Americans live in a culture of stuff, often buying in bulk and filling up basements, closets and self-storage facilities (a $22 billion industry). Fortunately, Masonic Villages’ cottages, apartments and other living options are plenty spacious, so residents can bring the things that matter most to them. But for those looking to lighten their load before a move, or in a current home, here’s the top five things to know to keep downsizing from getting you down in the dumps.

DO: Use everything you’ve been saving

“Take all the brand new things you are saving – the fancy nightgown, the new sheets, the gourmet jelly, the cashmere gloves – whatever it is that you have had for years but have not used because it was too good, and start using it,” said Rochelle Welkowitz, active adult and seniors transition consultant for Masonic Village at Elizabethtown residents. Doing this gives you joy and creates more space in your home!

DON’T: Do (all of) it alone

Maybe you want to go through certain keepsakes (like love letters from past relationships) by yourself. Or maybe you feel like you don’t need help dividing your belongings into piles of: “keep,” “throw out” and “give away.” Either way, even if no one else is coming with you to your new home, invite a friend or family member to assist when you start the cleaning-out process. At Masonic Village, staff work with new residents on making their homes just right.

“Knowing their interests and talking people through what the space could become with their own personal flare can really open their minds,” Kelly Eakin, director of sales and marketing at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, said. “There’s a certain amount of relief to that. It encourages people to consider getting rid of their clutter. De-cluttering usually starts with the mind and commitment.”

DO: Save smart

Just because you can keep something doesn’t mean you always should … and just because you say you’re going to use\wear it doesn’t always mean you will. Keep things that you use often, or that you know you’ll definitely use in the future, as well as anything with special memories or particular sentimental value. If an item falls outside of these categories and is in good condition, donate it or give it away; if not, put it in the garbage or recycling.

DON’T: Waste space

Investing in storage containers that go under beds, inside closets or on shelving units helps excess possessions stay contained and categorized, meaning you can find them when you need them.

“Purchasing organizational containers that can fit on tall shelves, which would normally not be unused, or underneath beds can be a huge space saver,” Bridget Harris, director of sales and marketing at Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill, says. “Buying additional shelving for closets can also allow you to be creative. I’ve seen a few residents make their walk-in closet into a home office.”

DO: Embrace the benefits

Having less stuff means more time using and enjoying the things you have, and less time spent trying to figure out where to store them all. For many residents, room to stow away trinkets and things they’ll never use again become less important as they become active with clubs, entertainment and friends.

“It’s a new beginning,” Bridget said. “No matter the size of the new home, if it has order and organization, it can be a pride piece to show off.”
When you clear your space, you clear your head, giving you more time to enjoy life your way.