Why Empty Nesters Should Declutter Their Homes

by Gary Foreman


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Is now the time to declutter your home? Now that the kids have moved out and you're empty nesters? It's a question that boomers ask when their adult children move out. Should they begin to declutter the family homestead?

Why Empty Nesters Should Declutter

Over the last 20 to 30 years, you've accumulated a lot of stuff. You have collected everything from the toys your kids played with as toddlers to the tools you use to maintain your home, not to mention holiday decorations and clothing you haven't worn in years. Chances are good that your home is full and you might even have a storage unit besides.

Decluttering is a necessity for you. If you plan on selling your home and downsizing, you'll need to get rid of excess stuff. Even if you plan on staying in your home for the rest of your life, you'll want to make things easier for your heirs when you pass.

Can you get rid of the clutter in your home? Yes, you can if you follow a few simple steps.

You Can Make the Hard Clutter Decisions

Most of us don't want to face our clutter or the decisions that come with decluttering. Lisa Woodruff of Organize365.com says that we can make the hard decisions. "As the last child leaves the nest, most parents are flooded with emotions and ideas. Some parents use the next few years to go through all of the memorabilia that they have saved over the past decades and create lifelong mementos for their children and families."

When your last child leaves the nest is an excellent time to declutter. You're already in the mode of making some lifestyle adjustments. It's the perfect time to add a decluttered home to those changes.

Your Emotions Will Work Against You

If you're someone who tends to accumulate things, decluttering can be hard emotionally. Some items contain happy memories. Other things could have a use some time in the future.

Why Empty Nesters Should Declutter Their Homes

Woodruff tells her clients that "memorabilia that has been stored for decades is precious, but not actually something either the parents or the children physically want to hold onto. If your children do not want to take their own possessions, consider taking photographs of those possessions and making a digital scrapbook for them."

For items that you haven't used recently but may need again, there are a couple of tests you can perform. Woodruff suggests that you ask yourself, "If I had to find this item again someday, could I borrow it from someone or purchase it inexpensively?" Also, ask yourself if you know someone who could get use out of that item now. Perhaps you'd want to give it or sell it to them.

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A Decluttered Home Saves Time and Money

When your children are small, a certain amount of chaos and clutter are to be expected. You weren't surprised when your youngest asked where they could find their soccer ball, and the time you spent finding lost items was part of your daily schedule.

Now that they've grown up, you don't want to spend time looking for lost things. Removing the clutter is the first step to knowing where to find all your possessions.

Clutter also causes stress in your life. The stress surfaces not just when you've lost something but also with the constant reminder of living in chaos in your home. And, as you get older, maintaining a big three- or four-bedroom home is more work than you want. Reducing clutter may make it possible for you to remain in your home longer.

That clutter is also costly. How often have you looked for an item you needed but couldn't find it? Finally, you give up and go out to buy another that can join your clutter after you use it.

And if your home is full of stuff, there's a good chance that you also have a storage unit. "According to IBISworld, annual self-storage revenue was estimated to be about $32.7 billion in 2016." The average cost for a unit is $87 per month, which is an expense that you may be able to avoid.

If you're a baby boomer who has recently empty nested, consider decluttering your home. You might find that you'll save both time and money. Plus, you might find a new joy in living in an uncluttered home!


Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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