Where to start? The thought of diving in and downsizing from years of home ownership can be a daunting task. Knowing the areas to focus your attention on can help you begin the process. And it is a process! The good news, you’re not alone. Most making the move to senior living are in the same boat, working to downsize from the homes they’ve lived in for much of their adult life. Starting early is key. Taking the steps to downsize while in good health and spreading the work overtime will eliminate a lot of stress. See below, the list of the top 12 areas to get started in. *This list was gathered from AARP’s member website
The Big House- This is the most obvious, and sometimes getting rid of the house first can force the issue. There are also financial benefits to selling the house first. Even though you may have the house paid off, there are significant costs that come with home ownership. Consider rising taxes, expensive upgrades and repairs, insurance, and utilities costs. Your house was a home for your family, but as the kids grow up and move away, what’s keeping you tied to all that extra space?
Debt- The goal is always to pay off any debt before you retire, you should enjoy what you’ve worked for without worry. According to Credit.com, the average American today will pay more than $250,000 in interest on all money borrowed. That’s a lot! Reflect on what you’ve accomplished financially, and if you can’t afford to pay for something right now, don’t take on the added expense.
Clothes- Take a good look at your wardrobe, try pulling all of what you own into view. If you haven’t worn something in the past year, consider donating it. Styles change over the years, choose pieces that will all fit neatly into the confines of your main closet and dresser drawers.
Off-Site Storage- Eliminate monthly storage fees in your retirement by getting rid of any storage lockers. If it can’t fit, donate it. Chances are if you haven’t needed a piece of furniture in several years, you don’t need it now.
Exercise Equipment- Equipment has changed over the years and new technology is always on the horizon. If your moving to a senior community like Shaker Pointe, the gym is included. Get rid of bulky and over-sized equipment and participate in group fitness classes instead. Or work-out in a community’s state-of-the-art facility and let the community keep pace with changing technology.
Kitchen Appliances and Gadgets- It’s true, we spend a large amount of time in our kitchens preparing meals over the years. But how often do you really use that old bread machine or waffle iron? If it hasn’t been used in 6 months, consider finding that appliance a new home. Think about your day-to-day needs. How many utensil sets does one person or a couple really need? Work on pairing down mismatched china and utensil sets. Pass heirloom pieces onto family and younger generations.
Second Car- Cars are a depreciating asset. Consider the average yearly cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. According to AAA, Americans spend an average of $8,558 annually to keep a car gassed up and on the road. If you’re no longer working, do you need two vehicles? At Shaker Pointe we provide transportation on outings and events, we take you to doctor’s appointments and shopping. Consider where you are going and how many sets of wheels you really need.
Childhood Memorabilia- Chances are if your kids didn’t take items with them when they moved out, they don’t want them! Hold on to a small few mementos, the rest take a picture and put it in an album. That way you’ll have the memory without having to dust off the participation trophy from your daughters 2nd grade spelling bee!
Furniture- If your downsizing from your home chances are the rooms you’ll be moving into will be smaller. Remember, that a room feels more spacious with the right sized furniture. Only take with you pieces that will do double duty. A folding couch provides a sleeping option for guests and seating during the day. A table with leaves folded up is perfect when having dinner for two or to extend when you have company. Go room-by-room in your home and eliminate the pieces you don’t need and see how much more spacious it feels.
Books, Magazines, DVD’s-If you’re not planning on reading that book or watching the movie again, donate it! Books can take up a lot of space on a shelf and are cumbersome to move. Now-a-days you can store countless e-books for less money.
Files-Paper can fill our lives. Organize your stacks into categories and work on what you can eliminate. Toss the papers corresponding to things you no longer own. You only need to save tax records for the past 7 years, be sure to shred the rest. Consider moving your bills and bank statements to online accounts.
Decorations- The holiday’s hold a lot of sentiment so it’s best to save this category for last. Take with you only the decorations you’ve used within the past five years. Consider donating bulkier items and outdoor decorations. Holiday tableware is only used once a year, donate sentimental items to family members whose turn it is to host large family gatherings.