Clearing Clutter and Downsizing Tips: 8 Things to Cull As You Go

Cluttered KitchenClearing Clutter and Downsizing Tips

If you’re like most of us, clearing out clutter and downsizing your own home—or your older parents’ home—isn’t a task you’re looking forward to. In a world with self-storage facilities available in nearly every neighborhood, it’s tempting just to store the overflow in a unit and forget about it. Don’t do it! It will only make matters worse down the line.

The most important thing you can do is to START. From there, depending on your timeframe, take the task one bite at a time. Doing too much at once can quickly make you lose your resolve.

What to cull as you go:

  • 1. Clothing. If you haven’t worn something for years, it’s time to go.
  • 2. Exercise equipment. How many late night infomercials have persuaded you to purchase unused exercise equipment?
  • 3. Kitchen gadgets and appliances. Keep only what you actually use.
  • 4. Memorabilia from childhood. This is a tough one for many of us who fondly recall memories from these items, but if you aren’t displaying your memorabilia, it’s collecting dust. Taking photos of beloved items before tossing, selling, or donating can help make parting with them more bearable.
  • 5. Media. 8-tracks, cassettes, VCR recordings, floppy disks, vinyl records, etc. all take up unnecessary space.
  • 6. Furniture. As years go by, furniture can accumulate, overcrowding the home.
  • 7. Holiday decorations. Similar to childhood memorabilia, decorations can hold sentimental value. Take photos of items you haven’t displayed in several years before you say good-bye.
  • 8. Paper. It’s amazing how our piles of paper can be so psychologically overwhelming—mail, receipts, magazines, bills, pay stubs, statements, etc. See below for a guide of what to keep and what can go.

What to do with PAPER:

Keep a year or less:

  • Current year tax records
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank records
  • Receipts
  • Credit card bills
  • Insurance policies that renew each year
  • Investment statements

Keep for a limited time:

  • Household furnishings paperwork
  • Confirmation of investment purchases
  • Loan documents
  • Savings bonds
  • Vehicle records

Hold for 7 years:

  • Federal and state tax records

Keep in a safe place:

  • Birth & death certificates
  • Marriage & divorce records
  • Social security card
  • Passport
  • Military discharge papers
  • Life insurance policies
  • Pension plan documents
  • Estate-related; wills, trusts, power of attorney

Can’t do it alone? Hire a professional organizer or a senior move manager for help.