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Tips for downsizing your home

Tips for downsizing your home

Whether you just became an empty nester or your home has slowly taken on an echo over the last five years, nearly everyone reaches a point where they want to downsize. If you're planning to move to a smaller home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin, here are insights you can use as you prepare to downsize your home.

1. Give yourself plenty of time

It's not fair to think you can get rid of decades' worth of keepsakes, furniture and decor in only a week or two. Give yourself a few months to prep for downsizing.

2. Expand your trash and recycling package

Find out from your trash and recycling providers how to order expanded services, then plan accordingly. Some downsizers prefer a dumpster, but you'll be more likely to recycle and donate your goods if you don't have easy access to a monstrous trash receptacle in your driveway.

3. Pass on the memories

Most parents keep boxes of trophies, artwork, report cards and home movies for each child, but you shouldn't have to review all this material alone. Invite your kids, nieces and nephews or grandchildren over on a Saturday to sift through their family relics. Tell your family in advance that they are welcome to keep anything they'd like, but items left behind will be recycled or trashed.

It's not uncommon for children and family members to challenge this plan and ask why you aren't keeping their treasured keepsakes. To maintain a positive spin, consider buying large plastic storage containers for each family member to fill up. This will reassure them that you don't want to trash their memories, you just want them to find a new home.

4. Get rid of the paper

Most families have that dreaded file cabinet full of pay stubs, tax reports, immunization records, newspaper clippings and more. Take a day (or two) to go through all your paperwork, and try to trash the majority of it. The IRS says that even the most complicated tax filings must only be kept for seven years, so clear out anything older than that. Protect against identity theft by shredding all the documents you recycle.

5. Pare down items without sentimental value

Save your bathrooms and kitchen for a day when you don't have the heart to throw away stuff that means a lot to you. It's easier to toss out aging shampoo samples and extra baking dishes than it is your daughter's old dollhouse, so you should be able to move through these rooms a bit more quickly.

If you have specific kitchen-related traditions, like baking spritz cookies during the holidays, decide if you want to continue to store the related gadgets and cookware, or pass them on to a relative who can continue the tradition for you once you move.

6. Discard clothing you haven't worn in two years

Some clothing hoarders swear that "everything old becomes new again," but if you're downsizing, you'll need to be more discerning. With very few exceptions, you should get rid of any clothing items you haven't worn in the last two years. If you're recently retired, consider donating the majority of your suits and work outfits to an organization such as Dress for Success. Last, get rid of all but a few t-shirts and sweatshirts from your alma mater. We promise, you won't miss the five drawers of Gopher gear you've accumulated over the years.

7. Follow the "OHIO rule"

When reviewing other items to keep or discard, follow the OHIO rule—only handle it once. By avoiding the creation of a "maybe" pile, you'll save hours when it's finally time to load the moving truck.

8. Save the furniture for last

Unless you know you need to get rid of multiple bedroom sets, we recommend waiting until you find a new home to narrow your furniture selection down. Then, you can decide if you want to fill your new living space with your formal living room setup or your casual den couch and loveseat. Remember, too, that you don't have to bring any of it with you. Downsizing is a great time to start fresh with modern couches, chairs and tables that suit your new abode.

Getting started

Whether you're upsizing or downsizing, our 2,300 local experts will be there for you every step of the way. They can also help you determine a fair market price for your current home so you can begin planning for the future. Reach out today to get in touch with a selling specialist near you.

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