Downsizing is a continuing trend. Some key reasons we see this continued trend include: empty-nesters as children graduate from high school or college; lifestyle demands for those desiring a more efficient and smaller home to lock and leave; and obviously the financial benefit of a decreased mortgage or rent payment.
Why is Downsizing Challenging?
Downsizing can be a challenging prospect. This is because most Americans have a lot of things. According to an article by Joshua Becker of www.onbecomingminimalist.com, the average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7% of children on the planet but have 47% of all toys and children’s books. Wow! Talk about a downsizing challenge.
Here are some tips to help navigate downsizing more easily:
- Not for Amateurs. A professional organizer is an investment worth making. Many people will automatically default to thinking, “Why pay someone to help me get rid of things?” There are many different reasons. One key reason being: time! Hiring a professional can be a wise investment if you value your time and your well-being. A professional can be indispensable for sorting out your possessions while you can spend more time doing the things that you enjoy or happen to be better at doing. A good organizer not only de-clutters and organizes your possessions, s/he can will also create and help you to implement a strategy to keep your home organized.
- Soldes, Sale, Soldos! One fundamental to downsizing is to sort out things one no longer needs. Next, you will need to determine which items to sell. If you have time, organizing items such as books, designer clothes and gently used or high-end furniture, you may be able to take these items to resale or consignment dealers for the price of commission. No time? No worries! Consider hiring an estate sales professional. This is a great resource especially if you have a number of valuable items with which you are ready to depart. A professional estate planner will valuate, price and handle promotion and get the word out to get your items sold. Less expensively, there are online marketplace alternatives for sellers and buyers such as: Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.
- Another Man’s Treasure. There are many people who may need or want items that you no longer need to keep. Also, many non-profit organizations available to pick up items from your home and either sell them to benefit others in need or place your items with someone in need. The upside to donation is that they can be used as a tax write-off. Just happy to have your item find a home in which it is needed? Consider Freecycle, an online membership site, one can post their item to be given away for free to another member for free.
- Can’t, Won’t Let Go? Keep in mind that the younger generation (e.g., your children) is part of new temporary and/or disposable culture. They have different aesthetic tastes and often typically do not have the space to keep inherited items (source: nytimes.com). Sometimes, the emotional burden of letting go of items can be overwhelming. The number of storage units that have sprung up is proof that this is a challenge for many of us. Sometimes, this is a great transitional tool. Living without an item temporarily helps to put the “need” of the item in perspective. Additionally, storage is a great alternative for families with children that do want inherited items for their future home.
The Key Question is Not What But How
Marie Kondo, best selling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organizing,” writes: “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” Downsizing is a major transition that can free one from past expectations of having to care for unwanted material possessions; it gives one a new sense of freedom and lightness. But the memories attached to these things can stay along with the new ones. After all, as the sentiment proclaims, “Home is where the heart is.” not where our things are.