Downsize Your Stuff, Upsize Your Joy

By TABATHA RENEGAR

One of the…“ahem”…charming facets of growing older is knowing that, eventually, you will need to face all those boxes, bins and basements in order to downsize your lifestyle. Despite our best intentions, most of us have amassed a rather significant amount of STUFF. Sorting through it can seem incredibly daunting, especially if the task is undertaken when the person is older and, perhaps, not in the best health.

Thus, enter the current phenomenon that has us downsizing earlier than ever before.

Adults are seeing the benefits of creating a more manageable lifestyle with a smaller home and yard in their 50s and 60s and not regretting a thing! Imagine reducing your weekly workload and freeing up time to do the things you love like travel, read and visit the grandkids!

According to a 2018 TD Ameritrade survey, 42 percent of Americans plan to downsize in retirement. And, the reasons make perfect sense for any age!
• 25 percent plan on moving to a warmer climate;
• 17 percent plan to move closer to family; and
• Just six percent plan on moving to a senior living community

Deciding to downsize is a decision that requires planning, honest conversation and time. If you are considering getting started on a major life overhaul, here are some steps to make the transition less stressful for you and your family.

Start Early
“Go through each item one by one,” says Alison Kero, CEO of ACK Organizing in Brooklyn. “It’s important to give everything you own your attention for at least a second or two. It will also help you develop a great decision-making system because you’re learning how to focus and then choose.”

Start Small
You’re more likely to stick with a task if it’s not overwhelming. Laundry rooms and closets are a great jumping-off point.

Eliminate Rooms That You Won’t Have in Your New House
If your new home doesn’t have a formal dining room, then selling that big table, hutch and eight chairs is a logical choice.

Purge Duplicates
Off the top of your head, how many cookie sheets do you own? Roasting pans? Sets of dishes? These are great opportunities to help a young couple that might be setting up their first home together.

“Yes” or “No” Only, No “Maybe” Piles
Take a hard look at every item you pick up. If you use it regularly, keep it. But, it’s time to let something go if it’s been sitting in a closet or on a shelf for a year or more.

A Creative Way to Reduce Collections
Take high-resolution photos of your snow globe or Hummel collection and have them made into a coffee table book!

Be Your Own Salesperson
Consignments shops, yard sales, eBay and Craigslist all make it so easy to not only reduce but recoup a bit of your investments. Just remember, you don’t want to put things back in the house – price them to move!

Plan Legacy Gifts Early
Wouldn’t it be nice to see your son, daughter or friend enjoying the family heirlooms you intend for them now rather than keeping them locked up for later?

Take Time to Reminisce
Don’t beat yourself up if a day you intended to be productive turns into a tear-filled day of going through scrapbooks and photo albums! Some amount of nostalgia is healthy, and this is why you started early!

Use This as a Chance to Bond
Some of what you’re sorting through may have never been seen by your family. Invite them over and share the stories that your belongings inspire. Doing so might just turn this milestone into a truly joyful time for you and your loved ones.

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