J Rosenthal, a professional organizer, says the average American home contains 300,000 items. A few years ago, Forbes reported that the average American woman owns 30 outfits, up from nine in 1930. And consumers in the United States, a country with 3.1 percent of the world’s children, buy 40 percent of the world’s toys. In our retirement years, we have to decide what is important and what we really need, and what we can discard, donate or sell.


Signs that you have too much?

Having doubles, or even triples, of the same item – We often have duplicates of similar items, but do not always recognise that due to the fact that they are packed away, hidden in different parts of our home.

Not needing to unpack after returning from a trip away – You return from a trip or short holiday and don’t have to unpack on returning home. But, if you can leave all your stuff in a suitcase without noticing a deficit, it is an indicator that you have too much stuff.

Having multiple junk drawers, or cupboards – We all tidy up by creating a junk drawer for extra pens, rubber bands but when you have more than one such ‘just in case’ repository – that is one too many.

Hanging on to items for their emotional attachment value – Twenty years ago Aunt Betty gave you a purple tie, of design and colour so obscene that you have never worn it. Rather remember her for what she was, rather than via the ugly and unappreciated memento, that she gave you.


How to de-clutter/downsize

  • Lay everything out in front of you and sort through it one by one. Yes, it takes forever… that’s why we’re suggesting that you to start now!
  • If you haven’t used an item for five years, it is highly unlikely that you ever will… and if you don’t know what is hidden in a closed box (unopened since you last moved home 10 years ago), this too is something that you could do without!
  • Upload pictures, videos, and irreplaceable mementoes to a hard drive or cloud storage. While it is difficult to part with your children’s pre-school projects, the task can be made easier by scanning sentimental pictures onto your computer and discarding the physical objects.
  • Don’t wait for your will to be read – give away unused items now.
  • Arrange a garage sale. You can make glean income from the sale of furniture and home goods to contribute to your ‘moving’ funds. With everything you sell, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
  • Donate leftover items to family members; or good causes and charities such as hospice, or the SPCA.



Hospice here we come (welcome donations)


Downsizing belongings is both time-consuming and emotionally and physically draining. So, if the task of downsizing items is too daunting, consider renting a temporary storage unit to store items until you can thoughtfully consider whether to keep or discard items.


Stop asking yourself, do I want this stuff… and start asking the questions:  Will I miss it if it goes?  Am I likely to ever use this stuff? Do I really need all this stuff? It can be hard to pare down, but it is so essential!

Henry Spencer