Tips for Downsizing Before a Move

Are you getting ready to move to a new home? Then chances are that you have mixed feelings about packing up all of your possessions. On one hand, it can be a lot of fun to go through your closet and find things that have good memories associated with them. Yet on the other hand, there are also items you really don’t need or even want anymore — so why should you bring them with you to your new home?

That’s why moving is the perfect opportunity to get rid of things you never use. But when it comes to downsizing, where do you start?

Move at Your Own Pace

Moving is stressful enough — so don’t make it even more so by convincing yourself that you have to sort through all of your possessions in a weekend. Unless you’re in a real hurry, it’s best to approach the process one closet or one room at a time. You don’t want to throw something away because you were rushing — and then later regret it.
In other words, give yourself plenty of time. While you sort through everything, you’ll find items that remind you of people, events and places, such as your children’s first toys or old photo albums that belonged to your parents. Although this can be fun, it can also be emotionally draining, so build in plenty of breaks for yourself.

Sort the Smart Way

When it comes to sorting, it’s wise to make four piles:

  1.  Possessions you want to keep: This pile is for everything you want to take with you to your new home. Think of clothes you regularly wear, items you use and things with emotional value. As a rule of thumb: When in doubt, keep it. In addition, in preparation for moving day, it’s wise to pack as much as possible while you’re sorting. Just remember to keep boxes light enough so they can be easily lifted!
  2. Stuff you want to throw away: Discard things you don’t want anymore and/or that won’t be of any use to anyone else, such as broken items. Make sure to dispose of them properly — for example, if you have an old, broken cell phone you want to throw away, you can find a drop-off location at Similarly, if you have old clothes that need to be thrown away, find out if your municipality organizes recycling events or has a pick-up program for textiles.
  3. Items you want to give away: Sometimes, you come across something that’s not right for you anymore — but could be perfect for a sibling, friend or neighbor. Always ask first to find out if it’s something he or she would be interested in. If so, make sure it’s clean and in good working order before you give it away.
  4. Things you can donate: Donating things to charity is a great way to help others. Always read the charity’s guidelines on donations first so you know what they’re looking for. In general, items must be clean and in good repair. And don’t forget that you may be able to deduct the value of some items from your tax return. The Salvation Army’s Family Stores provides a handy Donation Value Guide with average values of items. For example, a relatively new washing machine could be valued at as much as $150, while an old sleeper sofa could be worth $85. If you have any questions about how claiming donated items as a tax deduction works, ask your tax preparer.

One Step Closer to Moving Day

If you keep these tips for downsizing in mind, you’ll soon see the effects of your hard work. And with fewer possessions to bring with you, moving just became easier, faster — and even more affordable!

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