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Downsizing your Clutter

Downsizing your Clutter

When you downsize, you have less space for clutter. Prepare for downsizing now by eliminating things you don’t want to take with you. As a general rule of thumb, the average downsizer will only take about ⅓ of their possessions to their new home. Empty every cabinet and closet – one at a time – and decide what to do with it. Don’t attempt to tackle the whole house in one day or even one week. One cabinet or one closet a day is plenty.


Many people find it helpful to make three piles:

  1. Things to keep – These are things you either use or want to keep for sentimental value. Your goal is to keep this pile small – remember, about ⅓ of all of your possessions stay. The rest do not. One good idea is to keep the sentimental things you can’t bear to part with and be more heavy handed with the things you’re less attached to. Another good tip is to bring in a trusted friend who will look at the pile of things you can’t possible get rid of and offer a more objective opinion, i.e. “Why do you need your dress from senior prom?”
  2. Things to sell/donate – If it has value but isn’t something you want to take with you, then you can sell to make some money or donate it.keep trash donate
  3. Things to throw away – If it’s chipped or broken or stained, it goes into the garbage – charities don’t want it and no one will buy it.Throw away holiday lights that are broken, clothes with rips, Tupperware without lids (and lids without Tupperware), and anything that can’t be sold by a charity.
  4. Things to give away -If there are items you’re holding on to give to someone or leave in your will as a legacy, consider gifting the item now. There are a few benefits of this approach. First, you eliminate the clutter. Secondly, you can gain a tax benefit if it’s an expensive item. And, finally, you get the pleasure of seeing the recipient enjoying your gift.


Don’t have a maybe pile – just decide and move one. If you can’t decide, ask yourself if it’s worth the cost of moving it – movers often charge by the box. Still can’t decide? Ask yourself if you would replace it if it were lost in a fire?  If not, then toss it, donate it, sell it, or give it away.

When should you start your decluttering? 

Start to declutter when you’re thinking it might be time to downsize soon. To declutter thoughtfully is not a quick and easy task. You probably want to allow one work day for each cabinet or closet and several work days each for your basement, garage, and attic.

So work backward. Imagine you are willing to spend three hours every Saturday decluttering one location of your home. If you want to move in August of 2018, you have 52 weeks left. At a rate of one cabinet or closet per week, plus another several Saturdays for the basement, attic, and garage, will you be done on time?

Things you need to manage:

    • Paper – According to the IRS, you need to keep your tax records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund. Keep records for 7 shredder truck.JPGyears if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction. Anything older than that can be shredded. Union County offers mobile shredding days when residents can bring their confidential documents to be shredded and disposed – click here for the dates.
    • Photos – If you, like me, have dozens of boxes of photos in your attic, going through them is a chore you’ve been dreading. Don’t try to do it at once. One box a day is reasonable. As you go through the photos, throw away the blurry ones or the ones of people you can’t recognize. Make piles of photos to give to family members or friends. My parents made photo albums of our childhood photos for me and my sisters and then gave them to us as they became empty nesters. Consider digitizing photos. If you have a scanner, this is easy. If you don’t have a scanner, you can buy one for under $200 or you can use a professional service for about 50 cents per photo. Even better, buy a scanner and then hire a grandkid to do it for you.
    • Extra furniturefurniture In the house where we raised our children, we have a family room, a living room, a formal dining room, an office, and 4 bedrooms. That’s a total of 5 couches, 7 end tables, 2 coffee tables, 3 desks, two arm chairs, two rocking chairs, and a full dining set not to mention the 6 televisions and television cabinets. For us, downsizing will mean choosing our favorite sofa and end table or two and getting rid of the rest.
    • Kitchen wares – Empty every cabinet and see what you have duplicates of. When we got married, we each had a full kitchen which combined to make our (now overstuffed) kitchen. We have 4 pasta pots, 7 or 8 frying pans, a dozen or so spatulas, 3 colanders, and at least a dozen mixing bowls. Many families have 4 or 5 sets of dishes, enough coffee mugs for an army, and 9 or 10 vases. No one needs that much stuff, and when we downsize, we can’t have that much stuff. Time to pick what we want to keep and get rid of the rest.
    • Garage –garage tools If you’re downsizing to a condo, you won’t need snow shovels, lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, ladders, chain saws, and so on. Keep the hand tools (but no more than 1 or two hammers, please) but lose the rest. You also won’t need to bring the kids’ old sleds (perhaps it’s time to hand them down?) or the 6 feet of spare pvc from a project you did in the 1990s.  
    • Clothes – If you’re retired, donate, sell, or discard your work clothes. If you have clothes that no longer fit (of course you do) or are no longer in style (ask your kids, they’ll tell you), then donate, sell or discard.
    • Exercise Equipment – Do you still use it?  If yes, keep it. If not, sell or donate or trash.
    • Childhood memorabilia – Hold on to the things you love. Take digital photos of the rest and donate them so someone else can love them.
    • Books, magazines, DVDs – If you’re not going to read it or watch it again, donate, sell, or trash it.
    • Medicine – Do not flush or throw unused or expired medicine into the trash. They will contaminate the water supply. Your local drugstore will dispose of these items responsibly, free of charge.




