Downsizing can be daunting! Downsizing can fill people with dread, especially after hearing horror stories from people who went about it all wrong. Below are the “Top 6” mistakes people make when downsizing, plus some ways to make the process easier and less intimidating.
Mistake #1 Waiting Too Long to Downsize
Waiting until it is a necessity to move is the biggest mistake we make. Downsizing requires planning, preparation and energy, so if you are recovering from an illness or a personal loss makes the whole process much, much harder. Planning your downsizing while all is going well and when you have a little extra time allows you to make the right lifestyle choices, like whether being close to family or friends and other seniors is a better fit. And, don’t forget, weather, recreation, and taxes can all play a factor in your decision.
Mistake #2 Not Getting Tough with Your Grown Kids
A few years ago my very own stepmother told me to take my belongings out of their garage or they’d be going to a Thrift Shop. In the moment, I thought to myself, “Gee, that’s a bit harsh,” but, in hindsight, she was right to issue the warning…there was no reason for my childhood ice skates to be in their garage instead of my own!
At the same time you ask your grown kids to pick up their stuff, ask if they would like some of your extra belongings… and don’t be hurt if they don’t swoop up grandma’s gravy boat or the “good” silverware: what you consider precious may not be a fit for their homes. But finding out sooner rather than later makes it easier for you to decide what you want to sell or donate. And here’s the most important point: set a firm deadline for them to come get what they want! Their procrastination is no reason for delaying your project from moving forward.
Mistake #3 Tackling Too Much at Once
Trying to work on the whole house or multiple rooms at once can be overwhelming. Pick one small, easy area like a linen closet or dish cabinet to start with to keep the project more manageable. The sense of accomplishment will help build your momentum to make further progress.
Ask yourself these questions when deciding what you definitely want to keep: Do you use it now? Will it fit in your smaller home? Is it really worth packing and moving if you’re not going to take it out of the moving box? If you don’t plan to host holiday dinners in the future, don’t feel you have to take holiday dishes and cookware. If you’re retired, donate your business clothes to non-profits helping people build their careers.
Mistake #4 Tossing ALL Your Belongings in the Trash
At some point, you’re going to get frustrated and be tempted to throw everything in a dumpster. Don’t! Take a deep breath and realize there are other options. If a yard sale is too big a hassle, put the word out to family and friends that on a specific weekend day certain items will be available. Does someone share your hobbies or told you how much they like something of yours, like your holiday decorations? “Gift” them the items they will appreciate.
Next, take advantage of a fabulous website called NextDoor.com. What’s great about posting your items on this site is that it limits the audience to local people who are easier to coordinate for pickup.
Finally, donation centers like my favorites Hope of the Valley, Goodwill, Habitat ReStore, Salvation Army and others will take many items and give you a receipt.
Mistake #5 Misjudging How Much Will Fit in Your New Home
There’s a reason it’s called “DOWNSIZING.” Do yourself a huge favor and actually take measurements of your new space and compare it to your existing space, then measure furniture to be sure it will fit in the new useable space. Give your favorite things the space they need to be displayed and used correctly. Too many books, plants, lamps and oversized artwork crowded into a smaller space will make it feel even smaller than it is.
Mistake #6 Finding It Hard to Part with Stuff
Getting rid of things is hard to do and never as much fun as bringing in new things. Plus, there are usually pleasant memories attached to your stuff — how you found it, who gave it to you, what you used it for, etc. Take satisfaction in finding new homes where your items will be used and appreciated rather than sitting in the garage or, even worse, in a costly storage unit. Give yourself a break with these two tips for making things easier on yourself: 1) Imagine all the time you’ll save from not having to dust, clean and organize all this “stuff” that can now be spent on new hobbies and fun with family and friends; and, 2) take a photo of it to “keep” the memory… even better, take a picture of you giving the items to the people who will appreciate them.
Yes, of course, all this is easier said than done. Enlist someone for moral support and perhaps promise yourself a small reward after you complete each task. The first steps are the hardest but things will get easier with your end goal of a new, smaller home in sight!
If you live in the San Fernando Valley or Westside and are interested in designing a plan to Downsize then Contact Janey
Don’t worry if you have way too much stuff in your garage as I am in no position to throw stones. 🙂
Janey Bishop (818)570-1144 [email protected]
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