Divorce is a unique life transition where one has the challenge of making decisions of what possessions to keep and what to let go.
This is an emotionally charged time, so the secret is to calm your mind with meditation, relaxation CDs or whatever works for you so that clear headed choices are made. Leaving precious items behind out of spite or anger can cause regrets down the road.
Selling items in a panic can backfire. I sold a cherished book from my childhood and the money received for it was insignificant.
One may have to leave the marital home to sell it during a divorce. After the division of personal property, how does one sort through the remains?
Moving out of my house gave me the extra motivation to go through my books, clothes, decorations and crockery to save on moving fees. Noticing the lack of storage available in my much smaller new home was another motivating factor. I had a yard sale a week before I moved and another smaller one a few months later after determining that I still had too much stuff.
Practical Tips to Decluttering During Divorce
How does one get started decluttering?
- One way is to enlist a friend to help you begin this daunting task. She is neutral without the emotional attachments to your things and can give objective opinions. If one is undecided about some articles, then box them up and store them for a short while. Not feeling pressured to make quick decisions can make downsizing easier. Packing heirlooms and important items first gives momentum to carry on to the more questionable ones.
- Have your teenagers pick out their favorite childhood toys and books, then put these in storage boxes. My sons were glad for the extra cash the remainder fetched at yard sales. I keep my sons’ precious drawings (edited collection) in expandable folders and some are used as holiday decorations.
Do an online search to see what some of your objects are worth. This will give you an idea whether to sell or to donate them. If you can wait a bit for extra cash, consider a consignment shop. It may take a few months for the right buyer to appear, but that can mean a bigger payment. I went this route as well and had money trickling in over the first several years post-divorce. I sold all of my wedding china and crystal since keeping these presents would have been a tie to my ex. After divorce one may not be giving huge dinner parties nor want all this of this excess goods.
- My divorced pal has “swap meets” with friends who bring over gently used or “not my taste” new clothes, accessories and shoes. She has added some smashing new outfits to her wardrobe and reduced her handbag over flow for zero cost. The wine and nibbles make it a festive occasion. Others make swaps more general and include household goods. Who needs two fondue pots?
- If you sometimes host family gatherings, consider making presents of your extra platters to your guests. They can bring food back on them for future pot-luck dinners and they are not taking up your space. One may have a deficit of funds post-divorce, but a surplus of heirlooms. See if you could give some away to siblings or younger family members in lieu of purchasing presents. One divorced woman did this and these gifts are the ones especially treasured by her grandsons today. A family member with limited income had two similar cheese boards and I asked her if she minded giving me one for Christmas. She happily complied.
Preventing Future Clutter
After downsizing, I do not want to fill up my house with knickknacks. I let my friends know how much I appreciated their natural pampering products that they gave me during my divorce. They got the hint and give me these instead of objects for our gift giving times.
With new friends, I give them plant based lotions or serums and receive enthusiastic gratitude. Another friend in a miniscule flat gets a magazine subscription. I was surprised that my friends did not want more clutter either.
To save money and closet space, consider renting a onetime use outfit for special occasions like a wedding. If you are mother of the bride or groom, people will remember your unique dress which may limit how many more times you can wear it. If there are no upscale rental shops in your locale, go online to order a designer outfit which would be popped in the post. This is similar to the gents renting a tux.
Freeing up space allows more special things to come into your life. There can be a sense of liberation when you are not bombarded by so much stuff. The extra cash from selling it is nice too.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce