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What downsizing actions were most useful?
Old 04-15-2016, 09:26 AM   #1
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What downsizing actions were most useful?

We are working on downsizing in anticipation of selling our family home and moving to the lake house which will become the retirement abode, which is about 1/2 the size and storage ability (no basement, smaller garage, etc.)

This month offers a lot of opportunities for us. Last week it was gathering things like old books and a few other items to donate to the school system garage sale fundraiser. This week is the community hazardous waste and free shredding event on Saturday. Next up is the church rummage sale, where some clothing and furniture will go. There are a few other charitable places we've donated to or will over the next few months.

There are a few things I may try to sell on eBay or Craigslist, but at this time I'm not willing to run garage sales to make a few hundred dollars if others can benefit from our belongings.

It is amazing what we find (and sometimes struggle letting go of) after 35 years of accumulation. We never did a great job at destroying old documents, and now we'll be down to the legally required few. I still have about 7 months of w*rk, so there are some clothes I'll have to hang on to that are not destined for our retirement lifestyle.

I know there's been other threads on downsizing, but adding to an old thread sometimes isn't as much fun as starting a new one. So here's the question (again, for some of you): what downsizing actions were most useful, and what were hardest for you?
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Old 04-15-2016, 09:33 AM   #2
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Downsizing to three suitcases each was a tremendous effort. After that, we were truly light. After 20 years, we have rebuilt some stuff. But still manageable.
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Downsizing
Old 04-15-2016, 09:40 AM   #3
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Downsizing

Since my wife passed away, there were many things that I had no interest in keeping. I sold her Swarovsky animal collection and some other things on eBay Sold the pool table, living room set and dining room set to people at work. Took a bunch of miscellaneous stuff into work to be distributed to the production people.
Listed both bedroom sets on Craig's list. Put up a notice on the condo bulletin boards for free stuff. After all that was done, Goodwill got whatever was left.
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Old 04-15-2016, 09:54 AM   #4
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Well, to be blunt, the most useful was going through all my closets and drawers one at a time, with a trash bag in hand. I think that many of us keep stuff because "it might come in handy some day", or "it's worth good money even if I don't need it", when actually that stuff will never be used or sold and nobody would ever want it.

While I was packing for my move, it turned out that I was throwing out more than I was packing. And this was after going through all my stuff a couple of times beforehand, looking for things to throw out. By the time I finished, I was down to 52 boxes for the move. After my move, I was SO glad that I downsized because the unpacking was a breeze.

For me, the hardest was donating so many of my books to the public library. I get attached to books! But to be honest, I haven't missed any of them. Books are so heavy that they make packing for a move much more difficult, IMO. My Kindle, on the other hand, has numerous books on it and just slides into my purse so for me, that is the road to any future reading.

I didn't have a garage sale either, because in my community you can't have them without a permit and the permit isn't cheap. They actually enforce this and I didn't want any trouble with the law. I didn't do Craigslist or e-bay, and instead just donated all of my unwanted non-trash smaller items to Goodwill. I donated excess furniture to the Salvation Army, because they will send a truck and two strong men to pick up furniture.

If you really ARE moving, then I think that you should work on downsizing with the idea that sure, selling stuff is nice, but anything you need to get rid of that you can't sell pretty quickly and easily should be thrown out. Most of us are such LBYM'ers that we wouldn't get much even if we did sell all that stuff because we don't have closets full of Hope diamonds and sterling. There is a little bit of the hoarder in almost everyone, but don't give in to that instinct. The last thing you want is to take your trash and junk to your lakeside retirement house. Be ruthless!
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:06 AM   #5
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We gave away stuff to friends, and charities. We sold stuff of value on eBay, netted $3500 on almost 70 transactions - mostly stuff I would have otherwise given/thrown away. Some larger stuff (too hard to ship, not worth the hassle), like old furniture, we put at the end of our driveway with a FREE sign - and those items disappeared same day. And other stuff we just threw away.

