or rights of buyer outside of clear emissions report (January 2018) and clean title.  We are waiting for our new tags before we actually list her.


2007: The following is the original information from the seller’s ad:
Xplorer has a legendary reputation for their innovative and high quality construction methods, and this rig was all the envy when it rolled off the line in 1990. Its one-piece raised roof has two layers of fiberglass with structural foam injected in the middle to create an extremely solid and well-insulated unit that will never leak or rattle.
The floorplan makes maximum use of the vehicle’s 19-foot length to pack a full time down bed, bathroom, kitchen and dinette into a rig that its into a regular parking space. The chassis is a Dodge 350 Ram Van, so it’s plenty stout. The motor is the 360 cid V-8 with fuel injection. It has a fresh rebuilt 727 transmission with heavy duty transmission cooler. New tires all around and new ball joints up front. Lots of storage on board, including large basement. New linoleum floor and new ball joints up front. Lots of storage on board, including large basement. New linoleum floor and stainless steel backsplash in the kitchen. New batteries and many other extras. With under 90k miles on her, she’s got lots of years to go. This rig is truly unique, and shows the attention to detail that went into its construction. Besides that, she drives great!!! For two people who love to get away from it all, this rig is awesome! We figure we could last two weeks with provisions without over-stuffing the cupboards. Put your “Egg” in tow and have first class accomodations for two couples or a whole family.
The following receipts for work done were provided by the Oregon seller:
2004: (Van was owned by Vantastic Vans at this time)
Budget Master Rebuild by Transmission Masters, Alburquerque NM ($800.00)
2006 – Owner Peeks: (Oregon)
3/11/2006 New tires spin and balance ($834.36 Les Schwab, Albany, Oregon) $834.36
3/17/2006 Replace valve cover gaskets, replace vacuum lines needed, heater hose replaced, replace steering gear box and Idler arm, Replace upper ball joint, align, front end. (Continental Transmission Albany, OR $1261.04) $1,261.04 83,293
3/24/2006 New M.A.P. Sensor (Continental Transmission, Albany OR $187.52) $187.52 83,477
Totals for receipts provided before Logan ownership: $2,282.92
Current Owner – 2007 through Present:
7/4/2007 Shurflo Pump ($98.95), Table Legs ($29.95) plus misc. parts ($176.68 total Metro RV, Inc. Burbank, CA) $176.68
4/28/2007 Differential, Lube Oil & Filter, Transmission Flush, Smog Certificate and Inspection ($431.85 Alert Auto Repair Saugus, CA) $431.85
5/3/2007 Replace Ignition Coil ($223.88 Itech Auto Repair and Transmission) 223/88
5/15/2007 New water pump and belts ($397.47 Burbank Radiator Service Burbank CA) $397.47 88610
6/10/07 Starting System Check, Replace Ignition Coil, Tuneup, Replace Timing Belt,chain and gears, replace water pump gaskets ($2123.69 Jack Ellis Glendale Dodge) $2,123.69 89011
7/5/2007 2 new U-joints ($199.98 Big O Tires Jackson, CA) $199.98 89488
9/25/2007 2 Wheel Cyl plus misc. brake work ($620.59 Jack Ellis Glendale Dodge) $620.59 93406
August 2007 – All Repairs From Here On Were Done By Current Owner (In Colorado)
8/8/2007 Oil Change ($39.05 Grease Monkey Boulder CO) $39.05 92227
3/9/2009 Set Timing, Check Codes and Coolant Temp Sensor ($365.74 The Auto Shop Lakewood, CO) $365.74 97363
7/15/2011 New Car Battery ($69.95 Sears Lakewood) $69.95
9/3/2011 New Michelin LTX M/S tires, 60k miles, Lifetime Spin and repairs ($866.78 Discount Tire Lakewood CO) $866.78 104,219
12/15/2011 Brake System Inspection, Front Brake Service with Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set, W/MFG Gull Warranty, Ceramic brake service, front labor, F Severe Duty Pads, replace F Disc Brake Caliper Hardware or Bushings, F Disc Brake Rotor, Rear Break Service w/ltd lifetime Warranty disc pads or brake shoes, Drum Brake combo kit, flush brake system, fluid ($675.91 Brakes Plus Lakewood, CO) $675.91 104,687
Note: Turned Over first time and 100,000 to below mileages
2/18/2012 Remove and Replace Alternator Assembly ($158.67 PepBoys, Wheatridge, CO) $158.67 4,794
5/24/2012 Service and Oil change (40.71 Grease Monkey Lakewood) $40.71 5,041
3/13/2013 Marine Battery 24DC-DL Duralast ($129.40 AutoZone Lakewood) $120.37
4/8/2013 R & R front and rear U-joints and 2 new U joints ($241.04 The Auto Shop Lakewood) $241.04 5,719
4/26/2013 New Transmission Mount ($526.72 The Auto Shop Lakewood) $526.72 5,835
2014 –
8/19/2014 Replace Front Windshield w/new bracket and weatherseal (313 Safelite AutoGlass Lakewood) $313.00
3/6/2015 Install Quick Connect & Isolater, R&R Injectors, Fuel Pressure Rec, ISC Motor, Transmission Service, Coolant Temp Sensor and relay, oil change, etc. ($1,966.50 The Auto Shop Lakewood CO) $1,966.50 5,915
4/21/2015 Throttle POS. Sensor ($102.33 The Auto Shop Lakewood CO) $102.33 6,030
6/3/2015 Install Fantastic Vent Fan -Customer Supplied Product – Check Refrigerator, not repairable ($204 Nolan’s RV Denver CO) $204.00
Part: Dual-Speed Bi-Directional 12v RV Ceiling Fan $250.00
Replace Passenger Side Window Motor (302.28 Lakewood Auto Electric) $302.28 8,499
8/19/2017 Oil, filter and fulids. Safety Check. ($45.71 Grease Monkey Lakewood CO() $45.71 8,836
1/19/2018 Transmission Service, fluid, filter and gasket. New Rear Output Yoke, Radiator ($768.45 Advanced Transmission Center Lakewood CO) $768.45 8,854
Totals for repair receipts available and paid by current owner 2007 through present (does not include restoration material such as paint, sealant, carpet, etc.) : $11,007.47
Receipts on file for work done prior to current owner: $2,282.92
Total Receipts On File for repairs: $13,290.39

