Downsizing is always a difficult task, but when you know a move is coming, it’s best to get started ASAP. Photo by by Simson Petrol, StockSnap

Now is the perfect time to 'downsize'

By  Susan Borax
  • November 6, 2017
There is no time like the present to start thinking about downsizing. 

As the saying goes, you can’t take it with you — not even the small odds and ends you keep in your junk drawer, or the old camping gear in your storage closet, or the fine china you inherited as a wedding gift. 

A person can accumulate a lot of stuff in the course of a lifetime and if the person is not discerning of their material possessions, their loved ones will inherit the clutter left behind. 

Susan Borax, one half of the Practically Daughters downsizing duo based in Vancouver, said most of their clients don’t consider cutting back on possessions until retirement age, when they are looking to move from the family home to a smaller apartment. Her motto for her clients is: “Don’t wait too long.”

“There is no perfect time to do this,” said Borax. “Everybody does it in their own time frame ... and what we have to do is make our best decisions for the requirements that they need.”

Practically Daughters is a senior move managers service and a division of Good Riddance professional organizing solutions run by Borax and her business partner, Heather Knittel. 

They help seniors and their families make decisions in downsizing for their needs. In 2010, they published a book, Good Riddance: Showing Clutter the Door.

“People underestimate the amount of time (downsizing) is going to take,” she said. “We recommend that if people are considering doing downsizing, that they start as early as possible, maybe six months to a year in advance of a move.”

Borax said the biggest obstacle for seniors who want to downsize is attachment. After a lifetime of collecting memories and souvenirs, it’s hard to discern how to narrow down the essentials. 

Often, Borax said clients have collected old toys and furniture thinking that their children will be interested in inheriting these items. Household goods like silver, crystal and chinaware used to be hallmarks of a properly furnished home of the baby boomer generation. 

However, with rising trends of minimalism and mobile living among the younger generation, they are not as interested in inheriting these items from their parents and grandparents. 

Borax recommends getting family members involved. Not only is it an opportunity for bonding, but it also helps clients decide what items are important to the family and what heirlooms will be passed down. 

“We have relationships with local women’s shelters and other charities for second stage housing,” she said. “They understand that when they donate these things, the funding goes to the programs these organizations operate. Sometimes, this is a way to convince people to part with things.”

Borax said clients also tend to have multiple duplicates of different things, like books or tupperware. There are items that clients tend to stow away out of sight and out of mind, such as old paint, clothes that don’t fit and old VHS tapes. 

“Do this (downsizing) while you’re in good health,” she said. “Do this when you can make the decisions yourself or in conjunction with your family members. Try to be more proactive about it.”

Borax said they tend to work with clients more than two or three times, as they move into new homes or enter new life stages. They also help families with bereavement solutions.

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