Four Templates for Looking at “The Stuff” In Your Home


The  “Tell it to the National Guard” template

            Shows what is vital

Could you prove your identity if you had to?

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. www.ready.gov offers lots of information about what to do in an emergency.

For our purposes, we are going to imagine an emergency that requires you to evacuate your home for a time. In order to prevent looting, residents must provide proof that they indeed live at their address in order to return to their homes. How difficult would it be for you to locate documents that prove your identity?

Right now, can you remember where you keep such information? Can you find your:

  • Social security information
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Deeds
  • Charge account information
  • Bank account information
  • Prescriptions

Can a trusted family member, friend, or professional caregiver find these items quickly if needed?

Think about where you would want to find things in an emergency.

The “Life on the road in an RV ” template

            Shows what is important

This is an exercise I created for myself. I imagined that I was going to take off for a life on the road in the narrow confines of a recreation vehicle. In order to live this way, I would have to be very selective of what I would take with me. The hardest things to part with, for me, are my books, so decided to choose my 5 favorite books in a variety of categories. This led me to make decisions such as which are my top five cookbooks; top five gardening books; top five nonfiction books, etc.

This exercise might also help you think about what you might want to have around you if you had to live in an assisted living facility.

The “Say Sayonara” template

            Getting rid of stuff with grace and gratitude

The hottest reading among organizing books right now are two books by a Japanese organizer, Marie Kondo, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy”.

The most interesting take-away I found from her writing is imputing consciousness to inanimate objects.

We tend to think of our stuff as just “stuff”, but she gives the stuff itself a point of view. Our stuff is dishonored when we treat it carelessly. We can build more consciousness into ourselves by thanking items for their service to us. For instance, when we take off a garment at the end of the day, we might thank it for keeping us warm, covered, comfortable, or whatever comes to mind. When we are wondering whether to keep or get rid of an item, we might consider thanking it for its years of service, but now it is the time for it to be released for new service to a new owner or even discarded.

Some ways of getting rid of your stuff might be:

  • Give away to family members…but don’t be offended if the offer is refused
  • Recycle…find out what may be recycled in your area
  • Donate to charitable organizations
  • Throw out things that can’t be repaired, that go bad or attract mold, insects, or rodents

One other category is “Later” …this is for things you are undecided about. Place them in a box that you set aside and look through every few months and gradually make decisions about the items in it.

The “Monetizing your house and stuff” template

            Raising money when you need it

What about your future needs and plans for your home? I assign this two-part mantra to every Senior Citizen still functioning outside of institutional care: don’t be passive and do question your assumptions.

How can you raise funds from your home and your possessions?

Would you consider sharing your home? With family members? With a friend or even renting a room out? What changes would you have to make to your space if you shared it?

What provision would you need to make for care-giving?

Can you reduce your living quarters to a smaller part of your house?

Could you create an apartment in your house?

How could you turn possessions you are not keeping into cash?

  • Consignment shop
  • EBay
  • Craigslist or Uncle Henry’s
  • Return to store?
  • Yard sale