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Downsizing: What to Keep and What to Toss

By Christian Roemer

Downsizing is the new upsizing. These days, nobody wants a McMansion anymore. Instead, many folks are opting for the simple life - the decluttered life. Whether your downsizing adventure ends up in a tiny home, condo, or RV, the biggest challenge will be figuring out what to keep and what to toss.

Living in a big house is great, but the truth is, it also involves the accumulation of lots of stuff. Between kids, vacations, souvenirs, and an unfortunate stamp collection phase, the years of living large can lead to piles and piles of extraneous things. If you’ve been living in a home that’s bigger than what you need, there’s a good chance that you also have way more stuff than you even realized. We’re here to help. This is our definitive list of things to keep and things to toss when you’re downsizing; or, as you’re telling your friends, “going minimalist.”

Toss List

  • Mugs (Keep a couple, but you don’t need 49 of them anymore. Did you ever?)
  • Old Magazines & some books (Keep your favs)
  • Clothes that haven’t been worn in 2 years
  • Oversized furniture (Sorry, sprawling oak desk)
  • Old board games / ping pong table / pool table
  • Christmas decorations (Goodbye inflatable snowman)
  • Children (30+ year olds--what are they still doing around anyway?)
  • Old pillows, sheets, and towels
  • Keurig Coffee Maker (You’re eco-friendly now)
  • Old VHS tapes & photos (Get them digitized before hand!)

Keep List

  • Family Photos (As long as you can hang them on the wall)
  • Flat screen TV / Entertainment Unit (You’re downsizing, not becoming a monk)
  • Wife/Husband (Don’t toss the baby out with the bath water)
  • Coffee maker (French press)
  • Essential furniture (sofa, bed, dressers)
  • Sentimental artwork
  • Computer/Laptop (Stay connected, but not too connected)
  • Cookware
  • Plates & Silverware
  • Staple clothing pieces & necessary toiletries

Some of the decision making will be difficult. A trick that some folks do when facing the prospect of major downsizing, is to create a small area in a room that’s about 5 feet by 5 feet. Fill that area with the things that you have to keep. If your stuff spills out of that area, go back through the pile again. Keep repeating that process until you’ve narrowed down your keep list into a pile that fits in that 5x5 area. It will be difficult, but you must persevere!

Most importantly, don’t just throw away the stuff that you’re getting rid of! There’s already enough trash in the world, and there are plenty of people out there who need help! Donate your toss list to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. We prefer staying local with those types of donations, because they directly support the folks that need them most. Like they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure!

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