Good ways to pare down your possessions
Dear Savvy Senior,
What tips can you offer for downsizing? I would like to relocate but need to get rid of a lot of personal possessions before we can move.
— Overwhelmed Willa
The process of weeding through a house full of stuff and parting with old possessions is difficult and overwhelming for most people. A good place to start is to see if your kids, grandkids or other family members would like any of your unused possessions. Whatever they don’t want, here are a few tips and services that may help you downsize.
Sell it all
Selling your stuff is one way to get rid of your possessions and pad your pocketbook at the same time.
Consignment shops are good for selling old clothing, household furnishings and decorative items — they typically keep 30% to 40% of the sale price.
A good old-fashioned garage sale is another option, or for large-scale downsizing you could hire an estate sale company to come in and sell your items. See EstateSales.net and EstateSales.org to locate options in your area.
Selling online is also a great option and opens you up to a wider audience. OfferUp (OfferUp.com), Facebook Marketplace (Facebook.com/marketplace), Craigslist (Craigslist.org) and the CPlus for Craigslist app (Yanflex.com) are great options for selling locally, which can eliminate the packing and shipping costs and hassle.
If you itemize on your tax returns, donating your belongings to charitable organizations is another way to downsize and get a tax deduction. The Salvation Army (SAtruck.org, 1-800-728-7825) will actually come to your house and pick up a variety of household items, including furnishings and clothing. Goodwill (Goodwill.org) is another good option to donate to, but they don’t offer pickup services.
If your deductions exceed $500, you’ll need to file Form 8283, “Noncash Charitable Contributions.” You’ll also need a receipt from the organization for every batch of items you donate and will need to create an itemized list of the items donated.
If you have a lot of junk you want to get rid of, contact your municipal trash service to see if they provide bulk curbside pickup services. Or, depending on where you live, you could hire a company like 1-800-Got-Junk (1800gotjunk.com, 1-800-468-5865) or Junk-King (Junk-King.com, 1-888-888-5865) to come in and haul it off for a moderate fee.
Another disposal option is Bagster (TheBagster.com, 1-877-789-2247) by Waste Management. This is a trash bag that you purchase for around $30, fill it to a limit of 3,300 pounds and schedule a pickup, which costs anywhere between $100 and $300, depending on your area.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.