What is Downsizing?
In downsizing, you reduce or eliminate the amount of content and clutter in your house. If you are moving from the three bedroom house that you and your spouse raised your children in over the past 10, 20 or 25 years to a considerably smaller house, cottage, condominium or apartment, you simply will have no space or need for all the items that filled the house. You will have to decide which items you want to keep and which items you want to give away, sell or otherwise dispose of. When moving from a larger to a smaller home, you are downsizing the home itself.
What is Rightsizing?
In rightsizing, you also focus on optimizing what you own and that typically entails eliminating the amount of content and clutter in your house but it is a much more open concept. Instead of just stepping down from that three bedroom house that you and your spouse raised your children in smaller house, you may move to a similarly sized house that has a different layout or is closer to come services, church, transportation or the action. You might even go bigger if you need room for an office, a caretaker and a stream of out of town guests. The key, again, is deciding which items you want to keep and which items you want to give away. Rightsizing is a planning process that is introspective and may take a year or more to complete.
What to Keep, What to Dispose of – and, is Storage an Option?
How do you decide what to keep and what to dispose of? No question – making some of these decisions can be tough. These are highly subjective questions that only you and your family can answer. Some of us feel terrible when we dispose of the items we grew up with. For sure, some of feel terrible when we dispose of our old emails! Sure, one option is to keep everything – if you want to place the items in storage and pay continual, draining storage fees, which may cost anywhere from under $100 to over $1,000 per month. For many downsizers, storage is not a desired option and defeats the purpose. Storage, however may be an excellent temporary option until you are able to dispose of everything you want to.
What to Keep, What to Let Go Of:
So what should you keep and what should you let go of? Here are some points you can consider:
- Do you use the items on a daily, weekly or frequent basis? If not, consider freeing yourself of them.
- Is the item in perfect working order or is it broken, unusable or unsightly? Dispose of broken clutter.
- Will the item fit in your new space? This is especially relevant with furniture and “junk” you piled up in the garage.
- Do clothing items still fit you? Can you honestly see yourself wearing them again? Or are you just holding onto the past? Consider keeping one or two items that represent a period in your life and parting with the rest.
- Is the item practical and usable or is it sentimental? Sentimental items are important to many of us; the question is how many can you reasonably fit into your new space?
- Are you holding on to a relative’s items but now the relative has moved away or passed?
- Do you have the legal right to dispose of an item?
- You may want to photograph your items before you dispose of them – just for your own memories.
- If the items are mostly junk and not worth money, don’t waste time or energy trying to sell them. Just give them away or trash them.
Sell, Give Away or Trash Your No-Longer Needed Stuff:
In the digital age we have options that were not available to our elders. You can offer your items for sale on Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist and other online sites. It is important that you know the correct value and price range of the items you wish to sell so that you are fair to yourself and buyers. Some sellers suggest that you dispose of the majority of your items; just keep the things that are valuable and worth selling. You can place an ad in your local paper and have a house or estate sale when selling larger items such as furniture.
A Personal Experience:
Someone sold or gave away almost everything that he inherited from his mother, simply because he had no room or use for the items she left him. He was torn for a while but he had to make the decision. He did keep the China that she loved and cherished, but after a few years he realized he never used it, so he sold all of it except for one plate. To this day he uses that once in a while and in that plate he feels his mother’s love and presence. He also told me he has a very clear memory of all the furniture and items that were in her home – the home he grew up in – and he does not regret selling the items.
For additional reading take a look at Rightsizing Your Life by Ciji Ware. This book is packed with practical lists and activities as well as intriguing personal stories. You can find it on Amazon as it has been through several printings and if you’re curious about Ciji you can read more on her site: http://cijiware.com/