Question: I have a lot of stuff that I have accumulated over the years. I have acquired items from my parents and my husband's parents and some left over stuff from my kids. Now we are moving. Do you have any recommendations for getting rid of stuff?
Answer: You are a wonderful American. We do an excellent job of accumulating and then adding to the accumulation. It is hard to part with our stuff. Usually the issue comes up when the kids are dealing with the stuff in their parent's home as they transition to a retirement situation. Moving from a large home to a small condo or retirement apartment can be very stressful to older adults and to younger adults as well. What you need is a strategy for your stuff. What to keep? Evaluated those possessions based on what truly reflects memories of your life. If the piece gives you peace, then keep it. If it brings a smile to your face or a story to your mind, then keep it. If you have more than one of anything, then consider getting rid of the extra one. That is rule number one: Does it reflect of memory of your life. Rule number two: If you can find the information someplace else, then get rid of it. Don't keep phone books! Rule number three: Make room for the future. In other words, when you downsize or transition, leave room for something new that reflects the change in lifestyle or living arrangement. Don't make everything in your new space the old stuff…live a little! Rule number four: Toss whenever possible and sometimes with a tear. Parting is sweet sorrow. You are starting a new life so take the opportunity to rid yourself of as much old stuff as possible. When we work with senior adults going through this process, they are most concerned about how they are going to deal with all the stuff. We suggest they start with their children (likely now adults) and ask them to take whatever they would like from the house. The next step is to evaluate and maybe diagram the space you are moving to and place the furniture and accessories on the diagram so that you know what will fit into the space. Do the same with pictures for the walls and kitchen items to insure that you don't end up taking boxes of useless stuff to the next location. Keep in mind it costs to move, why move it twice? You will likely still have a lot of furniture left over. Ask your Realtor if that furniture would be useful for staging the home for sale. It is usually better to have some furniture in the home to help sell it. Once the home is sold, if no one wants that furniture, then a call to Salvation Army or a similar organization will insure that it finds a new home. The last group of stuff is, pardon the expression, likely junk. There are companies that will haul away the remainder of stuff, from the garage, the house, and the yard, for a price. The alternative to that is to rent a dumpster and have a day with the family filling the dumpster. Believe me, when you get to the next location you will be relieved to have less stuff and more relaxed knowing that the "stuff" problem is behind you. As Bob Hope used to say, "Thanks for the memories!"