The nest may feel empty now that the kids have gone, but chances are it’s still pretty full. Furniture, clothes, knick knacks, kitchen stuff, sports equipment – a lifetime of experience equals a lot of stuff! But how much of it do you really need? If you’re planning to move to a smaller home, you’ll need a downsizing plan. It may seem overwhelming, but you can get fully organized before your move. Here’s what the experts suggest:
- Make a list of what you love. Of course you want to keep your dining room set and the wedding china. Write down the things that are definitely going to the new house.
- Look at the big items. Think about each room in your new home: what furniture do you plan to put in there? Keep a measuring tape handy to make sure larger pieces will fit.
- Start early, start small. Ideally, you should allow yourselves a few months to go through everything. Spend just one or two hours a day organizing so you don’t get burned out. And stay focused: go through a single closet, cabinet or a small section of the basement, then quit for the day.
- Get tough on clutter. The kitchen and the garage probably have the largest number of unnecessary items. Itemize your kitchen carefully – how many cake pans do you really need? And if you’re moving to a low-maintenance community, you won’t need that leaf blower or lawn mower anymore.
- Sell, donate or recycle. What to do with the things you’re getting rid of? Hold a garage sale, consign furniture pieces, or donate to charity. Recycle everything that you can before throwing things away.
- Call the kids. Do they still have stuff at your house? Now is the time to have them pick it up. Take the opportunity to pass along other possessions as well – things you don’t need, but would like to keep in the family.
- Consider estate planning. If you are passing along any items of considerable financial value, consider estate planning. Some people end up with a large cash surplus when downsizing to a more manageable home. If you may be in this fortunate position, then a CPA or qualified financial planner should be in your plan. They can help you “downsize” the tax implications after your house is sold, especially if any portion is intended for your family’s future use.
Be sure to keep your goal in mind: your new, organized home. You’re not losing a thing when you pare down your possessions; instead, you’re gaining a simplified new life!