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A prep for retirement story
Old 06-22-2011, 09:55 PM   #1
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A prep for retirement story

As we prepare for (please, Lord!) retirement in about a year, I've begin to go through every item we own (do we really need a VHS tape of random episodes of "felicity", for example?) because we will downsize to 1/3 of the space we now have. As well as fearing that if we had it to do all at once it would be overwhelming, I'm finding it freeing and energizing to get out from under so much "stuff." Should also make it easier to render the house showable. A big project is scanning all our photos, from which we'll only keep a selected few in hard copy. We certainly don't look at them! And my beloved's parents have not made it easier by off-loading two big boxes of albums when they last moved.
Whee!
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:15 PM   #2
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I know exactly where you're coming from. I will be leaving work sooner than it sounds that you will, but I have already planned to spend the first eight months or so post-work in shedding all the unnecessary stuff. This is to be done in preparation for relocation to another state.

There won't be a whole lot deemed useful to retain: things like musical instruments, some music, books, favorite clothes, computer (and records kept in paper form in file cabinets can easily be scanned)... but most of it I think about and go "what was I thinking?".

I think it's a great cleansing move. Start fresh and start again.
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:17 PM   #3
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Good plan. It does get overwhelming. Your point about the house showing better with less stuff is right on. On that subject, select your realtor early (lots of tips online) and have them guide you through cosmetic improvements that will aid in the sale of the house.
All the best.
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:26 PM   #4
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Oh boy can I relate! I just downsized. My realtor recommended a professional declutterer and the three days when she and her assistant worked with me were exhausting but cleansing. (e.g. I shredded 300 lbs of paper). I did keep all the photos and there are three x 2 cu ft boxes of them in my storage locker now. It would take me months to review and scan the photos and I do not have that time. It can wait.

When it is all over you will feel that you are at a new beginning.
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:55 PM   #5
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Downsizing can also be traumatic when you have a pack rat spouse. After being "cleansed" by my first wife and the down sizing I had done to me during the divorce it was actually nice to walk around a small house and not run into furniture. Later I remarried a woman that was a tremendous pack rat...how much I did not realize until I moved into her house after the wedding and tried to find room for my limited stuff. Ten years later we moved 2000 miles and ended up with a bigger house to hold all the stuff.

I retired 3 years ago and we did not get as much time as we thought before selling the house so we ended up moving a lot more crap stuff than we would have wanted to take with us to a house that was 1/3 smaller. It took me 6 months to clean out the garage enough to get my car in there. We are still in the process of getting rid of stuff but somehow more stuff seems to find its way in to fill the vacated space.

When we had our other house on the market we moved out abut 1/4 of our stuff into storage so the house looked complete but not full. We also did some updating of the basement and a couple of bathrooms to make the 20 year old house a bit more current. It sold in 28 days and we had to get out in less than a month.

Moral to the story is:
Rat ratting will cost you money twice...once when you buy it and again when you move it.

Stuff is just stuff unless it belongs to your spouse...then it is her's and is being saved because it might be needed someday and there is no reason to get rid of it because you might have to buy it again...

Clutter in a house you are selling is poison to the realtor but the average person looking at a house will look past it unless it is to deep you need snowshoes to get around in the house.



We continue our path to downsizing...slowly but surely. We plan on moving to a smaller house in 7-10 years so we have time....as long as we keep purging.
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:44 AM   #6
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We also did the pre-ER downsizing thing and had actually sold the big house (3,500') and moved to a rented place (1,500') before the big day came. In our case we knew we wanted to move to another State to be closer to the kids, and a town we had already lived in and liked a lot, and didn't want to be hanging around trying to sell the house.

It meant that we were able to retire and then move that same week. Good luck with the clearing out, I know how difficult this can be.
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Old 06-23-2011, 06:37 AM   #7
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We started cleaning out a year before we moved. DW even bought an extra trash can and we made an effort to fill it at least once a week. With the exception of a few items like Dad's 8mm movie projector we threw out anything we hadn't used for a year.

We were both astonished at how much excess stuff we had accumulated.
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:25 AM   #8
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by palomalou View Post
A big project is scanning all our photos, from which we'll only keep a selected few in hard copy.
I have some albums of old photos I keep thinking about scanning but have been too lazy to approach. Do you have a process for scanning? E,g, scanning them individually, in groups and then digitally cutting out individual photos, into folders by year, etc.?.
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re the scanning, I've used our desktop and our laptop to do it, and they have had different software. On the newer computer I can place a full screen of photos on and it scans them individually. I then give each one its individual name. Prior to that, I was sorting them into categories, such as "Beach trip 1," "Beach trip 2" etc. That was faster because it scanned all of them at the same time (not 4 times faster, but probably 50% faster) but they did have group names rather than individual photo names. At the moment I'd rather not think of the 10 or so albums I have to go.
Today I took a trunk full of books to the local new & used store and they only took 2. But my husband has the idea to try to sell them on Amazon or e-bay this next year. Hope he has better success than I did! So now I need to bring them all back upstairs. Sigh. If there is one advice from my father that I wish I'd followed, it would be not to buy books, but use the library.
We are both a bit pack-ratty. A matched pair, which in this situation doesn't help!
We are going from 2700 sf to keep clean and tidy (not), to 920 or so, from two cars to 2 Metrocards for mass transit, and lots of natural walking for the health. NYC heaven, here we come!
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by palomalou View Post
As we prepare for (please, Lord!) retirement in about a year, I've begin to go through every item we own (do we really need a VHS tape of random episodes of "felicity", for example?) because we will downsize to 1/3 of the space we now have. As well as fearing that if we had it to do all at once it would be overwhelming, I'm finding it freeing and energizing to get out from under so much "stuff." Should also make it easier to render the house showable. A big project is scanning all our photos, from which we'll only keep a selected few in hard copy. We certainly don't look at them! And my beloved's parents have not made it easier by off-loading two big boxes of albums when they last moved.
Whee!
I just did all this. We are downsizing and sold a 4500 SF house (with 2 garages and a guest house) and are building a house around 2500 SF.

