Downsizing – Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

This summer my daughter and her husband were clearing out their basement and having a gigantic garage sale. I went over to help.

During the sale an older gentleman approached us and asked if we had any silver pieces or coins to sell. We told him no but then I remembered my daughter had inherited two or three sets of silver flatware that she did not have out at the sale. She said I could retrieve them from the basement for his examination.

He looked at each set with a jeweler’s magnifier you hold up to your eye. He said only one of the sets was silver. The other two were silver plated and not as old as the other. The oldest one had belonged to my daughter’s great-grandmother. He was not interested in purchasing them and my daughter wasn’t sure she wanted to part with them just yet either.

Later, during a break in the action, we got to talking about old record albums. I was telling them I had gone through my old record collection and tried selling some of them on Craigslist with no luck. That’s when my son-in-law went in the house and then came back with a huge box of record albums.

downsizing
70-Year-Old Vinyl Albums, Photo by slc

Years ago, my daughter and her husband were present when her dad’s mom was downsizing before going into assisted living. They returned home with many treasures but they weren’t sure what to do with over 100 record albums. We started to go through them there in the garage. It was fun as we found albums from artists like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Billy Vaughn, the Statler Brothers, Herb Albert, Hank Williams, and Lawrence Welk. While selecting albums one by one from the box I came across a couple of albums that didn’t have the customary cardboard-like jacket. In fact, they didn’t have a jacket at all. There was handwriting on them. We wondered what could be recorded on them.

Since I have a record player at my home, my son-in-law piled the box of albums into the trunk of my car for me to take home and listen to. I did just that.

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Precious heirlooms or just stuff?

precious heirlooms
etsy.com

Three sets of flatware (we called it silverware when I was growing up). Each was service for eight in a wooden box. My daughter inherited these beautiful sets from her paternal grandmother and great-grandmother, but she doesn’t know what to do with them.  One set is silver the other two are sterling silver; one of those is a like new set.  She asked me what she should do with all of these heirlooms.  Should she keep them in the trunk she also inherited to pass on to her children or sell them?

The following article from Tom Verde might provide some answers to those of us wanting to pass on family heirlooms to our children…

Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It

August 18, 2017, The New York Times

“Mothers and daughters talk about all kinds of things. But there is one conversation Susan Beauregard, 49, of Hampton, Conn., is reluctant to have with her 89-year-old mother, Anita Shear: What to do — eventually — with Mrs. Shear’s beloved set of Lenox china?

Ms. Beauregard said she never uses her own fine china, which she received as a wedding gift long ago. ‘I feel obligated to take my mom’s Lenox, but it’s just going to sit in the cupboard next to my stuff,’ she said.

The only heirlooms she wants from her mother, who lives about an hour away, in the home where Ms. Beauregard was raised, are a few pictures and her mother’s wedding band and engagement ring, which she plans to pass along to her son.

So, in a quandary familiar to many adults who must soon dispose of the beloved stuff their parents would love them to inherit, Ms. Beauregard has to break it to her mother that she does not intend to keep the Hitchcock dining room set or the buffet full of matching Lenox dinnerware, saucers and gravy boats.”

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Considering downsizing or a reverse mortgage for retirement income?

Planning for retirement income can be complicated by choices like downsizing or reverse mortgages.  The Center for Retirement Research has published a useful booklet, Using Your House for Income in Retirement, to assist you with this important financial decision.Housing Booklet image

“Using Your House reviews the two most common ways to use your house to boost your income in retirement – downsizing and a reverse mortgage – with clear examples, a discussion of the pros and cons of each approach, and links to tools on the web where you can get estimates of what downsizing or a reverse mortgage can do for you.”

PDF of booklet

© 2014, by Trustees of Boston College, Center for Retirement Research. All rights reserved.

Is downsizing right for me?

The Surprising Costs of Downsizing Your Home

downsizing

by Jane Bennett Clark

May, 2016

“When I look at my retirement stash, I have to admit it’s kind of small. When I look at my house, I realize it’s kind of big. And when I consider the two together, I think that maybe I should downsize and use the equity in my house to buy a condo or add to my retirement savings and rent.

Downsizing isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the few strategies — along with working longer, delaying Social Security or spending less later in retirement — available to near-retirees who find themselves short on retirement savings and don’t have time to catch up, says Steven Sass, of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. ‘The house is a major source of people’s savings. If you don’t want to work longer or give up eating out in retirement, downsizing should be part of the plan.'”

Read more at:  http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T010-C022-S002-downsizing-costs-add-up.html .

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