The average age of retirement in the United States is 63 for women and 65 for men. No matter what age you plan to retire at, you need to start planning and making moves towards it in the years leading up to it.
This means building your reserves of cash and planning out your intended expenses while retired. It also means simplifying and downsizing your life.
Try these ten tips when you’re ready to start downsizing for retirement.
1. Where Will You Live?
Maintaining a large home can be expensive. Deciding to downsize can reduce your monthly and yearly housing expenses. Start thinking now about if you want to move homes, cities, or even states.
If you plan to move to a retirement community, then plan an extended trip. Get a feel for the community on a daily basis and determine if it’s everything you dreamed it would be.
For those planning to move closer to family, this requires extensive conversations. The last thing you want is to move across the country only for your loved one to get an offer they can’t refuse and move away.
2. Purge the Clutter
we all collect things over the years that have emotional meaning. Don’t assume that your family and children want to keep everything. Ask them now what they would like and, if appropriate, gift those items to them now.
This will help you reduce the number of things you’ve collected. Having less stuff makes moving more affordable and living in a smaller home more comfortable.
3. Create a Plan
Trying to downsize everything in a weekend is a plan for failure. Downsizing is best done over a longer period of time. This is because the human brain can only make so many effective decisions in a day.
Try using a colored sticker system. Choose a color for keep, charity, gift, and trash. Then place stickers on items. This gives you a chance to think and change your mind before committing.
4. Choose the Right Agent
When you’re ready to sell your home and downsize to something smaller, you need to look for the right real estate agent. Find someone who has experience working with retirees.
They should be willing to work with you and your timeline of moving from one home to the other. They should be able to help you stage the home and price it so that you can get the most for it.
If you’re on a tight deadline, you can read this article and learn how to sell your house fast.
5. Reduce Your Debt
The time to focus on getting rid of your debt is while you’re working. Once you retire your income becomes more limited, and it will be harder to pay off debt quickly.
Use this time to make extra payments and pay off debt. This will also increase your credit score. You can then look forward to lower interest rates while in retirement.
6. Clean out Your Closet
If you plan to downsize your home, you’ll need to downsize your wardrobe to fit. Even if you don’t plan to downsize your home, it’s time to sort through your clothes.
Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in a year. Donate the majority of your work wardrobe once you retire. If you no longer head to the office every day, you don’t need all of those clothes.
7. Take Stock of Your Storage Unit
Do you have a storage unit full of items that no longer fit in your home? This could be an unnecessary expense in retirement. Cleaning out your storage unit will save you this monthly bill.
Consider selling items that you can make some cash from. Give other items to friends and family. Donate what you can’t sell and no one wants.
8. Your Car
For some, getting rid of their car isn’t an option because the public transportation system isn’t robust enough. Consider where you plan to retire, and if having a car is necessary.
If you need to own a car in retirement, consider the age and mileage of your current vehicle. Evaluate the yearly cost of maintaining the vehicle, and it’s remaining useful life. You may want to replace your aging car now with something newer.
9. Holiday Decor
Do you have an extensive collection of holiday decor? It’s time to consider whether or not you’ll use it in the years to come. If you plan to host large holiday gatherings, then it’s worth keeping.
However, if you plan to downsize your parties, then it may be worth getting rid of the bulk of your decorations. These items tend to take up a lot of space and are only used once a year.
10. Your Kids’ Stuff
If you have children, you’ve probably saved items over the years that have significance to you. Now is the time to sort through your children’s items and decide what is important enough for you to keep.
Invite your children over and let them have a say in what they’d like to keep. Anything that doesn’t make the cut has to go.
Start Downsizing for Retirement
If you plan to retire in the coming years, then there is no better time than the present to start downsizing for retirement. Start by taking stock of your current budget and where your expenses are.
Then consider how much you could save by moving to someplace smaller and reduce the number of items you own.
Check out my other blog posts for more helpful advice on cleaning and organizing your home.