For many, retirement is a goal they plan and look forward to for a number of years. It is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labours and some well-earned relaxation!
Depending on your lifestyle, you may be considering cashing out of some real estate – possibly including your own family home. Moving to a smaller home will likely mean going through your belongings and purging items you no longer need.
Your goal may be to simplify, to free up cash, to accommodate new medical needs, or even to get closer to grown children or grandchildren. What is the best way to approach the often bittersweet task of downsizing? Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
1. Give yourself plenty of time.
There are emotions attached to things, and it’s important that you allow yourself some time to deal with those. Nostalgia and reminiscing can be wonderful, even if there are a few tears along the way.
2. Get into the right frame of mind.
Be determined to get rid of items that are not working or are not being used. It can be difficult to part with things that hold sentimental value, but before you start, commit to some ground rules. You might decide that anything that hasn’t been pulled out of storage, or that has needed repair for a year or more has to go. Above all, try to make your decisions final. Avoid second-guessing yourself by going back through a pile a second time, “just in case.” Sticking to this resolve is easier if you work in manageable blocks of time so that you don’t get overly tired or drained during any single decluttering session.
3. Start in the easiest room and work your way up.
This will almost never be the kitchen, the garage, the basement, or the attic! A spare bedroom, office, linen closet, laundry room, or storage space will be easier to tackle. Once that’s done, you may find that you’ve built some momentum for the job, and bigger spaces will seem a little less daunting.
4. Ask for help.
If you work best when you have a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas, enlist the help of someone supportive. Sometimes, just hearing a person we trust say that it’s OK to get rid of things can help make decisions a little easier.
5. Rid yourself of duplicate items.
Simplify decision-making by starting with this step in each space. In a large home, it’s easy to store multiples of the same item: pots, pans, utensils, even full sets of dishes. Keep the item or set you will use regularly and donate, sell, or give away the extras. Take a good look at how many sheet sets, towels, extra blankets and pillows you really need, and purge the surplus.
6. Use technology to save space.
If you have many paper files or photo albums, consider having them digitized. This can free up lots of space and protect your records and memories at the same time! Save only the absolutely necessary hard copies of your important documents. This principle can even help you to reduce the size of some treasured collections. If you have display shelves of travel mementoes, dolls, or knick-knacks – why not start a digital photo gallery to preserve the beauty and the memories, and keep only a few favourite pieces from the collection? For help getting started digitizing, click here.
7. Sell what you can.
Sites like Kijiji, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace make it easy to list items for sale yourself. It is important, though, that you be mindful of safe selling practices. Consignment shops are also an option, and they may even pick up some of the heavier items for you. If you have many items to sell, you might consider hiring a company to run an estate sale for you.
8. Enjoy giving gifts early!
Have you been saving some heirloom-type items for children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews? Consider giving them now. You will not only free up space for yourself, but you will also have the pleasure of watching loved ones enjoy your treasures all over again.
9. Pack and label items to keep as you go.
As you decide what to keep, pack up seasonal and other items that you will not need before moving day. Label each box carefully with the room where it belongs and a few details so that you can tell what its contents are at a glance. This will help you see how much you are bringing with you.
10. Hire a junk removal company to come and haul away the trash.
If you are emotional about watching it go, plan an outing and ask someone else to meet them and settle up the bill for you.
Downsizing can be exciting, liberating, and terrifying, all at the same time. As with every stage of life, there can be much to look forward to and enjoy after the hard work is done! If you feel that you are ready for this one, and you would like a helping hand, feel free to give us a call – we are here to help with recommendations and referrals.