As you empty each cabinet, your home will start to feel lighter and brighter. Not only are you making it easier to move, you’re making it easier to sell your home and making it easier to live there in the meantime.


Earlier posts in our Downsizing Series:


Finding a New Home after Downsizing

Finding a new place:


Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, the next step you need to make is to decide where you want to go and what kind of home you want.


The location you choose will depend on several factors. Do you want to be near family? Do you want to reduce your work commute? Do you prefer a city, a suburb, or a rural environment? Do you want to move to a location that has a lower cost of living? Depending on where you choose to live, you might not actually be saving money. A large house in an area with a lower cost of living might actually be a better financial  position for you than a small house in an area with a higher cost of living. Working out a budget at this point is pretty critical.

Very often, downsizers want a smaller home but with no less luxury. For example, if your larger home has granite countertops, most downsizers choose to have granite in their next home, and sometimes even use some of the extra cash they have to upgrade the kitchen appliances as well. Larger master suites are also a common feature downsizers want, and often are willing to sacrifice larger guest suites.

The type of home you choose will also depend on several factors. Some of your options are:

  • small-wooden-house-906912_960_720Smaller house – The benefits of choosing to move to a house are many. First of all, you retain the most freedom this way – you don’t need to comply with HOA requirements or age restrictions. Choosing a house means you’ll still have to do the maintenance and upkeep, however, even though it will likely be less time consuming and costly than in a larger home. A house will probably have more space than any other option, so if a guest bedroom or two is important to you, or if you want a formal dining room, this may be your best bet.
  • condo-619977_960_720Condominium – Many downsizers choose condos not only because they are significantly less costly than a house but also because maintenance will be done for you. No more shoveling snow or raking leaves is a pretty nice incentive. In many cases, condos are only one story so you can eliminate stairs if that’s an issue. Condo living sometimes comes with sweet amenities like clubhouses, pools, tennis courts, and so on. If you choose a condo, however, don’t forget that you’ll have to pay HOA fees which vary dramatically from place to place.
  • Rent – If you want to free up some cash, or move to temporary digs while your dream home is being built or while you’re waiting for retirement, renting might be a great option for you. The best part about it is that you are responsible for no upkeep or maintenance – even a clogged drain is fixed for you. Another benefit of renting is that you can stay in the same town without all of the expense associated with owning. The downside, of course, is that you aren’t building equity so it might not make sense financially.
  • Colonial_Village_Apartments,_Dallas_Baptist_UniversityActive Adult community – Sometimes known as “55+ Communities,” active adult communities are a great option if at least one person is 55 years of age or older. Active adult communities can be condominiums, cooperatives, single family homes, or even mobile home parks. The benefit of an active adult community is the opportunity to choose a community of people in the same stage of life. Many also offer amenities such as community swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, and so on.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community – A CCRC offers lifetime housing with advanced levels of care available as needs change. CCRCs also offer planned activities such as luncheons and parties for residents to get to know each other and socialize. Many offer bus trips to grocery stores and destinations such as the Jersey shore. CCRCs require an entrance fee and a monthly charge for care which is dependent on the level of support required.

When you decide where you want to live and the type of housing that appeals to you, it’s time to consider getting your current home on the market. At this point, you should contact a real estate professional who can help you determine what you need to do to prepare your home for sale as well as help guide you to finding your new dream home!


Earlier posts in the series:

6 Michael Street SOLD 5% above asking price!

team zuhl


new logo

Are thrilled to announce that our listing at 6 Michael Street in Iselin has SOLD!!!  This lovely 5 bedroom 2 and a half bath split level was sold as an estate sale for $325,000.  

It was on the market for a total of 66 days and sold for $15,000 over list price!!     

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home, have them contact Team Zuhl.  We can help them.  Remember, with Team Zuhl everything we touch turns to SOLD!!!

Clark Real Estate Market Report

Hello Clark homeowners!

Your Clark real estate market report is ready for you.

Clark Real Estate for March in a nutshell:

  • sales = 10
  •  inventory = 48
  • Average sale price = $377,290
  • Average days on market – 38

What do these numbers mean and how will it affect you? Please view our Clark real estate market report here.


If you are a buyer or a seller interested in a home in Clark, New Jersey, please call Team Zuhl! We’re happy to help you in all of your real estate needs!

For more information on selling a home:

For more information on Clark and Clark Real Estate:

How long will it take to sell a home in Clark, NJ?


If you are a buyer or a seller interested in a home in Clark, New Jersey, please call Team Zuhl! We’re happy to help you in all of your real estate needs!

For more information on selling a home:

For more information on Clark and Clark Real Estate:

Sale Price of FSBOs in Union County

The average homeowner does not have the knowledge nor the experience necessary to sell their home for the most money in the shortest amount of time.

How does the data compare?


For more information:

3 Steps to Selling Your Home Fast

Have you thought of selling your home but don’t know where to start?

Here are 3 simple steps that will help you get your home sold. A real estate professional can help you with any of these steps.


For more information on selling a home:

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