What to Do About Your Parents’ Stuff

Many people in their 40s, 50s and 60s must add to their busy lives the job of going through their parents’ belongings. Whether their folks are moving to a nursing home or assisted living, or they have passed away, it’s their adult children who have to deal with what can sometimes be an enormous amount of furniture, household items, clothes and clutter. It can be overwhelming.

If you find yourself in this situation, and you believe the old adage that “Misery loves company,” check out this article and the follow-up piece to it and learn what others are doing to tackle this huge and emotional task. You might also want to read my book, How to Clean Out Your Parent’s House (Without Filling Up Your Own).

Moving Back In with the Folks? Eeeek!

Oh, the joy, fear and excitement of leaving home to go off on my own. How well I remember it, even though it’s been, um, a while (let’s just say it was back when James Taylor still had a full head of hair).

Once I was on my own, I couldn’t imagine moving back home with my parents. So when I read this article about how the economy is forcing some adults in their 50s and 60s to move back in with Mom and/or Pop, I was both alarmed and sympathetic.

But when you think about it, it makes sense. Wages are stagnating but costs are rising. It’s been this way for several years, and something’s gotta give. If moving in with the folks keeps a roof over your head, what can you do?

Most people won’t be “moving back home” anytime soon. But to make sure it doesn’t happen, we need to be realistic about our personal financial situation:

  • Are we facing layoffs at work?
  • Are we barely making it on a pension?
  • Do we see lower income but bigger bills in the future?

You have to be honest with yourself. If you refuse to face reality, you’re only postponing the pain, and you may be making it worse, in the long run. But if you make the tough decision now to downsize your life, and make your bills (and your lifestyle) more manageable, you may be able to avoid the fate of those who are moving back in with their elderly folks.

We downsized after an income loss and came through in much better shape than we expected. Life in our McMansion is just a good memory now, but everyone once in a while I look our old house up on Zillow to see how high the property taxes have gone, and think about how we dodged a bullet there. Even the $300+ monthly electric bill is just a bad dream. Best of all, we’re now so financially comfortable that the thought of moving in with my folks (who are still living and just as hard to get along with as they ever were!) doesn’t even turn up on my radar.

My motto is: Bite the bullet and do what you must so you don’t end up sleeping under the watchful eye of your Donny Osmond poster ever again!