Downsizing your house is a tricky, and, quite frankly a daunting task! Significantly downsizing is even scarier, as you now are faced with either getting rid of the stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years or storing it. Not sure which is worse? You’re not alone. Luckily for you, we’ve broken down downsizing to a smaller home into ten simple steps.
1. Cut down your budget
The first thing you should consider when downsizing your home is tightening your budget belt. Downsizing your house doesn’t mean you are downsizing your life, but it does mean you’ll have less space to put the things you acquire.
Use downsizing as an opportunity to set aside some of your money for travel or experiences rather than things. You may even consider investing your money and having it work for you meanwhile. You’ll be surprised at how far your dollar bills can stretch when you’re coming home with less.
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2. Be Strategic
Before you start chucking and donating, sit down and strategize. Have a defined set of goals that you want to live by in your new home, and plan your items accordingly. For example, if you want your home to be a sanctuary from the stresses of work, you will probably prioritize a comfy nook over an office.
Once you have your goals, make a list of things you need in your house. Items on this list include things like your bed, dishes, clothes, and toiletries-- but try not to go overboard. It’s easy to rationalize an abundance of essentials, but do you actually need 22 different lotions? Probably not.
You also want to make a list of wants, although this list should be much shorter than your list of needs. Remember, you have limited space. The things in your house are either going to be a) things you need to live, or b) things that improve your quality of life. Some examples of intentional wants would be the quilt your grandma made, the knickknacks you picked up on your travels, and a fine set of knives.
3. Sort Belongings
This is where your strategy kicks into high gear. Once you have your list, it’s time to dive in. Make piles to take, store, sell, donate, and throw away. Be intentional about each item. Remember, if you choose to store too much, you aren’t really downsizing, you’re just transferring your stuff to another location. If it helps, you may consider having a third party over to help you sort. They’ll be able to help you determine the importance of each object and if you’ll even notice it’s gone.
4. Consider Storage Options
Although you’re getting rid of a lot, you may still have quite a bit to store. Make sure your real estate agent helps you find a home with lots of storage space. Try and get creative with the space you have and storage ideas. If you have baskets, consider using them to store things like hand creams and toiletries. Use shoeboxes for old pictures and letters. Shoeboxes are great for putting at the tops of your closets or under your bed.
If downsizing is temporary or you’re comfortable with it, give your bulky items that carry sentimental value to family and friends to hold on to. You’ll still get to enjoy them when you go for a visit, but it won’t take up space in your house.
Another option to consider is getting a storage unit. Depending on the type of items you decide you can’t part with, you may need a larger space to store it than a shoebox under your bed. If you can’t part with your great-grandmother’s china hutch, you’ll probably need to start locating a storage unit that fits your needs.
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5. Sell The Stuff You Don’t Need
Make a little extra cash while you downsize by selling some of your items! Older collectibles can get sold on eBay for a nice amount of money, and items like clothes and furniture sell well at yard sales. Whatever you don’t sell at the yard sales, you can donate. There are often thrift and secondhand stores that take donations. Some will even buy clothes and items from you!
6. Don’t Leave Any Box Unturned
When you’re downsizing before a move, it’s easy just to move boxed up items from storage to the moving truck without really going through them, Don’t do it, though!
Take the time to sort through every box and basket, making sure you only keep what you really need to keep. It might be time to get rid of some of your wrapping paper collection, for example. Items you’ve been hoarding for a rainy day may find more use elsewhere. Don’t bring something along only to have it sit in the same box on a shelf, unused.
7. Optimize space
Have several drawers overflowed with recipes? How about scanning them in for easy reference! You can do the same with copies of pictures and newspaper clippings. And while we’re on the topic, why not upload your DVDs and CDs to an external hard drive or online storage like Google Drive? Not only will your items be safe while clearing up space, but they’ll also be easily searchable. That means you could end up getting even more use out of them than when they were hiding away before!
8. Be Intentional
The art of minimalism will really help you when downsizing your home. One of the keys to minimalism is to have things that can be used in more ways than just one. For example, you may decide to purchase better quality clothes, but only have a 20 piece wardrobe for an entire season. By intentionally choosing your clothes, you’ll free up room in your closet, have your clothes last longer, and never be at a loss of what to wear!
9. Filter Before It Becomes Clutter
Are you one of those people who bring in the mail only to set it on the first available surface? Implement a filter and sort rule! Take care of things as you bring it into the house, so it doesn’t end up blocking doorways and extending over surfaces. If you don’t need the newspaper, recycle it immediately! Any odds and ends brought in from the car shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to put away. Taking care of it while it’s fresh on your mind will reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do later.
10. Plan For Success
Keep your home clutter and “stuff” free by making a plan for success. Have a system in your closet so that you know which items haven’t been worn in a year-- and get rid of them! Do the same things with books you don’t read and food you don’t eat. There is no need for it to take up space if it’s not serving a purpose.
Be brutally honest with yourself while downsizing. If you don’t actually need it, don’t keep it! Sorting and getting rid of things you don’t need will help you feel so much better and you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
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