What You Need to Know About Decluttering your Home and Finances

Photo of an elderly couple packing up moving boxes.

With the current interest in minimalism and simple living, chances are you’ve heard of at least one of the many decluttering methods popular today.

Between Marie Kondo’s Konmari method (now a popular Netflix documentary), the Four-Box Method, and Swedish Death Cleaning, it may seem like everywhere you turn there’s a new way to “get rid of stuff.”  And that could be because millennials just aren’t interested in things. In fact, recent studies show that today’s young people value experiences more than possessions. In a nutshell, your family might not want your treasures.

Using a decluttering method can help declutter and organize your life in retirement. And not just when it comes to your possessions. Your finances could also benefit.

The basic premise is this: Get rid of “unnecessary” things methodically and gently to get your home organized and in order as you get older. This includes removing clothing, memorabilia, books, furniture, papers, and other household items you no longer need as you’re aging.

The purpose is to minimize your “stuff” in order to reduce the work involved with getting rid of it all after you pass away. It lightens the workload and makes it easier for your loved ones to wrap up your affairs. For example, consider giving away your possessions while you’re alive, instead of leaving instructions to take care of them once you’ve gone.

Why Declutter in Early Retirement

Whichever decluttering method you choose, it may be wise to begin decluttering and organizing in early retirement instead of waiting. Doing so can help fill the days as you get used to a new lifestyle that doesn’t include a traditional workday. Your energy level may be higher than it will be in later years. You can take charge of giving away items to the people you want to have them, instead of having someone else make those decisions. And it might be easier to enjoy your retirement more knowing this task is out of the way. 

Declutter Your Finances

Decluttering isn’t restricted to your possessions such as favourite books or collectibles. It also refers to cleaning up and organizing your finances. Doing so makes it easier for your executor(s) to fulfill their financial responsibilities.

  1. Gather all your bank, credit card, credit line, loan, and mortgage statements. Keep no more than one year’s worth of paper documents for each, and shred the rest.
  2. Look through your bank statements and credit statements. Watch for opportunities to consolidate bank accounts or credit accounts to simplify your money management and record-keeping.
  3. Review all your investment statements. Look for opportunities to consolidate and simplify retirement accounts and investment accounts.
  4. Gather your investment statements, insurance policies, deeds/bills of ownership, and your most current Will. Keep them together in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe so your executor can find what they need when the time comes.

This exercise isn’t just about decluttering your home and finances to make things easier for your loved ones after you’re gone. The reduced stress and clutter will give you space in your home and in your life to enjoy your retirement years.

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