To some, “downsizing” is a vile, nasty word. People tell themselves, “I just can’t throw it away, I might need it. It belonged to my mother. I have to keep all the records. It’s valuable and the kids might want it.” To others, downsizing is a way to shed the shackles of stuff: empty, simplify, dump out and welcome in the new. Take the best and scrap the rest.  

We are constantly re-creating ourselves. Change, good or bad, is a stark reality and the only thing that gets us through is our attitude – and possibly a little help from your certified personal property appraiser.

First, find the place that you will call home. Don’t even start downsizing until you know that you are going to move and know where. It simplifies everything. You will start moving all items that you want and leave the rest that won’t fit and/or that you no longer want.

Start cleaning closets, cabinets, storage areas and the garage. Decide which treasures will follow you to your new home. It is like an overseas trip: you pack your suitcase, carry it around the block, come home and take about half the stuff out because you realize you just don’t need everything you packed. The same applies to your upcoming move.

Contact your children and other relatives and ask, “Do you want this or that?” If they do, give the item to them today. If you can live without the desk or hutch or set of dishes, get it out now. If someone says to you, “We might want this,” let them know that “might” is not in your vocabulary. Storing items for a later date will only cost you and most likely, it will outweigh the value of the item.

Your children may want nothing. Or, they don’t want it and they have no kind way of telling you. What should you do? You have two choices:

If what is left over totals $5,000, you will need an appraiser. Everything that you do not want goes into the appraiser’s report. You not only have a taxable write-off, but you will be helping the charity of your choice. The only bad news is that 99% of the charities will not come in and box, bag, load and haul your unwanted treasures off to their local recycling headquarters. You have to prepare everything for a scheduled pick up. This might add more labor to an already stressful situation.

There is a local auction house that we work with to help reduce the anxiety. After you move and have taken everything you need and a few things you don’t, the auction house will come in and empty everything and leave your house “broom clean.” Your treasures are then auctioned off and the proceeds will be sent to you.

— Email me at or write Ask the Appraisers, c/o Jeffrey Pearson; 5525 North 12th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014.