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Downsizing Purge: 10 Places to Get Started

Downsizing Purge: Things You Don't Need
It's funny how life is sometimes. Many of us spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff, and the second half trying to get rid of it all. Whether you’re downsizing to a smaller home, condo or apartment, when it comes time to paring down a lifetime’s worth of belongings, at some point during the process most people experience a feeling of being overwhelmed.
 
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After all, you bought all that stuff in your home for a reason, right? 

If you want to avoid that overwhelmed feeling as much as possible, it's important to have a plan. One of the biggest suggestion we can make is not to rush the process and start early. Take the time you need to make the right decisions so you don’t end up with “downsizer’s remorse” and find yourself back at the store…shopping for the same stuff you just got rid of!

There are some things, however, that can definitely go. Get rid of them, and you’ll start to feel better right away. 

Here, then, are 10 easy things you can consider getting rid of to get you started:

1. Books
If your household is like most, you have shelves and shelves of books. From old favourites to a bestseller given as a gift three birthdays ago, we tend to hold on to our books. When is the last time you culled your books? It’s likely well past time. You don't need to get rid of them all, but donating, selling, or giving away the ones you know you're unlikely to ever read again can make a big difference in your space. 

Need help getting rid of your books? 

2. Single-use appliances
Deep in the recesses of your kitchen cupboards and squirrelled away in other out-of-the-way storage areas, lurk single-use appliances. No doubt some were bought when feeling virtuous (that would be the juicer for the juice fast); others may even have been wedding gifts.

If you don’t use them, it’s time to finally get rid of the waffle iron, the rice maker, the deep fryer, the ice cream maker, the bread maker…you get the idea. The last time I moved, I realized I had two slow cookers, neither of which had been used in years. If you're not using your appliances at least a few times a year, you can probably easily live without them.

Downsizing Purge: Things You Don't Need Old Furniture

3. Furniture
Unless you’ve been careful, you likely have at least a few pieces of furniture that hardly ever get used. Whether it be an old dresser or a chair you’ve stuck in a room because you don’t know where else to put it, these items take up valuable space. Take stock of what you have and think about what you actually use. Donate, sell, or give away that unused (or under-used) furniture to someone who really needs it and will  make use of it. You'll feel so much better. 

4. Clothes
We all know the rule: if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. In reality, however, very few of us do that. It’s time to get ruthless. If you don’t wear it, donate it. Two winter coats? You only need one. That old favourite cardigan with the missing button? If you haven’t sewn the button on yet, you’re not going to. Get rid of it. Once it’s gone, you won’t miss it.

7 questions to ask when cleaning out your closet

5. Outdated electronics 
Most of us have a drawer or a shelf in the basement or garage where old electronics get put to pasture. Old or broken cell phones, chargers, printers, televisions, and many, many cables. You know where you’ve stashed them. Go now and take them to your local electronics recycling depot and be rid of them forever. 

Downsizing Purge: Things You Don't Need Tools And Old Paint

6. Tools and old paint
Once you start digging into the recesses of your shed, garage, or basement, you’re likely to find many items you no longer need. You’ll also likely find duplicates of many tools, dead batteries, and old paint.

Make sure to keep one well-stocked toolbox, but get rid of the rest. Most of us have friends, family or neighbours who can lend us a tool we need if we've given it away. And if not, you can almost always rent them from your local hardware store. 

As for the old paint and batteries…there’s a reason they are still there. This requires a special trip to your nearest Enviro Depot. Just do it—and feel the sweet relief. 

7. Photos, memorabilia and collectibles
Be honest. When was the last time you looked at a photo album? Maybe you want to keep your wedding or baby albums but digitize whatever else you can. If they're on your computer, phone or tablet, you might even find you look at them more often. Plus, they'll be easier to share with friends and family through email or on social media. And while you’re at it, take a photo of those old trophies, and then kiss the dust collectors good-bye. 

Get digital copies of your photos 

8. Old media
Records, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes (and maybe even cassette tapes or 8 tracks!) are likely taking up valuable storage space in your home. Old media can be converted to digital. If they’re not worth the effort of digitizing, just get rid of them.   

Downsizing Purge: Things You Don't Need Old Sports Gear And Exercise Equipment

9. Sports gear and exercise equipment
When was the last time you played racquetball? Or used the treadmill in the basement for anything other than drying wet clothes? Unless you are actively and regularly using this kind of gear, donate or sell the rest. The cost of a gym membership is well worth the price of having less clutter in your house - especially if you aren't really using it.

10. Duplicates
This catch-all category is often overlooked but if you take a walk through your house, you’ll start finding many duplicates. In addition to the tools, mentioned above, there’s also luggage, kitchenware, hair dryers, teapots, and coffee makers. Keeping just one of these items will really lighten your load, and make your local thrift store very happy! 

Obviously it's not always easy to get rid of stuff. Even when you know it makes no practical sense to keep specific items, it can be emotionally draining to even think of parting with it. 

This is why time is the most important part of your downsizing plan. Saying goodbye to something you have an emotional attachment to sometimes requires a little bit of deliberation so that when you're ready to let it go, it's on your terms.

Most people who finally let go of their stuff feel a tremendous sense of relief and freedom. So start with the easy stuff and work your way up to some of the more emotional things you know it's time to part with. Good luck and enjoy the benefits of downsizing!

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November 14, 2018