Live Your Best Life: How Rightsizing Can Change the Next Chapter of Your Life

What is Rightsizing?

  • A life that is neither too full or too empty of possessions, activities, and relationships
  • A home that is the right size for your lifestyle and abilities
  • Being surrounded by belongings that you love and being able to enjoy them because they are properly cared for, displayed, and/or easily accessible.

Why is Rightsizing Important?

  • An environment that has been “rightsized” allows you to age in the best environment possible for your health and your happiness
  • Keeps you in control
  • It is a gift to your heirs and loved ones
  • It is a gift to yourself!
  • Take a look at your living space and learn to respect the limits of that space.  Determine that you will only keep as many books as will fit on your bookshelves.  Only keep as much clothing as will fit in your closets.  Keep only the number of knick-knacks that can be displayed easily in your home.

  • Take into account your current lifestyle.  If you haven’t used an item in the last year, you likely won’t miss it after it’s gone.  Sell it, donate it, or throw it away.

  • Go through your boxes of family photos.  This can be an emotional process, so start slowly.  Although it is difficult to throw photos away, sometimes this is best:  scenery shots, for instance, will have little meaning to those that were not with you when you took the photo.  Give away duplicates of photos.  Sort photos into boxes to give each of your children or friends.  Invite grandchildren over to help you sort pictures into albums.

  • Look through your pantry and plan to use as much of the stockpile you already have before buying groceries again.  Throw out any food that is stale or expired.  Start planning your meals each week and making a shopping list to avoid buying items you already have or don’t need.

  • This is a wonderful time to start passing on some of your treasures to friends or younger relatives.  You will have the satisfaction of seeing the pleasure they bring to loved ones, it is a way for them to keep special memories of times with you, and you have the peace of mind knowing these items have gone to the person you most wanted to have them.

  • If you have collections of items, consider keeping one or two of your favorites to display and selling or donating the rest.  Displaying a few of your most beautiful teacups from your teacup collection will have more of an impact than displaying a large number of them in one area.

  • Sort through your financial records and paper files.  Many papers need not be saved after one year.  Shred any documents with account information on them.  Recycle the rest.  Below is a quick guide to how long paperwork should be kept.

    • Taxes – Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
    • IRA Contributions – keep permanently.
    • Retirement/Savings plan statements – keep quarterly statements until you receive your annual summary; then keep your annual summaries until you retire or close the account.
    • Bank records – keep statements for one year, making note of any transactions that deal with taxes.  Shred any non-tax related documents after one year.
    • Brokerage statements keep until you sell your securities.
    • Bills – Shred after one year.  Receipts for large purchases (jewelry, appliances, cars, etc.) should be kept for proof of their value in the event of loss or damage.
    • Credit card receipts and statements Shred after one billing cycle, unless they include tax-related information.
    • Paycheck stubs – Shred after one year.  Once you receive a W-2 form, this is all you will need to keep for tax purposes.

What should I do with all this stuff?

  • Sell it.  Have a garage sale on your own, or hire an estate sale company or auction company to sell it for you.
  • Give it to a friend or relative.  Perhaps you have a young relative just setting up their first home – they would likely appreciate some old furniture or kitchen items.  If your sister has always admired your collection of records, now might be the time to pack them up and send them to her for her birthday.
  • Donate it.  Goodwill, The City Mission, Salvation Army, and so many more charities exist that would love to have your unwanted, sellable items.
  • Toss it.  If you don’t think an item would be wanted by a charity, you can set it out for the trash collector.  Set it out 24 hours before collection and one of your neighbors driving by may pick it up and find a use for it!
  • Give it away to a stranger.  List the item for “free” on and have the buyer come and get it.  This is a great solution for getting rid of unwanted furniture that you don’t want to have to move yourself.