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Downsizing solutions

JIM MILLER Published: August 29, 2011
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Dear Savvy Senior

What tips can you recommend to help seniors with downsizing? I have been thinking about moving to a retirement community, but in order to move I need to get rid of a lot of my stuff. I have a four bedroom house as well as an attic and basement that are full. Any tips would be appreciated.

Overwhelmed Senior

Dear Overwhelmed,

The process of weeding through a house full of stuff and parting with old possessions can be difficult and overwhelming for many seniors. Most people in your situation start the downsizing process by giving their unused possessions to their kids or grandkids, which you can do up to $13,000 per person per year before you’re required to file a federal gift tax return, using IRS Form 709. Beyond that, here are a few extra tips and services that may help you.

Downsizing for Dollars

Selling your stuff is one way you can downsize and pad your pocketbook at the same time. If you’re willing, have the time and access to the Internet, online selling at sites like Craigslist and eBay is the best way to make top dollar.

Craigslist.org is a huge classified ads site that lets you sell your stuff for free. And eBay.com lets you conduct your own online auction for a small listing fee, and if it sells, 9 percent of the sale price, up to $100. Or, if you don’t want to do the selling yourself you can get help from an eBay trading assistant who will do everything for you.

They typically charge between 33 and 40 percent of the selling price. Go to ebaytradingassistant.com to search for trading assistants in your area.

Some other popular selling options are consignment shops, garage sales and estate sales. Consignment shops are good for selling old clothing, household furnishings and decorative items. You typically get half of the final sale price.

Garage sales are another option, or you could hire an estate sale company to come in and sell your items. Some companies will even pick up your stuff and sell them at their own location – they usually take around 50 percent of the profits.

Donate It

If you itemize on your tax returns, donating your belongings is another way to downsize and get a tax deduction. Goodwill (goodwill.

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