Many families have a story to tell. When we look at our possessions many times they have been kept for sentimental value that is only truly known to that individual. Making note of the importance of our “things” can be the most important thing that we do for our family. As we get older it becomes important to simplify our daily lives in order to feel comfortable. Sometimes we downsize our homes so there is less to maintain. We want to clean out and declutter our “stuff”.
There are many reasons why this is helpful. Not only will this help minimize the amount of daily clutter and make our home safer, but it can help to get things in financial order as well. Sorting your possessions is the first step.
There are four categories of possessions to consider
(1) Things I need (furniture and other daily household items)
(2) Sentimental items to keep (things that are meaningful to me but have no monetary value)
(3) Items to be sold
(4) Items for donation
Things I Need – this group of items is relatively simple. These are everyday things that you need like your furniture, kitchen utensils and bath toiletries/items. However, it is important to go over these items to determine if they really are in fact necessary. For example, in your kitchen you may have duplicates. You may want to sell or donate anything where you have collected more of the item than you need. This will minimize the clutter and make daily living in these spaces less stressful. If you have place settings for twelve but your dining table only seats six, you may want to consider selling or donating the settings you don’t truly need. If your bathroom linen closet is overflowing with towels, maybe donate your older towels to the local animal shelter. Removing some of these extra and unnecessary items can help you to enjoy your space more comfortably.
Sentimental Items –This can sometimes be an important but difficult area to minimize. Some people collect more than just photos to remind them of life’s memories and accomplishments. This is also the most important area for family members to document. Some families do an interview with loved ones as they talk about their most important sentimental possessions. This ensures that other family members will understand their significance. It is also a good time to note what items should be passed down to which families members in the future. Smaller sentimental items are easier to hold on to. If there are larger items such as vehicles or furniture pieces, then considerable thought should be given to how to store them or how to either sell or give them away.
Items for Sale –Items to be sold can be as large as real estate, vehicles, furniture or as small as jewelry. Some items will require a broker to assist in the sale, other items are simple and possibly can be sold on-line or in a garage or yard sale. These proceeds can then be deposited into existing retirement funds for future use.
Items to Donate –If you have gone through steps 1-3 that should leave you with items to donate. These can be easily collected and either picked up or dropped off with a number of local charity organizations that take a variety of donations. Receipts can even be kept for a future tax deduction.
Once this process is complete chances are the whole family feels a sense of relief knowing everything has a purpose and a place. Being organized is an important way to plan for your retirement.