The Challenges of Downsizing Homes: How to decide what to keep, sell, or donate

There often comes a point in ones life where they decide downsizing is a good option. Maybe you are looking to reduce cost of living or maybe you just don’t have use for all of the extra rooms anymore. Either way, the process can sometimes be difficult, as reviewing and deliberating on what to keep and what to get rid of can be emotional. These are belongings you’ve likely had more many years and letting go of them forever is not easy. We’ve helped clients with this process in the past and have found a few general guidelines to be helpful:

1) Give Yourself Time: The process of downsizing, if possible, should be done over the course of several months. Once you decide a move is possible, begin to slowly start reviewing your belongings room by room. Do a little each day or a couple of rooms each weekend until you have made it through the lot. If it helps, use small post-it notes to designate keep, sell, donate or trash.

2) Work with a Friend or Professional: Having a friend or a professional organizer assist in the process can be great. They are able to offer neutral viewpoints on whether to keep certain items, ask questions that will help guide you to make decisions, and organize the process in an efficient manner (if working with a professional).

3) Sell vs. Donate: This is a common question. While selling all of the belongings can result in extra money, it can also be a great deal of work. When deciding if the investment in time is worth it consider the following questions. If your answers to these questions are mostly yes, it may make sense for you to organize an estate sale, a garage sale, or sell the items via Craigslist. If not, donation is likely your best option.

  1. Are the items valuable?
  2. Are the items estate sale quality?
  3. Are the items in good to excellent condition?
  4. Are the items useful today? (i.e. selling a VCR probably isn’t worth the effort, but a recently purchased iPhone might be)
  5. Are the items unique or potentially collectables?

4) Think Rationally, Not Emotionally: When reviewing items in your home, attempt to think about each item in a rational way. In addition to remembering the emotional connection you have with the item, also evaluate it’s frequency of use. While it may be something you liked years ago, if it hasn’t been touched since then, it probably isn’t going to be missed if you let it go.

Good luck in your downsizing!

TWOW

10 Ways to Start Living With Less

Many of us would love to minimize the amount of stuff we have in our lives, but don’t really know where to start. The culling process can, for some, be scary and for others, downright unimaginable. For people that fall into this category, we’ve compiled our favorite suggestions for minimizing your stuff.

1) 365 Items in 365 Days: If getting rid of a lot of stuff all at once gives you anxiety, commit to ridding your life of one item per day for a year. The item can be anything you wish it to be, but it must be donated, trashed, recycled, or gifted that day.

2) Expired Items: It’s very likely that you have medicine, beauty products, and food items in your home that are past their expiration dates. Throwing these items out is usually easy for most people, so it’s a great way to get into the spirit of culling.

3) One Item In, One Item Out: Although it won’t lessen your current possessions, committing to the goal of one item out for every item that comes into your home is a great way to maintain the current collection size.

4) Buy Multi-Purpose Products: Instead of buying many single-use products, choose products that have multiple functions. For example, you can save 3 products by buying a makeup with moisturizer, SPF, and anti-aging ingredients built in.

5) Clothing: According to statistics, we wear 20% of our clothing, 80% of the time. This says to us that you can donate a good portion of your clothing and not really notice the loss. Use the flip hanger technique once per season and cull the items that we’re not turned once.

6) Meal Planning: Americans often over-buy at the grocery store. Keep from committing this sin by planning your meals and grocery list before heading to the store. Do not buy anything off the list while there and you’ll notice less expired and wasted food in your kitchen over-time.) Unnecessary Buying: Have you ever gone to Target for toothpaste and come out with $200 worth of stuff? Keep the Target syndrome from happening to you, by taking into the store only the amount of cash you need to purchase the items on your list. By leaving the credit cards in the car, you’ll find you only leave with the items you absolutely needed.8) No Paper Rule: Almost all paper items in your life can be found in digital version. Bills, magazines, newspapers, coupon mailers, etc. can all be accessed online if necessary. Stop these things from entering your home by: signing up for a junk mail stop list, opting for paperless billing, reading magazines and news online, and committing to not printing unless absolutely necessary.9) Eliminate Duplicates: If you have multiples of certain items, donate, trash, or recycle them as an easy way to minimize the amount of stuff in your life. An common example of this is kitchen utensils. Often people have 3-4 of the same type of utensil, but typically only use their favorite. Get rid of the extras and you won’t even notice their gone.10) Examine the Excesses: Once per year, examine the things you have and decide what is really necessary. For example, if you pay for a gym membership, but have been once in the past few months, it’s not the best use of your finances. If your children have moved out and there are now just two people living in a 5 bedroom house, it could be time to downsize. If you pay for the premium movie channels in your cable package, but rarely watch them, shut them off and pocket the difference each month.

We hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for how you can live with less while not sacrificing in terms of lifestyle and happiness.

TWOW

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