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Having been through it myself, I’ve learned a thing or two about downsizing. To start with, downsizing can be stressful, especially if you have no idea where to begin. But it can also be very freeing! Before you begin, check out my 10 Downsizing Tips and Truths.
10 Downsizing Tips and Truths
Think About Your Why
People downsize for all kinds of reasons. Some people decide they want to simplify their lives. Some want to reduce their expenses. Some don’t want to bother with the upkeep of a big home. Big life changes can be stressful and downsizing is no exception. As you’re going through the process, focusing on your reasons for downsizing can keep you motivated through the process.
Start Early If You Can
Taking it slow can definitely help reduce the stress of downsizing. This is one of those cases where slow and steady really does win the race! If possible, give yourself at least three months to downsize. Six months would be even better!
However, sometimes people are forced to downsize quickly due to health issues or job changes. If that’s your situation, call in the cavalry! Get family, friends, and neighbors to give you a hand if you have to downsize in a hurry.
Ask For Help If You Need It
But whether you do it quickly or slowly, getting some help with your downsizing project can be a really good idea. This is especially true if you have a hard time making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member for help if you need it.
For some people, hiring a professional organizer to help with downsizing can be a really good idea. Having someone by your side who had been through this before can help you feel confident that you’re not getting rid of things you might need later. It will also help speed the process!
My friend, Karen Brothers, is a professional organizer and has helped countless downsize. Be sure to check out the guest blog she wrote for me in January of 2020. Her practical organizing tips can help you get a handle on what to Toss, Keep, or Share!
Do One Space at a Time
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to sort out your entire house at once! It’ll make you so crazy you’ll probably give up as soon as you begin.
Instead, pick one space at a time. If you’re dealing with a room that’s small or isn’t used often – say a guest bedroom or laundry room, then you can focus on just that room.
If you’re dealing with a larger, more lived-in space then break it down into sections. For example, in the principal bedroom, you may start with the ‘her’ closet, then ‘his’, then move on to a chest of drawers. In the kitchen, perhaps start with just one cabinet at a time, doing one a day. Or break it down by items – dishes, pots and pans, appliances, etc.
Downsizing one space at a time prevents overwhelm.
Consider Your Future Lifestyle
As you’re downsizing, it’s important to think realistically about your future lifestyle.
If you’re moving to a warmer climate, you probably don’t need 25 wool sweaters. If you’re retiring from a professional career, you may not need many suits, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, or dress shoes.
And it’s important to think about the kind of entertaining you will be doing in your new home. If you’re not going to be hosting formal dinners for twelve anymore, you may not need twelve place settings of china anymore. Maybe you only need six, or four, or none.
Your Kids Probably Don’t Need or Want Your Stuff
For many people, this is one of the most difficult realities of downsizing. It sure was for me! But I finally had to face the truth that my kids really didn’t want most of my stuff. And there are some good reasons for that.
Younger generations have different tastes in furniture, artwork, etc. Also, the lifestyle they are leading is often just different than yours. Or, they just may not have space for your things. Whatever their reasons for saying, “No, thanks,” to you stuff – try not to take it personally.
However, do be sure to ask your children before you toss out, donate, or give away anything. They might surprise you! But if they say that they do want a particular item, make it clear that they need to come get it by a specific date.
Your Stuff Probably isn’t Worth as Much As You Think It Is
This was hard for me to face too. When we were downsizing, it was hard to come to grips with the fact that a piece of furniture I may have paid thousands for was only worth $100 on the used market. But it is what it is. Just try to keep your why in mind and remember – it’s only stuff.
That being said, some things that may not be of use to you anymore might be exactly what someone else is looking for and is willing to pay money for.
Etsy.com can be a good place to sell your collectibles. And if you do decide to sell six of those twelve place settings of your china, you may find a buyer at Replacements.com. If you have antiques or artwork of especially high quality, a local auction house may be willing to take them. Placing items with local consignment shops or on CraigsList is an option too.
But if you’re wanting to sell your items, you really do need to start downsizing as far in advance as possible.
Donating May Be More Financially Beneficial than Selling
If you have expensive, high-quality items and the time and energy to find buyers, that’s great!
However, most ordinary household items aren’t worth the effort it takes to sell them. The financial benefits of donating your items to a local charity to help reduce taxes may be greater than selling them.
And, of course, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your items are helping people and organizations in your local community. My favorite place to donate items I no longer need is my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Curate (And Digitize) Your Collection
We all love our collections, don’t we? They often hold so many good memories, and we took such care and joy in collecting them. That’s why the idea of getting rid of our collections can be so painful.
My advice? Don’t.
If you have a special collection you love, don’t get rid of it. Curate it instead. Pick the best of the best, your very favorite pieces to keep. Do you have 20 collectible teacups? Keep your favorite 5. Or 3.
And before you donate or sell the rest, take photographs that you can keep on a computer or in an album. That way, you can still enjoy looking at them whenever you want.
10 Downsizing Tips and Truths: Downsizing is Worth It
Downsizing is hard, no doubt about it. But it can also be very freeing. And I certainly hope my 10 Downsizing Tips and Truths have been helpful.
Think about it – every object we own really owns a piece of us. We have to clean it, store it, insure it and, of course, make space for it.
By paring our possessions down to only those things we truly find useful and beautiful, we’re not just making space in our homes, we’re making space in our lives!