One of the most challenging aspects of going tiny is coping with less storage and consequently having less stuff. Living your tiny house lifestyle dream means making sacrifices and compromising on certain things. But what about items the have tremendous sentimental value?

Being older, empty-nesters makes it seem like it would be easier to downsize and live tiny. While generally true, we have accumulated a lifetime of memories and mementos. The following is a list of items that we struggled with getting rid of, and how we overcame the challenge.

Photos – If you’re a millennial, this probably isn’t even a thing for you. But we old fogies used to take our cameras to the Photomat to have our photos printed out. The thing is, photo prints can take up a TON of space. We had 15 totes full to the brim with photos. Here’s how we tackled the challenge.

  1. Reduce – the first thing I did was go through all of the photos and throw a lot of them out. Many were duplicates. Some were of people I don’t know and I’m not sure why we have photos of them. Some were pictures of scenery and places that have absolutely no sentimental value to me or my family. All of these went in the trash or in some cases we gave them away to others who were in the photos.
  2. Sort – the next task was to go through and determine which photos were “must keep” these were mostly 5x7s or larger photos of family. We kept physical prints of some of these.  Some we wanted to keep but not physical prints. Some we had negatives of and we kept the negatives. Some we saved. More on that…
  3. Digitally save – Some of the photos were cool memories but nothing we need a perfect image of these. For these we just took a picture of a picture. In most instances these photos turned out pretty good. Really valuable photos that we wanted to keep we digitally scanned with a flatbed scanner and saved to the cloud. If you’ve ever used a flatbed scanner, you know it can be time-consuming. What we did was sit and watch Netflix and scan photos while we just vegged. There are services that will process scans for you but they tend to be cost prohibitive if you have a lot of photos like we did.
  4. Purge – once we scanned the photos we got rid of boxes and boxes of old photos and albums. That felt great and greatly reduced our storage requirements.

Paperwork – No matter how much you want to simplify your life and go paperless there are are certain items of paper that you just have to keep. Paper can take up a ton of room if you don’t keep on top of it.  Here’s how we handled it:

  1. Go paperless – wherever possible we went to paperless billing. Having bills go to your email inbox or debited from your checking account automagically works great and saves a ton of time.
  2. Get organized – we keep all of our bills and papers in a binder. The binder is divided into sections (e.g. current/due bills, paid, reference, tax records, etc.). Most items, once they’re more than a year old (and not tax-related items) get purged. Do you really need to know what your electric bill was 3 years ago? If so it’s usually online.
  3. Store – there are items such as receipts, warranty info, tax info that you have to keep. We store all of these items in a small fireproof tote that fits neatly in a storage space.

So what your secrets to handling paperwork and other “must keep” items? Please leave a comment! Until next time, think tiny!