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  • Lisa Haynes

Make Space for What You Value Most

With longer days and moving season upon us, you may be thinking about a move or preparing for one. Whether you have been in your current home for 40 years or just a few, there is a lot to do.

At A Bridge Forward, we help clients downsize and move, and based on our experience with hundreds of clients, we’ve see first-hand the barriers to a seamless move. Although there are exceptions, many people want to take more than they can reasonably fit into their new home. In the four years that I have been helping clients through the downsizing process, no one has lamented giving away too much. But they often say they wish they had gotten rid of more.

Downsizing is hard for anyone. Giving away a vase that was a gift – even if you don’t like it – is tough. Going through paperwork is tedious. Cleaning out drawers and cupboards is laborious. But the reward is a fresh, uncluttered space where you are able to enjoy the things you love the most.

Based on our experience advising and working alongside clients, there are three steps you can take right now to prepare for your move:

  1. Sort and shred paperwork. There is very little paperwork that needs to be kept for more than one year. We recommend clients sort paperwork into categories: 1) Material you will keep for less than one year; 2) material you’ll keep for a year or longer; 3) papers you’ll keep for seven years; and 4) items you’ll want to keep forever. Always check with your accountant or financial planner if you have questions, but here is a link to a helpful Consumer Reports article: Once you have sorted paperwork, put a plan in place to have it shredded. There are many options if you have too much for your home shredder, and many communities have free shredding events throughout the year.

  2. Sort and pare down photos, family memorabilia and books. Keeping family historical and other meaningful photos and documents is important, but you probably don’t need it all. Now is a great time to identify what should be kept. This becomes more clear as you get rid of photos that are poor quality or no longer have meaning. Considering digitizing what’s most important. Donate books to your local library. We have often had to move large boxes of photo albums and books to storage units because they weren’t sorted ahead of time. That’s a cost you don’t need!

  3. Get rid of trash and recycling. It can be expensive to get rid of trash as you are preparing for a move, so take advantage of your municipal pickups now. Make sure to fill your trash and recycling bins every week. Now is the time to throw out old magazines and cardboard boxes. Get rid of expired food, old cosmetics and personal care items that you no longer use. Frayed or faded sheets and towels also should be discarded now. If you wait until the end, you may find yourself moving items you no longer use or needing to call an expensive trash pick-up service to haul it away.

When moving, every box costs you time and money. If you approach your downsizing with this perspective, it is likely that move day will be less stressful. And, remember this: Moving the things you don’t need or want makes space for the things you value most.

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