Whether you are ‘aging in place’ or downsizing to a smaller home, sooner or later we all have to divest ourselves of belongings – some precious, some expensive and some inconsequential. “But what do I do with the stuff?” is the question I often hear as a Professional Organizer. A second question is “What can I do with possessions that have strong sentimental value but just don’t fit my new space?” With that in mind, here are some simple ways to help you keep the memories but let go of the stuff.
1. Taming the Paper Tiger
You can digitally preserve photographs, documents and old paperwork by scanning and burning them to a DVD and copying to an external hard drive or to cloud storage. This will protect them from further aging, fire or water damage. Special emails and photos should be printed out and saved as a backup. Shred documents if you are recycling. Alternately, you can hire a company to scan in all your photographs, copy videos etc. and burn them to a DVD. As well you can download your family photographs to FamilySearch.org (at no charge) and link them to your Family Tree. They will be preserved forever and available for family and friends to view anytime. Donate books to local schools or libraries.
2. Meaningful Giving
Giving that prized piece of precious jewelry or coveted designer chair to your granddaughter or grandson while you’re around to see them enjoying it is especially sweet. Ask your loved ones if there is anything in particular that they would appreciate having. You may be pleasantly surprised. However, it is best not to assume what somebody would like to have, because of course everyone’s taste is different.
One of the main reasons that people hold on to out-moded possessions is because it brings back precious memories. An excellent way to keep the memories and include all the family is to record a tour of your home or hire a videographer. Family members can tell stories about different items or rooms as they tour the house. This is something that will last!
Or, why not give to an organization that you admire? There are so many to choose from such as: The Furniture Bank which transfers your gently used furniture donation to people transitioning out of homelessness. They also pickup and offer a tax receipt. Habitat for Humanity: ReStores are building supply stores that accept and resell quality new and used building materials; Dress for Success - donate your gently-used, nearly-new professional attire that’s part of a programme enabling disadvantaged woman to secure meaningful employment; Not Just Tourists - donate full-sized suitcases which are used to carry humanitarian medical supplies.
3. Selling the Contents
To sell the contents of your home, an on-site estate sale will probably yield the most money. Before holding an estate sale, you may need to hire an appraiser. For about $500 an appraiser will give you a report of the value of the contents of your home and point out the particularly valuable items. If you have the time and energy you can manage the estate sale yourself or hire a company like Transition Squad Estate Sales & Online Auction which offers a fast, stress-free way to clear out the contents of your home.
If the value of your items is under $3000 you could consider consignment stores. Consignment stores usually specialize. For example, Singing Lady takes furnishings and home accessories but only in excellent shape. Some other furniture consignment stores are The Millionaire’s Daughter, A Changing Nest, and Around the Block. Some notable clothing consignment stores include the Extoggery, Common Sort, The Cat’s Meow and Designer Exchange to name but a few. Regarding consignment stores, searching on Google will yield plenty of results to consider.
4. Controlling the Keepsakes
If you have collections to disperse or sell, consider transforming part of the collection into hangable art. Using shadow boxes, you can display visually appealing small collectibles like sports or military medals, costume jewelry or silver thimbles making it into a beautiful keepsake. You can even have a t-shirt collection made into a quilt. Old furniture can be made new with a coat of paint. Pinterest has wonderful ideas for updating furniture and memorializing collections, people and events.
A trained professional organizer, Cathy Borg is an active member of the Toronto Chapter of the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). Working in the Greater Toronto area and Southern Ontario, Cathy specializes in home organization and move coordination. To find Cathy, visit InandOutOrganizing.ca, or to find an organizer near you visit Professional Organizers in Canada.