So Much Stuff

I’m a widow with two daughters in their 20s, who both live on their own. I have a two-story, four-bedroom house that is becoming harder to maintain. Could it be a good time for me to sell? It seems to be a “seller’s market,” and I am considering what’s best for me for the next phase of life. 

Whether I stay or go, it’s kind of overwhelming. On the “stay” side of the argument is that my daughters will have a place to return to for holidays and comfortable, familiar bedrooms waiting for them if life doesn’t go according to plan. I have a nice backyard for my dog to play in, and moving is just so hard.

The “go” side is clearer but no easier. I am at a stage where I can find a condo in a 55+ community, and it could conceivably be the right home for me in which to grow older. I’m looking at first-floor, two-bedroom units and no steps. I want to stay in this town that’s been home for almost 50 years. And it’s quite possible that I could end up lowering my monthly expenses.

Of course, I would have to downsize—that’s challenging and so time consuming. I have too much stuff. And I like my stuff. I tell myself I can always get different stuff and I’ll like that as well. 

But did you know that it’s also expensive to get rid of stuff? I just paid a small fortune to have junk removers empty two-thirds of my unfinished basement. (Time-plus-damp adds up to unsalvageable stuff. Ewww, what did that used to be, anyway?) You really can point and make it disappear (with your checkbook handy). A truckload cost $700, but it’s gone.

As for the upstairs, if I move, I won’t need the girls’ beds and dressers—they have little value, that’s easy. But they have stuff collecting dust that carries a great deal of sentimental value for them. They are apartment dwellers, so they’ll need to invest in a storage unit for things I can’t take. On one hand, I feel badly about making them choose, but I tell myself that downsizing benefits them in the long run. My conscience tugs at me: how much do I owe them in memory-storage? A few large, plastic tubs? A second bedroom-full? It is an emotional point to consider that gives me heartache.

Beyond the extra furniture, knickknacks and kitsch, I have trappings of my former, married life. I have a teapot collection, sterling silver and “good” china that the girls don’t want and I don’t use. I won’t be entertaining on a grand scale and I won’t need it. But it will hurt to put it into consignment. There are a few furniture pieces I like and will keep for my next home, but if I consider the cost to move something versus the prospect of having something new, I can let most things go. (I’m talking to you, saggy, old mattress. You too, every-single-holiday decoration.)

Meanwhile, a multifamily yard sale is being planned in my neighborhood. I need to A) stay away from their stuff and B) promise myself to bring absolutely nothing of my own back inside. 

Do you need any stuff?