Don’t take clutter with you into retirement

UCT’s U.S. members and their families are entitled to discounts on full-service moving and storage services thanks to our partnership with Wheaton World Wide Moving | Bekins Van Lines. April Milner is central regional sales director with Bekins. She has 20 years of experience in the moving and storage industry, and she’s seen a lot of the challenges that folks face as they prepare to move. Downsizing is one of the biggest and most difficult she’s encountered, and she offers some tips for dealing with it here:

“You did it! Forty years of hard work and determination has brought you to this point in your life. The kids are on their own. You’ve retired from a career that you poured your heart into for more than half your life. The golden years have arrived, and you’ve found that spot where you can fish on a quiet lake or golf in a private community tucked in the mountains.

But before you pack to start that new life – in that new home – you’re going to have to lighten your load. For 40 years you worked, and you parented, and you bought stuff… a lot of stuff. So, what do you do when you realize you’re ready to move on to the next phase, but you don’t want to or can’t take all your treasures with you? The solution is simple: DOWNSIZE.

Did you cringe when you read the word downsize? Where do you start? Who do you call?  There are many options to make the downsizing process simple. Nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old each day and many of them are facing the same dilemma. What do you do with all that stuff? The truth is that it’s hard to purge items you worked so hard to purchase. It’s hard to purge items that are in good working condition. It’s hard to purge items that you have looked at day after day for decades. It’s emotional to rid yourself of the treasures you have held on to for so many years. So how do you do it?

Before you can begin the emotional process of purging your beloved possessions you have to face a few facts:

Your kids don’t want your stuff. It was nice of you to hold on to your daughter’s Cabbage Patch dolls and your son’s high school graduation gown, but at the end of the day those items mean more to you than they do to your kids. If they haven’t taken these items from you by now, chances are they don’t want them.

Garage sales stink. You may think you can sell your worldly possessions in a garage sale to help cover the cost of moving to your dream home. The reality is that organizing a garage sale is hard work, mentally and physically, and the return for that hard work is pennies on the dollar if you’re lucky. Add uncontrollable factors such as unpredictable weather to the mix and the risk of having a successful (or unsuccessful) garage sale is even greater.

Moving is expensive. Talk to any moving company and they’ll tell you the same thing: the more you move, the more it costs. Is it worth the price to move your daughter’s college textbooks that she’ll never look at again? How about those boxes in the basement that are still packed from your last move? Regardless of whether you use it or not, if you move it, you’ll pay for it.

Storage is even more expensive. Many people make the decision to move everything they own, even though they know it won’t fit into their new condo. They think a storage facility is the answer. Why waste your money? Don’t spend your hard-earned money to store items you’ll never use again.

The good news is that there are many resources you can use to efficiently downsize without incurring too much stress. What’s the first step? Who can help you along the way? There are many moving and storage professionals whose goal is to assist with your transition to the next phase. Whether it’s down the street or across the country, relocation companies, household goods movers and senior move managers are trained to educate and assist with the difficult task of downsizing and physically moving you. Here are some best practices suggested by the relocation industry leaders:

Start early. You don’t need to wait until your home sells or until you purchase a new home to begin the downsizing process. Begin one room at a time and start in rooms that are “dust collectors” such as attics, basements and garages. Remember, if you haven’t used it in the last 10 years chances are you don’t need it.

Plan your space. Use the room measurements of your new home to decide what to take and what to leave behind. If all your living room furniture won’t fit into your new space, DON’T TAKE IT! If your current home has four bedrooms and your new home only has two bedrooms, decide which bedroom sets you’ll be keeping and purge the others as soon as possible.

Get rid of duplicates. Open your kitchen drawers and look at how many duplicate items you’ve accumulated over the years. Do you need 10 spatulas? Six cake pans? Two crock pots? Decide how many of these items you need and get rid of the rest.

If its broken, chipped or stained throw it out. 

Sell your items. If you have valuable items such as high-end furniture or unique collections, consider selling them on the internet or through a professional estate sale liquidator. Sites such as eBay and Craigslist can be easy to navigate if you’re relatively tech savvy. Be aware of safety recommendations if you’re inviting people into your home to look at items for sale.

Donate items to charity. Do you have a lot of books? Give them to a library or church. Furniture? Donate it to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart or another charity in your community. If you know you’re not going to use it, get rid of it. Some charities even have free pick-up!

Call a professional. There are many industry experts who can help make the downsizing process less stressful. Senior move managers are dedicated to this very purpose. These individuals specialize in helping senior citizens make the transition to smaller housing situations or into senior living communities. They also specialize in space planning, estate sales, antique liquidation, packing and unpacking. The National Association of Senior Move Managers have representatives in nearly every city in the U.S. Find one close to you on their website at www.nasmm.org.

Downsizing can be an emotional process. Let others help you. In the end you’ll find a less cluttered home to be a happy home. Enjoy your golden years. You’ve earned it!”

Thinking about a move of your own soon? If so, you’ll want to check out the perks offered through the Wheaton World Wide Moving | Bekins Van Lines discount!

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