I found that we had to do several rounds of the downsizing. DH was more reluctant to part with stuff so I had to ease him into it. One big challenge for us was books. We had so many books but they take up so much space. We finally went to Amazon and any book we could get in Kindle we bought on Kindle and got rid of the paper copy. We still have a lot of books that you can't get on Kindle.

DH hated getting rid of some furniture that he felt was perfectly good -- or could be (the 20 year old fine leather sofa that needs to be upholstered and would cost a fortune to do). But a 2500 SF house won't hold what we had in over 5000 SF (including the guest house).

Right now we are living in a 2000 SF rental and I can see that even with all the decluttering that we did (1-800-Got-Junk was there so much the drivers got to know us) we still have too much stuff (and we have most of the books a large TV still in storage).

I also scanned in photos (I had a service do it) but then I got more photos from my mom so need to send off another set. I'm also trying to scan in as much paper as I can so we can throw out a lot of that. Still have stuff I can get rid of though....
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:11 PM   #12
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We finally went to Amazon and any book we could get in Kindle we bought on Kindle and got rid of the paper copy. We still have a lot of books that you can't get on Kindle.
This is one of my pet peeves, buying the same thing twice.

I've done it with itunes and all my old songs that I can't find the original CD to or it is too scratched to upload.
Now it is going to happen again with books!
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Old 06-27-2011, 06:32 AM   #13
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I practiced radical downsizing over the last 5 years, although I never lived in anything more than a 1 bedroom apartment with used furniture.

But I still consider radical downsizing one of the best and most satisfying experiences of my life.

Keep in mind that one goes in iterations. And you need to start early. I really laugh at my first and second downsizings, in retrospect.
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:05 AM   #14
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When one moves... it is an excellent time to lighten the load on old unneeded stuff.

Even if one is moving to a larger home!

We intend to downsize in the next few years. I will go through the tedious process at that time.
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:56 AM   #15
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Good luck to you. I just finished reading this book:
Amazon.com: Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things eBook: Randy Frost, Gail Steketee: Kindle Store
and I have to say that just reading about hoarding makes me want to clean out my cabinets, closets, and drawers of excess stuff.
Maybe read it for inspiration?
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:43 PM   #16
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We have been watching the Hoarders tv show a lot lately (it makes us feel better about ourselves! ). Makes it easier to throw out junk. DW went crazy this weekend and filled our 96 gallon outside trash can to overflowing. I cleaned out our 8x12 utility shed. I put a bunch of stuff on craigslist, and have one sale pending, and one free item gone. The rest of the stuff will end up in the garbage or free if it isn't sold in a couple weeks.

It is astounding how much people expend to keep and maintain junk. Hundreds or thousands of square feet of space devoted to "stuff you might need some day". When it would be way cheaper to just buy the "stuff you might need someday" when you need it.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:07 PM   #17
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As we prepare for (please, Lord!) retirement in about a year, I've begin to go through every item we own (do we really need a VHS tape of random episodes of "felicity", for example?)...
(It was DD's favorite show and I think we have a few random episodes around here ourselves, including the finale.)
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:25 PM   #18
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It is astounding how much people expend to keep and maintain junk. Hundreds or thousands of square feet of space devoted to "stuff you might need some day". When it would be way cheaper to just buy the "stuff you might need someday" when you need it.
We decluttered multiple times over several years in preparation for our move north that never happened. After the move was cancelled, I didn't regret having so much less stuff. It has been great to have so much closet space! I thought my home was deficient in closet space, and maybe it is a little bit, but with less stuff everything fits with ease. In fact, I even have an empty walk-in closet at present.

The sobering reality is that even so, I have slowly started to accumulate again. It's creeping into the empty space relentlessly. It's mostly been the "stuff that I might need someday" category. So, thanks for the above paragraph because it is very apropos to my current situation.
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Old 06-27-2011, 05:09 PM   #19
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Luxury = an empty shelf, and nothing to put on it.

As a child of a hoarder, I'm increasingly vigilant. DH and I have way too much, and that is the theme of our first few months of retirement. Get rid of stuff, and enjoy time.
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:53 AM   #20
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It is astounding how much people expend to keep and maintain junk. Hundreds or thousands of square feet of space devoted to "stuff you might need some day". When it would be way cheaper to just buy the "stuff you might need someday" when you need it.
Sounds so simple to go out and buy it, doesn't it?

I've learned to hoard all parts for appliances that are a decade or older, especially if it'll be difficult to physically replace them.

When the Navy moved us to Oahu in 1989 there were almost no big-box stores on the island. I believe Costco had opened in 1988 but not even K-Mart was here. No Wal-Mart or Home Depot or Lowes. Even local icon City Mill didn't carry all the hardware and home-improvement supplies we sought.

It got pretty tiresome hearing "Six to eight weeks from the Mainland, brah." We'd end up going on Mainland trips mainly to buy plumbing supplies or special tools.

Today we can "just buy it when we need it", but it's awful hard to unlearn those "I might need it someday" habits. In the back of my mind, "someday" might be a Cat 5 hurricane or a shipping strike.
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