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Decluttering
Old 08-24-2014, 09:40 AM   #1
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Decluttering

There have been dozens, maybe hundreds of posts that talk about the subject.
Since I expect to be in the situation in the near future, would appreciate thoughts... even detailed suggestions to be considered when making plans for a downsize.

This recent NYT article covers the problem of decluttering on a broad basis, but there's a lot more to it than sorting , tossing and donating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/23/yo...pgtype=article

Dumping this on the kids, is not my first choice, but the idea of spending 6 months of trips back and forth to Goodwill or holding yard sales, is a nonstarter. On the other hand, having a Waste Management super bucket dropped in front of the house, is traumatic, as is watching 70+ years of memories and treasure going to the local landfill.

One of the things that I don't see being discussed on ER, is the value of personal possessions. Cars, yes, Houses, yes... but what about furniture, jewelry, collections, electronics, expensive decor, paintings etc, etc.

My "across the street neighbor" passed away, and the niece hired an auctioneer... for a sidewalk auction. The lady was very wealthy, and had collectibles and high value furniture and antiques... bringing a total of $45K...
That's not me.

While my "belongings" have little value, individually... in total, for our Florida Mobile home, our campground Park Model and our CCRC home... there are many individual items... to be disposed of... including thousands of dollars of tools and quite naturally... kitchen, electronics, appliances and many rooms of furniture.

I get suggestions from others... sell "it" on EBay or Craig's list , Yard sales, Habitat, classified etc, etc... Truthfully, the dollars involved aren't enough to offset the hours, days, weeks and probably months... and the angst that it will cause.

Ideally, there would be some national company that would have an ethical base... to have a structure to hire, train and market an operation to profit from others in a similar situation. A way to estimate cost and sale value and a means of disposal that would be fair to both company and customer.

"Got Junk?" and "Aunt Nelly's Cleanup" type companies are ok, but how do I get rid of the classic bikes, the aging golf cart, the stamp and coin collection, the chain saw, and welder, not to mention the books, records, paintings, and expensive glassware. Taken together this "stuff" becomes more of a liability than an asset. 60 years of collecting isn't worth the time out of our rapidly shortening lifespan.

And so, putting a dollar value on "belongings"... not important. A turnkey operation (short of death ) would be nice, but in lieu of that, any thoughts?
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:46 AM   #2
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Ah, the subject of beginning a home decluttering process has been flitting across my mind at intervals ever since I retired July 2.

I did a major purge a little over 10 years ago when I moved from a larger home to one that is much smaller. I had a great deal of motivation then as the house had been sold and I needed to move in a matter of months. You are doing it the right way, Imolderthanu, by planning the process without the urgency but then my circumstances were not by choice.

I began by giving many items to family and friends. I made a weekly trip to a thrift shop to donate clothes and small household goods. I sold some items through word of mouth (actually, the buyers called me: my house for one, then a couple of fairly valuable cars). I had an auction gallery come in and transport things to their site for a sale (did not want an auction at my home or a tag sale). I drove boxes of old papers to a shred-it site and watched them be destroyed. I walked my buyer through the house towards the end and asked her if she could use this or that (free) and she was quite eager to have everything I pointed out. I finally had to rent a dumpster for a week to complete the process.

I vowed never to junk up my current home with needless purchases but ten years is a long time and I have not always held to that resolve, hence my need to address something of a " growing problem" yet again.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:59 AM   #3
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I forgot to mention that part of the reason I need to weed out things again is that my aunt died at the end of 2011 and I inherited a good bit of mid-century modern furniture and paintings. I find this style more to my liking than what I have and in order to use and display these things more attractively I need to get rid of some things. I have very little storage space (no basement, no usable attic). I refuse to rent a storage unit.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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I don't know all the answers. Maybe a gradual draw down, and an intentional effort to not reclutter is one option.

I know for my Dad who suffers dementia, it was traumatic. Every time I talk to him, he asks me were <a certain item> is. Whether we sold it, donated it, or we have it. He wasn't in a good place to make decisions, so my siblings and I did. Luckily, our decisions are winning Dad's approval.

The whole process is very difficult.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:09 AM   #5
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When we sold our home of 25+ years decluttering was a herculean task that I would prefer not to repeat. DW is a bit of a hoarder (albeit a much milder form than what you might see on tv), which is a pain to me since I am the opposite, but if I can keep her hoarding concentrated then it make things livable. She bought a small storage shed that i wasn't keen about but no if she has something that she wants to keep and I don't want to then it goes in her storage shed and we can both be happy about it.