We were keeping a lot of stuff because a) we have space and b) we might need it some day. But like W2R, we/I just went through everything with a trash can. DW paused over some items until I said 'when was the last time you used this' - to which she said 'OK, throw it away' about 90% of the time. We found several things that we both said 'I didn't know we still had that' - those all got pitched. Several I looked at and said 'what on earth was I thinking when I bought this.'

Important papers and pictures all got scanned, and then shredded. I back up our HD, and pics are on several devices - so little chance we'd ever lose any of them.

We've chosen to limit space. Example, I've always loved books. My parents had bookcases in several rooms, though most of the books were never touched. I decided to limit myself to one bookcase - period. It's full, so if I want to buy another book, something has to go. These days, I am far more likely to a) just check it out at the library or b) buy a Kindle/iBooks edition instead of hardcover - it has been years since I've bought a hardcover book.

It has been liberating to get rid of stuff. We expect to move at least one more time, and the next house will be significantly smaller than present. That was part of the impetus that got us started downsizes "stuff." And there's nothing we've gotten rid of in the past 5+ years that we regret, or had to repurchase.

Good luck.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:25 AM   #6
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I'm currently getting rid of stuff to move. Small valuables are sold on eBay, large valuables sold on Craigslist. Good, but inexpensive stuff gets hauled over the local drive through at the Salvation Army store and junk goes in the trash.

I have been surprised at the prices I've gotten on eBay and it has been well worth my time. I don't like dickering with Craigslist customers, but it is the only practical way to sell heavy items. Selling for local pick up on eBay has been a bust.

What is really surprising is how good it feels to get rid of things - even stuff put in the trash.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:35 AM   #7
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I don't like dickering with Craigslist customers, but it is the only practical way to sell heavy items.
Hmmmm. I've sold 4 large items on eBay using local pickup only, with good success. However, I am sure it helps that I am near one of the largest metro areas in the country. We insisted on meeting in a mutually agreed, safe, public place to hand over the goods for all the local only transactions. Was a McDonalds in a safe area 3 times. No way I would have a stranger come to our house. FWIW
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:30 AM   #8
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Reading books on the concept of simplicity before downsizing was really helpful last year. I just finished reading this outstanding (if not a bit padded) book on decluttering:

Amazon.com: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (8601421528498): Marie Kondo: Books

One of the biggest takeaways for me was to not just engage in a declutter, downsize, or simplicity exercise, but to also examine how our relationship with our each of our possessions is impacting our lives. This allowed me to downsize even more, and with greater satisfaction as a result.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:35 AM   #9
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Hmmmm. I've sold 4 large items on eBay using local pickup only, with good success..........
I guess I'm unlucky. In spite of putting in capital letters "LOCAL PICKUP ONLY", the nitwits twice paid for an item and then asked why it hasn't been shipped.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:44 AM   #10
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I don't plan to downsize - after decades of striving, it seems too much like going backward to me - but we're gradually paring down the book collection. We had enough books to build a fallout shelter that would stop gamma rays. Probably we'll need a fallout shelter one day and will be sorry
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:10 PM   #11
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In 2006, we moved from a 4-bed, 2.5-bath home in Houston to a 2-bed, 1-bath house in the Texas Hill Country with only a little more than half the square footage. Suffice it to say, we had a lot of stuff to get rid of. We sold what we could of the furnishings locally, but we still had a lot of "stuff" we didn't want to move, and we had no place for if we did move it.

So we held a "housecooling" party (as in the opposite of a housewarming). In our housecooling party, guests were not to bring gifts -- we put a bunch of stuff out for the guests, and they were take stuff they wanted with them when they left the party, and we wouldn't let them leave unless they took some stuff off of our hands! It was pretty fun actually, and our friends got some free stuff they could use that we might of otherwise junked or given to Goodwill.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:25 PM   #12
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Two things that worked for me: one is to keep the favorites of a large collection of things (I have a small folder full of DS's schoolwork, not a closet full) and put anything that's not saleable at the end of the driveway and list it on Craigslist as Free Stuff. About the only thing I haven't been able to get rid of that way is scrap lumber.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:27 PM   #13
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...and put anything that's not saleable at the end of the driveway and list it on Craigslist as Free Stuff. About the only thing I haven't been able to get rid of that way is scrap lumber.
I suspect heavy, bulky TVs with a picture tube are another. We had a nice 32" HDTV console, worked great and we paid about $900 for it in 2003. But it was also about 160 pounds. Couldn't even give it away when we moved three years ago.
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Old 04-15-2016, 04:16 PM   #14
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We've taken care of two pianos. One is still here.

