• Out with the old. If any of your belongings are old or shabby (think rugs, towels, window treatments, bedding, even lampshades), get rid of them and don't consider replacing them until you are in your new space and can assess its storage capacity. This is especially important for redundant items. How many separate sets of bed linens do you need for the guest room?
• Damage control. If anything in your house is broken beyond the point that you will ever fix it, throw it out right now and don't look back!
• Dump it on your driveway. Renting a Dumpster that you can place right in your own yard or driveway is a great incentive to toss even large items that you no longer need. Watch it fill up – it's liberating to see your junk disappear. You'll likely surprise yourself with how easy it is to ditch basement, attic, and closet clutter. And don't forget to go through drawers and cupboards!
• Contact a cause. Everyone from Big Brothers Big Sisters to the Epilepsy Foundation is looking for gently used household items. It can feel really good to know that your former belongings will be given a second life with someone who truly needs them.
• Trash or treasure? Anyone who has ever watched Antiques Roadshow knows that sometimes valuable collectibles can lurk in the most unexpected places – like your attic. If you have any unneeded memorabilia that you suspect might be worth something, have it appraised and see if you stand to earn a little money. Or sell unused items in consignment shops or on eBay or Craigslist (just make sure you understand how to do so safely).
• Consider your new lifestyle. Are you going to need your washer and dryer if there are laundry services at your new home? If lawn care is included in your new property, you certainly won't need a lawnmower any longer. Sell these items or give them away!
• What to keep. Naturally, anything that has sentimental value is off the table as far as disposal. But if you have anything big and bulky (oversized photos, trophies, or ornaments that you don't plan to display), think about whether they might have an alternative home – in a friend's attic, or even in the living room of a family member who might find that meaningful item equally special and worthy of display.
Isn't a big part of downsizing simplifying your life? Remember, the more decide you can do without, the more liberated you'll feel, so go ahead and purge the old. When you're settled in your new home, you can take a breath, relax, and enjoy the simplicity of your smaller space.