Downsizing: 7 Tips for Paring Down

Downsizing:  7 Tips for Paring Down

Downsizing your home can be daunting, but following some simple tips and tricks can make the transition to smaller living less challenging.

If you’re downsizing to a smaller house, you’ll want to pare back your possessions as well, or your new home will feel cramped.    Whether you’re retiring, retooling your expenses or trying to simplify, the following ideas can make downsizing easier:

Keep only things that add value to your life.   Don’t mistake being expensive or rare for adding value — a piece of furniture may have been expensive, but if it sits unused, it’s not adding value.  Find someone who will cherish your expensive items, but don’t hold on to things you don’t value.

Ensure your possessions are in-tune with your lifestyle.  Do your things match how you plan to live after downsizing?  This is especially important to ask if you’ve had a recent life change, like retiring or moving to a new city.  If you’re no longer working the 9-to-5, don’t hang on to a closet full of suits.  Likewise, if you’ve moved to a warm climate, keep only your best cold-weather gear for the occasional trip back North.  The same thing goes in other rooms of the house — if you’re paring down for a retirement filled with dining out and traveling, bulky kitchen gadgets may not be the necessities they once were.

Avoid the urge to stock up for all possible scenarios.  Yes, there may come a day when four couples simultaneously descend on your house with their seven children and your washing machine goes out and you need all 25 of the towels you’ve stockpiled.  Deal with that day if and when it comes.  For now, pare down to what works for you and what fits in your new space. Keeping things because they are “perfectly good” items won’t help the process.

Give away the heirlooms while you’re still here.  If you’re moving into a small space, you likely won’t have room to save things for someone else.  Find a thoughtful way to give heirlooms away now, especially bulky ones.   An added benefit: You can explain the sentiment behind the gift, and you’ll get to see them enjoy the item as you hoped they would.

Find smaller ways to store.  Keeping things in their original cases can eat up valuable space.  Try a solution like a CD/DVD storage case to save valuable space.  Also, consider putting your seasonal outfits in vacuum-seal bags that can fit under the bed.

Be charitable.  Knowing someone will benefit from your castoffs can help you make the decision to part with them.  Pick what charity will receive your items ahead of time, and if you’re having a hard time deciding to let an item go, think about who will benefit from it.

Give yourself a deadline.  Plan a yard sale.  Schedule a pickup by your favorite charity.  Set a date when your mother-in-law will come over to help you declutter, should you fail to do it before then.   Do whatever it takes to give yourself a deadline for making decisions about your stuff.

Most importantly, keep your goal in mind.  Are you downsizing to save money?  To live your dream of traveling overseas?  To move to a more desirable neighborhood?  Keep the goal in mind and stay positive as you press on toward tinier living.


Photo credit: Kurt Komoda via photopin cc

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  1. Walker E. Summers
    Walker E. Summers April 29, 2013 at 8:33 am .

    The growing problem of landfills is a bit too abstract and remote in my mind for it to keep me from throwing things away. And I’ve even climbed one, Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, now a city park. Far more effective at helping me keep down my personal waste is possibility of throwing away something of value. I might be short-sighted in this area, but losing money now is a stronger motivation for me than the possibility of environmental disaster at some uncertain time in the future.

  2. […] When you’re reevaluating your space, you should base the decision on your lifestyle needs, and not your stuff.  If you plan square footage with the idea that you need to accommodate every piece of furniture and every item that you’ve ever acquired in your life, the likely result is up-sizing.    Instead, choose the amount of space that’s right for you based on what you do in your home, and pare down your belongings. […]

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