A basic guide to downsizing

How do you decrease your living space (and housing cost) without losing your mind? Here are some things you can do for a smoother transition.

forsaleStart early: You can begin to evaluate what you use and what you no longer use as early as five years before you begin to house-hunt. Reduce stress by taking your time, and facing the files and drawers and basement in short intervals. (A tip: play a CD. When the CD ends, come to a stopping point in the project.)

AARP is all over the downsizing trend. They came up with this summary. Nice pictures with the basics. Below, additional details that I add:

Debt My advice for reducing debt is to simplify your finances. Reduce the number of credit lines you keep open. Get your personal budget in writing. Get your personal books onto a simple spreadsheet or into QuickBooks.

clothes-hangerClothes There is a well-worn trick for clearing your closet and draws: Hang your clothes with the hanger-head open to the front of the closet. After you wear the item, rehang it the typical way (with the hanger-head open to the back of the closet.) Put folded clothes upside down until they are worn once. At the end of the season, anything you have not worn, consider giving away.

Anything in off-site storage Off-site storage items are not useful enough to earn a spot at home. That is pretty telling. Research the price of renting the useful things in your storage compartment. Treat your sentimental items like you handle the memorabilia below.

Exercise equipment If it takes up floor space and you don’t use it every week, it should be gone. If you can tuck it in a corner and you use it every month, it has enough utility, for now.

Kitchen appliances and gadgets AARP says you should ditch the kitchen gadget if it collects dust for six months. I say a year. If you love to cook or bake, the project might only need that gadget annually.

Car Zip Car and similar car shares make going single-car or carless much easier. If you no longer need a car to get to work, this option gets prettier and prettier.

Childhood memorabilia There are companies who will help you photograph your memory items. Some companies make video memoirs, so the stories that go with your memorabilia is not lost. The rule of thumb for the sentimental favorites is: If the kids will not cherish it, get rid of it.

Furniture As you purge your books, magazines, DVDs, files and decorations, you can also purge the furniture that is holding them now. You will like your rooms better when some furniture goes out the door.

Books, magazine and DVDs Keep things you will read and view again. Keep things you can’t readily get at a library or streaming service. The rest can go.

file-cabinetFiles AARP gives you a good guide. Scan personal files that you want to read again. You will find them more easily on the computer.

dinner-tableDecorations AARP says sentimental holiday favorites have a five-year deadline for proving their worth. I think that most people have two or three holiday favorites that will set the holiday scene. The rest can go.

Baby boomers are on the move. Many are moving to the greater Cambridge area. It is said that the number one retirement destination in America is “where the kids live.” If you or your parents have a move to smaller quarters in the five-year plan, stay tuned! I will be rolling out some evening workshops to explore how to make this transition as successful as possible. Watch for class schedule this winter.


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