Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 24, 2013

Tips for downsizing

Traverse City Record-Eagle

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•Financial papers

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 Keep only what you need, and get rid of out-of-date records — bank statements, canceled checks, utility and credit card statements, tax returns older than seven years.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.

•“Just in Case” items

People keep things just in case they might need them someday: power tools, cooking gadgets, craft materials, sewing machines, record albums. If you are really going to use any of these items, keep them, but make sure you know where to store them.

How to prepare •Plan ahead by making a list of what needs to be done, and ask for help. Some things to put on the list: utility changes, mail forwarding, contact a realtor, repairs, etc.

• Give yourself plenty of time; the sooner you start the better.


Deciding what to keep •Designate items that you know for sure you want to take, then… •Ask yourself: Have I used this in the past year? Am I likely to use it in the near future? •Use sticky-notes to place on items, listing what is to be done with that item. •Do not rush, work in small sessions, and don’t do it alone. •Consider your new living space and environment — make sure your items will fit, and that you will have a use for them.

What to do with the excess •Pass on to family, donate, sell, discard or recycle.

Source: Assisted Moving Services, Traverse City