DOWNSIZING EQUALS RIGHTSIZING

Downsizing

DOWNSIZING – OUR STORY

Three years ago, as part of our preparation for retirement, we downsized. We wanted to simplify our life and reduce our expenses. We went from a 2400 square foot house with a half an acre of lawn to a 1200 square foot condo. As many empty-nesters find out, we ended up with much of our house with rooms that weren’t being used. We would frequently walk though our house and say “we don’t use that room, we don’t use this room”. Their only purpose was to store unused furniture and stuff. We realized that it would be best if we right-sized our life to fit our lifestyle and set a one year goal to find the right home and purge our stuff to fit into that home.

Downsizing, or rightsizing your life can be a huge step towards having a financially secure retirement. It can also be a big part in simplifying your life as you grow older. As a result of our kids moving out many of us are living in a larger house than we really need. To go along with the larger house are the larger costs for utilities, taxes, insurance, landscaping and maintenance, never mind the physical work to clean and maintain it.

Tiny House

WHY CARRY EXTRA BAGGAGE?

What tends to make downsizing complicated is our need to hang on to the past and all it’s relics. We all share the experience of realizing how much stuff we can collect over our lifetimes. There are mementos from trips, gifts from special people and things from important moments of our life. We have attics, basements, and storage units full of things that are too valuable, we think, or too important to part ways with. The emotional attachment is hard to break but the burden of keeping these things grows steadily as time goes on. The cost is financial if you are paying for storage, and physical if you keep having to move piles around. I have a friend that has three full dining room sets in her house. Her set in the dining room, and both her mother’s set and his mother’s set in their basement. It’s time to think of the burden that you are passing down to your family. How many times have you heard the story of the family who had to rent a dumpster to clean out their parent’s house? Our journey is hard enough as we get older; you don’t need to carry around extra baggage.

THE PURGE

Part of making our downsizing happen was to get rid of 1200 square feet of things. Some of this stuff included things that haven’t seen daylight since we moved into the house 15 years before. These were easy to get rid off, but probably only represented 10% of what we had to deal with. The other 90% which included a lot our favorite things, was the challenge. They included items that we loved but served little or no purpose and we just weren’t going to have room for them.

Part of what made this hard was the thing that most people our age discover, our kids don’t want our junk. Heck, they didn’t want their old junk that we still had. Younger people don’t want good china or formal dining room sets. They didn’t want my old Canadian flag or the cheap pottery we bought in Mexico. Brace yourself, because not only do our kids not want our stuff, but when you remembered what you paid for things, you assume there is value in them. When you start doing your homework to sell things, you end up being disappointed at what they are really worth.

The process of shedding your things can be emotional. There were many of our favorite things that we have a strong attachment to; my in-law’s old rocking chair, my Bose tower speakers, my favorite chair, and my golf clubs. Music is probably the most important non-human thing to me. So when we decided to downsize, I knew dealing with my wall of CD’s and albums was going to be a challenge. I prized my music collection. But it was a necessary part of the mission to find new homes for my music either by having family and friends take what they wanted, selling some and donating the rest. But thanks to music services like Apple Music, I survived by having access to most of my collection right on my phone or talking to Siri.

Another painful part of our downsizing was dealing with our library. We had hundreds of books.  Just walking by the shelves I felt I was absorbing knowledge through osmosis. But they weren’t going to be read again, and we weren’t going to have a place for them, so even though it was hard we donated the books to our local library book sale and felt good about it.

THE GOAL – NO STORAGE UNIT

People want to down size without getting rid of things that are “too important”. They end up paying hundreds a month on rental units to store things they’ll never use again. Now what? What’s going to happen to the stuff now that you’re storing it? Who will end up dealing with it? Our goal was to not store anything. We have a small area under our basement stairs that we store seasonal decorations, our luggage, and a plastic container of photos, that it!

