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Downsizing - What to do with all my stuff?
Old 01-08-2016, 03:55 PM   #1
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Downsizing - What to do with all my stuff?

We just signed off on buying a house that is closer to our daughter and grandkids. We're excited and very nervous even though in our minds, we know this is a good thing. The biggest concern is the stress of downsizing and what to do with all of our things/stuff. Our living space isn't changing too much, but we're moving to a house with no basement and one less garage space.

We're going to remodel the new home and move in before we put our current home on the market. That will ease some of the stress but there is no doubt we need to get rid of a lot of things. It's easy and true to say that we don't use a lot of the things we store, but that won't make it too much easier to deal with as me and my wife both have a bit of a hoarder gene.

I'm sure others have gone through this and would appreciate some of your insights. I know simplifying our life will be a good thing but it will also be a challenge. I'm concerned that if I can't get over the challenge, we will be building a pole barn on the new property and while that might alleviate the stress, it doesn't seem like a good idea.

Note that none of this is about money. I could have bought a bigger house and I could build the pole barn but I just think the simple life is a better life and need to find a way to get me and my wife there.


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Old 01-08-2016, 04:01 PM   #2
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If it can't be donated, I've been putting my downsized stuff on free cycle. So far it has worked great and kept the stuff out of the landfill.

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Old 01-08-2016, 04:04 PM   #3
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Congratulations, Jerry! Moving anytime is a great time to get rid of clutter. Since you will have at least several months (maybe longer, depending on the extent of the remodel), my suggestion is to start now and go slow. The decision making when you are rushed is more stressful and you may be more likely to keep rather than discard.

We did our move the same way and still kept way too much stuff, especially books. Also remember that despite your best efforts, you will still acquire things at the new house, so you need to leave some empty space in the new house.

If you both are agreeable, I would suggest discussing what will go where in the new house first, then tackle either a category (books, clothing, hobbies, etc.) or a room and start. I generally use the 3 box approach - one for trash, one for donations, one for keep. You may also want one for "not sure" and then you talk about it or just wait a few weeks and go through it again.

Unfortunately, I've not found any shortcuts to make it less tedious/time consuming/painful. YMMV. Good luck!
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:06 PM   #4
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What to do with all of your stuff? Give it to me. However, if you do, my wife will hunt you down and kill you, or worse.
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:34 PM   #5
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I'm planning on moving this summer and smaller more valuable stuff has been sold on eBay, heavier valuable stuff on Craigslist and the rest will either go in a garage sale very cheap or be donated to a place that picks up.
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:44 PM   #6
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Hi Jerry1,

We've done a few rounds of significant downsizing. Here is roughly what we did:

1. Give away some nice things to relatives/friends who would appreciate them.
2. Sell items of value on Craigslist
3. Package up Charity Items and arrange for pickup (In our area Northwest Center will pick up items if you have a bunch)
4. Gather up all items for the dump and either take them there or hire a service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK to come pick it up.
5. Pack up only what you have room for in your new place.
6. Throw away last minute odds and ends when you clean your old home.

A couple tips:
- Probably not worth messing with a garage sale.
- Consider "packaging" items together on Craigslist. For example we put together all our lawn tools (rakes, shovels, etc) and it went quickly. One item at a time would be too cumbersome.
- Be safe with Craigslist. Don't be home alone, and consider making the exchange in your driveway during daylight hours with others present who can call for help if you get a violent person. (rare, but better safe than sorry) Our local police department encourages people to meet in their parking lot - but that isn't always practical with large items.

If possible I'd encourage you to avoid delaying decision making by paying for a storage unit. If it doesn't fit - let it go. It will save you money and hassle down the road.

Happy moving!

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Old 01-08-2016, 04:54 PM   #7
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I actually created a pinterest page with pictures of everything, sent it to everyone I knew on facebook (specifying if I expected money or free). I only asked money for things I thought had a value of $150 or more and was willing to take pennies on the dollar since it was friends and family.

This got rid of 50% of everything I didn't want in less than a week. Since it was going to friends and family, it made it so much easier to just let it go, they need it/want it and I don't.

Then I could easily get rid of the rest to charity except a few collectibles I then took the time to sell via craigslist which was now just 20 items vs 2/3 my house.
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:55 PM   #8
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Three piles: Keep, donate, trash.

We donated furniture to the Salvation Army, because they will come with a moving van and pick it up for free.

I sold a couple of pieces of furniture to people from work, back when I was working. I put photos of the items on a bulletin board there (in a secure area), with my phone number.

We donated books to the library, because our library sells donated books at a book sale to raise money to buy the books they really want.

We donated everything else that was good enough to donate, to GoodWill.

That said, I threw ten times as much stuff away as I donated, simply because it was not good enough to donate. You know - -- those threadbare jeans that you have had for 20 years, with the holes in the knees, that haven't fit for 15 years? Trash. Pretty pitiful.

I did sell a few things, but had so few that were worth anything that they were the exception, not the rule. I sold a few items at consignment resale shops, and sold a police scanner at a "ham fest" (ham radio get-together). I did not have a garage sale because you have to buy a permit to have a garage sale here, and I didn't think I'd make enough to cover the cost of the permit.

Getting rid of this stuff greatly improves one's closet space and makes moves so much easier. I moved with just 52 boxes, which I thought was quite a victory.
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:08 PM   #9
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The more stuff you give away or throw away, the less you have to worry about it.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:09 PM   #10
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Before my parents moved into a smaller place, we had a huge garage sale which netted several thousand dollars thanks in part to my dad's habit of buying and hoarding tools.

