How to Downsize, and Recover Cash!

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Why Downsize?

  1. You are paying for more space than you need: Mortgage, Repairs, Upgrades, Electricity, etc. can be unnecessarily costly.
  2. Cash: You would like to sell your belongings to free up cash for short-term expenses.
  3. Debt: Consider downsizing if you are not on track to pay off your total liabilities/debt/loans (real estate included) soon, especially if you’re not on track to pay them before retirement. Downsizing can make interest payments more manageable.
  4. You get lost in your huge house: You haven’t seen your spouse in days although you share the same address.

Downsizing Steps:

    1. Plan plenty of time to prepare for your downsize. Getting rid of unneeded items can be quite liberating. If you have to do it in a rush, however, it can be quite stressful.
    2. Find the highest value items in your home. These are the ones that have held the most real market value.
      1. This is important. Just because you think something is very nice, does not mean you can sell it for your perceived dollar value.
      2. The types of items that hold the most value are:
        1. Vehicles
        2. Jewelry
        3. Firearms
        4. Industrial Equipment
        5. Tools
        6. Electronics
        7. Rare Collector’s Items
        8. Rare Art
        9. Anything brand new in its original packaging is worth researching
      3. Of these types of items, make the conscious decision to let go of the ones you don’t need (covered in step 3). Label the ones you have decided to sell with painter’s tape or a sticky note marked “Sell”.
      4. To find the resale value: Search the brand and model number on eBay. Be sure to use the “sold” and “completed” filters, this is the price that the items will actually sell at. People can list an item at any price they want. For guns, search For cars, Kelly Blue Book. For everything else, try a google search, but if you can’t find your item, it’s possible that no one wants to buy it (donate/garbage). Once you find the price, be honest with yourself and realistic with your asking price.
      5. Because these may take a couple weeks to a couple months to sell for near full value, it is recommended to get these on the market ASAP. If you wait until you need to be out of your house in 4 days, you will take any price that will get it off your property.
      6. The best avenues to sell your high value items are:
        1. OfferUp for large items you’d rather someone pick up. This includes industrial equipment, for-fun vehicles, and large household equipment.
        2. EBay for shippable high value items. This includes jewelry, electronics, rare art, and collector’s items. Vehicles also sell well locally on eBay.
        3. Consignment stores for furniture, clothing, and unbranded/low value antiques/decorations. These are the type of items that people buy in person because they like how they look, not the type people search for on the internet.
        4. GunBroker or Armslist for firearms.
        5. Be sure to use enough relative keywords so that people will find your items online.
    3. Figure out which of the things you own that you actually need. A good rule to go by here is that if you haven’t used it in 3-6 months, you probably never will. (Besides seasonal items- but be reasonable with seasonal!). If you haven’t been in your storage unit for 3-6 months, it’s safe to assume EVERYTHING in your unit can be sold, donated, or thrown away.
      1. Clearly mark items by color coding with painter’s tape or sticky notes as you decide what you will “keep”, “sell”, “yard sale”  or “donate”.
      2. Some categories to think about that you can trim the most clutter from: furniture, clothes, decorations, exercise equipment, kitchen “gadgets”, an extra car, childhood trophies and keepsakes, books/magazines/DVDs, files, your china set for 24 people, and many other things that you will come across. The key here is to be honest with yourself about your needs.
        1. Furniture: Takes up a huge amount of space. If you are bringing some to your next home, plan out what you will take ahead of time. Measure the space and the furniture, it is easy to misjudge the size of a room. For the rest, call your local consignment store and ask if they will pick it up and sell it. Heads up: They will ask for photos and might not take all of it. Anything they won’t take, you can ask your local Goodwill to pick up for free. PRO TIP: You may want to keep some staging furniture at the house you are trying to sell.
        2. Clothes: Approach this with the goal that whoever gets rid of the most wins. Your donate pile should be MUCH, MUCH larger than what’s left in your closet. The only ideal options for selling clothes are at a consignment store or your yard sale. Some people are successful online, but clothing sells very very very slowly, imagine 1%-3% of your collection selling each month.
        3. Decorations: Decorating for holidays can be a ton of fun. Be realistic and exercise moderation :D
        4. Exercise equipment: Be realistic about what you actually use. If you haven’t touched your stationary bike in months, remember that there are ways to work out for free. Outdoor walks and runs combined with at-home bodyweight workouts will do you well if you get another spur of motivation.
        5. Kitchen “Gadgets”: Are you also guilty of impulse buying neat kitchen gadgets at home shows? If your gadget created that one perfect dish once and hasn’t been touched since, time to get rid of it.
        6. Car: Maybe you don’t need the extra anymore now that the kids are out of the house.
        7. Childhood Keepsakes: Keep your state championship ring, toss your participation trophies.You may forget about them and accidentally pay to store them for the next 30 years. (We see it often)
        8. Books/Magazines/DVDs: These have terrible to no resale value. If you’re feeling ambitious, some books, in good condition, can be sold using the “Amazon Seller” app and sent to Amazon for fulfillment.
        9. Files: This is a good opportunity to shred old files.
        10. China: There ARE some china sets that are really quite valuable. Look yours up on eBay using the method described in Step 2. If your sets do not have much value, a garage sale first followed then by donation may be best. Note: Retail or replacement websites are not an accurate representation of what you’ll get for them, or anything on this list for that matter. Their real value was your years of enjoyment.
    4. Get the “sell/discard” items out of the equation so you can focus on your new home.
      1. If you have been color coding as you go through your belongings, it will be easy to move everything you don’t want out into the garage to prepare for sale, yard sale, donation, or disposal.
      2. If you would like to have a yard sale, this is a good way to recover some cash from the nick-nacks and clothing. Everything that isn’t included in the “high-value” sale items in Step 2 should either be consigned, sold at yard sale, donated, recycled or thrown away.
      3. Advertise for your yard sale on craigslist. There are plenty of great resources on how to have a yard sale that can be found by Googling “How to have a yard sale”.
  • Once you have all of your “sell/discard” items out of the equation, you can start packing up the things you actually want to keep.
        1. Buy many different sizes of boxes- Walmart has them very cheap.
        2. Pack like items in the same box.
        3. Label boxes as you fill them, still taking care to keep them separate from the items you are not keeping.
  • Begin moving your largest furniture to your next home.
        1. It is recommended to do your move over a period of time so that you can make adjustments if you run out of space.
        2. Move the large furniture, then the small furniture, and then finally the boxed small items.
        3. Ideally, you should find a spot for everything as you move in, and stop moving when you run out of spots. Having mountains of unorganized boxes and furniture is not a fun way to start your new “downsized lifestyle”.
  • Store or get rid of anything that doesn’t end up fitting
  • Prepare your old house for the new owner
        1. This could include having Goodwill come in to pick up the last remaining items (furniture or boxed small items)
        2. You may want to have the empty house professionally cleaned for a good presentation.
  • Enjoy your new home and newfound clutter-free peace of mind

  • We hope you got some great info out of this article!

    -Tyler Braun,


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