12 Things You Should Never Throw Out When Downsizing
These are the items that are worth finding space for in a new home.
When you’re packing to move or making over a room, it’s the perfect time to take a hard look at all your stuff — and purge. Just be careful how trash happy you get with these few things.
1. Family heirlooms
Evaluate what you have and ask yourself which ones are meaningful to you and your family now, says Jodie Watson, an organizing expert and owner of Supreme Organization. “These are the ones to keep and take with you to your new home,” she says.
2. Electronics of any sort
Hold on to them until you’ve completely wiped out all your personal information. “I can’t tell you the number of people who go on massive de-cluttering binges and don’t take the time to clear all their personal information,” warns Geralin Thomas, a professional organizer and owner of Metropolitan Organizing who has also worked on A&E’s Hoarders.
“You may need to digitize these, but you don’t want to lose them,” says Barbara Reich, a professional organizer.
4. Important paperwork
When it’s time to clean out or pack up a house, let go of as much paper as possible, says Reich. But look out for important stuff like birth and death records, marriage licenses, social security cards, retirement documents, medical records, insurance policies, and more that might be mixed into a pile headed for the recycling.
5. A landline phone
You never know when your cell phone’s battery or service might go dead. “Keep at least one,” says Thomas.
“You have obviously enjoyed collecting these items, so select the few items that you value above all the rest,” says Watson. Whether it be dolls or decorative glassware, it’s better to display and enjoy a few than to have the whole collection boxed away in storage.
7. Fine jewelry AND the boxes they came in
“Having a piece of jewelry in it’s original box adds value when reselling it and keeps the piece of jewelry in mint condition,” says Thomas.
8. Extra kitchen and bathroom supplies
Only keep what you need and use from the kitchen, like pots and pans, a good quality chef’s knife, a spatula, a wooden spoon, countertop appliances you use a lot like a blender, and crucial linens. “If you have duplicates, you can donate them, but make sure you have the basics with you,” says Reich. And the bathroom? “You should bring two sets of sheets per bed (one on the bed, one to change) and four towels per person,” she says.
9. Decorative and sentimental items that bring back precious memories
Hold on to things like a lock of hair from your child’s first haircut or the medal you won for running a marathon, says Reich. “These are items that you would not be able to replace,” adds Watson.
10. Emergency supplies
A radio, batteries, a flashlight, and a first aid kit should all be on hand when you move into a new home, advises Reich. “And if you don’t have emergency supplies, now is the time to get them!”
11. Tags from expensive handbags
“If you ever are consigning them, tags will help you prove authenticity and bring a much better price,” explains Thomas.
12. Medication and toiletries that haven’t expired yet
Replacing these can be expensive. “Medication taken daily should be kept with you during the move,” warns Reich.
How do you tell what is TRULY meaningful?
Watson says this is her favorite trick: “In any given category, like artwork, ask this question, ‘If I could only take three pieces with me, which three would they be?’ With books, the question might be, ‘If I can only take 20 with me, which 20 would they be?’ This will help you discover the items that are the musts to take with you; the rest is negotiable.”
Kate is the founder of Learn and Grow Books, which is a website for parents and teachers of pre-K children.