 It wasn’t easy by a long shot. I don’t know which cliché you want to use, “pulling of the band-aide”, or “breaking the seal”, but once we crossed the emotional barrier and began getting rid of stuff, things started to flow out the door. We started by selling the easy unemotional stuff and built up momentum.  My wife became a Craig’s List expert. https://moneyinc.com/tips-for-selling-on-craigslist/ She was listing and selling everything from a canoe, a lawn tractor, collectibles and kitchen gadgets. We rendezvoused with buyers at the Home Depot parking lot, Friendly’s, and at out local police station to sell things. Our garage looked like a flea market. We’d set up an appointment with someone to buy one item, and they would end up leaving with their arms full. We gave away a ton of stuff. We donated tools to a young area artist, supplies to a teacher, and bags of clothes to various charities. We did keep some of our small favorites and we do regret getting rid of a couple things, but for the most part, we’re very happy with the results.

DON’T WAIT

The advice we have for everyone we share this story with is “don’t wait to start getting rid of stuff”. Even if you don’t have plans to downsize, simplify your life by reducing it’s contents. Look around at what you’re storing. What can you get rid of? What haven’t you used in the past year? Start with the easy stuff and have a goal to find a new home for one good sized thing a week. Your family will be grateful.

AGEISM IS REAL – 6 STEPS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF IT HAPPENING TO YOU

Ageism Dapper Man

The Workplace Isn’t Always Fair.

As I write this, the USA is slogging through another Presidential campaign. We have 5 candidates over 70 years old that are campaigning for a very tough job. However, employers throughout the country think that 65 is an upper limit and in a recent study 20% of people over 40 have reported age discrimination.

Ageism is subtle but real. If you are looking for work you’ll hear ageism code phrases like “you are overqualified”, “we’re seeking a recent college graduate”, or “young company seeks energetic professional”.

You would be right to say that there are laws that protect us against age discrimination, but if the company takes clever steps, it can be disguised and you’re out of luck. And to complicate things, even if an organization provides bias training to their employees, it rarely includes ageism.

Take Control Of Your Fate.

Accepting responsibility for putting yourself at risk of ageism is the first step. “I’m too old to learn this tech stuff” “I can’t keep up with the young people” is Bull ___!! It’s up to you and nobody else to not get aged out of a job. Don’t buy into your negative chatter. If you don’t want to be left behind, you have to adapt – it’s your choice.

Here Are Six Suggestions To Reduce Your Risk Of Being A Victim Of Ageism:

  1. Don’t stop learning – here is my previous post on Staying Sharp https://yourextrainnings.com/old-dogs-need-new-tricks/
  2. Work to stay on top of technology – “Digital Native” is a term used to describe people exposed to technology at a young age. It’s also another code word term used to eliminate older people in job ads. If you didn’t have a laptop in your crib as a kid, you are too old. Leave your ego outside and seek out younger people and ask for help and advice.
  3. Keep your network current especially with the younger generations. Connect with a diverse group of people. Compared to when we started 40-ish years ago, there are far more women and people of different ethnic backgrounds rising to positions of power in all industries. Dive in and interact with them. Be curious. You can only benefit from different points of views. See my earlier post on networking: https://yourextrainnings.com/networking-maybe-the-most-important-tool-for-delaying-your-retirement/
  4. Being seen as a tired old grandma or grandpa isn’t a good for you if you want to stick around. This is another situation where you have to take responsibility. If you need to lose weight and get in better shape, make it happen. I know it’s easy to say, but I’ve made it a priority to stay fit and keep my weight down. By the way, don’t dress like you’re the oldest one in the place.
  5. Act as if, act vital, act capable, and act as an equal. Don’t allow yourself to be seen as checking-out, over the hill or inflexible. Our attitudes towards getting older have an impact on our bodies and mind.
  6. Don’t blend in and don’t become invisible. Adapt, remain relevant and have a purpose for being there, it will show. Look for ways to show your value. Don’t shy away from opportunities to push yourself.

Tough Decisions May Be Ahead

With all that being said, tough decisions still may be waiting for you. If you are in a 40 year career, enjoying the benefits of annual pay increases, you may be considered expensive compared to someone with 10 years in the business. Are you prepared to make a tough decision to keep your pay in line with the budget?

Don’t wait, start today. Be proactive in reducing your risks of being a victim of ageism.

