For the next twenty years, an average of 10,000 people each day will reach age 65. All those retiring baby boomers face major life changes which may include downsizing into smaller living quarters, retirement communities or assisted living settings.
When you’ve lived in the same place for years, stuff tends to accumulate. Here are seven ways to reduce materials goods before making a move.
- Decide Your Approach
There are different ways to tackle downsizing. You can focus on specific objects, such as clothing, books, and papers, before addressing more sentimental items. You can focus on smaller territory, by addressing drawers, closets, shelves and cabinets. You could de-clutter one room at a time until the entire home is addressed.
To downsize in one huge effort, with assistance, you could choose the nuclear option – putting everything up for grabs in an estate sale. An estate sale expert will handle the pricing, advertising and management of the sale for a percentage of the proceeds. Set aside any items you truly want to hold on to before engaging the services of an estate sale expert.
- Consider Consignment Shops
If your clothing or furniture is high-end and new or vintage/antique, consignment shops are one way to get cash for your goods. You keep ownership of your goods until they sell. If they don’t sell, you take your stuff back. The shop gets a percentage of the sales proceeds. It’s a relatively easy way to sell.
- Hold a Yard Sale
These are also known as garage sales, tag sales, and rummage sales. Pulling together these sales is a significant amount of work. You organize your goods, set them up for display, price the items, set up signs around the neighborhood, advertise in the local paper, start with change on hand, act as cashier, and keep the money secure.
People will paw through your stuff and offer much less than you’ve priced. It’s an emotionally and physically draining experience to make a few hundred bucks. Still, it will help you clear out your stuff. Do yourself a favor and donate the items that don’t sell. Do NOT take them back into the house.
- Sell at a Flea Market
Instead of holding a yard sale, pack up all the stuff you want to sell and take it to a local flea market. You pay a small fee for a space at either an indoor or outdoor location where sellers regularly gather. Take your own display tables and chairs to sit upon, and don’t forget to bring cash for change! You skip having to advertise, but still have to round up your merchandise, haul it to the flea market, and haggle with buyers. Be prepared to play Let’s Make a Deal with flea market shoppers. Plan to donate any merchandise that doesn’t sell – do NOT take leftovers back home.
- Sell Your Stuff Online
Selling your stuff online takes a commitment of time, attention and computer skills. In addition to eBay, the 800-pound gorilla of online sales, other popular online selling sites include Amazon, Craigslist, Etsy, and Bonanza. Selling items on Craigslist is free, while these other sites charge various fees. You have plenty to do: decide what to sell, take quality pictures of the item(s), price them well, package and ship the items to your buyers.
- Give Your Stuff Away Online
Make it easy on yourself by giving away your items through Freecycle. The Freecycle Network® is made up of more than five thousand groups with more than nine million members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving – and getting – stuff for free in their own towns. Freecycle focuses on reusing and keeping goods out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers and membership is free. To sign up, find your community in the search box at Freecycle.org.
- Make Charitable Donations
Charitable organizations will pick up or accept a majority of gently used household goods, although many won’t accept old televisions, mattresses, computers, and some furniture. They especially appreciate automobile donations. To avoid shipping costs, donate to local charities. Keep track of what you donate. The organization will give you receipts that serve as proof for tax deductions. Popular charities that pick up donations from your home include Goodwill, the Salvation Army, ARC, Vietnam Veterans, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and others.
These are just seven of 100-plus suggestions in my forthcoming book, Kicking The Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die (October 2016, Rio Grande Books). If you’d like an electronic advance copy to provide an Amazon review when the book is published, register at this page at AGoodGoodbye.com. The eBook will be sent to you when it is ready.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a death educator who uses humor and funny films to teach about end-of-life topics. An award-winning speaker, she “knocked ’em dead” at TEDxABQ in 2015 (https://youtu.be/r9qR4ZiGX2Y). She’s the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips. Download a free planning form at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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