We did a load of craigslist sales, Restore and Salvation Army donations as part of our process.

I was more interested in getting rid of things that getting top $ for them so I priced them attractively but held my ground a little bit in negotiations. The old "This is a really good price but I want to sell it, not give it away" worked more often than not.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:16 AM   #6
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When I downsized three years ago I found a company to help me declutter, recycle, auction, donate, shred and dispose of excess belongings, and then stage my house. It cost a couple of thousand dollars and took just three very busy days. It was a godsend! I found the company through zoomer.ca , which is the Canadian organization for the over 50s. It might be worth inquiring whether AARP has a similar affiliate. There is a huge need for this service.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:40 AM   #7
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When I downsized three years ago I found a company to help me declutter, recycle, auction, donate, shred and dispose of excess belongings, and then stage my house. It cost a couple of thousand dollars and took just three very busy days. It was a godsend! I found the company through zoomer.ca , which is the Canadian organization for the over 50s. It might be worth inquiring whether AARP has a similar affiliate. There is a huge need for this service.
You are absolutely right about the need for a service like this. I think it would be a growing business opportunity. I did a brief search on AARP but nothing jumped out at me. I am certain the Pittsburgh metro area would have individuals/companies that would do this though.

Right now I have the time and energy to whittle things down slowly and thoughtfully. I hope never to be in a fevered rush to move again.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
When I downsized three years ago I found a company to help me declutter, recycle, auction, donate, shred and dispose of excess belongings, and then stage my house. It cost a couple of thousand dollars and took just three very busy days. It was a godsend! I found the company through zoomer.ca , which is the Canadian organization for the over 50s. It might be worth inquiring whether AARP has a similar affiliate. There is a huge need for this service.
In looking for something like this, I came across this "business start-up" website. Maybe an opportunity for some of our members to avoid the retirement boredom that they worry about.

How to Start a Decluttering Business

If so... perhaps consider central Illinois as a starting point.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:49 AM   #9
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I am in the middle of all this right now. Over the past many weeks I have discarded probably a couple hundred pounds of old audio tapes, vinyl records, and video tapes. Books are next. I already dumped a ton of books a few years ago. This doesn't even count good but no-longer-used lawn mowers and furniture I got rid of last summer. I haven't read, listened to, or watched much of this stuff since the 70's or 80's. I figured even if I had a tape deck the tapes were gunked up and wouldn't play. If I had a turntable I couldn't possibly listen to all those records. And since I didn't recognize half those books there was little reason to think I'd ever read them again. I've been stacking them by the trash and letting them get hauled away rather unceremoniously. The bigger more useful stuff I donated to goodwill or the local Hobo shelter. I suppose if I am ever down and out and drinking my dinner from a brown paper bag I can wander in and sit on my old couch and use my old stationary bike.

Perhaps fortunately, or maybe unfortunately I do not have anything like a stamp or coin collection, or world-class model train set-up, nice furniture, electronics etc. Having lived most of my life on-the-run I never collected anything of any real value, size or complexity.

I did stop and think a few weeks back, as I looked at my shockingly vacant storage room, if maybe this wasn't some sort of sub-conscious, self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the kind of thing people do when they think they are going to die soon......?
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:51 AM   #10
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I have cleaned out three houses:
1) Invite the antiques dealer to buy what he wants
2) Invite the used dealer to buy what he wants
3) Hold an estate sale advertised in the local newspapers and on CL
4) Run a free by appointment sale on CL
5) Take books/records to dealers
6) Hire Got Junk for the remainder

During the estate sale, I ran a free section on the front lawn to attract traffic. It had to replenished/purged regularly to avoid a junkyard look.

Don't forget to have initial cash to make change and then a lock-box for accumulation during the day.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:52 AM   #11
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I have a friend who does this and just quit her regular job to attend to the business full time.

It is an "estate sale" business, but they do a whole lot more than just selling off stuff from a deceased person's home.
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
In looking for something like this, I came across this "business start-up" website. Maybe an opportunity for some of our members to avoid the retirement boredom that they worry about.

How to Start a Decluttering Business

If so... perhaps consider central Illinois as a starting point.
Franchise opportunities are available.

