4 minute read
Can minimalism benefit retirees? Absolutely. That’s because whether or not you’re retired, the concept is simple: Clutter leads to stress. Declutter your space, declutter your mind. The Mayo Clinic points out how research is indicating minimalism might positively affect our well-being. For example, having too much clutter in the home can actually result in feeling anxious.
While the concept of minimalism is trending, I can tell you as someone who has been practicing minimalism for the past 5 years, there are different definitions of what it actually means and therefore, varying approaches.
For purposes of this guide, I’m sticking with the following approach: that the goal with minimalism is not focused on quantity. The focus shouldn’t necessarily be about reducing the belongings we have to a specific number. It’s about making space, in both our home and mind, by doing away with things which no longer serve us.
- Quality over quantity. Minimalism doesn’t mean you have to toss out or donate everything you love. Again, think quality over quantity. Experiences over possessions. If something has meaning to you, go ahead and keep it. So much of doing away with items in your home is simply organizing and finding a specific place for them. Which leads me to the next tip.
- Start with the basics. This is the approach I have always taken. I take a look around and toss a few things that immediately stand out as useless clutter. Like an old magazine that’s been on the coffee table for 6 months, untouched. So if there’s one room in particular that “weighs” you down mentally, or that pops out in your mind, go ahead and start there first. Try placing a brown paper bag in the room while you’re tossing things out, making it easier to remove them.
- Set Time Aside. As a retiree, you might find you have days where there’s a lot of free time. But I’ve found the more time I have to do something, the less likely I am to complete the task. Try setting aside 15 minutes each day, or specific days each week, to toss things and organize.
- Paper. There are two items I refer to in my mind as the Big Two, always taking up so much space. One of which is paper. By paper I mean receipts, old forms, notes, invoices, any paper you’ve got around your home that you’ve been collecting over the years. For me, I always tend to keep receipts but then I never actually throw them away. If you find yourself in this same situation of collecting all types of paper-like items, now is a good time to sort through and toss them out.
- Clothing. Second in the Big Two is clothing, something many people probably could spend a good deal of time sorting through. Like the paper category, spend a few minutes looking over your closet. Ask yourself, what do I actually need in here? When is the last time I’ve worn this? What can I get rid of? Then donate the clothes to a local organization that accepts clothing, like a thrift shop.
- Accidental Collection Items. Also known as “miscellaneous” items, these items tend to be things you’ve started to collect but would not consider yourself a collector of, per se. Think pens, old newspapers, figurines, etc.
- Use the Buddy System. If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to start, try having a few friends join you in their own efforts to declutter. It could help with accountability.
A Note about Charitable Donations
Chances are you can donate many of the items you remove from your home, making them tax deductible. “Donating unused household goods might provide a tax-savings opportunity for individuals who itemize by increasing their charitable deductions,” said Josh Graben, Tax Senior at Doyle Wealth Management.
“Donees of property can often expect a charitable deduction equal to the fair market value of that property up to certain income limits. Some types of donated property are subject to additional restrictions, so be sure to talk with a professional when determining which deduction might be allowable.”
What I’ve learned most with decluttering my space is that it’s a personal choice. There’s a lot of advice out there regarding the best way to clear out your home, but I’ve found what works best for me is not following too many of these guidelines. Try sticking to what feels right and take baby steps moving towards the right direction of clearing space in your home. You might be surprised how much of a relief this provides when you remove some of the clutter.