Clear the Clutter: The Benefits of Downsizing

Downsizing is an increasingly popular way to live simply, create space, and commit to a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. If you’re moving to a smaller home, downsizing is absolutely essential. If you’re looking to make a fresh start, downsizing can be a liberating exercise. It’s also an important strategy for making your home attractive to prospective buyers. However, it can be an exhausting emotional ordeal, especially if you get rid of beloved possessions. Fortunately, there are several tips that can help you get through it all productively. 

Take your time

Some people try to rush through the downsizing process thinking it’s the best way to avoid experiencing too much pain over getting rid of possessions that still hold powerful memories. Unfortunately, rushing through it can lead to mistakes and oversights, causing you to inadvertently get rid of something you really wanted to save. You might also misplace something that has great financial or personal value, so take a systematic approach. It’s worthwhile if you’re serious about simplifying your life in a positive way.  

Follow your system

Begin with your paper files. Anything that’s not worth scanning to your hard drive and keeping should be carefully reviewed. Make three files for documents you’ll keep, shred, and throw out, and stick to those categories. Make sure you carefully label each pile to avoid getting papers mixed up and placed in the wrong pile. Your “keep” files should be kept in a safe or water-tight box. You can always take your “shred” documents to a professional shredding service if you’re uncomfortable doing it at home.


Closets are notorious places for tossing objects you don’t know what else to do with. It’s a habit common to every home. They’re also places where all kinds of belongings stack up over the years. Start going through them by getting rid of clothing you haven’t worn for a year or more. Dresses, suits, shoes, ties, and other pieces of business or formal wear should be considered carefully. If you don’t need or want it, get rid of it. Old clothing can be taken to Goodwill, AmVets, or the Salvation Army, or placed in consignment if they’re in good shape. Stop debating with yourself about whether you’ll wear something that doesn’t fit anymore—get rid of it once and for all. If it helps you, remember that most people wear 20 percent of their clothing 80 percent of the time. That should help you decide to get rid of items you know you won’t wear or wear enough. 

Kitchen and bathroom

In general, these are two rooms that should be somewhat easier to clear out, since there usually aren’t as many sentimental objects to agonize over. Start by getting rid of any duplicate items. People often keep their drinkware cabinets jam-packed with more glasses, cups, and coffee mugs than they could ever use. These are excellent items to send to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, so don’t hold back. If you have an odds-and-ends drawer or cabinet, see how much you can purge. Chances are you’ll find quite a few duplicate items here as well. 

Do it right

If you’re planning to downsize by selling your home, make sure to follow these tips. Begin by checking the housing market in your area to make sure it’s practical to try selling your home. It makes little sense to put it on the market if you’re unlikely to get a price that exceeds the current balance of your mortgage. Have your home inspected for problems with the roof, foundation, and other key structural elements. If everything checks out, begin decluttering and cleaning your house so it’s ready to show to prospective buyers. Get rid of excess furniture and unnecessary objects that are making your interior too busy. And don’t forget to spruce up your exterior to make sure your home has true curb appeal.Downsizing is an excellent way to get your life under control and a must if you’re planning to put your home on the market. Take the time to do it right. Don’t rush and risk missing or losing things. Establish a system, and stick to it – don’t allow sentiment to take over. Remember, you’re trying to unburden yourself by purging unnecessary possessions.