Friday, May 6, 2016

Downsizing: Good Ideas for Getting Started

Downsizing is a fact of life for many people these days. If you are preparing for retirement or living in a newly-empty nest, it may be the perfect time to take stock of your belongings and part ways with items that no longer serve you.  Downsizing your belongings and your home can be a great way to enter a new phase of your life – one that is less stressful and more relaxing.   Here are some tips to help begin winnowing down personal belongings and make the process of downsizing easier!

  • Start by writing a list of all the items you love and can’t live without.  Since you won’t be able to take all of your belongings, the list helps when sorting through your belongings.  Keep those items that made it on the list and set other items in one of three boxes:  sell, give away to family/friends, or donate to charity.
  • Begin early. Once you have made the decision to sell, you should start the weeding and moving process about 3 months – even up to a year - before you anticipate moving.  
  • Begin by eliminating things that aren’t used frequently. Belongings that have been relegated to the basement, the garage or the attic are good candidates for sale or donation.  It often helps to have someone nearby give you an objective opinion. If you can’t decide to keep your 1985 sewing machine, having someone say ‘oh please, you haven’t used that for 15 years!’ may get you focused in the right direction.
  • Next, Do A Room-by-Room Purge. Take some time each day, or one morning each week, to methodically go through each room to find things that haven’t been used for years, things that were bought several years ago and still have the tags on them, or clothes that have never been worn.  Part ways with things that represent who you used to be.  A side benefit is that this winnowing of belongings will make your home more attractive to buyers.
  • Get the whole family involved. As you go through rooms that are housing the belongings of adult kids who have moved out, try to have them present.  Ask grown children to take their own belongings while sharing your desire to get of anything that is no longer meaningful or necessary.  Also ask them to take what they want of your belongings - they can painlessly remove a significant portion of belongings from your home.
  • Digitize photos and other paper. Storing memories online can keep them safer longer as well as eliminate clutter.
  • Consider including some of the furniture in the sale. This may expedite the transaction for both buyer and seller.

As you winnow through your collection of items, don't throw anything in the garbage. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. As tempting and easy as it is to pitch wire hangers, musty clothes and shabby furnishings, be environmentally responsible and find a home for everything. 

For additional tips, spend some time exploring for ideas on processes for sorting through belongings or visit’s article on the  Ultimate Guide to Downsizing Your Home

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