5 Steps to Declutter Your Life Before Retirement

Downsizing for the sake of your finances and your retirement can be the hardest sacrifice you ever make.

From the hardcore minimalist to the most dedicated materialist, human beings are psychologically hardwired to buy, collect, and sentimentalize things.

For many people, life is equal to the number of things they possess just as much as the human connections they make.

To protect your retirement, you may need to downsize your life. But that does not mean that you should get rid of every item, asset, and property in your life like a fire sale.

Reducing the number of items in your life to zero could be psychologically harmful and make you resent your choice.

Also, if you have not financially assessed the value of assets and properties you sell in service of downsizing, you may harm your financial future more than help it.

Here are five ways to downsize for retirement in a financially and psychologically beneficial manner.

Assess every item

Downsizing may be the best way to help you prepare for retirement if you are unprepared. 

Selling a house and moving into an apartment could free up a lot of money for you. You could sell your car and start taking mass transit. Or adjust your shopping habits so that you only buy generic items, which are cheaper.

If you have a house and rented storage lockers full of items, you could make a few bucks selling everything.

Take the time to itemize every object set for downsizing. You will always feel in control of the process that way.

Keep only the most sentimental items

It may be a tired movie cliche, but it’s true: the things you own will one day end up owning you. You should consider how much time and money you waste on material items that make you happy instead of living life.

But that is very easy to say. It could be extremely psychologically harmful to get rid of every item you have overnight. 

Make a point to keep the most sentimental and precious items you own. 

Keep your focus

Downsizing can feel like sacrificing for its own sake. It can feel like you are losing everything that validates your identity and promotes memories of your lifetime.

Most retirees don’t have a retirement plan, enough money to retire, or any money to retire. If you are not prepared for retirement, prepare for your life to get a lot harder when you give up a full-time income.

Always remember that you are downsizing for a reason and that a peaceful routine retirement is more valuable than the items and untenable lifestyle you want to keep.

Downsize assets practically

Even if you choose to downsize, you should still be aware of financial market activity.

For example, you may not want to sell your house until the housing market improves in your favor or until you found the best buyer.

Downsize high-value assets practically and on a strategic timeline that financially benefits you. Downsizing in a way that makes you lose money defeats the purpose.

Work with a financial adviser

The advice of a financial adviser can help find optimum ways to downsize for retirement. There are also consultants who specialize in helping retirees downsize in emotionally cognizant and respectful manners.