Getting Rid of the Stuff
One of the things that often keeps us from mentally crossing that bridge into retirement is the sheer volume of “stuff” that you have accumulated during a life of raising kids and just buying things over several decades of family life. If the kids have moved out but you and your spouse are living in the home you have occupied for years, the layers and layers of accumulation can be tremendously intimidating to think about going through and deciding what to keep and what to give away. Now there is no reason not to go ahead with plans to retire from your job and start that lifestyle as soon as your finances are able to let you do that and you are ready to step out of the working world. But for many of us, the real transition of becoming fully retired happens when we pare down our possessions, sell the family estate and move into a quaint bungalow, retirement apartment or assisted living center to begin enjoying a life of fewer responsibilities and a lot more fun. The first step of taking on the challenge of how to attack the mountains of stuff is to get a rough inventory for what you have and what you can get rid of. You can start on this quest as early as you feel ready to put your retirement planning on the front burner.
Many start on it as soon as they enter the “empty nest” phase of their life and the kids are gone and you can begin to convert their rooms into usable space for you and start getting their stuff out of the house as well. So your kids are the first line of defense or rather of offense of attacking the sheer volume of stuff you own. Now is the time to start the inheritance process early. There is no doubt many things in your family possessions that the kids cherish from their upbringing in your home and that you will want to pass along to them. So let them know that over the next year or so, you are going to expect them to come along and get the stuff they want before you sell the house.
This can be a progressive process. If the kids live far off, you can use visits for the holidays to go through closets and box and ship their precious memories and mementos from their childhood years so those things can start living at their homes and not at yours. This is a big step toward getting rid of all the stuff. Next you should start to think about the amount of space you will have in your new space and what you are going to need and use regularly when living in that smaller living quarters. Be pragmatic here so you are only looking at things from a usability point of view. On your first pass, many things will make the cut to be saved because they are either useful or nostalgic or both. But also begin to go through the house room by room and separate things into “keep’, “give away” or “trash”. You will find lots of stuff you can give to Good Will or to charities which gives those things a new life and you a small tax write off for next year. But be brave about throwing away things that just have no real value any more. Remember, if you don’t get rid of it, you are going to be living with it for another twenty years and that is what we are trying to get away from.
By giving yourself some time to get ready to move into the smaller space, this process of paring down the possessions can be rewarding and fulfilling and a good next step into your next phase of life. PPPPP Word Count 648 .
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