by | February 2015 | è BELLA MAGAZINE | 0 comments

Downsizing, or more specifically, the act of becoming smaller and more efficient, has taken on new meaning as we’ve come to realize the only way to truly simplify our lives is to have less “stuff.”

Downsizing, especially when it comes to family heirlooms, can be complicated. For instance, how do you get rid of great-great-grandmother Mary’s china (even if it’s chipped) without causing a rift amongst family members? In general, it’s easier to dispose of stuff if you have a plan – sell, donate, consign or give away. If you decide to sell things you think are valuable remember, “Half of something is better than half of nothing.” To make the task of getting rid of stuff a little less daunting and perhaps more spiritually or economically rewarding, here are a few practical ideas:

Fur coat: As the great-great-granddaughter of A. Hollander, the man credited with inventing Hollanderizing, a sawdust-based method for cleaning fur coats, I once owned a magnificent full-length coyote and white fox fur coat. Living in Naples, I never wore it, so after 10 years of paying $80 each year for cold storage (do the math), I sold it for $450, which in my book is better than nothing! If you can’t bear to part with your fur altogether, have it made into a snuggly Teddy Bear, throw or pillow.

Silver flatware: Years ago when trying to unload my grandmother’s silver, which I’d only used twice in 20 years, I called all of my nieces and nephews only to be turned down by each and every one of them. When it comes to the Millennials (aka: Generation Y), if it’s not from IKEA or Crate & Barrel, they aren’t interested. I ended up selling the silver for scrap and started a “travel fund” with my mother; as we each sell stuff we no longer want, use or need, we put the proceeds toward an annual mother-daughter trip.

China dishes and serving pieces: Sell, consign, give away or go online. Founded in 1981, Replacements, Ltd. is a great place to try and sell your china, as well as your un-engraved silver flatware and serving pieces.

Gold & Silver: Here’s the simple rule: when the market is up, gold and silver prices are down; when the market is down, gold and silver are up. Be sure to shop around – commissions can be high and some companies charge to remove stones and/or enamel. Don’t forget your grandmother’s gold bridge – it’s worth a pretty penny!

Furniture: Years ago, my dad salvaged a brass bed from a junkyard for $7 and lovingly restored it. Somehow I ended up with the bed and lugged it state-to-state and house-to-house for 30 years. Last year, I finally admitted it didn’t go with anything else in my home and essentially “begged” my brothers, sister, nieces and nephews to take the bed, please. Yep, you got it; no one took me up on my offer. After I sold it at the Guadalupe Resale Shop, my sister called to say, “How could you? That’s the bed I was conceived in.”

Downsizing is not an easy task, especially when we have things in our lives we think we can’t live without either because of sentimental reasons or because we think they may (or may not) be valuable. Either way, it’s important to remember that everything we own, owns a piece of us. So maybe now is the time to free yourself of the past and embrace the next stage of your life?