If you love the idea of a smaller, less cluttered life, you aren’t alone. Lifestyle downsizing is catching on and has thousands of devotees all over the world. At home, however, you may well be completely alone. Not everyone takes well to suggestions that a prized, but completely unused, piano taking up space in the living room should go to a child somewhere who actually wants to play, or a heavy set of tools in the garage that is rarely looked at should find a home with some poor worker who can make livelihood out of them. Possessions are often seen to be precious for reasons other than their utility, and people can jealously guard them.
Whether you’re talking to your elderly parents to get them to live in a smaller home that they can afford, or talking to your spouse or children about finding a way to move to a more affordable home yourself, you need to understand how people’s minds work and approach the problem with sensitivity.
Do the sums
It isn’t enough to simply claim that a move to a smaller home will save money. You need to show your family what can be saved, exactly, and what they can do with the money. This kind of math isn’t hard, but it can be laborious. You need to carefully find out how much space you can save by getting rid of every unused or unnecessary item around the house, calculate the amount of square footage that it would add up to, see how much smaller a home you may move to (news about Bridgfords, the real estate major, can help), and then find out how much you would save.
You need to take into account not only what you would pay for the home that you’ll move into, but the savings in transportation costs, the savings in utility bills, property taxes, maintenance costs, on top, that it may bring. Once you have a figure, you can show your family what they could do with the money that would make them happy — save up for college, for instance, or a vacation each year. When you put it in clear terms, it can be hard for anyone to resist.
Put a face on it
It can be very hard for a family member to consider parting with a specific object that has been around the house for a long time. It could be much easier for them to consider it, however, when you show them how the item will be cared for in its new home. You can do this if you find a child or a nice home willing to take the item. Whether it’s a writing desk, a futon, a crib or a bulky music instrument, showing your family members how someone would really appreciate it, can help calm feelings of discomfort.
Lead by example
Do you have any bulky possessions that you love having around? Consider starting off your downsizing move by giving those away or selling them. As long as you have a good reason to do it, it will make an impression on the rest of your family. Once you’ve downsized substantially, you’ll have something to show your family. If you got rid of your foosball table or entertainment center, and have much more space as a result, your family will see the results for themselves.
Start a trial downsizing effort
Self-storage units are a great way to try downsizing. They’ll work whether they are for your own possessions, or those of other family members. With unused sporting goods, tools, boxes of old knickknacks, ancient furniture and other unneeded stuff out of the way and safely in a storage unit, you can show your family how great life can get.
A couple of months later, you can bring up how they rarely think of it, at all. When they actually decide that they like life this way, you can get rid of the stuff forever. It’s usually not a smart move to store unnecessary possessions indefinitely. Very soon, the money that you pay for storage will exceed what the possessions are worth.
Whatever you do, you can start off with one of various books on downsizing that are on the bestseller lists at any given time. Leave a copy around the house, and hope that someone reads it. It can be far easier to get difficult points across when it’s an expert making them. Oscar Duncan works with those who have already, or are approaching, retirement age. He has a lot of experience with the topic of downsizing and writes on this, and other financial matters, for those of retirement age.
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