Clean the Clutter, Clear Your Life: 4 Tips for Painless Downsizing 

First, there was the recession. Out of that was born the Tiny House movement. Then along came Marie Kondo, urging everyone to get rid of any personal possession that did not “spark joy.” And don’t forget the Millennial generation’s rejection of traditional values like home ownership, climbing the corporate ladder, and raising the stereotypical 2.5 kids behind the proverbial white picket fence. 

More than ever before, American society is embracing minimalism. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in your life, you might be ready to purge it all in order to live more simply.  

Before you do, however, read over these tips we’ve collected for going about downsizing the smart way! 

Find a Good Home for Your Sentimental Items 

Some people are more sentimental than others, but there are ways to let go of belongings without feeling guilty or getting “giver’s remorse.” 

One great option is a long-term loan to a relative or close friend who will get more use out of the item.  

Let’s say that you have a closetful of high-end suits, handbags and heels from your professional days — but now you are a stay-at-home mom and your work wear is collecting dust. Hand them over to your BFF, a niece or sister, with the agreement that should you ever need them again, they’ll be available. In the meantime, not only does this free up storage space, but someone else will use and enjoy these things. 

Make a Little Pocket Money 

Maybe you’re not sentimentally attached to your stuff, but it’s hard to say goodbye because of how much you originally paid for it all. In that case, look into resale opportunities. Today there are more places to sell your gently used belongings than ever before. 

Besides eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist, there are online and local consignment shops. Or you can always go old-school and have a garage or yard sale!  

Can’t be bothered to photograph, upload, list, and then ship items? If you do decide to donate the fruits of your decluttering, make sure and get a receipt from the charity that takes them. You can claim the deduction on next year’s taxes. 

Don’t Declutter Before a Big Move 

Yes, we know this flies in the face of traditional advice about how to make a move go smoothly — but hear us out. Moving is a stressful event, and even more so if you’re packing up in a hurry because you procrastinated. It’s quite possible that you will jettison important or valuable belongings in the name of efficiency, then rue your impulsiveness later on. 

You can certainly make a few trips to the Goodwill — or the dump — as you are packing to move, but if there are items that you’re on the fence about, like small kitchen appliances, extra furniture, tchotchkes, or sports equipment, it’s worthwhile to hang on to them for now.  

Once you’re settled in the new home and things are a bit calmer, you’ll be better equipped to decide on these belongings. Maybe there’s more counter space in your new kitchen than you thought.  

“A lot of people come to regret decluttering so thoroughly,” say the experts at Livible, a San Francisco storage company. “Instead, put some of your possessions in storage while you decide. It’s more time- and cost-effective than later having to re-purchase items you used to own.” 

Go Digital with Pics and Docs 

There are some documents you need to have hard copies of — your car title, marriage certificate, birth certificate, and so on — but you can scan or digitize pretty much everything else. Use a free cloud-storage service to store photographs, videos, and paperwork that you want to keep, but don’t have room for. 

Wrapping Up 

Whether you’re trying to downsize your belongings so that you can move to a tiny home, or just to simplify your existence and feel a bit freer, it isn’t always easy getting rid of things you’ve owned for years. Hopefully these tips have made the task easier to tackle.  

Have you ever attempted a major decluttering project? Any tips we’ve left off the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

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