Meet Age-Defying People Doing Incredible Things — and Disrupting Aging. Share Your Story

 

Downsizing? Ditch These 12 Items

Here's what you should pitch so you can get organized and reclaim some space

  • The Big House

    En español | Consider making this decision as soon the kids are gone rather than when you're ready to retire. Even if your home is already paid for, there are still significant costs in owning more space than you really need, including taxes, utilities, insurance and repairs. Plus, it will force you to downsize other belongings, too. You'll also have an excuse for why the kids can't move back in with you later! — Istock

    1 of 13
  • Debt

    Over the course of a lifetime, the average American today will pay more than $600,000 in interest on all the money he or she borrows, according to CreditLoan.com. Pay off debt as quickly as possible. Definitely pay it off before you retire. Live by this old-school rule: If you can't afford to pay for it now, you simply can't afford it. — Istock

    2 of 13
  • Clothes

    If your wardrobe has outgrown your closet and dresser, start by purging enough pieces so that everything will fit. Get rid of unwanted clothing at yard sales or online, or by donating items to charity. — Shutterstock

    3 of 13
  • Anything in Off-Site Storage

    According to the Self Storage Association, there are about 50,000 self-storage facilities in the U.S. That's more than five times the number of Starbucks! Vow to eliminate storage fees by getting rid of enough stuff so that all your possessions fit in your own home. — Istock

    4 of 13
  • Exercise Equipment

    If the exercise bike or treadmill in your bedroom has morphed into a permanent clothes rack, donate it to a local thrift store or charity. — Joshua Dalsimer/Corbis

    5 of 13
  • Kitchen Appliances and Gadgets

    Ask yourself: "When was the last time I plugged that in?" If it's been more than six months since you've used the waffle iron or bread maker, it's probably time to find that appliance a new home. While you're in the kitchen, eliminate unused culinary gadgets and nonmatching tableware. — Shutterstock

    6 of 13
  • Car

    Besides downsizing your home and eliminating debt, getting rid of one — or all — of your vehicles could result in the greatest savings. According to AAA, it currently costs an average of $8,698 annually to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. if you factor in all the costs, including depreciation. If you're a two-car family, getting rid of one set of wheels might make sense once one or both partners are no longer working. You might be able to get by with public transportation or a car-share program, or at least downgrade to less-expensive vehicles. If you're planning to relocate in retirement, there are communities where owning a car may not be necessary. — ZUMA Press/Alamy

    7 of 13
  • Childhood Memorabilia

    If your kids or other family members don't want keepsakes from their own childhood (or yours) now, they're not going to want them when you're gone. Hold on to a few precious, symbolic mementos — those that truly spark memories and joy — and digitize images of the other things. — Getty Images

    8 of 13
  • Furniture

    Filling — and too often, overfilling — a room with furniture is a common tendency. Doing so makes the room seem smaller and gives you more places to store and display more stuff. Start by eliminating a couple of pieces from a room and see how much more spacious it feels. — Taylor S. Kennedy/Getty Images

    9 of 13
  • Books, Magazines, DVDs

    Unless a book has sentimental value or you're going to read it again, put it back into circulation via a yard sale or thrift store so that others can enjoy it. Or donate it to your library, where you can always get free access to books, CDs and DVDs. You can store countless e-books (many are available for free) on an e-reader that's smaller than a single print volume, and you can easily digitize your music and movie collections. — Istock

    10 of 13
  • Files

    Consumer Reports advises organizing your important files into four categories: "papers that you need to keep for the calendar year or less; ones that can be destroyed when you no longer own the items they cover; tax records, which you should save for seven years; and papers to keep indefinitely." You can access copies of many documents (e.g., bills, bank statements, user manuals, etc.) via online accounts. Consider storing digitized documents on a Web-based storage service or an external drive. — Istock

    11 of 13
  • Decorations

    While holiday decor has some sentimental value, consider getting rid of the decorations you haven't used in the past five years, particularly bulkier items such as outdoor decorations and holiday tableware you use just once a year. — Getty Images

    12 of 13
  • 13 of 13

 Video: How to Organize a Closet - Got an irrational fear of your closet? Summon up some courage, and let's get to work

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

AARP Membership

Discounts & Benefits

    Next Article

    Read This