We all know we need to keep important papers, but we don’t need to keep most of them forever. You can shred papers or have a shredder come to your home. Ask for advice from your attorney, accountant, and/or family. Keep only what you need, and get rid of out-of-date records — bank statements, canceled checks, utility and credit card statements, tax returns older than seven years.
You don’t need to discard photos, but you do need to consider how to organize and store them. Organize pictures by each family member, keep some favorites and return the remainder. Make sure you have a place to store old photo albums — either on a bookshelf or in a storage closet. Remove some pictures from their frames to store with other loose photos.
•Clothes and shoes; linens and towels
Remember the 80/20 rule: people wear about 20 percent of what is in their closet. If you have not worn it in a year, let it go — even if it was expensive. Focus on things that don’t fit or need repair — and any clothes, shoes, belts, purses, ties and other accessories you no longer need (business suits, formal wear or extra coats). Bring only two or three sets of bed linens and up to six bath towels, hand towels, etc.
•Toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, vitamins, bandages Pull everything out and discard expired medicines and unwanted cosmetics. Organize the rest into small plastic bins by category — hair care, nail care, bandages and ointments, over-the-counter medicines, etc. Store prescription medicines in a separate location: kitchen cupboard works well.
•Heirlooms and keepsakes
Keepsakes are things from our past that hold our dear memories intact: old letters and cards, children’s artwork, baby books and achievement plaques. Look through your old letters and cards, and let go of all but the most important. Keep a clear plastic “memory box” for the very special items you want to keep. Consider giving some keepsakes to your children or family. Make sure you have a place to store and display these items so you can continue to enjoy them and keep them safe, or consider passing them to the next generation.