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Downsizing? Use these rules to help decide what to throw out

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My family most recently moved 17 years ago. Last Friday, I found a box of junk in the basement that we never unpacked. As my wife and I start the decluttering process for our next move, the unopened box will be used as inspiration to get rid of all non-essentials.

Here's some help I found in deciding what to get rid of: a U.S. couple's account of how they recently decluttered for a move to a smaller home. They used three sensible ground rules: 1) If they hadn't used something in over a year, it got tossed; 2) If it hadn't been opened since the previous move, they got rid of it; 3) Reason over nostalgia, which meant getting rid of many books and CDs.

This couple ended up with two lists after their decluttering efforts, stuff they definitely wanted and an "if it fits" list. My sense is that most of the stuff on any "if it fits" list won't fit, but the people doing the decluttering haven't quite yet got to a point where they can get rid of it. But the more diligent you are about decluttering, the more time and money you'll save in moving.

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Rob's personal finance reading list…
Married, with separate finances
I'm a big believer in combining your finances when you partner up in life. A millennial money blogger disagrees for some interesting reasons, one of them being that she and her spouse don't want to be responsible for each other's individual debts. An example of how different generations can take a different view on personal finance.

True confessions about wasting money
Ten people come clean about the ways they spend excessively. Interesting in that none seem particularly inclined to do anything about it. Inertia is a huge challenge in improving our finances.

How to help ward off dementia
Three easy-to-follow tips offered on the basis that dementia can blow up your retirement plans like nothing else.

Best baby shower gifts
Hmm, not a subject I know a tonne about. But if I did have to go to one, I know I'd appreciate a list of suggested gifts to help me spend wisely.

Today's featured financial tool
How can you tell if you're getting a serious, professional-grade financial plan from an investment adviser or financial planner? Check out this briefing on what to expect from the financial planning process. It comes from the Financial Planning Standards Council, which oversees the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.

Ask Rob
The question: "We are considering putting $25,000 into our two granddaughters' registered education savings plan (RESP) for their future education. Is this a good idea? Are there positive and negative tax implications for us?"

The answer: "If you want to ensure the money you're providing goes toward your grandchildren's post-secondary education, an RESP contribution is a good idea. Money in the RESP is sheltered from tax until withdraw, and then it's taxed in the hands of the beneficiary student. That's your granddaughters, who presumably will have a modest total income and not owe any income tax. There are no real tax implications either way for you, the contributor to the plan. For example, you don't get the same kind of tax deduction as when contributing to an RRSP.

What I've been writing about
- How to get ahead when your income is hardly growing
- How to boost your returns when buying bond ETFs (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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