Then later I sold a bunch more stuff, including a vehicle, on Craigslist (they don't do internet). It was quite time-consuming, researching prices, taking photos, posting ads, and dealing with buyers (the folks didn't want to do that either). But I got 2/3 of my garage back.

That said, you'll score parenthood points by not expecting your daughter to deal with or store your extra stuff.
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Downsizing - What to do with all my stuff?
Old 01-08-2016, 08:39 PM   #11
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Downsizing - What to do with all my stuff?

We found that Craigslist was amazing for getting rid of things that aren't saleable but that someone might want. List them under Free Stuff, list your address, put them at the end of your driveway, nearly anything will disappear. Half-full tubs of grout, well-built wood chairs that needed re-caning and reupholstering, empty Scotch canisters.. All gone, and no strangers knocking at your door. First come, first served. Better than the landfill.

I'd be reluctant to put things in storage. A book I highly recommend, "Rightsizing Your Life" by Ciji Ware, tells the story of a lady who kept a ton of stuff she couldn't bear to deal with in storage for 3 years-at $300/month. The book is great at addressing both practical and emotional aspects of downsizing.
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Old 01-08-2016, 09:30 PM   #12
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We downsized and did a variety of things:

1. 1 800 Got Junk was our friend. That is, we threw away most stuff.

2. We donated some stuff, not a lot. Mostly smaller stuff that was in good condition.

3. We sold a few things on Craigslist. This was furniture in good condition. Some sold easily and some didn't sell at all. Go figure. It is worth trying perhaps.

4. We gave a few things to family.

Other options.

1. Depending on your locale a garage sale can do really well. A lot depends on your location and how likely you are to get traffic.

2. Where I live now our subdivision has a classified listings online that is a good place to post listings and doesn't expose you to some of the Craigslist risk.

3. For certain things selling it online on eBay or Amazon may be an option.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:18 AM   #13
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We are in the middle of the same process. Going to be going from almost 4000 sqft to a 1500 sqft in a few years. We are just starting to downsize. Of course we have already furnished our retirement home , which started life as our football weekend home, with stuff rom the big house and didn't even make a dent.
Our problem is that we have 3 generations of VERY nice expensive furniture that we don't need and NONE of the kids want. As most know used furniture , regardless of quality , only gets about 10 cents on the dollar AT BEST plus its a HUGE hassle to sell. I plan on doing a lot of gifting to charities for that.
What is killing me is the personal stuff....GIANT wedding pictures of my parents I mean GIANT! Boxes of my dad's and granddad's stuff..awards, pictures, mementos...NONE of which ANY kid or grandkid wants... I means ..who the hell wants a beautiful MAN OF THE YEAR award from 1954 Ft Worth Chamber Of Commerce ??..I gots PILES of that kinda stuff.
Cant just throw it in the trash even though I know that my dad and my grandfather would be here NOW helping me throw the stuff in the garbage....
I've decided to have a nice bonfire and just burn the stuff over a bottle of very good whiskey....
Downsizing sucks but its just part of the process.
Wonder what the pawn shop will give me for a box of those anniversary award pins with the tiny diamonds and stuff for 5-10-15..years of service? I'll even throw in mine !!
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:24 AM   #14
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I massively downsized, put it all out for the trash. It took weeks. It is amazing what one accumulates over time.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:31 AM   #15
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You could hold an auction, with or without professional handling.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:37 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the responses. Good ideas and good to know I have company. I did a little research and bought a book - Sell, Keep, or Toss?: How to Downsize a Home, Settle an Estate, and Appraise Personal Property. The draw was that there is supposed to be a process to follow in the book. Also, it is geared to liquidating an estate which unfortunately is also in our future (wife's mother).

I was going to work a little longer, but this may be the straw that takes me over the edge. The good news is that I start part time (three days a week) in Feb. That will help.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:58 AM   #17
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Tools, unopened cans of paint, and other reusable bits and pieces of houses can go to the Habitat for Humanity resale store, if you have one handy.

It is amazing how fast stuff disappears on the free section of Craigslist. At the other end of the move, I always stack my empty, flattened moving boxes on the driveway, and Craigslist them. They're gone in under an hour. It motivates me to unpack fast so that I can put the whole pile out and get rid of them.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:54 AM   #18
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I sold my house a couple of years ago with plans to rent in various locations and/or RV for sometime. I did an extreme downsize, keeping only items that would fit in my small SUV with hitch carrier. I sold quite a bit on craigslist, gave many items to friends/neighbors, and donated the rest to a local charity thrift store.

I decided most possessions were just "stuff" so didn't really have that much trouble letting go. Of course, I'm a single guy so no one to convince (except my old lab). My thinking was that it is easier and often less expensive to acquire new "stuff" (if you later decide you need it) than to store or haul around old "stuff".
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Old 01-09-2016, 11:22 AM   #19
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I donate stuff that is still usable to charity and try to fill my trash can for each trash pickup day.

A metal file cabinet and several packages of lawn edging were easy to get rid of by putting them at the street with a big FREE sign on them. I don't bother with Craigslist for free items because I won't publish my address.

Some things I offer to family or friends. If there is no interest then it is donated or tossed. There is a neighborhood cleanup twice a year which is great for getting rid of large bulky stuff.

Early last year my neighbor did a kitchen remodel and while the dumpster was in the driveway they offered that I could put some stuff in it. I really dug around for a few days and got rid of a number of big bulky things.

If you have a pickup you could probably haul stuff to the dump (in my area that is a transfer station) or if no pickup then the already mentioned businesses like Got Junk would be good.

Keep working at it and I'm sure you will make good progress.
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Old 01-09-2016, 11:41 AM   #20
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Huge fan of putting stuff at the curb with a free sign - recycling at it's finest!

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