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  • Lisa Haynes

“Where Do I Begin?” Insider Tips for Downsizing Before a Senior Move

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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