July 26, 2016

Retirement is A Great Time To Declutter

declutter, simple living


Reader Diane suggested I take a fresh look at decluttering and simplifying one's environment and lifestyle. Retirement is an excellent time to look for ways to reduce the "stuff' that crowds our home, our mind, our finances, our relationships,  and our schedule.

This is a subject I have addressed often over the years, but newer readers may have missed some of the posts that have appeared in Satisfying Retirement.
What you will find below are a series of links to some of the past posts that generated good readership and some great comments. Click on the ones that catch your eye or address a specific issue that interests you.

Then, I hope you will add your ideas and suggestions. The fascinating aspect of simplification is how varied are the ways we find to achieve our goals. Even the concept of "simplification" means different things to different folks. 

Simple living: easy steps you can take

Simple Living: One Room At a Time

Simple Downsizing: Grabbing a Ready-Made Opportunity

Simple Living My Way

Retirement Life Starts With a Blank canvas

Live Simply in Retirement - Links galore

America's Quest For Simplicity

Simple Living Can Become Silly


This sampling of past posts should be enough to get your creativity flowing. Now, it is your turn. How do you approach simplicity? To you is it cutting back on what you own, or buying what makes you happy but only the best quality you can afford so something lasts a long time? Do you dream of living in a tiny house? Is decluttering a passion of yours, or something that does not bring you joy?


18 comments:

  1. You might not guess it if you looked inside our house, but we have been decluttering quite a bit over the last few years. One area in particular is clothing, where I am finally departing with a lot of the winter gear we needed in UNY as an example, but not so much here in TN. We also got rid of much of our former work clothes, especially things like suits in my case, keeping only a couple of things in the remote event they are needed. Even giving up on many of my hardcover books, which is "traumatic" for me; I love having them, but if someone else can get some joy out of them at the library, better to give them up instead of hoarding them.

    Because of the largeness of the house, it gave me the opportunity to take advantage of sales over the years. In many cases these things cost us nothing due to sales and coupons and the like, but because of that we have things like 70 bottles of laundry detergent, an upright freezer full of deals, and a pantry that is overflowing. I am making a conscious effort to pare some things down, but when it is an outstanding deal I'll still grab it, even if it means donating the items.

    We constantly are taking things to the Good Samaritans for them to resell and continue their ministry, but it is still a daunting task to pare down all these possessions built up over the decades. And while we are in this house I still need all my stuff to maintain it - utility trailers, tools, power washers, and so on. Don't get me started on the two cars and two motorcycles. Until we decide to finally move to a condo on the ocean, or overseas, it will be impossible to get rid of many things. But when we do it will be a wholesale sweeping out of things we likely will never need again. The Good Samaritans will be happy here in town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. like you, Chuck, I had a tough time unloading many boxes of hardcover books a few years ago. They looked good in the bookshelves, but I knew I would never re-read them. So, I donated most to Goodwill and traded the rest in for credit at a used bookstore (so I could buy more!).

      We are debating whether to replace Betty's 13 year old car that needs more work than it is worth or go with just one car to see if that is sufficient. I bet we will keep two cars for now. Our schedules are different enough that having just one would cause unnecessary conflicts. But, in a break from past behavior I will probably lease a car for 3 years rather than plunk down a pile of cash and feel committed to keep it for a dozen years.. Who knows, in 36 months one car might make more sense. With a lease I can walk away.

      70 bottles of detergent?

      Delete
  2. Really pleased that your columns are coming with greater frequency. I have always looked forward to your written thoughts and was disappointed when you thought of
    "Retiring" from your 2 blogs. So when I get to read 2-3 of your thoughts a week it makes me smile and to know that you are in good health, your gray matter is firing on all 8 cylinders ( or Turbo 4) and all is well in Phoenix.

    Anyhow, be well, travel safe, and keep your blogs frequent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jack, for your very kind thoughts. Fresh posts every 3 days or so feels about right. I was looking back to the first two years of the blog and was reminded I used to post fresh content almost every day..Whew! That was quite a load.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the links Bob! I can't wait to read all of them, and your reader comments, and ultimately getting motivated once and for all to make my home clutter free and organized.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a never-ending task, isn't it, Diane!

      Delete
  4. When I first retired I decided to tackle reorganizing/decluttering since I now had the time to leisurely work on it. My trick was to listen to audiobooks as I was working. When I would get 'tired' and want to quit I would tell myself 'the book isn't over, you have to keep going' - and I actually listened to myself. I accomplished a great deal and by listening to the books I wasn't as exhausted when I was done. I gave stuff away, put out stuff for the trash man (and the scavengers) and listened to some pretty good books along the way.
    I keep thinking about how much stuff do I want my kids to have to deal with if I were to suddenly depart this world and it helps me to give away/toss one more thing. The mantra of 'Eliminate anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful' helps me a great deal also. Something I definitely did early on was shred my diaries, or at least the pages my kids shouldn't see. I didn't have any 'Bridges of Madison County' moments but there were things they didn't need to know about me nonetheless :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just got me thinking about some of my journals (a man's version of a diary) that may need to meet my shredder.

