How to Economically Declutter and Downsize Your Home


Downsizing is not something that is only for empty-nesters anymore. It’s something that many people are doing for reasons that might have everything to do with economics; finances, jobs and family. Downsizing happens to families who aren’t losing kids to college or marriage; their kids are staying with them and they’re still moving to a smaller home. Moves could be military-required, they could be medically necessary and they could have everything to do with family. After all, that 3800-square foot house for a family of five may be wonderful, but a 1500-square foot house for a family of five might be a better decision if it gives you the option of paying a smaller mortgage so that one parent can stay home with their kids. There are all kinds of reasons people choose to downsize, and they’re – frankly – none of our business. What is our business, however, is saving you money and helping you live a more organized, productive, enjoyable life. Sometimes the economical way to downsize is not what you might think it is, because your situation might be unique. That’s why we have chosen to consider the most economical ways for just about every family to downsize whether it’s permanent, temporary or you have no idea.  We have some advice that will help you downsize and declutter your home without going too crazy and without wondering what you were thinking making the move to a smaller home.

Compare Your Spaces

Downsizing is moving into any home that’s smaller than the one you are currently in. You could be moving from 3500-square feet to 3400-square feet and that’s still considered downsizing. You might also be keeping the same square footage but moving to a home with fewer bedrooms. These are considerations you have to make. Consider what the ‘downsize’ is that you’re making so that you can declutter and organize your life based on that. This is the most important step in the process of decluttering and downsizing; skipping it is going to cause issues down the road.

Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

Remember when we said you might be keeping the same square footage but losing a bedroom? If you’re moving from a 4-bedroom house to a 3-bedroom house, perhaps it would do you well to get rid of all the furniture from that guest room you used to have. You don’t need 4 bedroom sets when you only have 3 bedrooms, do you? It’s considerations like these that will make it easier for you to move. Moving into a home that lacks a family room and only has a living room? You don’t need all the furniture from both the living and family rooms at your current house if that’s the case.

Get Rid of Pieces and Parts

Your new home might just be smaller, which means you have to have all your furniture for all your rooms, but you’ll have to choose pieces to get rid of. For example, bedrooms don’t really need large dressers that take up so much space. You can get away with installing additional shelving in your closets and using baskets on shelves for under garments and things that are not meant to be hung up. The same goes for hutches, china cabinets and sofa tables. They all have a purpose, but sometimes they just don’t fit into your new home.

Organize Your Life

You might have a huge home office with all the filing cabinets and storage in the world right now, but you might not at your new home. Now is the time to organize your storage. Do you really need tax returns from 39 years ago? No, you really only need to keep them for 7 years. So get rid of all but the last 7. You don’t need 5 years worth or mortgage statements. If you can’t really get rid of anything but it makes you nervous, invest in some software that will allow you to scan your documents and save them electronically so that you can get rid of the tangible items and save space.

Donate, Donate, Donate

If you have items you have not used, seen or thought about in one year, get rid of them. I don’t care if it’s a sofa or a pair of shoes. If it’s been absent completely from use or life for more than one year, it’s time to get rid of it. You’re not going to use it again in the near future, so donate it. You’ll get some tax credits from donations if you choose to itemize your deductions, so go ahead and reap the financial benefits of doing this.

Don’t Get Rid of Everything

Your new home is smaller and you want less clutter and fewer ‘things’ but you shouldn’t get rid of all your knick-knacks and small décor items just yet. For one, you probably won’t know until you move into a new home exactly what you will be able to use and what you won’t be able to use, so perhaps it’s a good idea to wait until you are decorating to see which items are worth keeping and which are worth saying farewell to. You might just be surprised how many things you wouldn’t have kept that you use and what you thought you’d use that you won’t.

Pay for Storage

Some downsizing moves are temporary. Perhaps you are downsizing because you sold your home and you need to rent a place to live while your new home is being built. In a situation such as this, it’s a good idea to declutter and get rid of unnecessary items you never use, but it’s not a good idea to get rid of everything. You’ll want a lot of those things when you move into your larger home in a year or so. At this point, the best thing you can do is pay for a storage space somewhere so that you do have somewhere to put that extra bedroom set you won’t use in your rental but you will use in your large home.

Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images


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