In Part 3 of our downsizing discussion, we take a look at what remains after the trash and recycling has been taken out and the high-ticket items (furniture, art, collectibles) have been divided and conquered. What remains is usually clothing, kitchen supplies, sports equipment and memorabilia.
Clothing is fairly easy to downsize. Although clothing sometimes has sentimental value, if you are truly downsizing and have accepted that you are entering a new phase in life, those items shouldn’t be much of a problem. But if you expect to get some cash for your old clothing, you may be in for a rude awakening. Do your research with consignment shops and online consignment and spare yourself the hassle of dragging bags of clothes to a store or setting up an appointment with an online service only to be told that they don’t accept items over two seasons old or from certain designers.
If you don’t need the extra money, I encourage you to donate clothing. If you are no longer wearing suits (and very few people are these days, due to the casualization of the American workplace), if you can’t fit into something, if you’ve never liked the color, or any other reason you never reach for an item of clothing, let it go.
Most experts agree we regularly wear only 20 percent of the clothing we own. Most of the downsizing women I know could get by with T-shirts, yoga pants, one or two party outfits, something black for a funeral and two pair of jeans. Of course, it’s fun to have more, but identify the basics needed first, add a few things you love for special occasions, and then pick and choose from the rest based on the size of the closet you are downsizing into.
The kitchen is another area that is not (usually) sentimental. Get rid of duplicate items. If you are moving into a situation that includes prepared meals, as in a community or assisted-living space, you may need very few kitchen items indeed. An eight-inch chef’s knife, a medium-sized cast iron skillet, a wooden spoon, a spatula and a sauce pan might be all you need. A corkscrew, a small colander and a can opener might also come along, as might a set of measuring cups and spoons.
If cooking or baking is your passion, then by all means, bring more from the kitchen category and less from the clothing or sports category. In smaller homes, closets might need to serve double duty to house hobby supplies, so be mindful of where any surplus will be stored. My overflow kitchen items have a designated cupboard in the laundry room.
There is not much of a market for used kitchenware and virtually none for small appliances. If you think you have something of value, look it up online. Some old cast iron can be quite valuable, for example. But when you move, most should simply be donated, if in good condition, or thrown away if burned, stained, missing parts or melted. It’s amazing that we sometimes live with half-melted spatulas and charred wooden spoons, but we do and get along quite well with them. Trouble is, no one else is going to find them charming.
If you are downsizing due to age, and have come to terms with the reality that aging brings, sports equipment might be easy to let go. Somethings, like snow skis and scuba gear, might be easier to part with than fishing poles or golf clubs. But as always, if you are still able to enjoy something, hold on to the equipment you truly use and need. Otherwise, look online for potential markets for used sporting goods shops, have a garage sale, or donate old sports gear to a charity.
Next: Downsizing. part 4: Memorabilia, the final frontier