By Lauryn Trimmer
Studies show that 42% of Americans plan to downsize after retirement.
Most of us think downsizing is heartbreaking, tedious, and stressful. Why would we want to give up furniture, collectibles, memories that have become part of our lives?
Of course, on the other hand, some of us can’t wait to de-clutter and downsize. It’s a dream come true: less stuff. Ah, sounds like heaven.
When you’re trying to decide whether or not you should downsize, consider the benefits. Downsizing can actually help reduce stress. Having less stuff and a smaller house means that you can save time, money, energy— and your health.
Also, according to Dave Ramsey (a well-known financial adviser), if you save $500 every month by downsizing, you could use that money to…
- Pay off student loans
- Save for retirement, a vacation, or some other big goal
- Help pay for your kids (or grand kids) to go to college.
If you’d like to consider making the move, here are the 5 steps to downsizing without stress.
Step 1: Make a list.
Write down a list of all the furniture you currently own. Next, write down all the appliances and electronics. Then, make a list for any collections that you might have. (For example, your living room might have 1 coffee table, 1 couch, 2 armchairs, 1 TV, and your vase collection.)
Step 2: Take a step back from the emotions.
If you lost everything to a natural disaster like fire or flood, which furniture and things would you replace first? This helps you see what is a necessity and what you might be able to do without.
When you’ve made a list of your must-have items, then categorize the rest of your belongings into two lists: the items that you would like to have but you could live without, and items that you can donate or throw away.
(NOTE: Items you may not want to get rid of include pictures, special books, and the most important family heirlooms. As long as you have space for them, these things should stay with you because they are hard or impossible to replace.)
Step 3: Sell items that you don’t need or you won’t have space for.
Organize a garage sale, or spread the word that you have furniture you need to sell. Also, you could try selling furniture on Craigslist, and collectible items on eBay. This way, you get some cash for the stuff you didn’t need anyway.
Step 4: Go digital.
The internet costs much less than a traditional storage unit— in fact, in many cases you can use it for free. CDs, records, cassette tapes, home videos, and photos can be converted and saved as digital files. (You might need to go to a store that specializes in this.)
Upload the digital copies onto Google Drive or Dropbox. Now, you can access your stuff anywhere, as long as you have internet access.
Pay off student loans
Save for retirement, a vacation, or some other big goal
Help pay for your kids (or grand kids) to go to college.
Step 5: Don’t worry, be happy.
During the whole process, focus on the benefits. What do you look forward to about your new home? How will your life improve without all the clutter? By keeping your thoughts positive, you’ll be able to keep the transition stress-free. Really, you don’t need to worry. Don’t worry, be happy.
Downsizing really isn’t a huge monster. All it takes is these 5 simple steps, and you can downsize in comfort.