In the past, when homeowners have thought about downsizing, it’s often been in conjunction with some sort of a life change – an empty nest, or a more modest budget that goes along with retirement or a job change. But in reality, many families are beginning to realize that they don’t need the vast amounts of square footage that they originally thought they needed. Recently, there has been a trend toward smaller and more efficient living spaces that help save on energy and make less of an environmental impact.
To answer that question, it’s important to think in terms of which of your belongings you actually use in the course of your everyday life, which possessions you use occasionally (say, seasonally, like outdoor furniture or Christmas decorations), and which items you just never use at all. Downsizing can actually be an enormous relief – divesting yourself of years of accrued junk can be very liberating.
When you begin to tackle the task of sorting through closets and cleaning out the garage, basement, and attic, you have plenty of options for unburdening yourself of all of your accumulated belongings. Sure, you’ll probably come up with plenty of items that just need to be thrown away, but there are lots of other ways to get rid of all of the things that you no longer need.
With the advent of the Internet, selling your unwanted belongings has never been easier. There are still plenty of traditional avenues – yard sales, classified ads, and consignment stores – but online sites like eBay make it easy to reach out to a much larger audience of people who might find your trash to be their treasure. Craigslist and similar sites can be convenient, but before you advertise, make sure you consider safety issues and plan to meet any potential buyer in a public place away from your home when making a sale.
If there are items that you’d like to keep (perhaps to give to a family member one day) but don’t currently use, there are lots of options for off-site storage. Rental units come in all shapes and sizes and some carry low monthly fees. You can store anything from a grand piano to a vintage car to boxes of childhood memorabilia.
There is no shortage of places to donate unneeded items, from clothes to furniture to appliances. You can opt for a traditional outlet, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or donate to a local crisis center, domestic violence shelter, or youth program. Some organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, will even arrange with you to pick up a donation at your home.
Most people who downsize feel that a weight has been lifted. Living in one place for a long time – particularly if you’ve raised a family – can result in a lot of unnecessary accumulation. Streamlining your life can not only remove excess material goods from your living space, it can allow you to live on a lighter budget, which just may afford you the opportunity to do some new things with your life.
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