OSP readers share their ideas, advice, and stories about home downsizing. Includes methods for purging possessions, and how to include family members in the process.
One of my favorite things about writing this website is that you all, my readers, are very generous and kind with your comments. Sometimes they are actually stories in themselves, and sometimes they are just short thank you messages. Either way, they mean the world to me.
When I shared a recent post about home downsizing and how to cope when your family doesn’t want your stuff, the comments were incredible. So I decided to make a collection of the ones that either offered an idea I hadn’t thought of, or had sound advice I know you can use. What follows are stories, solutions, and ways of coping that worked for someone…so they just might work for you. There is no way I can include all of the comments, so if you are curious, just check the original post when you are finished here. Let’s dive in!
*Some of the comments have been edited to save space, but the main message still comes through loud and clear. If you are wondering about the images, I just picked some of the prettiest ones I could find!
Home Downsizing Tips
from OSP Readers
If you are selling your treasures, keep prices in check.
“I watched my parents go through downsizing, and it was agonizing to watch my dad be unable to let go of his cherished things. Another good thing to remember as we downsize is that if you are selling your things, you will see that the value you place because of sentimentality is not going to be the value others see.” ~Lorrie
My daughter is a big Facebook Marketplace seller, and she told me that she sees people trying to sell their stuff for so much more than it’s worth…or more than people are willing to pay. Unfortunately, and it can break your heart, sentimental value isn’t worth very much. A very important point to keep in mind.
How to keep the memories alive.
“It’s hard to let go of…the items that are so closely intertwined with memories of loved ones, some of them long gone. And like in your case, my kids are not interested in taking in more items that they don’t need. I just wish I could keep the memories alive that come with the items.” ~Karin
I know from experience how hard this is. The thing you have to tell yourself is that the memory will stay forever, long after the item is gone. It may fade a bit, but it will always be in your heart.
“The question I ask myself is “do I love it/use it enough to pay someone to move it?” Because it’s not free to move anything. Also the things we needed when we were a family of 6 are very different than what my husband and I need at this stage of life. I am keeping the attitude of less is more time and freedom from cleaning when it comes to possessions.” ~Sue
I thought this was very good advice. When you are faced with a difficult decision, ask yourself just how much you love that item…and be honest! If it doesn’t enrich your everyday life, and if it doesn’t fit in with your current season of life, perhaps it’s time to let it go.
A gift you can give your family.
“I actually first downsized quite awhile ago, but now find myself wanting to purge more and more. My motivation is primarily two-fold; I don’t want to leave any more work than necessary to my family someday. And the new feeling that many of these things just don’t have the same hold on me anymore.” ~ Cindi
The one thing that was always in the back of my mind during our whole moving process what how relieved I was that my children weren’t the ones dealing with everything. I felt I owed it to them to clean up our mess, and when it was behind me, I was very proud of what I had accomplished. For many of us, our children are sandwiched between helping us, and taking care of their own families. The easier I can make that task, the better.
Keep the memories, not the stuff.
“Take pictures of your treasures that you don’t have room for, or heirlooms your children do not want. Make a little album that you can flip through and still enjoy your memory of the item.” ~ Deb
This is definitely a way to keep the memories alive in our minds. Time makes things blurred, and even if we think they won’t, memories fade. Having a tangible photo to look at will make remembering cherished items so much easier.
Honoring our family members.
“I have a ton of stuff that was my mothers and my grandmothers, because they lived together and died one year apart. One idea I’ve had is for the tons of cookbooks that I don’t need. I’m going to write a “this book belonged to” note with my mom’s name on every book I donate, and make sure they go to an antique or thrift store that I know will get them to a good home. That way someone, somewhere, will get to use her books.” ~Lisa
Recognizing the possessions of our family members is a beautiful way to honor their gifts and hobbies. Marking books is a great idea. Another way to honor your loved ones is to donate to their favorite charity using the money earned from the sale of their things.
Helping the less fortunate.
“When I downsized, a loving friend mentioned mothers that have had to move into battered women’s shelters & often have no funds to set up a home again. Usually those homes are in different areas for their protection. They’re having to start over.. completely. I contacted my local police dept. who then contacted the battered women’s shelter & gave them my phone number. Long story shorter they contacted me, and arranged a day to pick it all up since of course they can’t give an address to us. I attached little tags explaining the history of some of the pieces. What I didn’t expect were the letters of gratitude I got over the next 6 months. It turned what had begun as a painful decision into a heartwarming experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat with no regrets.” ~Zoe
This idea is the quintessential way to pay it forward. Yes…it takes more time and effort. But like Zoe said, it completely turned around the heartbreak of downsizing her possessions. When we do something good, no matter how large or small, it not only helps others, it helps us. Personally, I sometimes lose track of that…and this is a good reminder.
Consider an auction. One day and done.
“Because our grandson was serving as an apprentice for an auctioneer, we went that route and thought it is worth sharing. The auctioneer brings a crew that carries everything outside and we easily had 40 tables plus garage tools against a fence. All items are bid on and if no one bids on a box, they put two boxes together for a bid sale. At the end, the auctioneer takes all unpurchased or objects left to the dump. I wasn’t going to hang around for the sale, but changed my mind and was glad I did. It was exciting to see how items would be reused and repurposed. It turned out to be a GREAT experience and it all happened in one day.” ~Cheryl
I think this is brilliant. Not only did Cheryl and her family receive help with the process, it was done in one day. Yes…you have people on your property, and I’m sure there was preparation and cleanup. But the idea is definitely worth investigating if you are faced with downsizing a large portion of your belongings.
Ready to go goal.
“We are young, but we are nearing early retirement. I am having a dumpster delivered next week, and we are going attic to garage and clearing out. We had decided this last week when we realized we needed a “clean sweep.” My goal: we would be ready to have everything packed up and moved within 48 hours.” ~Karen
Talk about being prepared! This is a lofty goal, but totally reachable. It’s an excellent mindset when starting the downsizing process.
You are not alone.
“Thank you for letting us know we aren’t the only ones with children who do not want our stuff. I have what I think are beautiful dishes but no one wants them. The same way with furniture. I do feel better now you have shown my children are no different. This generation is really different about collections from the older generation.” ~Mary
The most important thing I wanted to accomplish with this post, and the previous one as well, was to let you know that your feelings are justified, and that we’re all going through the same thing. Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, the emotions are universal. So if you have your downsizing experience behind you, or it’s still in your future, I hope these ideas have helped to put your heart at ease.