I’ve often asked seniors, and soon to become retiree friends to think about what it would be like to live life in reverse. What would you do differently if you could? Not surprisingly many say they wouldn’t put the same importance to the material stuff and would take much more time to travel and enjoy life’s experiences when young enough and physically fit enough to participate fully.
They would choose a more simple life over being bogged down with owning so much stuff. We know that the ideal retirement dream for many seniors is to have more time in the sun, on the beach, golf and travel. Really this is what many people want at any age but retirement is usually the only time when people can take the time if they are financially able to make this a reality.
The truth is that most of us get caught up with the need to own stuff only to realize when we are older that often this very stuff we worked so hard to acquire helps to keep us stuck and financially strapped rather than having the money available to fulfill our retirement plans. Think of how hard we had to work to get the money to buy all the stuff in the first place. And if that’s not enough how many of us have had to get a bigger place to hold all this stuff? What if we had saved more and wasted less!
If you had been able to resist the temptation of all that stuff and made better choices how could your life have been different? Some people learned the lesson much sooner and didn’t have to wait to retire to get their turn of some real R and R and a simple uncluttered life. Those already living a simple life are often the ones that do not seem to have a lot and this is by choice. Maybe they are smarter than the rest of us and figured out the value of the simple life and the freedom that it offers. They didn’t have to wait until they were older and wiser to figure it out. Many of them are living the lifestyle that so many of us see as a reward for having worked all year for, a week or maybe two to spend experiencing a life that makes us feel good. They are probably not doing it as luxuriously as a week’s vacation but they are living it 24/7.
Maybe it’s time to get rid of all that excess baggage and jump on the simple life band wagon. Really, how much stuff do you actually need?
There is a glut of stuff around. Just look at how packed many of the stores are, plus there are many people that have been forced to get rid of most of their belongings because they have sadly lost their homes and had nowhere to keep things. Many of these individuals got caught up in the having to have, putting them into more debt that they couldn’t get out of.
Now you’ve got all this stuff how do you get rid of it?
To start you need to take inventory. Make 4 lists –
- List #1 – Things that you really need and want to keep.
- List #2 Things that you know you do not want or need.
- List #3 Items of value that are worth selling or you want to give to other family members
- List #4 Items with very little or no value to you.
How many sets of bedding and towels have you accumulated over the time that you don’t need or use? How many tools have been collected that are never going to be needed? Kitchen gadgets take up a lot of space and many of them are never used. Pictures, vases, electronics and surplus furniture could be turned into cash. Unless you are pretty sure of their value be sure to have valuables appraised before you try to sell them.
Have a Garage Sale- Most people find that a garage sale will bring very little for your stuff people expect to barter and pay as little as possible but you can lighten your load a bit and even a little here and there can add up. Maybe get some neighbours to join you and have a neighbourhood garage sale. This is where you probably try to get rid of the items from list #4, items that don’t have a lot of value to you but some people may want. There are usually certain things that you will have to give away.
Try an Auction – For more valuable items you are ready to part with going to auction is something to consider. If you’ve made some good investments buying more valuable items the sale of these can help build your retirement fund which is better than leaving them in an attic, garage or storage area.
Public Sale – You can also have a public sale in your home if you have a lot of valuables where you open your house to the public. Be careful who you let into your home have extra help to keep an eye on things.
Advertizing – You can advertise in the newspaper, buy and sell or on websites like Craigslist but do be careful of unscrupulous opportunists, especially when advertising jewellery and electronics.
It is not wise to wait until you are forced to move and have to downsize. Several years ago I had to move due to a sudden family situation. I had to down size really fast putting most of my stuff into storage for a while. I ended up giving so much stuff away which if I’d had more time I would have probably been able to sell. I gave away 10 boxes of very expensive books, appliances, and so much more. They had to go and fast and I didn’t want to take extra storage. The cost of storage is expensive especially for things that you forgot you had or will never use. Make your retirement simple and save yourself a big headache and start downsizing. Find freedom living a simple life.