Giving Up Your Furniture When You Downsize

What do you do with your furniture when you downsize your life?

Most likely you’re moving to smaller quarters and you just can’t fit all of your furniture into it. So you’ll have to make some decisions.

We moved from a 5-bedroom two-story house to a 3-bedroom ranch when we downsized. As a result, we gave up a lot of furniture, something you may also have to do.

The downside of this is that you won’t get much for your furniture, even if it’s very high quality, solid wood, leather, etc. Most of today’s young people would rather spend $600 on an iPhone than on a solid oak end table, so the demand for high-quality furniture is not what it once was. But it’s not dead, either, so you should be able to sell your unneeded furniture, though you probably won’t get what you think it’s worth.

We were in the middle of moving, so we wanted to get rid of things quickly. We put a sofa sleeper on Craig’s List for a few hundred dollars, and it sold fast. We put a loveseat that had seen better days on the curb and a neighbor snatched it up within a few hours. We also had a sale at our storage unit where we sold our kitchen table and chairs, a few dressers and some other pieces of furniture.

We didn’t make a fortune on our old furniture, but we got it out of our way quickly, which was our primary goal.

The upside to today’s listless furniture market is that you can find some really nice pieces for reasonable prices that will be better suited to your new (smaller) home. After we downsized, we did buy a few new pieces, because we needed smaller-scale furniture.

Our best purchase was a leather loveseat, built like a tank and in pretty good shape, bought from someone who was also downsizing and didn’t want to take it on their cross-country move. It cost us a whopping $200 and fits perfectly in our modestly sized living room, where a sofa would be too large.

The person we bought it from moved to the other side of the country after selling all her furniture, then outfitted her new smaller home with quality wood and leather pieces as well as appliances that she found on Craig’s List. She said it was well worth the money she paid to rent a small truck to carry the larger pieces to her new home.

Of course there’s always IKEA, Big Lots and Target if you prefer cheap, trendy furniture. But if you like quality pieces, a little legwork can get you well-made furniture at a very reasonable cost in just the right scale for your new home.

A Great Reason for Building a Tiny House

I’ve posted many stories about tiny houses on this blog. But this is one of the best tiny stories I’ve shared, not because the tiny house is so fantastic (though it’s certainly nice).

The beauty of this particular tiny-house story is that the college student who built this tiny house is using it to save himself a small fortune, which is what it costs to live in a college dorm. (Residence halls can cost five figures a year, depending on where you go to college.) Since he’s debt-free, the money he saves on dorm costs is pure profit.

Since this video was made, he’s begun renting out his tiny house on Airbnb while he tours the U.S. on his motorcycle. So his tiny house is earning an income for him. This young man is one smart guy!


Career Loss Amplifies the Need to Be Completely Debt-Free

We paid off our last mortgage when we were 44, one year earlier than this guy says you should pay it off.

His reasoning is this:

“The reason I say 45 is the turning point, or in your 40s, is because think about a career: Most careers start in early 20s and end in the mid-60s,” O’Leary says. “So, when you’re 45 years old, the game is more than half over, and you better be out of debt, because you’re going to use the rest of the innings in that game to accrue capital.”

I agree with him, but let’s take it a step further. For an increasing number of people, “the game” was over by the time they were 50 or 55 or 60. Their job went overseas, or they were let go in a downsizing, or younger people willingly to accept much lower pay were promoted over them and then they were sent packing. Now they’re working at a job beneath their capabilities and earning far less than they did in the career they spent most of their life on.

When you’re in that position, there’s no time to “accrue capital.” You’re in survival mode. And when you’re in survival mode, the very best place to be is debt-free. When you own your home outright, no one can kick you out unless you don’t pay your taxes (which is why if you’re forced to downsize your life, you should move to an area where you can afford the taxes). So you’ll always have a roof over your head.

We were forced to sell our paid-off house five years after we paid it off, because a career loss meant that “the game was over” for us, and we could no longer afford the skyrocketing property taxes. We did not reinvest all the money we made from the sale of that house in a new house; in fact, we spent less than a third of that money on the next house.

This worked out very well for us. But the point is, we had the option of doing this because WE WERE AND ARE DEBT-FREE. So whether your “game” ends at 50 or 80, pay off all your debts as soon as you can, including your mortgage, and you will be in the best position you can be.

“I Was Gonna”

Were there ever three words that got more people into clutter trouble?

“I was gonna learn to paint so I collected all these paintbrushes, paints, books about painting, and canvases I bought on sale that are sitting, covered with dust, in my basement.”


“I was gonna start a jewelry making business, so I started collecting tools, stones, books about making jewelry, magazines about making jewelry, and display cases I was going to use at craft sales, all of which are now parked high up in the top of my garage rafters.”


“I was gonna start an in-home daycare, so I bought up toys on sale, including big climbing toys that fill a corner of my backyard to this day, but I never did get that business off the ground.”

Sound familiar?

Here’s one of my own (many) “I Was Gonna” stories. Years ago, I read a book review in a magazine like Glamour or Mademoiselle (remember that magazine?) for a book about making your own wedding gown. So I special-ordered it from Kroch and Brentano’s bookstore.

As it turned out, not long after I got engaged, I found my dream gown on a mannequin in a bridal store. It was only $50, so I snapped it up, and thus didn’t need the book after all. But I kept it just in case.

A few years later my sister got engaged and I thought I’d make her a wedding gown, but I became so busy with my new baby that I quickly realized that I didn’t have time to take on such a project. But I kept the book so I could make my baby girl’s wedding gown someday.

And I kept that book for 30 years. Finally, during our big purge several years ago, I admitted defeat and donated it to the local Goodwill.

Since then, two daughters have gotten married. One eloped, and the other wanted a specific gown that she saw in a bridal shop. So I never would have used the book anyways!

How many things do you have that are “I Was Gonna” items? Things you were gonna do but never did. Have you gotten to the point that you can admit that you’re never gonna do them? That you had good intentions but life got in the way?

It’s OK to admit that, by the way. It happens to everyone. The important thing is what needs to happen after you admit that you’re never gonna use that stuff: you let it go.

That’s right, just move it along. Donate it, give it to someone who wants it, or pitch it (especially in the case of very old, dried-up tubes of artists’ paint.)

Let yourself be who you are today, not who you were back in the day or who you intended to become. The space you reclaim will be your reward.