How to Declutter and Downsize in Retirement

Considering a little retirement downsizing? Whether you’re looking to get organized, preparing to move into your next dream home, or trying to cut back on expenses—there are a few good reasons to learn how to downsize your home for retirement. Here are a few tips that will help you to start downsizing at 55 and beyond.


Retirement Downsizing Tip #1: Recruit Your Kids

Have you been storing up every last moment and memory of your children’s childhood? From baby books and photo albums to first-grade Valentine’s and the picture of the family they drew once—when deciding how to downsize your home for retirement, you might want to start by recruiting your kids. There are two ways you might go about this.


If you’re a take-no-flack sort of parent, then tell your kids that you’re planning a pack-up-the-garage event and their inheritance depends on it. Let your kids help you sort through those memories (it could be a nice way to spend time together) and have them take home boxes of the stuff they’d like to keep. Or if you want to play it sweetly, you can divvy up the most important stuff yourself with enough boxes for each of your kids. Then gift the box to them.


Sure, it’s hard letting go of some of your favorite memories, but it’s easier to do if you are sharing them with the people who gave you those memories in the first place. Prepare yourself, though. You can’t keep everything. But for that, there is the next tip.


Retirement Downsizing Tip #2: Go Digital

They say a picture is worth a thousand words—and that’s why you need to get snapping. For all of those memories that you don’t want to forget but just can’t afford to store anymore, you can always take a picture (here’s how to scan photos to digital).  To make it easier to peruse these pictures whenever you want, you might set up a digital organization system first. Create files for each year, or each child, or perhaps by holidays. Whatever makes the most sense to you.


Virtual pictures may not feel as tangible as the real thing, but the nice thing about having all of this organized is that it makes it easier for you to go through all of your memories whenever you want without having to take down heavy boxes. And you might even create some sort of project or slide show with all of your photos, or use a digital frame.


Retirement Downsizing Tip #3: Find Joy

You’ve heard that whole thing about whether or not an object brings you joy? Eh, it’s a bit played out but it’s not wrong. This isn’t just retirement downsizing—it’s a tip for anyone trying to learn how to downsize your home.


So. With your memories protected, it’s time to go through the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop holding on to something that you used once, years ago, and might have a need for again one day. Or that old sweater you hate and never wear that an old friend gave to you. Give your friend a call instead and put the sweater in the donate bin. Don’t worry, it feels good to donate things. If you aren’t using something, don’t you want to give someone else the opportunity to appreciate it?


Retirement Downsizing Tip #4: Quit Thrifting

Sometimes you buy something because it’s just such a good deal. Stop. You’re more likely to save money in the long run if you just stick to buying what you need when you need it. If not having a dozen shampoo bottles on hand makes you nervous, try something like Public Goods where you can find eco-friendly products that ship directly to you at an everyday low price.


Remember that sales were invented by people who were trying to incentivize you to buy, buy, and buy more. Not by people who had your best interest at heart. So take your own best interest to heart and leave the half-off sales behind you.


Get ahead of your retirement planning. Whether you’re downsizing at 55 or 70, it always feels nice to let go of a little extra baggage. Use these tips to decide how to downsize your home for retirement and clear up some space for a future filled with possibilities.



Contributed to The 55+ Society 

Looking for more Society tips and learnings? Return Home here.

Published 12.30.21  

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