5 Tips for the Downsizing Baby Boomer

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Do you find yourself minimizing? Are you worried about leaving a legacy of clutter? Or, maybe you have parents who are of the age where it’s time to downsize?

Well, you’re not alone. A recent U.S. Census Bureau report in June 2015 states that there are 75.4 million Baby Boomers, and not surprisingly, Millennials, who were born between 1982 and 2000, now outnumber the Boomers at 83.1 million. We’re in a generational shift, and the trend is clear: Boomers need to get rid of their stuff.

By definition, Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Many in this demographic just recently dealt with liquidating their parents’ estates. Some are retiring and others are reinventing themselves. Still others are making plans to travel the world while they can. They may be downsizing to simplify their lives, or, in an effort to not burden their kids – who don’t want their household belongings – they are looking at ways to sell their valuables.

If you see yourself in this scenario, let me give you some tips:

1) Research the secondary market. Go to an auction and see what similar pieces sell for. Look on sites like eBay, LiveAuctioneers, and Invaluable. They will all let you search past sold items with a few clicks of the mouse. In many cases, you will be surprised by the values both in good ways and disheartening ways. Don’t shoot the messenger -- it’s just the law of supply and demand. You boomers have a lot of stuff and the demand has dwindled, but I am not a downer or Negative Nancy. Just want to brace you.

2) Ask your friends. Don’t be shy. Many people have gone through this recently and have valuable insight. Liquidating an estate can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Friends who have gone through the process can share tips and referrals.

3) Call a licensed appraiser. Many will offer their opinions for free, or at least on their initial consultation. And keep in mind that just because an item you own already has an appraisal certificate from many years ago, doesn’t mean that’s the worth today.

4) Hit the local antique and consignment stores. Check out those tags. Don’t make the mistake of having a yard sale without knowing what you are doing. You will give something away.

5) Remember that it’s only stuff. This is the hardest to remember. In the grand scheme of things, you and your family are the most important thing. These “things” are, as George Carlin would say, Just Stuff. I was raised in a house by parents who would have made amazing stars on the popular A&E Show, Hoarders. I have seen what it’s like to be attached to things, and all of the emotions that go with it. I am sure it is why I do what I do and why I often feel like a psychologist.