February 2019 - Re-organizing and De-cluttering Seminar

Decluttering Clip Art

Decluttering Clip Art

Valerie Preuss, owner of A Place in Time, LLC, a company specializing in senior move management, shared with the group some tips to downsizing and de-cluttering or, as she preferred, rightsizing and repurposing.

So first things first:

  • Make a list of all possessions that are to be rightsized or repurposed;
  • Send the list to those family members to whom you would like to gift and ask them to choose what they would like to have.  Don’t assume you know who wants what. Use a lottery if more than one person requests the same item(s).
  • Set up deadlines for responses and pick-ups. If those dates are not honored, you are free to make the decision as to what happens to those things without guilt.
  • Invite everyone home for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, or just to celebrate time together and tell them to bring trucks and trailers to pick up their items.
  • If you choose to ship, your recipient should pay for the shipping costs. This will tell you whether or not they really want what you are gifting to them.
  • Most importantly, KEEP what is most dear to you, preserving the fondest and happiest memories. If you’re not done “loving it”, then keep it.  It will be passed along later.

Tools to be used:

  • Cardboard boxes and flexible black plastic bags.  Valerie has found that Lowes Home Depot have reasonable prices for these items.
    • Small boxes for heavy items, i.e. books, tools, heavy baking and cookware
    • Heavy duty medium boxes for glassware, dishes, vases, shoes, etc.
    • Large boxes for linens, pillows, towels, etc.
    • Wardrobe boxes for clothes, those clothes to be donated can remain on their hangar, folding once and putting in a large plastic bag.
  • Flexible black plastic bags – opaque so that you won’t see the items once they have gone into the bag – no peeking to second guess the decision.

The process:

  1. Create a staging area for the items that are being gathered and organized
    1. Can be a closet, spare bedroom, garage
    2. Can be a mobile mini pod in driveway or a storage unit
  2. Start simple…with one drawer, one closet, or one cupboard or work just 10 minutes, 30 minutes, but no more than 1 hour the first day. It is an emotional trip down memory lane and can be exhausting.
  3. Make a list of all items for tax purposes. Label the boxes and bags – Sell, Donate, Ship, Storage, Shred, etc. 
  4. As the labeled boxes and bags become filled, call for a pick-up if it is to be donated.  Tell the donation center the number of boxes and bags to be picked up.
  5. As this is being done, ultimately you will have gone through every box, nook and cranny, you will find all duplications of items, all the saved cards from friends and families, all the things you have put away to save for a later date. With it all in sight, it will be easier to decide what to move, what not to move, what to gift and what to share/donate.


  • Gift it…family, friends, charities, etc.
  • Consign it…antiques and furniture 5-6 years old, excellent condition.  Average 50/50 proceeds split.
  • Estate Sale it…after a move is optimum.  Typically 50/50 split on everyday items; 30/70 split on high end pieces of good quality.
  • Auction it…you can set a minimum bid or not, your choice.
  • Liquidate it…receive a check for the lot and you’re done.
  • Donate it and take the write-off.  Check new tax law for qualified donations.


  • Old photographs movies
    • Library of Congress may have an interest
    • Interior designers may purchase for model home decorating
    • Digitize – AZ Digital Transfers, www.azdigitaltransfers.com, 602-548-8493
  • Document shredding
    • Watch your documents being shredded; don’t leave the box with anyone to be
    • Shredded later.
    • Check the Trip/Savvy website for finding free shredding services in Phoenix
    • Check with your bank, some offer free shredding services
    • Check with office supply stores, some will shred documents
    • Check with AARP for dates of twice annual shred-a-thon

Valerie closed the seminar by exhorting us to start using the items that we typically save for others, i.e. your good china, your sterling silver pieces, those linens, etc.  If you love it, use it and enjoy it!

Information taken from seminar handout material.

Submitted by Beverly Buddee

March 11, 2019

ASU Retirees Association
Mailing address: PO Box 873308, Tempe, AZ 85287
Physical address: Community Services Building Room 201, 200 E. Curry, Tempe, AZ
Phone: 480-965-7668