Lauren's Blog

Deciding What Stays and What Goes: Downsizing with Dana Corey

Let’s be honest, downsizing is one son of a b****. 

When you’ve lived in a place for so long and collected all kinds of stuff, it’s really hard to let it all go. But sometimes you just gotta do it. Whether you’re moving because of finances, illness, aging, or just a change, downsizing looks different for everybody.

Luckily, Dana Corey (@danacoreycoaching) and I hopped on an IG Live (watch it here!) where we discussed her downsizing process as she prepares for her upcoming move to Oaxaca, Mexico (jealous much? Me too!). It’s a must-watch for anyone on the downsizing train, trust me, Dana shared some real gems.

Today, we’ll be diving into the crucial question: What the heck do you do with all your stuff?

Let’s get started! 

If you’re new here, I’m Lauren Goché — a Portland realtor with a decade of experience backing me up. This means I’ve weathered more than a few market shifts over the course of my career, and specialize in making sure you can make the most of the market for your goals. Read more about me here.

Meet Dana Corey:

If you’ve been following along, you’re already familiar with my incredible business coach and strategist, Dana Corey (@danacoreycoaching). 

She’s the one who got me to finally build a team, take a sabbatical, build personal boundaries AND have a healthy relationship to money.

If you want to know more about what Dana’s about, check out our blog 7 Essential Lessons Learned with My Business Coach and head over to 

How to Decide What Stays and What Goes

Hands down, the biggest obstacle when downsizing is figuring out what to do with everything you’ve accumulated over the years. Do you donate it? Sell it? Throw it out? Leave it for your kids? And then there’s all the sentimental stuff… the photos, childhood artwork, letters from grandma—that is the toughest to part with, for sure.

Dana and I delved into strategies for determining what you absolutely can’t live without and what you can bid farewell to, and here’s what we gathered…

Ask Yourself What’s Important to You

Start by asking yourself what truly matters to you and brings you joy. Are there family heirlooms, artwork, or keepsakes that spark special memories? It’s not just about sentimental items—practical objects that improve your life and are hard to replace count too. Here’s what Dana has to say:

“I’ve moved a lot in my life, so I don’t have much attachment to the stuff in my house. When deciding what to keep, it boils down to what’s important to you. But that’s a really tough question to answer, and it’s different for everybody.”

In Dana’s case, she and her husband wanted to get rid of as much stuff as possible. By the end of it, what was important to them?—They decided to keep a couple of good mattresses (surprisingly hard to find in Mexico), artwork with sentimental value, Dana’s cherished linen collection, and all of their cooking supplies.

What to Do with All the Family Goods

We often don’t realize how much stuff we’ve accumulated until it’s time to move—it’s intense. This especially applies to older generations who feel like they need to save things for their children. But the reality is that the younger generations may not want or have space for all those possessions. 

Here’s how Dana involved her family in order to deal with their photo collection:

“First, I went through my photo collection and pulled out the photos that were most meaningful to me personally. Then, I had my kids come over and we looked through the rest of the photos together, and they each took out the ones that sparked good memories for them and our relatives. My daughter eventually took pictures of everything, so we even have digital copies.” 

The “Dot System”

I still think my great aunt’s dot system was one of the best ideas for handling family heirlooms when you’ve got a big crew of grandkids like we did, and it turns out Dana’s grandparents used it too! Here’s how it goes:

  • Each family member is invited to come over and look through items. 
  • They’re allowed to place stickers or dots on any items they want. 
  • Anything that had two dots, meaning it was wanted by two family members, would then be discussed and decided on. 

This way, no one felt left out, and anything with double stickers was a surefire way to kick off some lively family banter!

Here’s an amazing take by Dana if you’re struggling to get rid of the sentimental bits:

“You’re not able to look at the future as a new adventure if you’re holding onto the past. You’re downsizing. You’re moving on to something completely new and different, and you want to be able to have a feeling of excitement rather than a feeling of dread.” 

How to Get Rid of the Stuff You Don’t Want

Now that you know what you want to get rid of, the next question is how do you want to go about getting rid of it. Here are your options:

Option 1: Selling it in a marketplace

While listing your belongings on sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or consignment shops can offset downsizing costs, it’s seriously like a fulltime job. Unless this is your jam, selling your stuff in a marketplace might not be worth the time, effort, and stress.

Option 2: Have an estate sale

This is a great option if you have collectibles or any valuable items, but in order for this option to be worth it, the value of your belongings have to be high enough to cover the costs after the company’s cut. Dana reached out to an estate sale company, and they quoted her for $3,000, so she ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it in her case.

Option 3: Junk removal services

I refer to this as the “literally just burn it down” method. Essentially, a junk removal service swoops in and clears out your entire house—yes, everything goes. You hire them, they do the heavy lifting, and then they host a massive warehouse sale every month to offload the goods. Dana shelled out $2,500 for the service and swears by it as money well spent. 

Option 4: Give it to a non-profit

There are always folks out there who could really benefit from having your items. Reach out to local non-profits and see what they’re in need of, then simply drop off your items. The beauty of this option? Your donations are tax deductible

Dana’s Tip: If you’ve got the time, consider this route before hiring a junk removal service. Having fewer items to dispose of might give you a lower rate when it comes time to call up the big boys. 

Wrapping Things Up…

Downsizing isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s a journey filled with tough decisions and sentimental moments, but ultimately, it leads to a new adventure in your life. We hope you’ve enjoyed this ride with Dana and me and picked up a few helpful tips! Here’s one last quote from Dana I just have to share! 😉

“The best part of the whole experience was honestly having Lauren on my side because I knew that we didn’t have to worry about getting the house ready for sale and that Lauren and her team would deal with everything.”

That’s right! When you choose to work with us, we become your go-to for everything. Whether you need estate sale professionals, repair services, assistance with moving…

we’ve got your back

Our goal is to make the transition as smooth and stress free as possible. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home in Portland and want a killer team by your side, get in touch with us here.