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A New Approach to Decluttering Your Retirement Thumbnail

A New Approach to Decluttering Your Retirement

Organizing expert Marie Kondo encourages folks to look at their stuff and ask, "Does this spark joy?"

The Swedes have a slightly less sunny spin on decluttering: döstädning, or, "death cleaning."

As popularized in both a bestselling book and a Peacock reality show, death cleaning is a way for older adults to streamline their possessions so that their heirs won't have to when they're gone. “A loved one wishes to inherit nice things from you,” writes author Margareta Magnusson. “Not all things from you.”

But “death cleaning” and the KonMari Method aren't just about clearing out your closets and saving your kids some hassle. Organizing your possessions and your home can have a liberating effect on how you live in retirement and how you plan for your legacy.

1. Make room for your retirement. 

A big part of retirement is creating space for you to start a new chapter in your life: physical space, emotional space, and space on your calendar. Surrounding yourself with clutter can make that complicated process even harder.

Medical professionals have found that clutter can create stress and anxiety. Older adults living in messy homes can struggle to focus on simple tasks and decisions. Piles of stuff also tend to collect dust, pet dander, and germs. Getting from one end of a room to another without tripping over knickknacks could become an additional health hazard as you age. And even though many seniors don't want to get rid of old toys or furniture that's stacked up in the guest bedroom, deep down these folks often feel embarrassed about how their homes look. They might start to isolate themselves from friends and family, which can lead to more cluttering, more stress, and more serious problems, like hoarding.

Your retirement deserves a bright, inviting blank slate. Clear the old junk out of that extra bedroom and create a personal space where you can read, craft, or exercise. Once you've emptied out your basement, you could convert it from a dark storage space into an inviting rec room where your friends and family will want to spend quality time together. Replace furniture that's aggravating your joints. Throw out old cookware and buy new pots you'll be excited to use. As more corners of your home start to brighten, you'll feel happier, more comfortable, more creative, and more excited about how you can spend your time in retirement.

2. Let go of the past. 

It's not uncommon for retirement to raise some profound questions about who we are. Even if you work part-time as a retiree, you're still leaving behind a career that was an enormous part of your life, as well as colleagues who were an important part of your social circle. Your kids are (hopefully!) independent and perhaps starting their own families. And now that you're older, there may be some activities that you just can't do anymore.

So many of those feelings are tied up in our possessions. Donating all your old suits or your kids' old toys can feel like you're letting go of being an engineer or a parent. Throwing out sports equipment can feel like you're saying goodbye to a younger, more active you.

But decluttering can help seniors remember that they're much more than their stuff. Just because you don't have to wear a suit to the office every day doesn't mean your lifetime of professional skills are no longer valuable. Consult, mentor, teach, or volunteer, on your schedule. Your relationships with your children might be changing. But spending more time with the accomplished adult you raised can be among the meaningful experiences you'll have in retirement -- especially if grandkids are in the picture! And finding new ways to stay active will lead you to new interests, new people, and new adventures.

3. Prepare for your legacy. 

Part of the psychology behind "death cleaning" is to help folks confront and plan for their mortality in practical ways rather than ignoring the realities of getting older. Settling a loved one's estate is already hard enough for friends and family. It's even harder if the deceased left behind mountains of stuff that nobody wants or knows what to do with. And if there are valuables mixed in with the junk, a sad situation could breed resentments that last for years.

However, if you choose to declutter, hopefully, you will relive some good memories about the things you keep as well as the things you decide to let go of. You can create more good memories by passing some of these possessions on to loved ones who will appreciate them. And you can give yourself added peace of mind about the future by working with your financial advisor on a legacy plan that covers the rest of your assets, as well as the things you want to pass down that are truly priceless.

Ready to clean house? Keen Wealth's comprehensive planning process can help you budget for the associated costs of clearing space for retirement. We can also help you coordinate with attorneys and tax pros on updates to your estate plan. Come visit our office and let's start getting your retirement in order.

About Bill

Bill Keen is a financial advisor with over 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

KWMG, LLC’s dba Keen Wealth Advisors (“company”) is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Overland Park, KS. The company and its representatives may only conduct business in those states where registered or where excluded/exempt or from licensure. For registration information please contact the SEC or the state securities regulators for the states where the company is notice filed. A copy of the company ADV is available upon request. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where the company and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by the company unless a client service agreement is in place. This information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy and is for illustrative purposes only. Clients and prospective clients must consider all relevant risk factors involved with each strategy, including costs or fees, and their own personal financial situations before trading.

The views outlined in the book, Keen on Retirement Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, are those of the author and should not be construed as individualized or personalized investment advice. Any economic and/or performance information cited is historical and not indicative of future results. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

The Amazon Best Seller ranking listed on marketing materials is specifically referring to Best Seller rankings for the Kindle Top 100 Paid Lists under the subcategories of: Budgeting and Financial Risk Management, based on data as of September 5, 2019 and the second edition under Financial Risk Management on October 26, 2022. Amazon rankings although relevant on how a product is selling overall doesn’t necessarily indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items or similar item categories. Amazon may choose the most popular categories or subcategories within which an item has a high ranking to determine its best seller rankings. These rankings are updated hourly and as a result, should be expected to fluctuate as such. Keen Wealth Advisors and Amazon are not affiliated entities. 

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