By Deborah Goode, CID
In the past, I would move to a different home every four years. And every time I moved, I would sort through my stuff, donating lots of bags to the Salvation Army, Purple Heart and Goodwill. As you can tell, my love of shopping for clothes, shoes and decorative items has always gotten me in trouble.
However, now that I’ve been living in the same house for the past five years, my “stuff” has been multiplying exponentially. Not only is the crawl space under the house filled up completely, but we now have a garage that has no more extra room – especially for a car. And it's migrating to my two spare bedrooms and the closets are bulging at the seams. I'm really tired of the piles which seem to grow on a weekly basis. And even more frustrating, I usually can't find what I'm looking for!
Time out. I need to fix this situation! No one else can weed out all my personal items unless I call a professional organizer.
So, what has inspired me to think about downsizing? Because I've been helping my family transition into a new, smaller place after moving from a large house with lots of storage. Now they are in an apartment with no basement, no garage. To make their situation even more challenging, not only are they moving their own belongings, but also all the inherited "treasures" from their parents. Since I really don't want to be in that situation when I'm older with lots of aches and pains, I've decided to tackle my downsizing process now -- while I still have the energy without the maladies.
So how do you let go of your "treasures"? The answer is -- with difficulty. But, in my opinion, the pay-off is worth it.
Here are some suggestions on my downsizing method:
1. First, make four piles: 1) Give-away or donate; 2) Sell; 3) Trash; 4) Keep (try not to be tempted to add too many items to that pile).
2. Second, in sorting through your personal belongings, ask yourself: Will I need or wear it now or within the next year? If the answer is no, you probably want to put those items in the "give-away, sell or trash" pile.
3. Third, can I give it to someone who can use it? Donating items to charity organization can provide you a tax donation write-off -- just make sure you get a receipt for your donation. By the way, Purple Heart will pick it up from your doorstep if you schedule it with them online.
Personally, I'm lazy about yard sales, so I decided to donate those items that I hadn't used/needed in a year, and I received a tax receipt. Remember when you’re donating to keep the receipt and itemize (and summarize) the number and types of items; also, write down an estimate on how much you think your donation is worth (for tax purposes).
5.Which leads me to my fifth suggestion: Ask your family or friends if they would like to "inherit" your hand-me-downs. If they're ready for your hand-me-downs, that will help your downsizing efforts.
6. Finally, here's my last suggestion if you going through this alone and need help: Consider hiring a professional organizer to assist you in sorting through items and deciding whether to keep them, sell or donate them, or trash them.
Or, if you're going to sell your home, professional Home Stagers can help you identify what needs to be "de-cluttered" to make your home appeal to prospective buyers. If you are totally overwhelmed with the process, you may want to call a Professional Organizer to help you.
So, right now, I'm taking my own advice and beginning to downsize on my own. If you’re also ready to take on this challenge, best of luck and hope you love the results!