In 11 years of marriage, my husband and I have moved 10 times. We’re not in the military, and there’s no good explanation for all the moves, except that they just made sense at the time. Most of our moves were from a smaller dwelling to a bigger one, which meant there wasn’t much downsizing that needed to take place between moves – we just loaded everything up and carted it along with us.

The last two moves have been different. The first move downsized our space from roughly 2,000 total square feet to 1,500 square feet (including respective storage space), and our most recent move took us from roughly 1,500 square feet to about 1,000 square feet (including storage space). In other words, in the last 18 months we’ve had to downsize our space by half.

Downsizing Your Home Wisely

The key to downsizing is to purge your life of the things you don’t need without getting rid of the things you do need. It sounds pretty simple, but I can tell you, it’s not. Somehow in our first downsizing we ended up with nine spoons, two forks and zero knives – I still have no idea where the rest of our silverware went, but I’m assuming it was in a box we took to Goodwill.

I also gave away my back-saving memory foam body pillow, and unfortunately, it was the wrong decision. Even if it freed up extra room in our car, my back has hated me ever since.

Granted, I’d like to think this isn’t the norm – most people won’t mistakenly get rid of their silverware. But if the old adage, “Three moves equals a fire” is true, you’re likely to get rid of a few items during a downsize (whether or not you’re actually moving), that you should probably hang on to.

Downsizing effectively comes down to time and thoughtful consideration. If you’re short on time, or if you’re not thinking about the end result, you’ll end up making mistakes.

Luckily, I’ve gotten smarter. Our most recent downsize has gone incredibly well, and my whole life feels better now that I have less stuff cluttering my space. Here are my tips for downsizing wisely, whether you’re moving or simply freeing up space in your current home.

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