Although our likely downsize move from our present home is at least a couple of years away, I am already spending time thinking about it. This includes appreciating the many financial benefits of downsizing.
There are practical and emotional obstacles involved in trying to shed ourselves of surplus furniture, knick-knacks, clothes, photos, papers, old records, souvenirs and the like. It seems like we are discarding part of our lives. Believe me – you’re not.
In this article, I want to briefly mention some resources that can help with the practical side of downsizing your life by getting rid of stuff.
1. Sell Your Stuff. In addition to the usual yard sale and classified ad selling strategies, don’t overlook some of the more recently popular places to sell things. Locally, you can use Craigslist to sell almost anything. You just need to be careful of trolls and abusive purchasers. Start slow and get comfortable with the process before listing a lot of your stuff. Some of your items (e.g. books) can also be effectively sold on Amazon. Just keep in mind that you will have to pay Amazon a commission. A site for selling cell phones and other gadgets is Gazelle which will buy your stuff and arrange for free shipping as well.
Update 1: Even newer is Listia, an auction site for “free stuff” where you earn credits by selling stuff you don’t need. You can then use the credits for buying more stuff (don’t do that!).
Update 2: If you are a Costco member, you can use the Gazelle service and received a slightly larger payment in the form of a Costco cash card.
2. Donate Your Stuff. Everyone knows about Goodwill and other thrift stores. Less well known but coming on strong is Freecycle which is a network of local groups who accept donations of usable items for use by others in the community. For donating electronics (e.g., cell phones, computers, etc.) MyBoneYard makes it easy with prepaid shipping and an opportunity to earn rewards for donations. They will even wipe all of your personal information off of the equipment that you send them.
3. Donate Your Car. Many charities accept donations of vehicles. I would find one that actually needs the vehicle for use, such as a refugee resettlement program. Otherwise, the charity will probably just re-sell it. If you are interested in whether you can get by with one less car, consider downsizing to an area that is convenient for getting things done on foot. You can find and rate the best walking communities using the WalkScore site.
4. Send Your Stuff to the Junkyard. Face it. A lot of our stuff is just junk, having no value to anyone else. Your basement and garage is probably filled with it. Maybe you can haul it yourself to the local dump or junkyard. If not, consider hiring someone to take it away for you. One national business that does this is 1-800-Got Junk.
5. Getting Help with Your Downsizing. If you or an older parent are overwhelmed or confused by the downsizing task at hand, there are people who will help you. The National Association of Senior Move Managers is an organization set up specifically for that purpose. They have members all over the country.
Now is the time for all baby boomers to be thinking and planning for a downsize. Get busy and good luck!