Downsizing Could Be Your Key to a Successful Retirement!

Downsizing Could Be Your Key to a Successful Retirement!

Author: Lane Keating, CSA

I recently had the opportunity of talking about right-sizing your home with certified Senior Real Estate Specialist and Staging Professional, Whitney Smith. Here is what she had to say:

As people grow older and move from raising children into retirement, the family home often becomes an unnecessary burden. A big house can present challenges: too much space; too expensive to heat, cool, clean, and maintain; too hard to navigate, especially if there are stairs and the master bedroom is on the 2nd floor.

That is why so many seniors opt to downsize. It often makes sense to trade the big, family-sized house for something much smaller, saving money on utilities, taxes, mortgage, and maintenance.

The challenge is disposing of a lifetime accumulation of “stuff.” Many folks think their children will be thrilled to inherit their precious heirlooms. Think again. Today’s younger people have a different lifestyle – and they are not interested in your china, silver, crystal or Hummel collection. They often do not even want their own stuff like prom and bridesmaid dresses, college textbooks and high school trophies and memorabilia you’ve been storing for them.

So, what are you to do? Start with the furniture. If you are moving from a 4-bedroom home to a 1-bedroom apartment, you have a lot of furniture you no longer need. Check with family, friends, and neighbors to see if they want anything. Unless you have a house full of priceless antiques, it is a lot easier to give your extra furniture away than it is to sell it.

See if there are local needy families. Check with your church. Or call a charity like Purple Heart to come and haul it away – then take a tax deduction. You can also call in an auctioneer. Next, plan a garage sale. Then call the Salvation Army to haul away whatever is left.

What about all the books, photos, and papers you have stored in your home? Tackle your personal papers first. Collect all the important documents: birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, naturalization records, insurance policies, deeds, discharge papers, adoption records, Social Security and pension plan papers. Include your tax returns for the last 7 years. Place everything in a file drawer so you know where it is in the case of an emergency.

Next, gather all the warranty information and instruction manuals for your appliances and electronic equipment. You might be surprised how many booklets you have for gadgets you have long since discarded. Sort through everything and throw out the stuff that no longer applies. If you accidently throw something important away, you can almost always find the information again on the internet.

Gather all the remaining papers in one location and 2 piles: one for shredding, the other for recycling.

Family photos are another source of clutter. If you are like most people, you have a big box of pictures, slides, and home movies that you never look at. Go through the box and keep only the photos that are most important to you. Ask yourself: do you even know or like the people in the picture? Is the photo flattering to its subjects? Was it an event you enjoyed? Is there more than one copy? Is the picture well composed and in focus?

Once you’ve edited your collection, have the photos digitally scanned onto CDs, then throw the paper versions away.

Remember, the hardest part of downsizing is getting started. Get rid of the big things first. You’ll feel like you are really making progress, and it will encourage you to keep going.

Be sure to watch for the next installment: What to Keep/What to Toss

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