Remember your first apartment? As young adults, many of us may have used milk crates as bookshelves, turned wood pallets into a coffee table and picked up odds and ends at yard sales. Walls were bare — and often cupboards — but living with less offered more freedom with fewer possessions to clean, fix and insure. Many of us remember those days fondly, not because we struggled financially but because we were happy nonetheless.
In many ways, a happy retirement can emulate some of those characteristics of our youth. One way to help recapture that lifestyle is to downsize. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to consider selling your home for a smaller one. It’s possible to downsize possessions — things you never use anymore, closet clutter, spare kitchenware, pictures on the walls that your children might appreciate now more than you.
You can try giving up other things that cost you money but that you don’t use: magazine subscriptions you never read; a gym membership you don’t use; a country club affiliation that you stopped enjoying years ago. Again, downsizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of those things entirely. Go to the public library to read your fill of magazines and newspapers. Check out your local parks and recreation department to see what classes, tennis courts, pools and golf courses are available.
How many times have you forgone an interest because you were involved in too many other things? Now’s the time you can swap out the old and try something new. It may help keep you feeling young.
We can all find ways to cut back expenses and simplify our lives, but it’s important that you don’t regard it as depriving yourself. Downsizing is a way to reach back in time to your 22-year-old self: less stuff, more lifestyle.