MOVING HOME
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:21 PM   #13
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Having had to clean out MIL home with years of stuff- and the house "looked neat" before we started, was a lousy experience. Vowed never to let that happen to our DD.

We just decluttered in the past year before we sold our home and downsized. Yes, it was work, but so freeing mentally and physically!

Do one room at a time. Haul small stuff to Goodwill. Stuff with value and not too large-in other words easy to ship- did well in eBay. Large stuff like furniture and heavier stuff, did well on craigs list.
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:38 PM   #14
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I feel fortunate that DH and I have moved 4 times in the 27 years we've been married and the longest we were in any one house was 11 years. This has forced decluttering along the way, although we still have too many books as well as paper files. But I've been pretty ruthless about "stuff". When we cleaned out my parents' house to sell it about 12 years ago, my sister didn't want to get rid of any of the china, glassware, etc., that our mother had inherited from her mother, aunts, and sister. So she has cabinets stuffed to the gills with it, while I took a much smaller amount and even then got rid of much of what I took over the past few years.

I don't think there are any shortcuts unless you just pick out the things you want to take with you and let an estate sale firm take care of the rest - they will sell what they can and donate/dispose of the leftovers.
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:52 PM   #15
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I am right now with my mom to help her select those of her belongings that will go with her to assisted living.
To be clear: her house will be far from being empty when she moves.
At the end of day 8 we have made some progress. Two more to go.

Then, 2 month later, the house will be cleared by a pro bono organisation or professional before we can sell.
There are items that I will pick before, but even though I have inherited some of the packrat genes of my mom, I will do my very best to resist. So I have promised to DH.
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:00 PM   #16
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I was just going through ancient papers and found some perfectly awful school portraits of me from elementary school. The one from 4th grade (I was 8) is dreadful. My hair is a mess; my front teeth are too big for my face. I can't believe my Mother let me go to school looking like such a rag doll, let alone spent $$ to buy the results...in fact, she stopped buying school pictures of me around 7th grade. Yet I have no other photos of me at this age. If I throw out these old photos, will I somehow live to regret it?

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Old 08-24-2014, 01:11 PM   #17
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Going through DH's parents' homes curbed any cluttering tendencies DH has, as well as the companion trait, "don't use the good stuff, save it for ______ (random occasion that will never happen)."

Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
...here are many individual items... to be disposed of... including thousands of dollars of tools and quite naturally... kitchen, electronics, appliances and many rooms of furniture.

...

"Got Junk?" and "Aunt Nelly's Cleanup" type companies are ok, but how do I get rid of the classic bikes, the aging golf cart, the stamp and coin collection, the chain saw, and welder, not to mention the books, records, paintings, and expensive glassware. ...
I can't imagine having or keeping this much stuff, Imoldernu. That is a lot to think about.
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:17 PM   #18
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I was just going through ancient papers and found some perfectly awful school portraits of me from elementary school. The one from 4th grade (I was 8) is dreadful. My hair is a mess; my front teeth are too big for my face. I can't believe my Mother let me go to school looking like such a rag doll, let alone spent $$ to buy the results...in fact, she stopped buying school pictures of me around 7th grade. Yet I have no other photos of me at this age. If I throw out these old photos, will I somehow live to regret it?

Amethyst
That sounds like a great avatar

Digitize the photos and pitch the hard copy?
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:21 PM   #19
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Imoldernu, check out the Bogleheads forum for the stamp and coin collection. I recall reading threads on selling these items and some good suggestions were given by people who seem to be very knowledgeable.

I have a small coin collection but will let my son sort that one out whenever he is ready. I have offered it to him several times but he refuses to take it.
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:24 PM   #20
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We're doing this slowly in anticipation of moving next Spring or early next summer. I highly recommend "Rightsizing Your House" by Ciji Ware; I got it from the library and just ordered 2 copies, one for me and one for a SIL in the same situation. She's very good at addressing practical as well as emotional issues.

I've unloaded quite a lot of shippable items on e-Bay; if I net $12 for a Greek New Testament, it's free money since I'm not making any wages, so I don't worry about how much I make per hour on it. I'd rather do that than throw it out. Our community is accepting electronics for recycling October 18; we have a pile of them. (Staples accepts some items, too.) We also have a second-hand store close by. They got a lot of books; so did the library.

But, in the end, I know we're still going to have a good-sized load for 1-800-Got Junk.
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