A lot of my clientele consists of retirees or people that have managed to accumulate more items that they care to maintain. Since it’s the beginning of a new year when people feel the greatest motivation for change, I’ve decided to make a slight detour from my usual focus on collectibles and instead write a quick guide to downsizing effectively and efficiently.
First, give the people or organizations that you care about most the opportunity to request items that they wish to inherit or have passed along. Most times, there may only be a handful of items, with the remainder not necessarily being things they need or want (how many extra bunk beds or food processors does one possibly need?) It’s an important conversation to have with your beneficiaries while you are able and will help to minimize disputes down the road.
After certain items have been earmarked for friends or family, the remaining items can be divided into three categories: 1. Sell It 2. Donate It 3. Trash it. I’ll expand a bit on each.
Items that should be sold include things like furniture, jewelry, household goods, fine clothing, etc., which are items that retain some degree of value, even if they are used. Sometimes these items have appreciated in value and you may receive more that you thought they were worth. If you’d like someone else to do most of the legwork in selling your items, then a consignment shop or auction house might be a good fit for you. However, if you’re the do-it-yourself type or want to keep most of the proceeds for yourself, Craigslist, eBay, and a number of other sales venues exist for that purpose.
Items worth donating may be older (i.e. vintage clothing or appliances), slightly damaged, or may have more sentimental value than resale value (wedding china and travel souvenirs come to mind…) These items are considered usable and functional, but might not be worth the time and effort to sell in the venues previously mentioned. If you have enough items to donate, sometimes you can arrange for a free pick-up from the charity or nonprofit that is receiving the items. Another good resource is Freecycle.org, which allows members to post items available for free to each other.
Finally, if the items are not functional or have been damaged beyond repair or repurpose, it might just be time to throw it out. Items that have significant mold, mildew, rust, or that were inhabited by furry critters for several decades are probably the best candidates for the trash. Who knows, perhaps as soon as you put that rusting hunk of junk on the curb for the trash collector, someone else may come along to claim it as their new treasure.
The original article can be found in the January 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.