Downsizing For Real

We are downsizing.  For real.  The house is for sale (well, it’s off the market for the holidays).

We have cleaned and organized the basement.  Does one only do this when one is planning on selling their home?

We are going through drawers and closets and cabinets.  My goal is to remove at least one thing a day from the house.  Every time I make a trip to the recycle center or the Goodwill store or use Freecycle or Craigslist, I think of the number of pounds that we will not have to move someday soon (hopefully).

I found an electronics recycler (Didion) in our area, and I have actually made money by recycling old electronics.  You know - all those old computers, computer equipment, old phones, old VHS and DVD players, etc.  If you have old style televisions and computer screens, most places make you pay to take them, but I was able to offset that and make a few bucks, too.

I’ve also made money by cleaning out my old jewelry and taking the gold and silver to a local jewelry store that bought it.  I made enough to not only repair a nice ring that DSH gave me and that I haven’t been able to wear for years, but I was also able to make a nice contribution to our savings account, too.

I’ve gotten rid of some nice things, too, that we (or the kids) no longer use.  My main three ways of doing this is to donate, to sell, and to give away.

So far this year, we have donated our old Honda and a lot of clothes and household goods to Goodwill.  This addition to our charitable deductions on our tax return will be significant.  If you do this, make sure to inventory your donations and get a receipt.  It takes a few minutes, but it is worth it.

For stuff that I think may have monetary value, I use Craigslist.  The first thing I did was to set up a SEPARATE email address for this purpose.  This is the email address that I use for non-personal stuff – keeps my inbox clean, too.  It is amazing what people are willing to pay to take off your hands.  Our next door neighbor used Craigslist to find someone to take apart his old wooden deck and cart it away and the guy who removed it PAID my neighbor for the privilege.

For stuff that I believe has some value, i.e. I don’t want to dump into a landfill, but which I don’t think people would be willing to pay for I use Freecycle.  This is where you offer stuff for free.  Literally, it usually takes less than an hour to get offers for someone to come and take stuff off your hands.  Again, I use that separate email address for these postings.  I got rid of our 20-year-old basketball hoop this way.  Honestly, it had seen better days, but it was still good.  The woman who made arrangements to pick it up made her son and grandson very happy that day.  And it made me feel good, too.

If you use Craigslist and Freecycle, please read the warnings about scammers and publishing your address and phone number and be safe when arranging pickups and transfers of stuff.  For Freecycle, I often leave the stuff at the curb and never even have to see the folks who pick it up.

There are two major problems with downsizing.  The first one is simply taking the time to go through the stuff and posting it and making all of the arrangements.

The second problem is what I refer to as the sentimental factor.  What do you do about the stuff that has or that seems to have sentimental value?

For instance, I have this old crystal vase from my grandmother.  No one remembers anything particular about this vase.  It doesn’t appear to be any kind of valuable crystal.  And, seriously, I have a cabinet full of vases from various gifts of flowers over the years and it was passed to me by a cousin who, also, obviously, had no use for it either.

I also have a variety of religious items from various relatives.  I have old missals and bibles and prayer books that I love and will keep.  But, I have so many crucifixes (and several just like this one), that I could start a religious supply store just for them.

I found these little treasures in the bottom of an old box that was crammed under the stairs of my father’s condo when he died.  They weren’t even wrapped in paper – they were just thrown into the box.  Now, some of us remember these sitting in my grandmother’s home.  They are cute, but don’t have any particular sentimental or real value (yes, I Google these things, too).  So, they continue to sit on a shelf in my office while I wonder what to do with them exactly.

The final way we are downsizing is to throw stuff away.  Yes, I have managed to even get DSH (the packrat) to downsize stuff by throwing it away.  We took apart an old style entertainment center that had seen better days and been moved one too many times and threw it in the trash.

Now that’s progress!

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