It might be interesting to note the mileage as the repairs progressed.  I’ll be adding restoration photos in upcoming blogs such as how I got the carpet to fit tight to the wall by painting the edges, how I insulated the engine dog house cover, the making of the screen door, etc.  Ya all come back ya heer?

Downsizing: Chameleon Bookshelf Tool

Step into my world … the continual changing of the items held in the physical space of my home.  It’s part of the Journey To Getting There and the “there” is fulltime RVing.

2 Bookshelf Downsizing Sorting Space

Bookshelves for sorting to downsize.
Sorting shelves for condensing and dispensing.

Above is my normal bedroom mess and ongoing downsizing project.  I’ll be doing a video shortly and even if that video is taken tomorrow you will likely see a significant change in the appearance of the above.  It is continually changing as  items are dealt with.   What goes on the shelf primarily represents items I would like to bring if I have the space, but it also holds items which I am in the process of disposing of.  For example, the top shelf holds a box of photos and slides I want to scan as well as a CD collection I am transferring to flash drives.

Bins Versus Bags

On the left next to one bookshelf you’ll notice some plastic bins which are currently holding clothing .  I discovered that flexible  cloth or vinyl bags will hold so much more than ridgid stackable bins.  And the best bags I found for holding large amounts – such as every top a woman owns in one bag, are called weekender bags.

Weekemder Bag and In-line luggage photo.
Pink weekender bag next to in-line tier luggage on couch.

Target online has been carrying a good selection of women’s weekender bags.   For the men I found some good-size duffle bags on Amazon that show promise.  Aside from clothing I am using a weekender bag for my sheets and a Trader Joe’s Bag for dish towels and such.  Insulated lunch bags are good for small electronics .  The variety of patterns of bags makes it easy to find what one is searching for.  Learning where things are now is much easier then learning on the road.  Some things will be transferred to cupboards but the change of seasonal clothing is still likely to be stored in the RV bin until needed. The ability to fold the  bag material down to conserve storage space is a plus.

Why am I packing so far in advance of going?

The two largest pieces of furniture we own are a long maple dresser and a two-piece maple hutch with glass shelves on the top portion.  These two items can hold a boatload of items and clothing.  Things that would stay hidden and not dealt with.  Things one isn’t even sure of what one has because it is hidden or just sitting on a shelf  or in a drawer and forgotten.

By removing these two items now (1) we have plenty of time to sell the pieces instead of giving them away on moving day and (2) we are forced to deal with every single item now and get it over with.  I’ll be doing videos showing various ways I have packed items to make it easy to function with now and to make take-off time a piece of cake.

In the meantime, my best advice to you if you are on the same journey, is to save boxes, bags, etc.  to use as you downsize.  One single item might end up in 5 different places as you find it fits better elsewhere then where you put it last week.  Dealing with your stuff over and over makes you realize :

  • if you need it or not
  • if it is convenient to get to
  • if it is in a place you will find it later

And finally, the number one reason to deal with your stuff well before your trip is to realize how much you are willing to give up or not.  You might have your eye on the low price tag of that single-axle cute red and white trailer but find you need more than 800 pounds of cargo weight and a bit more storage and start shopping for a dual axle that will accommodate you. and what you want to bring besides food, water and clothes.   Then you will know if your tow vehicle is adequate.