Downsizing Your Home and Life in Your Golden Years
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There’s never a wrong time to make changes, and your Golden Years are a great time to embrace positive changes that support you and encourage independence. We’re talking downsizing, but not just your home. You can downsize your finances and stress, too. Here’s some advice for those who are about to take on a downsizing project -- as well as for the loved ones helping them -- on what to do and how to make the whole process stress-free.
Tally some numbers
Downsizing can be overwhelming, but with a bit of financial planning, you’ll be off to a good start. Ensure your retirement savings will cover all of your expenses, including transitioning to a smaller home and/or renovations to age in place. Don’t forget to budget for all the fun activities that come with retirement, such as travel and leisure.
With all that in mind, examine your budget using this online budgeting worksheet, and trim down where you can. You’ll likely find that you can spend less in various areas and use what you save to live it up in your retirement.
Find additional help for veterans
If you or your spouse was a veteran, you may be able to save when buying a new home. If you’re planning a move, veterans can qualify for a VA home loan from PennyMac, which typically offers low interest rates, and there is no down payment required. On top of that, homeowners don’t need to pay private mortgage insurance.
Don’t overlook the VA health care system as well, which offers low-cost medical care and prescriptions to veterans. Veterans are eligible to use both the VA and Medicare systems simultaneously.
Those are earned advantages from serving our country, and an opportunity to simplify expenses and save money. What you save can go toward any senior-friendly home renovations you need.
Examine living spaces
Certain housing designs and modifications can help seniors stay safe and independent. There are not many homes on the market already equipped for aging in place, but there are plenty of ways to modify properties to support you during your senior years.
Some of the basics include installing things like grab bars in the master bath, a ramp for the front entryway (usually costs between $1,200 and $2,400), and additional lighting throughout a home. If you need help making these modifications, hiring a local handyman is the way to go (contractors in Yucaipa charge an average of $355 per project). Most people also benefit from single-floor living and things like low-maintenance siding and easy-care landscaping.
Whether you decide to stay in your current home and make changes or search for a new home, an aging in place checklist can help you sort details.
Go through your home
Seniors who are downsizing often benefit from decluttering, and effective decluttering begins with organization. There should be three piles: what to keep, donate, and toss. In order to decide what makes it into each pile, ask yourself if it works and if it holds sentimental value. If it works but doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, donate it, and if it’s broken, toss it. Be sure to safely dispose of electronics and batteries or other potentially harmful materials.
It can be difficult to say goodbye to things that made your house feel like a home. However, freeing up space can make getting around much easier, as well as create a relaxing aesthetic where you can read, write, draw, meditate, and so forth.
Lower your stress
If anything, reducing your stress is most important. Once your mind is clear and you are feeling relaxed and refreshed, you will be better able to enjoy your life. Consider engaging in a social activity such as an exercise class or hobby group or start up a weekly lunch outing with friends. Use your free time to try out new hobbies you never had time for, such as painting, photography, gardening, or crafting. Your Golden Years shouldn’t be stressful, so find activities that offer relief and incorporate them into your lifestyle.
While it is a time-consuming project, downsizing has many benefits. Having less stuff and organizing your life means less work and stress, and being surrounded by what you need and love most in the world feels great. What are you waiting for? Start downsizing today!