      One of the goals of decluttering is certainly to make things easier for family after we have passed. But, it can make our daily life easier and more joyful while we are still making a ruckus here on earth.

      Delete
  5. With my mother's passing in February of this year and cleaning out her house, it has made very clear to all 4 of us children that we don't want to put this kind of stress on our children. Each of us has said we are making a concerted effort to clear out useless items regularly. I try to have 2 or 3 bags to put in the dumpster every Monday morning. I have arthritic hands, so I can only do so much before my hands begin to ache and I lose my grip. I have read books on hoarding (not that my mother was a hoarder) and they suggest doing it slowly over time if possible. So, that is my goal for this year, 2 or 3 bags every Monday morning and using the shredder here at work to get rid of sensitive material every week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Betty or I ever lose focus on the need to declutter we watch one of the hoarder shows on TV. Just 45 minutes of seeing how those folks live gives us enough positive energy to stay on task.

      Delete
  6. My husband and I got serious about downsizing and decluttering back in 2005 when a move from one house to another nearly turned into a disaster because of the amount of stuff we had accumulated. The buyers had initially agreed to give us seven days after closing to move, but at the last minute wanted us out in 24 hours. We got it done, but it wasn't pretty, and we swore we were never going to go through that experience ever again. We got serious about getting rid of the excess at that point, and have kept at it. Downsizing was one of the key pieces making it possible for us to retire and eventually relocate to Hawai'i.

    The most important thing we learned over the years is that downsizing is both process and attitude adjustment. Things we thought we couldn't live without one month we found unnecessary and easy to let go of a few months later. Downsizing takes time (or at least it did for us) but the further along we got the easier it became, both to get done and maintain. We gave ourselves small goals each month, and once something was gone it wasn't replaced. In our situation, the big question was always, "Do we want to PAY to move this to Hawai'i?" The answer was almost always NO. We ended up moving just 4500 pounds of household goods, filling barely half of a 20' shipping container, and with a couple of exceptions it's been enough for our family (we still have children at home).

    Less really can be more. We have more time to enjoy ourselves these days because we spend less time on maintaining, cleaning, sorting, and organizing our things. As our children leave home for college, we're still figuring out what can go and what we want to keep. And we know that can and probably will change as we go along.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your excellent recap of the downsizing experiences you have been through, and why. Your comment that downsizing involves attitude adjustment is quite important. The process isn't just about stuff, it is about how someone values things in their life.

      I have one follow up question for you. I would love to write a blog post about your relocation to Hawaii. Not only the logistics of moving things 2500 miles across the ocean, but living in a place that is so expensive, in terms of food and electricity, etc. What kinds of adjustments does someone have to make to lifestyle and purchases in such a situation? Do you feel isolated from family? Is housing as expensive as it seems?

      Hawaii is a dream destination for a lot of retirees. I'd love to be able to get an insider's look at how that works. If you are interested, add a comment or drop me an email at satisfyingretirement@gmail.com

      Delete
  7. Lots of very good information. I'm a new reader so I read your previous blogs and the replies. My wife and I keep things pretty simple. We have no payments due, but do live in a house that is now too large. Maybe we'll move to a smaller and less expensive place someday that is outside of Houston's inner loop. One area I also try to simplify is my digital files. Once I retired I got rid of lots of old files and am still going through some files, keeping the valuable and erasing the not valuable. Cleaning up clutter just feels good to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ended up shredding at least 5 banker boxes of out of date paper files a few years ago. It was stuff I didn't need and all of it just took up space for no good reason. Guess what: a few years later and it is time to pull out more boxes!

      Delete
  8. Another good thing about decluttering is that you could make some extra cash from selling things you don't need. I have a sizeable collection of books that my wife would like me to get rid of. Some of the textbooks are still used and worth something. Haven't opened most in years. But I still hang on to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. List what you have on Ebay or Amazon books will buy certain old text books.

      Delete
  9. I like what Laura said about the trade-off in time to maintain, clean, sort and organize our things. Businesses have thrived on that; think container store and storage units, etc. My son often comments about going to work to make money to buy things we don't need. And the words of my aunt ring in my ears - no one will care about those pictures when you're gone (meaning dead and it's true, my family won't recognize 90% of the people in those photos). I ask myself 2 questions - Do I really need this? Do I really love this? Also, one in and one out. Now I need to declutter the clothes closets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fact is most of what we save will have no meaning to the rest of our family. The reality is, we still can't bring ourselves to get rid of all the old faded photos and memorabilia that just takes up space. Tough.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted