If the cooler weather or an upcoming move are motivating you to clear out clutter from your home, you are headed in the right direction. Now, the big question: “What do I do with all of this stuff?”

As a company that specializes in senior move management, we hear this question frequently from our clients. In fact, right-sizing and decluttering is so overwhelming for many people that it holds some back from moving. Moves for seniors are most successful when there is a plan and timeline in place.

Many people are surprised at how costly it can be to get rid of excess stuff. To help save cost, here are some of our insider tips:

1. If you are moving, create a written document of what you will move, give to family and friends, sell, donate or throw away. Decluttering becomes more manageable when you know exactly what you have to get rid of. We use colored sticky dots and post-it notes to help in the process.

2. If you are starting early enough, fill up your trash cans and recycling bin every week. This saves money down the road.

3. Start packing up bags of items that can be donated. We use large outdoor trash bags for clothes, linens and other soft, but bulky items. Paper grocery bags with handles are free and work great for kitchen items, home decor and books. Double up if necessary. Move these bags to the trunk of your car right away. When full, make a trip to the donation center.

4. If you are giving belongings away to family members, ask them to arrange for pick up by a specific date. If it is not picked up then, arrange for donation.

5. Many donation sites have reopened after being closed earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 shutdown. If you want to drop off larger items, it’s wise to call ahead. Donation drop-off sites have been unusually busy, and some are running out of room. While there are many to choose from, here are several of our favorites:

a. Goodwill locations are plentiful and most have contactless drop-off.

b. Restore: We like Restore for furniture, appliances, kitchen items, home décor and building supplies. (They do not accept soft household goods or clothing.) Proceeds help build homes for those in need through Habit for Humanity.

c. St. Vincent de Paul: Drop offs are contactless and proceeds from the thrift stores support the mission of the organization to eliminate poverty and hunger.

6. If you have furniture to donate, both Restore and St. Vincent de Paul will send a truck to pick up good quality, used furniture. For Restore, there is an online form and some items (i.e. sofas) require that you send a photo. St. Vincent de Paul requires that you call to schedule a pick-up. The time slots can be booked three to four weeks out so be sure to call early. Also, items to be picked up will need to be in a garage or on a porch so that the crew does not have to come into a house. (We often coordinate this with the movers so that they move these pieces to the garage and donation pick-up is scheduled afterwards.)

7. If you have furniture or other large items that you would like moved to a family member’s house or taken to a consignment shops, most movers also will do this on the day of the move, saving you the cost of a separate delivery. Be sure to schedule this ahead of time with your mover.

8. Many libraries accept used books in good condition, but each has its own policy. The libraries have used book sales, and the proceeds go to the library. If interested, call your local branch.

9. Many electronics are banned from Wisconsin landfills and should not be put in your trash. Disposal can be complicated, but here are a few options:

a. Goodwill accepts many electronics for recycling including laptops, flat screen monitors, camcorders, CD players, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, radios, printers and scanners. The agency accepts flat-screen TVs only. It has a complete list of what is accepted here:

b. Older tube-style TVs are more challenging. Best Buy takes such TVs under 32 inches for $25 each. City of Milwaukee residents may take up to 3 TVs to the city’s drop off centers for $5 each. If you live in another city or town, you should check its website. Many communities have mobile collections throughout the year.

10. The best way for Milwaukee County residents to dispose of paint and other hazardous waste materials is through the MMSD Hazardous Waste drop-off centers. It is free and drop-off is contactless. Be sure to check what the centers accept and their hours:

11. If you have a sizable amount to dispose of, there are several options. For a fee, many communities offer pick-up for bulky items. Although the cost is reasonable, all items must be placed on the curb for the scheduled pick-up. There are numerous companies that specialize in picking up unwanted household goods. Call around. Their services can be expensive. We are always happy to provide a recommendation for our clients depending on the specifics. If you require a Dumpster, plan on spending between $450 and $500.

Need help? Contact a senior move manager. Experienced senior move managers have the expertise to help clients prepare for a home transition as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Bonded * Insured * Member National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM)

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Sandy decided to leave a comfortable condominium where she had lived for the past 30 years. She was moving to a nearby senior community — no stairs to climb, available meals when she didn’t want to cook, and new activities and friends. But even with family support, Sandy was overwhelmed by the downsizing and moving process. Although she was an organized person, she still had more belongings than she could move, including a spinet organ that needed a new home. In consultation with her family, Sandy hired A Bridge Forward to help her through this complex life transition. The Bridge Forward team created a plan and schedule, worked with her to sort and downsize belongings, scheduled the movers, packed, managed the day-of-move logistics, and unpacked. The team handled taking items to consignment and donation sites. We also coordinated pick-up of the organ, a sofa and a treadmill. On move-in day, church acquaintances and apartment neighbors stopped by to welcome Sandy to her new home. Here’s what Sandy said: “When I made the decision to move from my home of over 30 years to a senior community, I was overwhelmed as to how to proceed. I contacted A Bridge Forward for help. The Bridge Forward team was able to guide me regarding downsizing decisions all the while taking into consideration my feelings. Also, they were valuable in helping with packing and unpacking which made my move go smoothly. I could not have done it without them.” Extra help from experienced senior move managers can go a long way in easing the stress. A Bridge Forward provides free consultations, including a detailed review of how we plan and support a move. Encourage prospective residents to give us a call. A Bridge Forward also provides downsizing, packing, and unpacking services to busy families and singles. When potential clients are on the fence about whether to move because the process is daunting, our organized, supportive team can make the difference.

Let us help you. Learn more at Bridge Forward Moving.

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With cold, snowy weather approaching, many people, who may have put off a move earlier in the year due to the pandemic, are now getting ready to move before winter arrives.

If a fall move is in your plans, here are some tips for downsizing and moving safely during a pandemic:

Preparing for your move

1. Buy all of your supplies at once to minimize trips to the store. has a packing calculator you can use to estimate what you will need based on the number of rooms and people in your house (Packing Calculator). If in doubt, buy extra. At A Bridge Forward we frequently need more supplies than initial projections.

2. If you plan on donating items such as clothing, linens, furniture or dishes, check with the donation site before loading up your car. Many have reopened, but several still are closed. Some have revised policies about what they will accept. If you plan to schedule a donation pickup, give yourself plenty of time. Organizations that do pick-ups are busy and it takes longer to get on their schedule.

3. If you are considering selling items through a neighborhood Facebook group or on Craigslist, plan to implement your own COVID-19 safety protocols including cleaning the item before selling it, planning for a contactless pick-up and wearing a face mask when meeting the buyer.

4. If you are using a professional moving company, ask about their coronavirus protocols. Look for companies that require employees and customers to wear masks, detail how they practice social distancing, and can explain what steps they are taking to screen and protect their employees from becoming sick.

5. Be prepared for a virtual price quote. Moving companies are offering virtual rather than in-home surveys to provide estimates.

Move Day

1. To help ensure the health and safety of all people involved in your move, make sure to keep soap and paper towels by the sink for hand washing and hand sanitizer by the doors where people will be entering and exiting. Keep frequently touched surfaces such as counter tops and door knobs clean with coronavirus approved cleaning products.

2. Wear a mask at all times when movers or other helpers are in your home.

3. Practice social distancing with moving teams.

4. Let the moving company know right away if you or anyone in your family has coronavirus symptoms or is isolating due to exposure. Transparency is important for keeping everybody safe.

If you need help downsizing, packing, unpacking or organizing after the move, contact A Bridge Forward. We provide free in-home consultations, follow strict COVID-19 safety protocols and are experts in move planning.