How To Downsize Your Stuff

Thinking about how to downsize your digs? Have you really thought it through, though?

It can be tempting when the kids have moved out and it's just the two of you.

It may make sense to move into a smaller home at some point during your retirement. Give yourself some time to do it right and choose the right time for it.

If your kids are just starting their families, you might want to wait a while before downsizing your house, and here's why.

You'll need those extra bedrooms for sleepovers with the grand kids and holiday visits if your kids live any distance away.

Unless you really need to free up your home equity to fund your retirement, you may enjoy the options that you have with your extra space.

Invite friends from out of town for long weekends of exploring your town and just reconnecting.

But maybe you should think about how to downsize your stuff, whether you're moving or not.

How to Downsize for Cash: Sell Your Old Stuff

If you think you will eventually downsize your digs, you will also need to downsize your stuff. Even if it won't be right away, why not take your time and start on it now.

One of the things that happens when we are working, raising kids, and living a busy life is that we tend to accumulate lots of stuff.

The closets get full, the kitchen cabinets get full, and most of the time we don't use many of the things that fill up these spaces.

At least not in our day to day lives.

In my case, I have stuff that I only use every few years. Things like party accessories or clothes for very special occasions. Even fancy gadgets that were given to me because no one could think of anything I really needed.

When I was working and had too little time and plenty of money (relatively speaking, of course), I usually donated the things I didn't need. But now that I'm retired, it seems wasteful to give away my valuable possessions.

Recently I needed space in my guest room closet for actual guests, so I pulled out all my career clothes that no longer fit me and took them to a consignment shop.

It was a disappointing experience. I had some nice things, but my share of the sales seemed tiny compared to the value of the clothes. The bulk of the price went to the shop owner, and I don't trust that she kept accurate records. I never saw very much in the way of record keeping, so it felt like I was given token amounts.

Even if you don't need to know how to downsize, you might want to turn your unused items into spare cash.

Trying Something Different

I decided to bring what was left of my stuff back home and try something different.

I started selling on eBay in December and my sales to date (October) are approaching $5000, although some of that came from things my husband gave me to sell.

It has been fun and a little addicting. I feel better about what I'm getting back for my stuff, too. Rather than sharing 50 or 60 percent with a shop owner, I only have to pay around 10 to 20 percent in fees. And I get to set the prices.

It is amazing how much stuff you can find around the house that you don't need. And eBay sells just about anything! My husband was going to throw out a stack of well used song books, and when I looked at similar items on eBay, people were selling them! Even with coffee stains on the covers!

(Click here for a cheat sheet pdf guide How to Downsize Your Stuff)

As long as you describe all the flaws, you can sell it. We got $60 for that stack of somewhat worn books.

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We sold games, cassette tapes, 40 year old camera equipment, blue jeans, shoes, and a bluetooth headset I no longer used. And my list of items to sell keeps growing.

I don't miss anything that's gone, either.

We haven't even started on the garage, yet. After 24 years in one place, we accumulated a bunch of stuff!

I highly recommend that anyone who plans to downsize spend some time learning to sell on eBay and turn that old stuff into cash for things you really want or need.

Now that you know how to downsize without losing money, start making that list!

What other topics are on your mind?

Have you thought about whether you will work during retirement? Jan's work and retirement story might be of interest to you.

Also check out more of my helpful ideas for saving money.