Sharon McRill, Owner of The Betty Brigade
I love to talk with people who are embracing life, using their skills and helping others do the same. One business owner who particularly impresses me is Sharon McRill from The Betty Brigade, a business that specializes in relocating and organizing human beings. The Betty Brigade works with all different kinds of relocation—corporate moves and family moves. They specialize in helping folks that have been in their homes for decades, and they also work with hoarders.
Regardless of the particulars, The Betty Brigade comes in and creates a plan, and then they help execute the plan (or just execute the plan for you). They also do a lot of hand-holding to help you all the way through your downsizing and moving. They can even help with the opposite side of that after you’ve moved, getting you unpacked quickly. Since I recently moved, I can really appreciate this idea.
“One of the things that we noticed throughout the years we have been working as The Betty Brigade,” Sharon says, “is that we kept getting asked the same questions over and over again, including: What are your tips for downsizing and moving? And so, to create a shorthand and help people who either want to do it themselves or want more information before they get started, we created a book. We have worked with thousands of people over the years, and all of that experience led to this book.”
Want Tips for Downsizing and Moving? Help Is a Book Away
What Are the Initial Tips for Downsizing and Moving?
Tip #1: Ask yourself the key questions: Where are you moving? When are you moving? Who are the people who can help you? What to bring and what to leave behind? Start making checklists.
For those starting to think about moving, Sharon advises that the first step is to understand where and when. Essentially, you need to know where you’re moving because that informs how much stuff you’re taking with you. And you need to know when you’re moving because that informs you how quickly all of this needs to happen. The first three chapters of Sharon’s book cover those basics and how to get yourself on track.
Besides the life-saving checklists Sharon recommends in her book, I particularly enjoyed her emotionally-supportive advice. Sharon lets you know what you can expect emotionally from certain moving situations, such as packing up a parent’s house after a death, or if you’re moving after a long time living in one place.
Tip for Downsizing and Moving: You have to learn to “Let Go”
“Downsizing the Silver Tsunami is written for folks who haven’t moved in a long time, but maybe they need to,” counsels Sharon. “Maybe you don’t want to manage that big house or all that property. Maybe you want to move into a condo, or you’re moving into a senior community. Or maybe you’re moving in with your kids. But there’s a lot of just very practical matters that go along with that. Each chapter has a subject like: how to hire an estate seller, or what it means to work with consignment dealers, or why your realtor is your new BFF” (that’s “Best Friend Forever” for you Last Thirders who don’t have a “texting acronym” dictionary).
Tip #4: Get one to two GREAT realtors: one to help sell your current home, and one to help you purchase your new home if you’re moving to a new geographic location.
Tip #7: Garage sales are a BAD idea.
To Hire a Mover or Not to Hire a Mover? Tips for Packing
When we moved, we followed the book’s advice and hired movers. On the day of the move, the movers did a lot of packing that I didn’t realize I hadn’t done. I thought I had packed everything! But it turns out that items such as dresser mirrors have to be specially wrapped in moving blankets. The movers helped with that and other fragile items. Just so you know: movers will charge more if they have to pack items. If you hire a mover, be prepared to pay a little extra. It is worth it for them to help with those things that surprise you on the day of the move.
“Ma’am? Would you like us to pack this life-sized ostrich floor lamp for you?”
Sharon says, “I always recommend professional movers because they know what they’re doing and they know how to lift things. But they will bring in a third-party group to pack up specialty items.” If you have specialty items in your home, such as a baby grand piano or a grandfather clock, the third-party movers come in to move those things.
Wait: Tips for Downsizing and Moving Include Estate Planning?!
Yes! When you are downsizing, it’s actually the perfect time to consider where all your valuable assets will go after you pass. Sharon’s book covers issues such as the logistics of planning a Will or a Trust, what a Trust does, what’s the difference between a Trustee and a Trust Officer, and important tips about when to change your Trust.
In the back of the book there are helpful checklists to serve as a guide for things that you can start doing as soon as you know you’re moving, then three months out, three weeks out, a week out, and the day of the move. It even covers what you can expect after your move. The checklists walk you through the process.
Downsizing the Silver Tsunami delivers practical, easy-to-understand advice, tips and tools. And good news! The book is printed with a 14-point font for our—shall we say more mature?—eyes.
What to Do If You Need Help Downsizing and Moving
Call The Betty Brigade! The Betty Brigade is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but they do estimates anywhere in the United States. Interested parties can record a walkthrough on their phone using an app like Zoom or Skype to do an initial assessment. If you’re interested evaluating whether The Betty Brigade would be right for you, there’s a quiz on bettybrigade.com that helps you choose whether their service would be a good fit or whether you are more of a do-it-yourselfer.
Sharon has some good stories, but unfortunately for us, The Betty Brigade keeps your secrets! What isn’t a secret anymore is all of Sharon’s fabulous moving advice. You can find it all in her book Downsizing the Silver Tsunami: Who to Call and Where Does the Stuff Go? available on Amazon. The Kindle version of the book is $1.99; it’s a free download for kindleunlimited members, and the paperback print version is available for $19.99. Click here for more info.
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