Some Helpful Tips for Downsizing (Baby Boomers, Take Note!)




The trends set by Baby Boomers have been monitored and scrutinized for decades. After all, this group represents 26% of the entire U.S. population, and therefore has a significant effect on the nation’s economy, political landscape and healthcare system.


One statistic regarding this enormous population is particularly staggering: For the next 20 years, an average of 10,000 people each day will reach age 65.  All those retiring Baby Boomers face the likelihood of major changes in their lifestyles, such as selling their homes and relocating to condos, retirement communities and assisted living facilities.


This change is an exciting time for many people, but one thing tends to cause stress: sorting through decades-worth of accumulated household items and then figuring out what to do with them. The good news is that there are effective ways to approach this sometimes daunting task.



Here are some helpful tips on how to go about downsizing:



Choose your approach and stick to it! Approaching a “downsize” is very similar to tackling a major tidying project. You can focus on one category of objects at a time – such as clothing, books, kitchen items, etc.   It is always a good idea to leave sentimental items until last because it will take the most thought and time to go through.  Another approach is to focus on one room at a time.  An important tip regarding both of these methods is to completely finish one category/room before moving on to the next. Another helpful tip: place everything in one category out in the open so you can see it all at once. Once you see that you have six ice cream scoops or 15 shirts with the tags still attached, you will be more likely to add more to the “get rid of” pile.  And remember – some items need to be thrown out; accept it and move on!



Consider consignment shops. Once you have created your discard pile(s), you must decide what to do with the items. There are many people and organizations that can benefit from items you longer need. If you have new or high-end clothing, furniture or books, consider taking them to consignment shops in order to get some cash for your goods. You can take back any items that do not sell; the shop takes a percentage of the proceeds that do sell. This is a relatively simple way to sell some higher-quality items.



Hold a yard sale or head to the local flea market. These are pretty self-explanatory. They tend to consume time and effort, but are rather simple ways to sell your items before making donations. If you choose to do so, make sure you brush up on your negotiating skills prior to haggling with potential buyers! Also, keep in mind that you have to gather and haul your stuff either to your front yard or to the flea market. And one more cardinal rule: whatever you do not sell, do not take home or put back in the house! Take it directly to the organization where you plan to give your donations.



Make Charitable Donations. Sometimes, this is the most simple, fulfilling way to say goodbye to your items. There are many organizations that would be thrilled to have your gently used goods. Research some local charities in your area to determine which organization would be the best fit for the categories of items you wish to donate. Many organizations have donation bins in various locations. Other groups will come to your house to take away furniture and other items. One important thing to note here: keep track of what you donate, take pictures and estimate the value of the items. This is important for taking tax deductions.



However you decide to downsize and pass along your used items, keep in mind that it is OK to part with them. Remember the old adage, “You can’t take it with you” and feel good about your decisions.