At some point in life, most of us decide to downsize. The children have left the nest, the home office is closed for business, scrubbing floors or the pool has lost its appeal. We want to move toward another phase of our life plan, but as one client told me recently: “All of these excess belongings – I hate to haul them to the dump. Isn’t there a better solution?”
There are a myriad of ways to gift, donate or repurpose items no longer needed as we settle into a smaller, simpler life.
This list is not exhaustive, but it can start the conversation:
- Personal items that you planned to bequeath to family and friends in your will can be delivered in your lifetime. One client said that her 96-year-old father took great joy in sharing gifts and telling associated life stories.
- Depending on the quality of your art, some pieces may be sold through art galleries. You may receive a tax deduction by donating to a museum or university or by gifting to a charity for direct sale or auction.
- Furniture and furnishings can be sold in a garage sale or placed with a consignment shop for sale or for a tax write-off. Worn items or those needing repair are wanted by a number of charities including Goodwill.
- If you have lots of valuable collectibles, sell them to an antique store or rent a space in an antique mall and sell them yourself. Donate them to a church that can use them as merchandise at a bazaar.
- Items do not have to be large or valuable. One client said that they took several boxes of puzzles to a retirement home. Books can be donated to the Friends of the Library for resale or used to stock a Bookmobile.
- If you are crafty, perhaps you have fabric and notions that would be valued by quilt-making groups or scrapbook artists. If you have spare blankets and quilts in your linen closet, consider the homeless shelters.
- Possessions of historical value may be of interest to museums or historical societies. Even old family photos that you have scanned onto “the cloud” may be of interest, particularly in small towns with long histories. Consider the Two Rivers Historical Museum in Washougal. 2rhm.com
- Local PBS stations will collect unneeded vehicles, animal shelters can use unopened food and equipment, Habitat for Humanity will take tools and building materials and some recycle shops will take anything!
- Adult and children’s clothes are of value to various charities and to women’s shelters, vintage clothes are in demand at specialty shops, and some groups collect evening wear so that every teen can go to the prom.
The mindset of repurposing and recycling continues to grow, offering many choices for the donor. Whether the gift is to a child, a family, a group, a charity or the environment in general, the donated possessions touch the lives of others. Downsizing can be a very difficult process for families who have deep emotional attachments to the years of collected items but maybe there is joy in knowing these items are being put to such good use.
Written By Heidi M. Johnson Bixby, CFP®