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Downsizing Made Easy

Many of us have different reasons we may be considering downsizing our home. Perhaps it is due to the kids leaving home, a drop in income, a divorce, retirement, or any other reason, it often makes financial sense for us to find a smaller and more economical place to live.

The following list of tips will help guide you through the sometimes overwhelming challenge of downsizing from decades of homeownership.

Where To Begin When You Feel Overwhelmed

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Plan for at least 3-6 months to get things in order and get comfortable with the process of downsizing.

Try starting in small locations in the home that tend to accumulate junk such as:

  • The attic

  • Spare rooms

  • Closets

  • Out-of-the-way kitchen cabinets

  • Linen closets

  • Bathroom cabinets or shelves

  • The basement

  • Sheds and garages

Start small and stay positive. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, try setting a timer for a few minutes while you go through a small area or drawer, and build up to longer stretches of time to go through items.

Try to keep positive thoughts flowing while downsizing. Focus on the freedoms you will obtain from the move. Perhaps it will allow you to pay off debt, take more vacations, or start a savings fund. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that you won’t have to do home upgrades, renovations, maintain a lawn, or worry about a mortgage. Try to think less about the space you are moving away from, and more about the opportunities you will be gaining.

Get Rid of Old Paperwork

Paperwork tends to sneak up on all of us and most of it will be unnecessary to take with you. This can be a tedious task, but now is the time to purge that old paperwork. Old warranties on appliances we no longer own, old bank statements, etc...

As a general rule, you can get rid of your tax returns if they are older than seven years. Many bank statements that you will need are accessible online and can be saved in digital formats to eliminate the extra paper.

Have A System For Sorting

There are many ways you can keep things organized while sorting. One strategy is to divide things into groups. Choose as many of these options as you need, or create your own groupings. Consider keeping grouped items in specific areas of the home that are less trafficked or out of the way. Once you have sorted things into any type of "discardable" piles or groups, make sure to move them out of your existing home on a regular basis to free up space that you will need for future sorting.

  • Items to Keep

  • Items going to a Storage unit

(Examples of "discardable piles / groups)

  • Giveaways: These possessions will go to friends and family who can use them.

  • Donations: Anything you/others don’t want but still has utility or beauty can head to Goodwill or The Salvation Army.

  • Sale items: This pile is optional, but if you’re looking for some extra cash to help with moving, this is a good way to do it.

  • Trash pickup or dump: No matter how much we want to think otherwise, some things just don’t have a second life. They go in this pile for a scheduled drop-off or pickup.

Things to Consider - Items in the "Keep" Pile

Give yourself time to reflect on your most favorite things in your home. Take your time with sentimental items. Consider taking photos of your current home to help you decide what to keep, and to have a reminder of good memories in your home. Keep items that bring you joy and make your house feel like a home.

You may want to reconsider saving possessions to be passed onto children or grandchildren. Often these items are left in storage for many years. These items can become outdated before being passed along, and the money used on storing the items could instead be put toward a savings account or an investment for the children or grandchildren's future.

Slow Down The Spending and Pare Down Any Collections

A good rule when downsizing is "One in and one out".

If you purchase something new, get rid of something old. This will help to curb any additional spending and keep items to a minimum while trying to go through your existing items.

Take a look at any collections you

have. Your old collections may not fit into your new lifestyle and downsized space. Consider selecting your favorite two to four from your collection and letting the rest go. Perhaps this is the time to cash in on your collection by selling the lot of items online or through a local consignment shop.

Moving With Your Family

Downsizing the family home? Get everyone involved! Not only will this ensure that you don’t throw out something important, but it will also help divide some of the workload. Inviting friends over to take things you no longer want is another great way to downsize your home quickly.

Moving with kids can be incredibly difficult. Spend some extra time with them going through their books, games, and stuffed animals. Turn the process into a game, talk to them about why the move is happening, and get them excited for the future.

If you have adult children helping you move, have them sort through their own items that may be left in the house or simply ask them to remove their old items to assist you with freeing up space in the existing home.

Useful Questions When Downsizing

1. Have you taken measurements? Write down the dimensions of each room in your current home and your new one to learn what furniture will or won’t fit. This will save you time and energy on deciding which furniture and large objects you want to bring.

2. Are you bringing multiple vehicles to your new location?

3. Is the fridge staying or going?

4. Is the washer and dryer coming with you?

If so, be sure the space for cars and appliances measure up! Sometimes there are problems with spaces that are too tight, or oddly shaped for your larger items. You don't want to be taken by surprise on the day of your move.

5. Do you have a lot of duplicate items?

A simple idea for downsizing your home is to eliminate duplicate items. Get rid of excess dishes, wall art, baskets and bins, and other unnecessary multiples to focus on the items that you really need.

6. Is there a space for this item in my new place?

Make sure there’s room or a dedicated space for items in your new home. If you have discarded a cabinet that will not fit in your new space, you may need to reconsider bringing any of the items that were in that original cabinet because it is no longer going with you, or have an alternate option to store those items.

7. Can this item be repurposed in the new home?

Before letting go of certain items, ask yourself if the item can be repurposed at all. Finding new life in your older objects instead of buying all new items can save you some money while you are settling into your new home.


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