Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 649 Rightsizing

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

One for sure task that seems to accompany retirement is the task of rightsizing or what is more commonly called downsizing. I perfect the word rightsize myself. It seems to be more accurate than just moving from larger to smaller. The task is to move to some other place that is more fitting at this time. For us, or our parents, or friends it is almost always a place that is smaller and more manageable.

Recently I received a note from a listener who has written a book and wondered if she might send it to me and that I might be interested in recording a podcast on the topic. This happens fairly often and I have always said, “No”. That is because they have always been promoting their new book and the new books have always dealt with money, financing, saving or investing. As stated on my web page I want to consider retirement in all facets with the exception of any thing having to do with money. I just think there is more to consider when retiring than money. This book proposal is about rightsizing life in later years. I accepted the offer of the book.

It is entitled “Ready to Rightsize, A step-by-step guide to your rightsizing journey: for older adults and their loved ones” by Jeannine Bryant. Like me, she is a Midwesterner by birth and seems to be able to put a lot of thought into a few words. The book is 51 pages long and contains enough thought provoking information to ease a task that sometimes feels overwhelming. As evidence of the consideration of the task at hand she intentionally kept the book extremely short and thin. The last thing you need when approaching this type of action is a big book. 

My wife read it in one setting and I read it during spare moments: 5 to 10 minutes at a time. We were both convinced this is the real thing. 

We have experienced in helping downsize our parents homes. Now we know that it will not be long until the job will come to us. We have already started the process whenever we can. We have started moving things out. One example: our kids still had things in our store room that they had in school or college. I moved it all out on to a covered patio and when they came to visit were told that if they left after the visit and anything was still on our patio it would be given away or trashed. It worked. They went through the stuff and took what they wanted. Our storeroom now looks much better with space to spare. 

Find your good tape measure. That is one bit of advice in the book that stands out in my mind. Measure your new digs. How much space will you have for clothes, dishes, books, tools, furnitures. Measure the distance. If you will only have four feet of shelf space for books write that down. When considering what books to take and what to give away or whatever, you will know that you are limited by lineal feet. It will make things much easy. You have established perimeters. 

Keep hold of that tape measure and do the same for clothes in your closet; shelves for dishes, drawers for whatever. Let that tape measure guide many decisions. It should make it much easier to make decisions. 

Jeannine has lots of suggestions that just make more and more sense the more you think about them. These chapter titles will give you some idea of areas considered. Are You Ready to Rightsize is the first consideration. Do you have to much stuff? Do you have boxes that you hardly know what is inside? Do you have rooms you rarely use, etc. Do You live in a house that is really jus too big for you?

Then there is the Planning and Getting Into the Right Frame of Mind. You need to look at it like a new beginning not an ending. Psych yourself into considering this as an opportunity if not a reward for a life well lived. You are going to keep the stuff that really means the most to you and that is all. You are going to share all of the other stuff to family members, friends or people in need. What a good thing to do.

Facing your First Move in Decades requires some serious specifics. You need to know where it is you are moving. How much floor space will you have? How many drawers and cabinets for storage. Then you need to look seriously at what will fit in the new place. Count items. Measure things. Have some boxes that are clearly marked for donations, gift to the kids, or recycling or trash. Take your time. Start early.

She rounds out the small book with chapters entitled:  Nuts and Bolts: Practical Tips for Rightsizing, then Helping a Parent Through the Rightsizing Journey, and ends with Keeping Memories, not the Clutter. All of these headings deserve some careful thought before one launches into this challenging lifetime event. 

Rightsizing is something few of us look forward to. I am always considering it. I have talked about it for years and try to be diligent about taking something out of the house if I bring something else in. It just seems natural at this point in time. I am sometimes caught off guard by throwing away things and then trying to find them later. My wife chastises me sometimes for this little transgression. But it never slows me down. I like to think I am a master of getting rid of stuff although I know I have a long way to go. 

I dream of being able to downsize from our present house to a small condo somewhere and that it can all be done by us. I would like to relieve our children from having to deal with the project. 

I am going to keep this book for when that time comes. 

This is Retirement Talk.

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