Downsizing for a move
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you offer any helpful tips for downsizing? My husband and I are interested in moving to a condo downtown when we retire, but we need to get rid of a lot of our personal possessions before we can move. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 35 years and have accumulated tons of stuff.
The process of weeding through a house full of stuff and parting with possessions can be difficult and overwhelming for many people.
A good place to start the downsizing process is to give your unused possessions away to your kids or grandkids. Beyond that, here are a few other tips and services.
Selling your stuff is one way you can downsize and pad your pocketbook at the same time.
Consignment shops are good for selling old clothing, household furnishings, and decorative items. You typically get half of the final sale price. Garage sales are another option, or for large-scale downsizing you could hire an estate sale company to come in and sell your items. Some companies will pick up your stuff and sell it at their location- they typically take about 40 percent of the profits.
Or, if you’re willing, online selling at sites like Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon are another way to make top dollar for your stuff.
If you itemize on your tax returns, donating your belongings is another way to downsize and get a tax deduction. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are two big charitable organizations that will come to your house and pick up a variety of household items, furnishings, and clothing.
If your deduction exceeds $500, you’ll need to file Form 8283, “Noncash Charitable Contributions”. You’ll also need a receipt from the organization for every batch of items you donate, and will need to create an itemized list of the items you donated. To calculate fair market value for your stuff, use the Salvation Army’s donation guide, or the free program “It’s Deductible” at turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/itsdeductible.
If you have a lot of junk you want to get rid of, contact your municipal trash service to see if they provide bulk curbside pickup services. Or, depending on where you live, you could hire a company to come in and haul it off for a fee.
Another good disposal option is Bagster (thebagster.com, 877-789-2247) by Waste Management. This is a dumpster bag that you purchase for around $30, fill it to a limit of 3,300 pounds and schedule a pickup, which costs an average of $140 but varies by area.
You can also hire a professional senior move manager (nasmm.org, 877-606-2766) to do the entire job for you. These are organizers who will sort through your stuff and arrange for the disposal through an estate sale, donations, or consignment. Or, you can hire a professional organizer through the National Association of Professional Organizers at napo.net. Organizers may charge $30 to $80 per hour or by the project.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
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