By David J. Dowd
Moving to a smaller space can be stressful, emotional and time consuming. It’s no secret we tend to accumulate items over the years. Starting with a strategy to sort it all out is helpful. Here are some tips to make downsizing easier:
•Plan your strategy: Start with a plan, especially for the larger items. Even if you have not finalized the new location, you probably know approximately how much space you will have. Your first reality check is measuring what will fit. Consider furniture, display items like pictures and keepsakes, clothes and kitchen items. Don’t pack yet, keep planning. Be realistic. By definition, the rest is either store, sell, give or throw out.
•Mark items as: keep and take, keep and store, give away, throw away or not sure: You have a lifetime of possessions. Focus on the essentials that you actually need or want to display, and those to store or place with family and friends.
You probably already have a plan for the most important items. Mark and sort those first. Throw as you go. Set aside or pack items to store or give away. Once your important possessions are accounted for, the rest seem less overwhelming. Sort the category marked, “not sure” last, since by that time it is easier to decide.
•Get rid of the rest: You may wish to sell things you no longer need. Yard sales, estate sales and online websites such as Craigslist are ways to turn your belongings into cash. When planning a yard sale, enlist volunteers to help you. Also consider consignment shops for antiques, jewelry or works of art. Some EBay sellers also work on consignment and will get good prices on the Internet in return for a reasonable commission.
Once you have determined what you can’t live without and what to sell or store, the rest is either worthless or no longer needed. If these items cannot be donated (i.e. they’re in bad condition or have missing pieces) it’s time to trash them. The volume of items to trash will determine your disposal strategy. You can bag them and add them to your weekly trash pickup or simply bring them to your local dump. There is also the local trash man and national companies that will come and pick up your trash. Let them do the heavy lifting, just sort clearly in advance.
Once you have completed the downsizing process you can move into your new space, clutter and stress free. Enjoy the extra cash you made, reflect on the joy you created with donations and enjoy your simplified life.
David Dowd is the president of Sellmomshouse.com, which provides free advice and service to homeowners in transition. He sells homes in good condition and also buys outdated homes “as is” with no realty fee and no clean out required. Reach him at 774-696-6124 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.sellmomshouse.com for more information. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read on www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.