A Guide to Downsizing
What to Keep, Gift, Donate, and Throw Out
Many homeowners reach a point in their lives when they’re ready to move from the house they raised their families in to something smaller and more manageable.
others. These items can be donated to one of many worthy organizations, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or St. Vincent de Paul. Donations are a way to give back to the less fortunate instead of simply giving or throwing things away. Give Gifts to Loved Ones If you have children, they will undoubtedly want to keep a few cherished mementos and precious possessions. Deciding who will keep what can be a sensitive subject, so you’ll need to devise an equitable way to divvy up the goods. Some families engage in the process collaboratively, but there should always be some communication before anything is thrown out. Your kids may value certain items more than you ever realized. If you suspect a certain heirloom could be a source of contention, it’s best to hold on to it and make it part of your estate plan. Only Keep the Essentials After completing the first three steps, you should be left with only those items you actually use and those that have the most sentimental value to you. These are the objects worth bringing to your new home. you’re the type of person who regularly meets and exceeds your budgeting goals, you can probably make it work. If not, you may want to consider a plan that allocates more money with each passing year of retirement. In the event of increased medical costs or other later-life expenses, an escalating plan provides a financial safety net. What to Spend On Some of your spending choices will come down to personal preference and interests, but you might be surprised to learn that one category of spending consistently proves more fulfilling than others. Professor Michael Finke of The American College surveyed nearly 1,500 retirees and found that spending money on leisure activities and experiences caused the lowest rate of regret. Finke calls this “social spending” and surmises that it’s favored because it encourages older adults to get out into the world and enjoy their retirements. There is no perfect plan for how to spend your savings during retirement. But there is one very wrong way to go about it, and that’s mindlessly. However you choose to spend your savings, make sure you have a plan.
While finding the right place can be a challenge, the hardest part of
downsizing is often sorting through a lifetime’s worth of possessions. This process, called contents downsizing, is much easier when you follow this four-step system. Start With the Junk Beginning your downsizing with the hardest items will only lead to frustration and inaction. Instead, start by tackling areas of the house that are full of documents, knickknacks, and boxes you haven’t touched in years. These will be the easiest to part with and will put you in the right downsizing mindset. Donate Unwanted Items The next category contains items that are no longer valuable to you or your family but may be useful to
How to Spend Wisely in Retirement
Make Your Savings Last
When it comes to retirement and finances, there’s enough material about saving to fill a library. You see commercials on TV showing one tiny domino gradually becoming a massive tower, you hear advice from coworkers and family members, and you read books and articles on the topic. Much less attention, however, is paid to how to spend those savings once you’re actually retired, even though it’s a significant part of the equation. After all, it doesn’t matter how much you save if you blow it all in a year. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you begin chipping away at that nest egg. How Much to Spend The easiest way to budget for your retirement is with a level spending plan. In this system, you simply estimate how many years your retirement will last and divide your savings by that number. It’s better to make a generous estimate rather than a conservative one. A survey of financial planners conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that outliving savings is the No. 1 concern of those approaching retirement. Underestimating your life span is an easy way for this fear to come true. Of course, a level spending plan assumes that your financial needs won’t change over the course of your retirement. If
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