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blog5More and more, downsizing counts as part of people’s retirement plan, with retirees eager to cut loose their big homes near schools and work in favor of a simpler lifestyle. It’s an important part of preparing financially for retirement and for the new lifestyle you will enjoy. A Forbes article on downsizing notes that “downsizing isn’t the same as trading down, although it is often a good way to free up equity for living expenses. “ By selling your larger home, you can reinvest that money, giving yourself more resources for fun, adventure, and a long and healthy life.

Downsizing isn’t just a matter of home equity however—when you look at your total cost of living expenses, you might be surprised where downsizing can save big in time and money. For example, you might be able to move closer to family you visit often or to a different part of town now that you don’t need to worry about school zones. Many see that retirement communities are an affordable way to downsize when they crunch the numbers on their total expenses, including the grocery budget, utilities, and household maintenance items like lawn care, home appliances, and repairs. Planning ahead to downsize can also save you headaches down the road, like trying to move only when you are facing health problems or financial strain.

With so many great reasons to factor downsizing into your long-term plan, the next step is figuring out the most efficient way to do it. If you will be selling your home, talk to a realtor or financial planner to strategize how to maximize your gains. When planning ahead for when to downsize, consider doing so when your children, nieces, and nephews may be getting their own places during college or after getting married. They might be more than happy to take in an extra TV or bedroom set, or lawn equipment you’ll no longer need. Not only can you simplify your life, you can help the next generation get started!

Once you’ve worked out the finances and the timing, it can’t hurt to go ahead and begin sorting through your things. Even if your move isn’t for some time, it’s good to get a jump on organizing for the big change. Start with your least-used rooms, attic, or other storage space, where it will be easiest to determine what’s essential and what you won’t need at a new place. Make a list, put color-coded stickers on what stays and what goes, or even go ahead and pack up the old kids’ toys and worn out ski jackets and get them out of the house. The more time you give yourself to downsize, the less overwhelming it will be. You can simply take it a piece, and a room, at a time.

Just imagine how good it will feel to simplify your life down to the essentials, and to know that everything you have is special and filled with memories. Now is the time to surround yourself with your dearest treasures and open yourself up to more time, more money, and more possibilities than ever before! It all starts with a downsizing project!