Tips for Downsizing

Tips for Downsizing

July 18, 2017

Tips for Downsizing

For most people, there comes a time when months or years accumulating stuff becomes burdensome and begins to clutter your day-to-day life. It can happen at any age or any time; cleaning out a childhood room and stripping away the reminders of the past can be as difficult for a college-bound young adult as it is for empty nesters who are determined to make the move to a simpler lifestyle in smaller quarters.

It’s all a matter of degree, need, timing and determination. If the time has come to downsize, due to choice or necessity, here are some suggestions to make it easier:

Begin Early

As soon as you begin to think about making a change, resolve to start sorting and organizing your belongings. If you’re a “pack rat,” it’s going to be hard; know that up front, and don’t put off the inevitable. Spend the time to really examine your motives––both the reasons you saved items in the first place, and your current reasons for disposing of them. Recycle usable items, whether they’re clothes, dishes, books or furnishings. Ask family members if they have an interest first; then hold a sale or donate to a charity or thrift shop of your choice.

Be Realistic

As much as you may love your high school trophies or your first pair of ballet slippers, your grandmother’s teacups or mementos from long-ago vacations, you will undoubtedly have to hold some of those memories in your mind only. If you’re so inclined, capture such things digitally, but forego the temptation to keep the actual items in your possession. Again, if someone else can make use of the things that you once treasured, it’s a win-win situation. If you’re helping a parent or grandparent downsize, however, you’ll want to make sure that they get the last say in what is important and what should be kept.

Be Unrelenting

As you move through each room, have four separate stacks or containers to corral your choices. Everything should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Can’t Live Without
  • Too Valuable to Give Away
  • Goodbye: The Sooner the Better
  • Trash

There might be some movement between the stacks; but the first two categories shouldn’t way outweigh the second two.

Consider the Cost of Keeping Things

Think about not only the financial cost of moving your belongings, but also the space things will occupy in your new home. If you will need a storage unit to contain your belongings, rethink your decisions. You’ll be surprised at how free you’ll feel if you make the move without the need for temporary storage, and you have the opportunity to really enjoy and use everything you keep.

Be Thorough

Resist the temptation to pack up memorabilia with a plan to sort it all out later. Chances are good that you will never open the boxes again, and the burden will only feel heavier as time passes. Never plan to move anything to a new location that you can’t or won’t use. That is an exercise in frustration and futility.

Accept Help from Friends

Good friends and willing family can lend you physical strength for pulling things out of the attic, up from the basement and off high shelves and. They’ll also give you emotional support, laugh with you and be there in case you want to shed a tear. It’s okay to rely on others, whether you’re looking forward to new adventure or dreading the change. And who knows, what you view as worthless might be your best friend’s dream!

Sell for What You Can Get

Hold a yard sale, but price items to sell. Accept offers just to clear the air, and the yard! Unless you have valuable antiques, chances are you won’t net much cash, but it will be a relief to have things gone. Then get down to the business of organizing the actual move and get on with the rest of your life!

One final tip: Do it all before you list your current home for sale. You’ll want your existing property to shine and look spacious, and clearing out many of your belongings is the best way to do that.

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