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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Let the Sorting Begin!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Let the Sorting Begin!

I am groaning as I am writing this. I should be sorting rather than writing...but it seems like such a momentous task today! The dog came in with dirty feet this morning and the little one dropped his full bowl of milk and cereal all over the kitchen floor. But, I guess I can come up with an excuse pretty much every day, so there's no doing but to do it. I'm talking about sorting before a big move. In my case, overseas. A few months before you move, be sure to hit all these high points.

  • I have a box or bin in each room, along with a trash bag. All things to be donated or sold go into the box. All other things that don't fit into that criteria, get put into the trash bag. Everything else gets stacked or put away in such a way as to make it "mover friendly".
  • As the donated/things-to-get-rid-of boxes get full, they get put in a corner of the garage, ready for the next yard sale, trip to Goodwill or readied for eBay or Craig's List.
  • Craig's List and your local newspaper are your best bet for furniture. Craig's List is nationwide and free, plus you can upload photos. Our local newspaper also has a "Super Savers" section, where you can list three lines free for items up to $500.
  • As I go through a room, I also organize things to make it easier for a mover to pack. I typically do this about a month out from moving, so I haven't quite gotten to this stage yet. You are going to put loose items, such as pens, Legos and small kids' toys, into Ziploc bags. You are going to put things back with like items, where they belong. I even put larger items into small plastic bins. Let's say you have a dollhouse with little furniture and things. Wrap that stuff up in bubblewrap and put it in a little plastic bin labeled "dollhouse furniture". This'll make it easier on the movers too. If you've got broken toys or items and missing parts (and you've determined you can't or won't fix them), get rid of the stuff now.
  • Identify things that need to be repaired or repainted or just cleaned. You don't want to unpack dirty, broken or nasty stuff at the other end. You want to be able to take things out of boxes and put them away right then.
  • That stuff you sorted out and is sitting in the garage, start selling it now, and not right before you move. That's too stressful! I've already been able to get my eBay stuff out of the way and can now concentrate on some other things.
  • Don't trust the movers with everything. Yes, stuff does disappear every now and then, especially if you have to put things in storage for an overseas move. I remember our first German tour, we had a neighbor go downtown after the movers came to get their stuff, and ended up finding half of her Hummels and collectibles at the local flea market! I kid you not! If you are traveling by car, pick a few of your prized possessions and take them along with you. With us going overseas, I have already given those items to my mother-in-law for safe keeping. Depending on what you have, you may also want to get a safe deposit box or small storage shed. What the Army calls long term storage is a big warehouse with your boxes and junk roped off from other peoples' boxes and junk. I had a neighbor lose his lawnmower and weedwhacker while it was in long-term storage. I guess someone must've used it to do the yard at the storage facility and never put it back!
  • Have a good property inventory. I already talked about getting your stuff documented. It's important, especially if you don't like to throw away money. I don't think I ever did an Army move without having to claim something. I've had collectibles broken and furniture defaced with deep scratches and gouges or pieces missing...every single time! Having the photos, receipts and serial numbers (for electronics) made it so much easier when I filed our claim after arrival. I also had our property inventory on CD, so I could easily print off what was missing. I use Frostbow Home Inventory but there are many computer programs out there that work just as well.
  • Start that notebook or binder. I have a binder and a notebook. In this binder, I'll put the last statement for every one of our bank accounts and investments. I start collecting moving documents and orders and important phone numbers and contacts and start throwing them in there. I also start two lists in my notebook. One list will have all the services we will be stopping, along with account #s, phone numbers and addresses. These will be things like our electricity, water, phone and cable bills. That way, when it's time to notify them, you've got them all on one piece of paper. The other list will have all of your change of addresses, such as your bank and investment accounts and your insurance company. You will be filing a change of address card at your post office, routing all your mail to your new location. Don't have an address yet? You will be assigned a sponsor at your new duty station, and he should be able to give you an address you can use. Typically, it is the address of your new headquarters. And don't forget your ever growing to-do list! That goes in here too!
Well, let me get going. I have one room I want to sort through today, and then the doggie and I have a date at the park. Do you have any ideas to share that made your upcoming move much easier?



Blogger Linda said...

don't forget Freecycle! You can see if there's a local Freecycle group in your area by going to and entering your location.

Freecycle groups are yahoo groups all over the world. Everything is, quite obviously, FREE. You can't ask for money for items you are getting rid of. BUT...if you've got perfectly good stuff, don't feel like going to Goodwill, just want to get rid of it...then Freecycle is a good location. Post it, you'll get emails from people who want it, and they come get it. Done.

Freecycle's also a good place to get things you might need...moving boxes, extra storage bins, etc. Be mindful that each Freecycle group may have additional rules/regulations other than those set forth by (our local Freecycle doesn't allow pets to be offered or asked for, but the one for our post does). Depending on the size/location of the freecycle group you are subscribing to, you may get high volumes of email.

March 12, 2008 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Yes, I should've mentioned freecycling again. I've used them in the past and blogged about them below.

March 12, 2008 at 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Suze said...

Thank you! We are moving too this summer and now I can get organized. I don't do a good job by myself. I am going to print off your list!

March 12, 2008 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous diane said...

I never knew about -- flipping brilliant. Your advice is amazing. I just wish I had known about it last year when I moved. But I'm storing it away for the inevitable next time. Good luck with your move.

March 22, 2008 at 1:14 AM  

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