“Divest and Simplify”

My parents (and many of their generation) occupied the same home, practically all their lives. When it came time for them to leave that household, we “kids” pooled our energy to clear what amounted to 50+ years of living. We kept many of the inherited items, but only for a while, since we had more than enough of our own household possessions.

All across America, countless storage facilities dot the landscape. In the regions where seniors relocate (North/South Carolina, Florida, Georgia), those vast corrugated metal holding zones are everywhere–gated communities in their own right.

Why are they so prevalent? Because older people, today, save furniture, household equipment, and personal artifacts, in the belief their adult “kids” will want them some day. And they’re paying big for that service. That’s why the storage business is booming.

But, here’s the reality. Generally speaking, that furniture will never fit the lifestyle or décor of the intended recipients and unless the items are true antiques, their value is negligible (and storage costs will quickly eclipse that value).

So, it might be better for parents to offer the stuff they no longer want to the “kids” well before any intended move. That way, whatever isn’t appropriated could go to the Salvation Army, Big Sisters, or consignment shops.

I know I’ve begun (over several years) to divest myself of stuff I collected over the years, and I’ve found it liberating. The house has a clean, uncluttered look, a blank palette, so to speak, on which I’ll write my remaining years. Why do I especially like that look? I’m not tripping over memories of what used to be.

It’s a good feeling, too, that whatever future moves we need effect won’t require an army to accomplish…maybe just a few foot soldiers.

My new motto as a senior (younger people might also consider subscribing) is “Divest and simplify.” I want to be able to pull up roots and move fast (even if I go nowhere). A wagonload—or 18-wheeler–of “stuff” will hamper me in those efforts.

I learned many years ago, when we made our last move, that most of the items we paid substantial money for–to be brought to the new house– were never used. They were stored in the attic, in the same boxes they arrived in. As a result, we paid all that money for nothing.

At the end of the day, who wants faded sheets and comforters in the new house…old pillows…records without an LP player (unless they’re mint condition classics, in their own pristine jackets)?

Young adults might consider “Divest and simplify,” too.

Before marriage and children, they tend to move often, as jobs mandate or roommate situations present. The fewer encumbrances to a move, the better. They might consider inflatable furniture (retailers already offer this for beds and chairs) which will enable fluidity of movement, saving them substantial capital outlay.

And then there’s the reality that young people haven’t identified their personal style yet, and don’t need to pay high cost for something they may devalue later. I remember liking the heavier Mediterranean-style furniture, as a young woman, and being happy, years later, that I hadn’t bought a household of it (didn’t have the money).

In the end, it may only be wise to accumulate things (sports equipment, household furnishings) when one begins raising a family and moves are no longer imminent. Wiser, still, are folks who recycle everything, for they never have a great deal to eliminate, thus saving themselves and the landfills.

So, Biddy recommends (from her own experience): “Divest and simplify”…..a motto that fits today’s transient population.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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