A Senior’s Guide to Downsizing and Decluttering

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Living on a large property can be a dream for most people. From expansive gardens, a huge dining area, and large storage space, a large house is what every big family needs. Some homeowners are putting so much effort to make their homes more spacious by adding upgrades as much as they can. Others who want to expand their gardens put up patios, lay out pathways, and install twin-wall polycarbonate sheets to make their outdoor space more functional.

While a large house can bring immense joy for its dwellers, living in one is not worth it if you’re just living alone or the kids have already moved out. There are a lot of expenses involved, from the utilities, repair, upgrades, and maintenance. Another challenge is when previous house dwellers have left a huge pile of mess, making it difficult for the remaining occupants to declutter.

Downsizing offers a financial solution to retirees, single adults, or families looking to avoid the effort and cost of maintaining a large home. But before making the big move, keep in mind that downsizing is a tolling and stressful process. It presents a challenge of deciding which of your belongings to keep or get rid of.

Here are some simple steps to guide you on the downsizing and decluttering process!

Use a sorting system

Moving to a smaller house means having lesser space to accommodate all items you have collected in previous years. So before packing, conduct an inventory of your possessions. Since this will take time, give yourself a couple of months to accomplish this since it will take longer than you expect. Don’t sort through the entire house in one go because you’ll likely end up tiring yourself and forgetting important things.

When browsing through every item, use a decision-making system by giving your full attention to each item to decide what to do with it. From there, separate the most useful to the ones you haven’t used for several years. Keep in mind that the rule of downsizing is to make your life simpler and more practical, so keep only what you actually need.

While browsing, use a sorting system to get organized. A great tip is to use the five box method, where you have to gather five boxes and label them as: “keep”, “donate”, “sell”, “store”, and “trash”. This will help you decide what to keep and what you want to get rid of.

Seasonal or sentimental items should proceed to storage. You can also organize a yard sale to make an income out of your old possessions. Neighborhoods and local communities enjoy scoring great finds in yard sales.

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Go digital

You’ll be surprised at the number of digital tools available that will make decluttering easier. For example, sorting through paper clutter can be overwhelming and confusing. These include old receipts, bills, and other important documents. For this part, use a scanner or take photos of the documents to have a digital copy. Afterward, take the files to the shredder.

Photos, music (e.g., old CDs), and home movies are convertible into digital files. Don’t even consider keeping them since they will only take a lot of space in your office or living room. In this age of streaming and digital services, it’s not practical to keep scratched CDs and DVDs. If you’re in doubt, get rid of them.

Reduce or eliminate

While it’s hard to surrender a lifetime collection of old Christmas decors or vacation souvenirs, they will only be a source of headache once you move into a smaller home. Since there’s no space to hang all your decors, they will likely end up in one of your storage boxes.

Before getting rid of them, take photos of your collection and upload them on cloud storage or social media to show to your friends. You can also make a digital photo book that you can revisit from time to time. Getting rid of duplicates is another way to get rid of old clutter. This often happens in the kitchen, where you keep more than two ladles, spatulas, pots, and roasting pans. If you’re struggling with how to sort out, try to organize backwards. Pick the items you no longer use and pack the rest.

Inevitably, downsizing can take an emotional toll on people who struggle with nostalgia. Letting go of your possessions that hold precious memories is hard, but it’s also important to let go of stuff to make your living situation more comfortable and practical. Downsize as early as you can to give yourself more time to pack and plan your next move.

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