To Save or Not to Save

Laurie WallCleaning and Organization

Maybe your kids have left the nest. Maybe you want to simplify. Maybe you just need a change. Whatever your reason, a lot of people are downsizing their homes for smaller digs. One of the toughest parts of downsizing is deciding what to get rid of. You have probably acquired quite a bit of “stuff” over the course of your life. It will be difficult to give things up. In some cases, however, it can be even more difficult to decide what to keep. To help you out, here are some things to consider packing when downsizing.

What Not to Pack

If you are packing when downsizing, then you should be putting everything into one of three piles: keep, sell and toss. The trick to this system is making sure that the “keep” pile is not the largest one. You will definitely come across things that will have you saying, “But I can use that.” Yes, it will probably be something that you could use, but let’s be honest: will you? A good rule of thumb – if you haven’t used it for at least a year, then get rid of it. Also, if you have multiple items that can perform the same function, the chances are good that you don’t need all of them. Here are some things you should get rid of.

  • Clothing- You know that you have clothing you never wear. In fact – if you collect all of the clothing you never wear, you could probably fill a hamper. If it is outdated, does not fit, is stained or in need of repair, you just don’t like it or haven’t worn it in a long time – get rid of it.
  • Books- Books have a way of migrating into your life even if you are not much of a reader. But if you are a reader, you probably have quite a collection. As difficult as it may be, let some of your books go. The great news is, with modern technology, you can keep an entire library on a small, hand-held device.
  • Kitchen Gadgets- Not every job requires its own gadget. Do you really need a popcorn popper or can you pop your corn in the microwave? How many paring knives do you need? If you are packing for downsizing, these questions are worth asking.              
  • Decorative Items- Think about it: if you keep them around, you have to dust them. They will likely lose their luster after a period of ownership and they are just one more thing to get aggravated over should it break. 
  • Old Keepsakes- Your third-grade spelling test probably holds no strong sentimental value for you. The truth is, no one else wants it either. Get rid of it, along with pamphlets from long-gone vacations, concert ticket stubs and reminders of old relationships.

Things You Should Keep

In all of the packing when downsizing madness, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment. Slow down and make sure that you aren’t throwing away anything that is actually important or that you may need later. Here are some things to be on the lookout for.

  • Family Heirlooms- An heirloom is a useful item that gets passed down from one generation to the next. If it has lasted long enough, it may be passed on for purely sentimental reasons once the item has outlived its usefulness. Keep your great-grandfather’s pocket watch. You will be glad you did.   
  • Photographs- Photographs tell your story. They are not something you can easily part with. And thanks to digitization, the space it takes to keep photographs has gotten much smaller.
  • Important Papers- This includes pay stubs, receipts for large items, insurance policies, birth certificates and anything else of equal significance. If it is important enough to be kept in a safe or fire proof box, you should probably continue to keep it.   
  • Basic Kitchen Items- Yes, there are gadgets you should get rid of, but there are things you should also keep. A good frying pan and sauce pot are essential. You should have a decent knife for chopping vegetables and a good spoon for mixing. The basic idea is to consider what you really need and keep it to a minimum.    
  • Sentimental Items- Like we said above, you should get rid of your third-grade spelling test, but your child’s christening gown is worth keeping.

If you are packing when downsizing or preparing for your move to smaller quarters, you are likely to experience a range of emotions. Your emotional state might make it difficult to determine what is worth keeping and what is not. Use this guide to help you get started.

Organize for Your Move

You've sifted through what to save; now it's time to organize for your move. Get started with the packing process by using our moving organization checklist.