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Downsizing Your Stuff

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Downsizing Your Stuff

By Deborah Moyer


Moves are daunting at any age because of physical/emotional stress and we all have a lot of ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated over our lives.

Don’t procrastinate & start now regardless of how far away your move date is!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from neighbors, family, and friends.  Pick the ones that will be toughest on you and help you make good decisions.  

Pay attention to what you use now and start the purging in the least used area of your home with the highest volume of underutilized stuff.  The bigger the item you decide about, the more you will feel optimistic about the task.  If you can pack it up and/or send it to its non-new-home destination sooner, all the better.

Be honest with every item - Have I used this in the last six months to a year?   If it is covered in dust, you probably haven’t.

Have a ‘storage place in mind’ for every item you consider taking with you to your new home.

Don’t take multiples of things (like 5 frying pans), only what you truly need for daily life.

Be realistic about furniture you want to take regarding its size and scale, then have a ‘storage space in mind’ for it to be placed in your new home.

Measure rooms/cabinets/furniture and keep in mind locations of telephone/cable/Internet outlets in every room.  Also be aware of windows, doorways, and stair railings that might get covered over by placing an oversized piece of furniture in “their” space.

Don’t keep something out of guilt or obligation to the person who gave it to you.  They wouldn’t want you to be burdened by that thought.

Dispose of items immediately as you purge, whether you are donating to a charity, trashing it, or giving it to family.

Keep in mind the “space hogs” and purge as much as possible – books, old files, framed pictures, video tapes, etc.  You will not be reading those books a second time, nor the video.  If you haven’t done it this year, you probably won’t ever.  There are new books and new videos that you will  look into first most likely.

The IRS has limits on how far back they audit, so keep only the records you need.  Get rid of old checking account statements, checks, registers, and the like but do it safely.  Don’t throw out documents! Shred them!  Goodwill Administrative Office in Oceanside will securely shred a medium box for only $5. 

Donate books to your local libraries, take pictures out of frames and keep in memory boxes or load onto digital frames, video tapes converted to DVD, etc.

Be cognizant of health conditions as you deal with items that may be dusty – wear face filter masks for respiratory or allergy issues.  Ask for help if you need it.  There are plenty of folks you know that are not fully employed and you could pay them to help you box up and move items that are too heavy for you to handle. 

Start using up Pantry/Freezer items!  Give items you don’t have room for to food banks.  If an item is past its code dates, throw it away.  It is not worth the risk to eat it if you get sick.

Schedule movers early and make sure they do a physical inspection of your home for their bid. Be wary of movers giving bids over the phone. 

Check with your Move Manager or mover about additional costs for Plasma TV’s, pianos, oversized or delicate art, etc. not covered under regular contract.

How to keep better track of items when packing/during move:

Inventory and label boxes with a # on the box and the name of the room it’s going to.  Write down the box numbers on a pad with a general description of what is in the box.  Use a different starting number for each room.  Like 801 through 804 is clothing from Master Bedroom and 1501 through 1505 is from the kitchen.  On the box itself mark the number on all four sides and the top.  If it is going to storage someplace other than your new home, on the top of the box write down very specifically what is in it.  

Have your pet boarded or staying with friends/family the night prior to and the day of the move – none of us want pets lost or hurt during a move.

Special box with items you’ll need for immediate use like 1 set bed linens, bath items, coffee supplies, 1-2 place settings of silverware/dishes, clock, Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towel and hand soap, change of clothing, a few basic tools like a couple of screwdrivers, hammer and don’t forget the box cutter, marking pens and tape to open and reseal boxes upon arrival. 

Pack valuables like jewelry, important papers, medicines, etc. and store/lock in car prior to movers arriving on move day.  You might also want to lock your purse in the car trunk too.  Nothing like going through 19 boxes looking for your purse that got packed by mistake.

For family heirlooms, if you are giving them in the future consider giving them now.  Ask the person (s) if they would like them.  If they say no, don’t be surprised or chagrined; just give them to someone else.  The younger generations right now are thinking very lean in their possessions.  This includes family pictures, baby books, and memorabilia.  If your 47-year old son doesn’t want his baby book now, he never will. 

What do I do with the stuff I can’t move with me? Some options are:

Sell it through Furniture & Clothing Consignment Stores

Sell them on the Internet – E-Bay (or EBay Specialist)/Craig’s List – Be careful of cashiers check scam where they give you a check for more than the item is worth and ask for change in cash.

Estate Sales – In San Diego County – Estate Sales Professionals - Amy Thill at  (760) 473-2965.

Charitable Donations – Goodwill will now only take items in good condition (no longer rehabs them). Salvation Army & others will pickup at your home. AmVets. Also local military bases.

Any donation reported to the IRS for over $500 requires an appraisal from a licensed appraiser in the field.

Library Donations – Call first because they may not take all books and magazines (like National Geographic magazines.)  They may also take Videos and DVDs.  Your local community may have other Charitable Organizations that run Thrift Shops like the Humane Society and local Churches and Hospice. 

We recommend taking digital pictures of items donated as a record for the IRS if audited.

Garage Sales – Check with HOA, some communities don’t allow garage or estate sales.

Auctions – check for Yellow Pages under Auctions or look under  


DEBORAH MOYER    760-448-6969