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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The "How To Downsize" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading an online version of AARP Magazine that lists 12 items that I need to ditch if I plan to downsize.  Carol and I have been talking about just that thing for over a year now.  Yesterday in the mail was an invitation to dinner in Lititz, Pennsylvania at the Moravian Manor downtown office.  A little over a year ago Carol and I visited the office to talk with someone about the new campus that they are beginning to develop.  I went to a dinner one day to hear their spiel, but Carol couldn't make the meal and presentation because she was needed at work.  Well, the same dinner/talk is being offered once again and …. hey, it's a free meal!  Years ago we often joked that we could avoid buying groceries for weeks at a time if we went to all the open houses and presentations that were offered in the mail from retirement homes and retirement planners.  But, to go along with the joking can the thoughts of what to do with all the "stuff" we have.  Just how do we downsize.  Recently I wrote about the boxes and boxes of old magazines I placed by the curb for the recycle company.  That happened to be one of the items that was in the AARP article I viewed this morning.  A few other ideas they gave to "senior citizens" was:

  • Consider getting rid of the big house and moving into a smaller one.  Would save money for taxes, utilities, insurance and repairs as well as less hassle mowing and shoveling snow for a smaller property.
  • Pay off your debt as soon as you can.  Do you owe thousands on credit cards?  So you still have a mortgage?  The last question is one that I'm not sure of, since our financial advisor suggests not to be in a hurry to pay off a mortgage.  If the rate of interest is low enough on a mortgage, it may be best to take any extra money you may want to put towards and extra mortgage payment and invest it another fund where you will gain more interest than the mortgage interest may be.
  • How about getting rid of some clothes.  
    Hats I'll never wear again.
    We have two large cedar chests that I had made years ago when I taught in the high school woodshop.  They are filled with clothes!  Not my clothes, but with someone else's clothes!  And, how about the boxes of clothes that are in our cedar closet.  Stuff that has been out of style or will never be worn again line the racks in the closet.  Great way to downsize!
  • In the garage is shelf after shelf of old small kitchen appliances.  We have a really neat bread maker that we haven't used in 20 years.  We have two crystal punch bowls that we haven't used since we moved into our "Beach House" and had an open house.  May be time to pass these items on to our next of kin or try and sell at a garage sale.
  • And then the stuff in the coat closet that hasn't seen the outdoors in years.  Scarves, gloves, jackets that were at one time in style and now occupy a hanger in the closet.  More stuff for the garage sale.
  • A few years ago I actually did what the article suggests and got rid of some of the memories of the past.  
    Books I never use again.
    For years Carol and I owned a bright red Corvette.  Every weekend in the summer my youngest son, Tad, and I would enter a car show somewhere in the area.  Every week they would give everyone a small trophy for entering the car show.  They really accumulate!  Plus the shows where we would place 1st, 2nd or 3rd would give out larger trophies.  Some were floor models.  I did keep one large one, but the rest I donated to Good Will who recycle them.
  • Then there is the old furniture that still is usable or the exercise equipment that sits in the basement waiting to be used.  The furniture is tough to get rid of, but I did advertise in the newspaper in the "Free Stuff" section and we did get rid of a few rusting exercise pieces.
  • And, what about the Christmas decorations that haven't been used for years and years.  Well, they tend to be placed back in plastic tubs for future use.  Some things are just hard to discard.  We did move our decorations from an upstairs closet to the basement this year to make it easier to reach when we downsize.
  • Once a year I go through my office and try to reason with myself that I'll never use that again or that hasn't worked for years, so why save it.  
    Bottles that at one time held rum,
    but now hold sand.
    All depends on what kind of day I am having as to whether I throw stuff out or not.  I have an entire drawer full of old camera lenses that are just too hard to get rid of.  And all those old books that tell a Dummy how to use this or that.  I just may use them one day since I will still will be a dummy in the future.  The dictionary, or I should say dictionaries, haven't been opened in years since it is easier to Google a word.  But, the old flowers and mementos from events in the past fill some of the spaces in the books and I certainly want to keep them.  Why?  I don't know!  And all those Ma DouDou Rhum bottles filled with sand from beaches in my past travels.  Hey, they are pretty neat and someone else will have to downsize them in the future, since I don't think I can throw them out.  Oh yeah, there sits my harmonica that I bought years ago, planning to learn how to play so I could accompany Jimmy Buffett on my CDs.  Too tough to downsize that!
  • But, there was one final item that AARP suggested downsizing, and that was the family car or cars.  Does your family really need two or three cars?  Do you and whomever lives in your house with you both work?  Why do you need both, or in some cases, all those cars and trucks?  They cost for insurance, in some case state inspections, registration, and maintenance.  And that stuff isn't cheap in most states or countries.  Maybe time to narrow it down to just one vehicle.  I thought of that when my car died recently.  I decided on a short term lease with a real small payment.  Would make it easier at the end of the least to maybe downsize at that time.  
If you are a senior citizen, such as me, have you found any ideas at all from my story today.  You know, you will have to do something at some point in your life.  The best way to not have to downsize later in life is to get rid of the stuff that you would put in a closet or store in a chest immediately.  When you put something in a drawer thinking you may want to use that in the future, toss it instead. I can tell you that you will never use it again!  I know from experience.  Boxes, cabinets, drawers, etc. of ordinary stuff fill my house.  Time to discard it!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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