At some point almost everyone reaches the tipping point when, stumbling over an old ottoman, weaving through a lifelong collection of furniture, clothing, knickknacks and doodads; searching for that one stubborn, lost item, they throw up their hands and declare “Enough! We’ve got too much junk!”
And what is arguably a monthly oath sworn by a multitude of parents, “Begone! Foul clutter!” takes on even more urgency as parents-turned-grandparents start considering what’s to be done with it all when they’re gone.
“Downsizing” has become a bit of a fad, lately, but it has been a long time coming and won’t be going away soon. Certainly our culture has encouraged the curation of a large pile of possessions for every American for decades. Now, those hand-carved chicken-shaped salt-shakers are coming home to roost as both older and younger generations look to offload their accumulated stuff.
But for retirees and people who are beginning to prepare for seniority, the need to downsize is not a fad or a preference or a life choice, it’s a necessity. As the circumstances of our lives change, it’s critical to think of what’s to come and plan for it, or what should be a time of restful repose could end up a harrowing hardship.
“This is a concern we’re hearing from a lot of our members lately,” Advanced Case Specialist John Tetzloff says. “You’ve spent a lifetime collecting memories and physical things, and you reach a point where it dawns on you that it’s got to go somewhere. A lot of people at that age begin looking at a significant reduction in living space or finances. People want help knowing where to start.”
This is a serious issue that a large cohort of our membership is facing. It’s also something everyone will eventually have to deal with. A certain Midwestern stoicism might argue that these are private concerns. But the point (and goal) of downsizing is it’s bold to step onto a new path and leave the nonessential behind. It’s liberating to be prepared!
To address this growing issue, Catholic United Financial has brought together a panel of downsizing experts in real estate, organization, and financial preparedness, to create a Stress-Free Downsizing Workshop for our members or any Catholics who have concerns about their future state. The workshop is set up as a universal primer on downsizing that brings experts together with the public to educate attendees on triggers, timelines and costs that may be associated with each phase of their transition.
Re-Max Results real estate broker Stieg Strand begins by discussing common downsizing mistakes, such as assuming that doing nothing costs less than doing something; then works into considerations about your home — how many stairs there are, lawn and snow maintenance, proximity to health care and other essential services) that often catch people unprepared.
There’s no pre-programmed solution for reducing your footprint, but it’s important to think about who will visit, how easy it is for people to get to you, and how easy it is for you to get out. Strand also goes into several financing options and the pros and cons of each, including the oft-maligned reverse mortgage.
“We want to be informative, we want to visualize what it’s going to be like, we want to build confidence,” Strand says. “We want to make sure you have the right tools and the right information and avoid common downsizing mistakes.”
Following Strand is Ashley Lubbs – an established organizational guru earning a reputation as a downsizing expert. Her contribution has to do with actually ridding oneself of possessions in an empathetic way, that takes into account that it isn’t a game show – who can throw out the most – it’s a lifetime of memories and shared totems that are very hard to let go for some. You won’t hear anyone demanding you apply a mantra to your clearing, but you will get suggestions on how to offload the items while keeping the memories.
“It’s not easy to get rid of things that you’ve always had, that bring you comfort, that bring you joy, that bring you convenience. Right?” Lubbs says, “It’s not easy. And so I want to make sure you know, I get it. It’s emotional. It’s not easy. It’s not fast. But it’s really encouraging to know that you’re beginning to prep for it, and that you really do understand it is going to be an emotional process that you need to start mentally preparing for now.”
Lubbs also emphasizes not only planning, but dreaming and hoping. “What are the goals to the next phase of your life?” she asks the crowd. “Do you want to travel? Watch the grandchildren two or three days a week? Do you see yourself volunteering or working part time, maybe hosting neighborhood parties of fellowship opportunities. Are those your goals?”
Following Lubbs, Tetzloff takes on the last elephant in the room – how it all gets paid for. Tetzloff has been beating the estate planning drum for 20 years now, advising a steady rhythm of Catholic United members, nearly universally, of the necessity of knowing your estate and planning its transference before it becomes too late to do so.
“So many problems can be avoided, and not only problems avoided but so many great things can happen if we just take the time to figure out ‘what we got’ and how to pass it on to the heirs or causes that we care about.” Tetzloff says.
Catholic United Financial is striving to be there for every step and every journey throughout our members’ lives. There with the right benefit for the moment, the right product for the need, the right piece of advice at the right time by a Sales Rep who’s considered more of a fellow parishioner than a financial pusher.
To see the schedule and join us at an upcoming workshop, visit www.catholicunitedfinancial.org/workshops, or contact your Sales Rep if you’re interested in having a Stress-Free Downsizing Workshop in your area.
After all, life is much easier with an expert to guide you.