RETIREMENT COACHING – DEBBIE DRINKARD GROVUM-Rummage sales, car loads to Goodwill, trips to the dump and passing down every treasure my family would take helped me downsize. Twice!  But as my husband and I transition from two homes (one big, one small) to one mid-size home, we still have too much stuff.  Even though I want a smaller and simpler life, I struggle with what to get rid of next.

The first year I cleaned out the basement (a definite danger zone for accumulating unnecessary stuff), and the second year I got rid of everything I could easily see myself living without.  Now I am left with more stuff than I need or want but just don’t know what to part with next.

I have lots of company in the battle to get control of stuff. The National Association of Professional Organizers has about 4,200 members who are dedicated to helping individuals and businesses bring order and efficiency to their lives.  Tammy Schotzko (, a Professional Organizer and member of NAPO, offers great advice for those of us in the “downsizing” phase of life.  She uses a “less is more” philosophy and encourages her clients to keep only what they use, need, and love, to help them gain control over their physical and digital clutter.

Downsizing in Retirement Years (Tammy’s Tips)

The golden years of retirement and/or an empty nest often bring about changes not previously considered. Moving often forces us to contemplate the mass of things we have accumulated.  Downsizing…the word itself can conjure up a negative image, but it’s really all about how you look at it. Here are some downsizing tips to help get you started:

  1. Start early, and small. There will be many walks down memory lane when sorting thru possessions – allow time for them. Begin in a small, contained area like a kitchen drawer full of utensils – do you need 3 can openers? Small, easy decisions pave the road for larger, harder ones.
  2. Let your new space define what you keep. Going from a 3 bedroom home to a 1 bedroom condo? Pack accordingly! If you have a queen size bed and one full sized blow up mattress for guests is it necessary to keep 6 sheet sets in different sizes and colors? Two sets for each bed is sufficient. Apply this concept across each room as you make downsizing decisions.
  3. Have a handcrafted Bavarian ash tray from Great Aunt Sue’s trip in 1972 but don’t smoke? Ask yourself the magic questions: Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? Keep those things that are an emphatic yes! The rest can be sold or given away. Donations often bring a nice tax deduction as well.
  4. Get help! Having loved ones on hand is good, but downsizing can be fraught with emotion. A great resource is the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) at
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