Switch to previous version of Magzter


The Joy Of Decluttering

Don’t let these common but misguided notions derail your goal to declutter and lighten up.

Patricia Mertz Esswein

We spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff and the latter half trying to get rid of it, says Barry Izsak, a professional organizer in Austin, Texas. If you’re in the second phase, we’ll help you make the tough decisions about what to toss and offer suggestions on where to sell your stuff. Still too daunting? We also tell you when it’s time to call in the pros. But first, you need to get over these often-untrue truisms.

I just need to get organized.

That’s probably a good bet, but first you need to figure out what to toss. And many baby boomers face a special dilemma: After decades of accumulating their own possessions, they want to simplify their lives even as their parents are dying and leaving behind a tidal wave of stuff, says Julie Hall, director of the American Society of Estate Liquidators. At the same time, their millennial kids are leaving home and leaving behind many of their possessions. The solution? Dispose of as much as you can, then organize what’s left.

Think of the disposal process as “right-sizing” your stuff, meaning you should have the right amount of stuff at the right time in your life, says Izsak. He advises clients to keep only what they find useful or beautiful and to sell, donate or toss the rest.

The kids may need it someday.

“News flash! Your kids grew up with too much stuff and don’t want any of yours,” says Bonnie Kallenberg, owner of Finders Keepers Consignments, in suburban Atlanta. Millennials value mobility and experiences, not stuff. Tastes have changed from formal to informal, from traditional to contemporary and from cluttered to clean.

Mid-Century Modern furnishings and decor are hot, and “brown furniture” (traditional styles in dark stains or woods) and big, heavy pieces (china hutches and entertainment centers) are not. Many twenty- and thirtysomethings don’t like furniture upholstered in floral, plaid or paisley fabric. They don’t want to clutter their space with Hummel figurines or other tchotchkes. They tend to live and entertain informally and don’t want anything they can’t wash in the dishwasher, so they’ll probably take a pass on the crystal, china and silver.

Ask your children what they would like to have, accept their answers, and don’t pressure them into taking more than they want. As for another issue faced by many empty nesters—serving as Mom-and-Pop Storage Inc.—if you like, agree to store your adult children’s belongings until they get settled, but give them a deadline for pickup.

My cookie jar collection must be worth a fortune!

Continue Reading with Magzter GOLD


Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines


July 2017

Watch Out For The Elder Fraud Web
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
10 mins read
Squishy Science
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
2 mins read
Retirement Savings For The Self-Employed
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
4 mins read
How To Run For Local Office
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
9 mins read
Money Moves To Make Now!
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
10+ mins read
Long-Term-Care Claims: Avoid The Obstacles
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
8 mins read
5 Ways To Max Out Your Credit Card Rewards
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
9 mins read
Our Favorite Dividend Stocks
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
7 mins read
Should Shareholders Share The Wealth?
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
2 mins read
How To Get Rid Of A Timeshare
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
4 mins read
How To Get Your Backyard Back In Shape
Backyard & Garden Design Ideas
1 min read
Treasures Or Burdens Downsize Your Clutter
New Zealand Woman's Weekly
4 mins read
Spring Clean The Easy Way
New Idea
3 mins read
Un-Busy Yourself to De-Clutter and Organise
Woman's Era
3 mins read
Can Decluttering Really Change Your Life?
The Malaysian Women's Weekly
3 mins read
9 Ways To Detox Your Wardrobe
5 mins read