If you have anything like that, make plans to get rid of it.
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Old 04-15-2016, 04:38 PM   #15
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While raising a family in our modest, small (1.400 sf) suburban home was sometimes a "space challenge," now that we're empty nesters we're reaping the reward. We never had space to accumulate too much of a mountain of crap. So while we could still use some downsizing if we move to a condo or senior apartment someday, it won't be like emptying a 4,000sf home.

The biggest issue will be my workshop in the basement.
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:02 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Options View Post
Reading books on the concept of simplicity before downsizing was really helpful last year. I just finished reading this outstanding (if not a bit padded) book on decluttering:

Amazon.com: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (8601421528498): Marie Kondo: Books
...
Great book!
I got a lot out of it and it has helped me declutter as we prepare for downsizing.

We have sold a few items to neighbors and friends. Much has gone to Goodwill, Bridging and other charities.
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Old 04-15-2016, 09:59 PM   #17
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Downsizing is a very difficult thing to do. I admire how RV'ers go full time and get rid of everything--including their house--and never complain or look back.

We downsized from 4200 sq. ft. 13 years ago to 3300 sq. ft. Then the parents and aunts/uncles started dying and passing on their superior furniture to our generation.

I'm in the midst of finishing moving unto a 5000 sq. ft. 5 br. 5 bath home with ridiculously large public spaces. As a foreclosure, I bought it for 75% of it's actual worth and paid cash. We're moving the good furniture and giving the rest away to friends and charity. It's not been a very enjoyable experience, however.
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Old 04-16-2016, 01:47 AM   #18
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I downsized in 2007 when I retired. I gave a lot to Goodwill and the local library (and took a tax deduction).

One thing I can tell you not to do is don't advertise on places like craigslist that you have some free items to give away. It brings out the wrong kind of people!

Something else I learned is that downsizing is an iterative process, it is very difficult to do it all at once.
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Old 04-16-2016, 01:58 AM   #19
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I started by having my boyfriend get his own house so I gave him a lot of furniture and all his clothing, half my pots and pans. I visit him often and take him a few boxes about every time and when he comes here I have him bring his truck and fill it up. Last time he took my grinder 4 rims and 4 tires on rims and a huge container of electrical cords and some other stuff until his truck was stuffed. I took him my vise and chain saw sharpener last time now taking him other stuff he might want, his garage is getting full and mine is getting empty even one of my boats is at his house. I had my living dining, kitchen and bathroom painted so got rid of anything in the way so have very basic furniture and won't buy more it looks skimpy but don't want to move it to put carpet in so not shopping. Several times I filled the front porch with boxes of stuff the charity people came and took them. I have an empty book shelf, reread all the books and tossed them, donated almost all Christmas stuff. Sorting only keeping highest quality so even if not broken if not wonderful it is gone. Thinking of selling my house and putting everything in storage, what isn't worth paying to keep can go away. I might go homeless for a while then have a new house built or buy something. So what do I need if I am homeless? I could live with a week worth of clothing whatever fits in the trunk of my car then go stay with my boyfriend until I get a new place to live, he offered.
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Old 04-16-2016, 05:29 AM   #20
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When we moved to our retirement house, we were ruthless about not moving "clutter"- old magazines, books, papers,, etc. We cleaned out drawers and got rid of a lot of furniture that we didn't use often. I think the fact that we moved ourselves made a big difference. We were close enough to move slowly and rented a truck twice for the big stuff but we only moved it if we really thought we would use it. Having done a lot of corporate moves over my career, it had become too easy to just empty a junk drawer in to a box and end up with the same junk in a new location. Good luck with the move!
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