Getting Ready to Downsize: How to begin the process

You have finally reached the point in life where you are ready to think about downsizing, moving to a new home and into a new phase in life. Maybe you’ve retired, maybe your children have finally moved out or maybe you’re just ready for a change. There is no right time to take this step, just the right time for you.

You’re not alone in tackling this task. According to AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day. The baby boomer generation makes up approximately 25% of the total U.S. population and when you put those two numbers together, it makes sense that downsizing, or “rightsizing”, as it is often called, is the next phase for many Americans. Additionally, the generation immediately following the baby boomers is significantly smaller, meaning there are fewer people to take on the items that boomers aren’t taking with them into their new homes.

Therefore, asking your children to “take what they want” or hoping that you just live out the rest of your life at home, leaving your belongings to your children and grandchildren, isn’t a real solution. At the end of the day, the “stuff” doesn’t matter to future generations as much as it does to you. By paring down your items today, your way, and at your own pace, your family will be grateful and you will have gifted yourself the peace of mind to move forward.

While some people look forward to minimizing their possessions and the lighter feeling that comes along with it, others dread this step and simply want to get the process over with. Whether you are excited by the idea of downsizing or dreading it, identifying where to start and how to methodically approach the process will give you the smoothest experience and help you avoid common pitfalls. Here are three resources to help you begin your journey to downsizing so that you create the life that you want moving forward. Let’s get started!

1: Thought exercise: envision your next home

Take a few minutes and write down what you see when you envision your next home. Get as detailed as possible because this is your big picture, and it’s what you need to keep in mind when you are knee-deep in your storage closet. For instance, moving to a beach house means that you can get rid of that snow blower, and moving to a townhome doesn’t necessitate a riding mower and so on. Some of these items you can let go of now and some of them you won’t get rid of until you physically move.

2. Consult a downsizing flowchart

There are several basic questions you can use to keep yourself on track while you evaluate your items. Downsizing is about determining what you want to keep, more than what should be given away. For those times when you find yourself stumped about what to do with an item, consult the flowchart below to give yourself some clarity.

3. Follow a roadmap

Below is a downsizing roadmap. Within each category, we are going to follow the steps below. Working the steps in the order laid out here will have the greatest impact.

These three resources can help make the mountain of downsizing seem more like a hill. Hopefully they help you ease into your downsizing journey! The process at times can be tiresome and emotional, but go easy on yourself and take the time to do this right. Having a downsizing plan and knowing where to start will alleviate most, if not all, of the burden and worry. Plus, once completed, you will never have to do it again!

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