After over 30 years of living in one place, my wife and I had accumulations – items we bought, got as presents, or were handed down as family heirlooms. Heirloom here including a 4 quart pot made of metal worn so thin an electric burner would put a hole through it.
Many of these are items we probably should have trashed, sold, or given away, but instead let sit. Or maybe we moved it to “storage” in the garage, the basement, or a closet. But it was still there, accumulating.
This is not like a refrigerator or mattress, which we actually replace once in a while. This is the other stuff.
Small stuff, like carrot peelers, or scissors. Medium stuff like pots from the Teflon phase.
Stuff we bought to replace the lost stuff that then turned up, like a potato peeler or a bread knife.
Stuff we bought that we desperately needed at the time but ended up using once, like the melon baller.
Stuff that just hung around because we thought it was too good to throw out, like the baby stroller.
Stuff we used a lot when we bought it, but somehow then just put it aside, like the salad spinner.
Stuff in the back of kitchen drawers like our first set of eight stainless steel knives, forks, and spoons or cutting knives that no longer cut.
Stuff that remained after we redecorated, like those wooden shelves, cast iron brackets, or framed paintings. Or cans of half empty paints for that wall touch up I never got around to.
For me, there were plenty of old binders full of training courses I had written but saved in case I ever had to refer to them again. Operating the Sky Climber Hoist from the 70s. Selling Open Plan furniture from the 80s. What’s a Supply Chain? from the 90s. Communication Skills for Leaders from the early 00s.
For my wife it was a cabinet full of Signature Club A facial creams and lipsticks. Of course, there were other jars of concealer, polish, facials, skin peelers, eye lifters, face cleansers, body washes, and body scrubs. The chemicals in them had broken down long ago, but they sat, a glass army of creams and lotions ready to go into the battle of beauty.
Appliances, like our vacuum cleaner that just rolls which was replaced by the new one that twists and turns. The big, green carpet cleaning machine with its long gray hose. We had used it sparingly on our carpets. Then we finally took out all the carpets to expose the original wood flooring in our house. But the carpet cleaning machine was neatly stored in the garage.
For us, boxes were the largest number of accumulators. Boxes full of stuff that got opened once every five years including those with college textbooks, now full of obsolete facts, and classic books, in paperback, like Animal Farm, now turning yellow. Boxes of baby and kids clothing, intended for giving to the grandchildren, even though there are currently no grandchildren or plans for them.
There was an old cedar chest, brought all the way from New York City when I moved west. It was full of old jackets and suits, many of which now had moth holes in them. And the old rabbit coat which my wife says was very chic in the early 70s. Winter blankets for snuggling in the Eastern cold which could now only serve as beach blankets.
If we wanted to move we would have to pay to move all that stuff, then pay for a house big enough to hold all that stuff, then pack and unpack all that stuff.
So if your first retirement decision is to move, your first retirement action is to unstuff your house.