Downsizing can be a big chore after a lifetime of accumulating memorabilia and artifacts. Fortunately, in retirement you have the time to do this methodically over a couple of weeks or months. Begin by separating out the easier to part with items. You probably already have a list in your head of items in the garage and kitchen that you’re willing to let go of. You likely also have at least a partial list of items you want your children, grandchildren, and others to have. These are good lists to start pulling things together.
Move on to rooms with less emotional attachment and rooms that you won’t have in your new home. Most people aren’t too emotionally attached to the laundry room and you may soon have to do without a 4th or 3rd bedroom and basement. A good rule of thumb is only separating things into “keep” or “let go” piles. A “maybe” pile will drag out the process by making you think it through more than once. The exception for having a third pile could be a pile of what you will sell or donate.
But take the time to give each item a moment of your attention. You’ll quickly find you develop a logic to making the decision. Go through each room one at a time. You may find you have a different decision process for each room. You’ll also avoid regrets by giving everything at least a moment of thought.
Items that are easier to get rid of include duplicates and things you haven’t used in a few years or rarely use. That oversized roasting pan that you only use at Christmas might go to a grandchild who can bring it over once a year.
People have collections they find difficult to let go of. Photo albums can be digitized. You can select a few favorite Hummel figurines to keep and sell the rest for a nice roll of dollars. Family members might be interested in at least part of your collection or maybe you can divide it among several relatives.
Be sure your family knows that a big part of your downsizing means letting go of your treasures. Ask them to tell you what they want. Giving away some difficult to part with treasures can still bring you happiness. Giving your son the grandfather clock means you can see him enjoy it now and you can still enjoy it when you visit. You may also learn you have things you didn’t think anyone would want but your granddaughter actually does want your old sewing basket. Pick a weekend to invite the family over for a day to show them what you are letting go and tell a few stories behind your fondest possessions.
One reason to start downsizing early is to give yourself time to reminisce. There’s a reason you’ve saved this stuff all of these years, even if you haven’t looked at it for a long time. Now you have the time and reason to enjoy it again.