Preparing to Downsize Your Home
Whether you’re a recent empty nester or your home has become too much to manage, nearly everyone reaches a point in their life where its time to downsize. If you are planning on moving to a smaller home keep in mind these helpful insights.
Take your time.
It simply isn’t logical to think you can successfully downsize from a home you’ve spent years living in in only a week or two. Downsizing is more than just a weekend of organizing, it is a process that deserves a few months of preparation. Sorting through decades of keepsakes and housewares takes diligence and time, so giving yourself plenty of time is crucial.
Make a trash and recycling plan.
Depending on the scale of your downsize you may need to schedule a junk pickup or have a dumpster delivered. Whatever your plan may be, keep in mind you are less likely to recycle or donate things if you have easy access to a colossal trash receptacle in your driveway.
Cut back on unsentimental items.
Old shampoo samples and extra pots and pans are much easier to toss out than that old rocking horse you bought for your son’s second Christmas, so, save rooms like bathrooms and kitchens for a day when you don’t have the heart to throw out the more sentimental items. You should be able to move these rooms more quickly than others and it will feel good when you can cross them off your list. If you come across something in the kitchen that means something to you and your family tradition, such as that special plate you pulled out every for year for Santa’s cookies, consider passing it along to your children or grandchildren instead of keeping it in the back of your cupboard.
Pass on the memories.
All those school projects, dance recital outfits, sports trophies, and artwork you’ve collected from your children over the years may have seemed very important once, but now they are most likely just collecting dust in the closet. Instead of going through these keepsakes alone and deciding what to keep and throw out, invite your children and other family to come over and sift through the family relics together. Reminiscing on old memories can make for a very entertaining afternoon full of laughter. Tell everyone in advance they are welcome to keep anything they’d like and everything else you will throw out or recycle. Memories are precious and valuable, so you should be encouraged to buy yourself a large plastic bin to keep those treasures most important to you. This way your children are reassured that you don’t want to throw away their memories, you just want to find a new home that works better for your current lifestyle.
Are you really going to wear that again?
Some clothing hoarders justify their behavior with the thought “everything old will eventually come back into style,” but when your downsizing it is good to be a bit more discerning. With very few exceptions, like a formal dress or other special occasion outfit, you should get rid of any items you haven’t worn in the last 1-2 years. If you are recently retired there is no need for several suits and work outfits. As for all those t-shirts and sweatshirts you’ve collected over the years, how many do you really need? Choose a select variety of apparel to keep and donate the rest. Chances are a year later you most likely won’t even remember having owned some of it.
It is astonishing how much paperwork can accumulate over time. You have probably dreaded going through that file cabinet full of pay stubs, tax reports, receipts, and other records for years. Take a day (or a couple) to tackle all that paperwork and try to trash the majority of it. The IRS says tax filings must only be kept for seven years, so anything before that is safe to throw out. But remember to protect yourself from identity theft by running documents through a shredder.