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Tips to Avoid the Overwhelm of Downsizing

Got a lot of stuff you need to get rid of? Can’t figure out how to downsize it all without getting overwhelmed? National speaker and author of Soulful Simplicity, Courtney Carver, puts the action into perspective. Carver notes, “Like everything we let go of, thinking about letting go is much more difficult than letting go. Once it’s gone, we rarely miss or even think about those items. There are always more movies to watch and books to read. Letting go of our collections gives us the freedom to pursue new interests.” In additional to make more “space” for new experiences, downsizing can provide many more benefits including:

  • Financial savings. 
  • Debt reduction.
  • Lower housing expenses.
  • Fewer bills.
  • Increased sense of space.

For some people, there’s an emotional attachment to “stuff” and the idea of parting with it can be very overwhelming. There are ways to avoid the overwhelm, though! Below are a few tips to help you process your downsizing into bite-sized pieces and avoid the overwhelm.

Whether you’re downsizing your life because you have too much stuff and you’re tired of looking at it all or you want to move to a cottage home to save some money, organization is the key to the whole process. Again, break down the process into bite-sized pieces. Do you want to go room by room?  Collection by collection? Decide how you want to tackle the act and give yourself a solid deadline, so you don’t procrastinate and grow weary from it all.

When it comes to finding a new home for your old things, don’t just think about disposal. If you have newer items, consider eBay or Facebook marketplace. Perhaps you have enough to have your own small yard sale? Often that is the case when downsizing from a family home to a cottage home. You can, of course, donate to your favorite charity such as Goodwill or Soles For Souls. If it is books you are awash in, look to Amazon (you must have a Seller’s Account) or consider donating to your local public library. The possibilities are endless. 

“Perhaps there is one magazine or newspaper you want to save because it was published during a special year or on a special day in your life, but if you aren’t referring to your stored publications and enjoying them regularly, why are you saving them?,” adds Carver. 

A pre-downsizing organization if truly key when downsizing personal and professional documents. Granted these are important, most people will find that throughout the filing cabinets there are piles of insignificant paperwork. Separate out the files you should keep forever. These include:

  • Important certificates: birth certificates, death certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses
  • Ownership paperwork: car titles, house deeds, mortgage paperwork
  • Legal documents: wills, trusts, living wills
  • Retirement savings paperwork
  • Insurance policy paperwork
  • Identification information: ID cards, passports

Now create a file of items you need only keep for a limited time such as:

  • Tax documents and corresponding receipts (IRS suggests up to 7 years)
  • Pay stubs and bank statements (most banks recommend a year)
  • Medical records and bills (until the bills are paid off)
  • Home improvement documents (about 5 years or until you sell your home)
  • Warranty documents (as long as you own the item)

What is left is perfect for the recycle bin, shredding machine, or fire starter!

A PRO TIP is to also keep a digital file of your paperwork. To do so, invest in a scanner and upload the files onto an external hard drive or a cloud drive. With today’s advances in phone photography, you can simply take a photo of the document and upload it to your cloud drive. As the saying goes “3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none”. It’s good to hold on to the important documents in a couple of formats and places. 

Perhaps Carver sums the process of downsizing up best this way:

The world teaches us that bigger is better, but the world is also completely overwhelmed. With a smaller space to manage you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have more time and space for what really matters to you. 

Did you know The Village at Flat Rock, NC offers 90 days of free storage with the purchase of a new cottage home? If you need some extra time to follow these tips for downsizing call The Village to find out more, visit us online, or call (828) 707-0969. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram