Part #2 What I wish I would have known 6 years ago when graduating

Part #2- Keep your turtle shell small and inexpensive.

Since graduating college I have moved 6 (yes, 6) times. You become very aware of how much stuff you have when you move to a 2nd story walk-up apartment. In the age of Pinterest where we have a vision of what furniture pieces will be in our dream house, I urge you to hold off until you are one day you are more settled.

In your 20’s you are going to change your mind quiet frequently. That is okay. It is part of the process of learning more about yourself and your identity. Keeping your turtle shell small is about ensuring that you never let “stuff” hold you back. If a professional or personal opportunity comes up in another city or across town you won’t have the objection of “But what will I do with my (insert name of object)?”

Here is what I have learned to keeping my turtle shell small:


My first IKEA dresser purchased for 40 bucks and sold for 30 one year later!

My first IKEA dresser purchased for 40 bucks and sold for 30 one year later!

1. IKEA is your friend, but IKEA pieces from Craigslist are your best friend.

My favorite tip for furnishing your first place is buy used IKEA furniture on Craigslist. Learn the weird Swedish name and set up alerts for new postings. It’s easy to match since they have all of 4 different colors of stains. When I needed to move and get rid of my used Ikea furniture, I sold everything for about what I paid for it.  Plus, when you buy a used Ikea piece it already comes assembled. If you are unsure of the fit in your room, you can easily go online and read the specs for that piece. If you are wishing to put together a matching set, you can always purchased what you can find on Craigslist and then fill in the rest with new items from the store.

2. Don’t think about the 3-4 times a year you will throw a party/ host an event.

There is really no need to stock up on place settings for 12 and every kitchen gadget you need to make impressive appetizers. You can improvise and get paper plates for these rare occasions.

3. Weed out your Wardrobe.

 In the last 3 years I have greatly reduced the amount of clothes I own and I have no regrets. One big mistake I did was go out and buy ‘work clothes’ before I had a job only to find that I had a job where I was in a super casual work environment where dress pants were a rarity. Those dress pants continued to collect dust as I transition into a work from home environment where elastic waste band pants were my uniform. Unless you know you are going into a profession that had an industry standard for work attire, wait until you have a job and see what the dress code is like.

Last summer I was living out of suitcases for 3 months and I quickly learned you can survive with very little in your closet. I tried out a Project 333 Challenge and realized how easy it made the choice of what to wear each day. Not only did it reduce the time I spent on the morning decision of what to wear, but it made packing for a trip very easy.

4. Be realistic about keeping books

This one can be difficult because often we have a relationship with our books. We remember the first time we read them or the way that particular book impacted our lives. You will see when moving that carrying that book box makes you feel like you are deadlifting for the gold in the Olympics. The good news is that we are living in an era where it is extremely easy to find that book once again if you give up a book and regret your decision. Amazon has given us access to thousands of used books with prices as low as 99 cents. My theory is to get rid of it now and if I want to re-read it later I can get it from the library or purchase for a very low price.

I will admit, my turtle shell is no longer small since I am now moving with employer paid professional movers. This has allowed me to collect a few larger pieces of furniture that I am going to hold on to for a while. However, one of my rules when looking for a place to live is not letting my stuff limit my decision on which place I will choose.

One of many storage units I have used in my 20's

One of many storage units I have used in my 20’s