TIPS TO DON’T WORRY AND BE HAPPY IN YOUR EXTRA INNINGS

Tips To “Don’t Worry And Be Happy” In Your Extra Innings

It’s easy to be discouraged and down when you get to our age. Whether you are entering your 50’s or 60’s, getting older can have a negative effect on our overall attitude and outlook. In fact our bodies don’t work as well as they used to. You feel good, but when you get out of a chair…. The mirror can be a bit too honest with us. Or if you’re like me, when you see pictures of yourself you go “what happened?”

Reality is major setbacks happen in life. We lose friends and family faster and faster as we age. Major illnesses hit us or the people we love more frequently. These blows seem to hit us harder as we get further down life’s highway.

As you approach or enter retirement, you lose the identity you’ve been carrying around for years: “I’m a teacher” “I’m a plumber” “I’m a nurse” “I’m an engineer”. It can be a blow to your ego when you start thinking “I used to be a (Enter Past Career Here)”.

Don’t buy into the “Old Fart” stereotype.

Sam Harris, author of Waking https://samharris.org/about/ says “We make the mistake of viewing life as a journey to a destination. We should be viewing life as a series of experiences that only end when we do.” Even as we age, we have a ton of these experiences in front of us to enjoy. In fact there are our families to enjoy and our grand kids to spoil and love. We can still explore and learn.                                                         

It’s up to us if we’re going to be down in the dumps like Grumpy Old Men or smiling and living every day. Don’t wait until you find yourself in a hole and you discover you’re still digging.

Here are some tips that can help you maintain a positive outlook:

  • Take responsibility for managing what is going on inside your head. What are you focusing on? How do you talk to yourself? Be positive and spread it around.
  • Don’t let your body decline; your mind will be next. How are you staying fit and physically active? Are you eating well? See my previous post: https://yourextrainnings.com/taking-care-of-you-in-order-delay-your-retirement/
  • Be proud of your experiences and success, and act that way.
  • Make a list of all the good things that are going on in your life. Start each day with a gratitude list, 5 things you are grateful for.
  • Make yourself feel happy. Stand up straight and make yourself smile. Do it in front of a mirror and get a laugh. If you want to go hardcore do as I do; when I’m done with my morning shower, I turn the water to full cold for 1 minute. It snaps you out of any funk you may be in and when it’s over, you feel like the day can only go up from there.
  • Lose The News. Turn off the news on TV and on the radio. There is nothing going on that you can influence or that has an immediate impact on you. If something serious happens, don’t worry, you’ll find out. In truth, I am guilty as anyone. It’s easy to drive to and from work and listen to the 24-7 gloom and doom reports about how bad the democrats or the republican are. And by the time you get there or home you’re depressed. Listen to audio-books or subscribe to free podcasts on any subject you want like art, hunting, cooking, science, or history. Use the time to learn something.
  • Have a purpose, a mission. Keep engaged with 2-3 core pursuits. Mine are this blog, fitness and joining our condo board.  Start developing them now, before you need them.
  • Use the time at home to learn a new skill or hobby. I’m trying to learn the Ukulele. See  my previous post on Staying Sharp: https://yourextrainnings.com/old-dogs-need-new-tricks/
  • Get out and reconnect with friends and family you’ve grown a part from. Loneliness is a serious issue with seniors so pay attention to this now.
  • I’m not a very religious person, but the Serenity Prayer offers serious life advice:  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”

Be Like The New England Patriots, Or The Seattle Seahawks. Your Choice.

In a 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated there was an article about how the Patriots and Seahawks benefited by a book on Stoic Philosophy called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holliday. Here’s a link to the article: https://www.si.com/nfl/2015/12/08/ryan-holiday-nfl-stoicism-book-pete-carroll-bill-belichick

The School of Athens

Stoicism goes back 2000 years and lays out methods for dealing with the hardships we face in life and managing the emotions that go along with them. In my opinion, Ryan Holiday’s book is the best and most accessible source of Stoic philosophy. The Obstacle Is The Way was also recently mentioned by the pro golfer Rory McElroy as his guide to maintaining a positive mind set during the ups and downs of his career.

If you’re like me in your early 60’s, based on the current projections, I have another quarter of my life remaining. I sure don’t want to spend that time feeling bad that I can’t do some things I used to.Quite frankly, there are too many things I can do and too much life left to live. I’m choosing to live instead of waiting to die.