Retirement and downsizing almost go hand in hand. It can’t be helped. Once you no longer work and the kids are out of the house, you look around and wonder why you have all the stuff you have.
When do I start?
One of the biggest questions is when to start. Most of us think we have to hang on to something for somebody. But the truth is you start now. Today.
That’s because you need time. This can’t be done in one week but rather in waves. Start small and start with rooms you don’t use that much.
Some people begin by reducing the number of things they have. This may be more manageable for you as you begin the process.
Here’s an example: do you really need 14 tablecloths or will 4 do? Think about the special occasions you have and keep only those tablecloths that can be used for more than one of them. Get creative!
Reducing helps you start thinking about your stuff and how much you need. It also helps you get comfortable with letting things go.
What do I do with my stuff?
This is perhaps the most overwhelming part of downsizing. What to do with everything.
And it’s not news that many children of retirees don’t want their parent’s old china, silver or furniture. It may take you a while but once you make peace with that, you’ll be able to part with things.
There are basically five ways to get rid of your things:
1. Pass to your children
If your children want certain things that’s great. Some people even host a meal and ask their children to come and select what they want.
Tip: Give your kids a date for when they will take it. If the date comes and goes and you still have it, it’s time to find it a new home.
Tip: Be realistic about what your items cost. They’re only worth what someone will pay for them and remember, you want them gone.
Every community has many places to donate items. Become familiar with where they are and what they accept, which is usually posted on their websites. Schedule drop-offs into your calendar and keep a list of what you donated for tax purposes. Here’s a value guide to help.
Tip: Look for opportunities to recycle. Old bicycles, vacuums, and radios have metals in them that are valued by recycling centers. It’ll keep those things out of the landfill and you’ll get a few dollars for them.
4. Give away
Do you know a young family who could use that big tent you have? Or a couple who loves antiques and would cherish your grandmother’s rocking chair? Give them these things. If there’s someone who needs it and would value it, pass it on.
Tip: You can always ‘visit’ the things you give away. Bring dinner to that young family you gave your tent to so you can hear all about their camping adventures.
5. Throw away
Give yourself permission to get rid of broken, ripped, torn or worn out things. You don’t need to clean around or store them.
Tip: It’s not necessary to keep ‘project’ pieces because you think you’ll get to them someday. If it’s been broken for more than a few months and hasn’t been repaired, it’s time to get rid of it.
Downsizing in retirement isn’t necessarily easy but you have more time to focus on it. If you take the process in small steps, one drawer or closet at a time, you’ll soon have it done.
Now that you’ve got the right mindset, learn the tips and tricks experts have been using for years to Real-Life Tips to Selling, Downsizing, & Moving. Download your FREE copy today!
Twin Towers is a continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, with independent living homes, assisted living, rehab services, and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Twin Towers online or at 513-853-2000.