Downsizing by Dumping the Past

I love going to the dump.

Wait, that sounds strange.  Let me rephrase.

Going to the dump is a pain.  But I love how going to the dump makes me feel.  This was not always the case.

Back in the 70’s when my parents were building our new house, I had to go to the dump often – like multiple times per day.  I suppose it was difficult to get past the part where I was having to go to the dump to help unload rocks, dirt, trash and building materials while my friends were out playing.  So, “going to the dump” and I got off on the wrong foot.

Times Change

As I write this, I’m fresh off another trip to the dump – my second in three days. Probably somewhere around the 12th trip since we started downsizing for retirement.  With each trip I feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted – pun intended.  In nearly 40 years as adults and more than 25 being married, we collected a lot of stuff.  Now, some of this stuff still had value.  Those items went to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  I suppose it says something that we’ve made more visits to those organizations than trips to the dump. A lot of our stuff was still useful! 

But anything questionable goes directly to the landfill.

Lining up at the County Landfill
Waiting in line at the county landfill.

Downsizing Your Home and Your Life

In downsizing for retirement, you often have tough choices.  Do we give away art that meant something to us at one time, but won’t have a place in the new home?  “Yes.”  What about fairly new clothes that don’t fit anymore?  (When losing weight the answer is always “Yes!”)  Now, do I really need a softball uniform that is 35 years old and from a company I haven’t worked for in 30?  That, and the rest of what my wife called my “T-shirt museum” went to the dump in today’s load. 

As you might have guessed from how long I kept those items it actually was a more difficult call than it seems — until you look at the way we’re approaching retirement.  We’re looking at a new chapter and new beginnings, not as a time to spend revisiting the past.  We absolutely have sentimental items.  But the more I thought about the softball uniform the only memory I could really attach to it was breaking my ankle.

My message is this, in downsizing for retirement you’ll have to make some tough choices.  Those choices are made easier if you think about future-state.  Where will this (item) go?  How often will I use it?  Have I used it in the past year?  Then use the method Save, Donate, Pitch. 

If you’re moving to your retirement home this actually saves you money – every pound you get rid of is a pound you don’t have to pay someone else to move.  Even if you’re staying in your home, taking those trips to the dump will help you enter retirement by clearing a path – figuratively and literally – for the years ahead.

Try it.  You just might like how making a trip to the dump makes you feel.  

Read Next: Four Steps to Saving for Early Retirement

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