6 Expert Tips to Politely Decline Your Parents’ Heirlooms

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“Do you want this vase?”

“How about these overalls from when you were a toddler?”

“Not even the china cabinet?”

If those questions sound familiar, you might be a millennial whose baby boomer parent is downsizing — and trying to give you all their stuff.

Many of us have a simple answer: No. We don’t want it.

It’s not because we don’t love our parents, and it’s not because we’re ungrateful for their generosity. But we appreciate minimalism and want to avoid clutter in our lives.

If you want to avoid becoming a repository for your parents’ possessions — without hurting their feelings — keep reading. I asked experts in psychology, elder care, and organization for their tips on what to do.

1. Be kind

The most important rule is also the simplest: Don’t be a jerk.

Licensed professional clinical counselor Erin Wiley said it’s important to be gracious in your rejections.

Here are some phrases she suggested using:

  • “It’s so special you want to pass that down to me.”
  • “That’s such an interesting collection of [Russian nesting dolls].”
  • “I don’t want to disappoint you, but I simply don’t have room for any extra furniture.”
  • “I don’t think I’d use that, but thanks for offering.”

Lastly, she offered one important reminder: “If the person offering their possessions to you has an emotional reaction that makes you feel bad, they are grown-ups and can manage disappointment. It’s not your job to alter your life to protect other people’s emotions.”

2. Ask questions

Don’t understand why your dad keeps trying to give you his beer can collection?

It might not be about the items themselves, explained Joy Loverde, author of the forthcoming book Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? It might be about leaving a legacy.

If you think that’s the case, Loverde suggested redirecting the conversation with questions. Learn more about the item by asking your parent “Where did you get it?” or “Why does it mean so much to you?”

Asking questions, she said, “conveys validation and respect” — both of which will go a long way in smoothing your rejection.

3. Explain your reasons

If your parent understands why you can’t take their items, they might be more willing to accept your decision.

And no, your reason shouldn’t be “I don’t like your taste” or “That was a silly purchase.”

Instead, explain your reasons truthfully and kindly. It could be that you don’t have enough room or that you live a minimalist lifestyle.

If you don’t have a specific reason, your stance can be that someone else would appreciate it more.

Ann Zanon, a professional organizer in Connecticut, suggested saying the following: “I understand this tschotske is important to you — but for me, it doesn’t have any memories tied to it. Let’s let it go to a family who will create their own memories with it.”

4. Take something

Although you have the right to refuse every single thing your parent offers, it might be wise to acquiesce once in a while.

“Keeping a few of the small items helps to soften the blow,” said Eddie Chu, owner of home care company Qualicare. “People hold on to items for the memories associated with them. … This serves the same purpose of keeping the memories alive while also being efficient with your available space.”

In other words, you don’t have to take the entire teapot collection — but if it’s important to your parent, maybe take one. You’ll demonstrate that you respect their possessions (and your space).

5. Find an alternative home

It’s wise to help your parent find an alternative home for all the stuff you don’t want. One of the best options is another friend or relative.

“I’ve seen a lot of distant relatives willing to store or keep the antique furniture, which typically keeps our client happy that it stays in the family,” said Chu.

Just think: Aunt Edith probably would be delighted to add that hutch to her collection — and your dad likely would be happy to see it there rather than in the dumpster.

6. Sell or donate the rest

No willing takers? Then it’s time to sell or donate whatever remains.

You could hold a garage sale, bring the items to a consignment shop, or sell them online through eBay, Craigslist, or Letgo. Use some of the money to fund a bonding activity. Mom might not miss that dining room table so much if it means a day out!

If it’s more than you can manage, you might want to organize an estate sale. Look for companies in your area or consider a company like Everything But The House (EBTH). Available in 27 cities, EBTH takes care of the entire process — sorting, photographing, cataloging, and arranging payment and delivery — for you.

Of course, you also can donate the items to a local charity.

If your parent resists, ask them this question from Linda Barlaam, a professional organizer with House to Home Organizing: “Wouldn’t it be better for someone to actually use or want the items, as opposed to them sitting in storage?”

As our parents age, more of us are going to face these issues.

By demonstrating we care and showing respect, we can navigate these delicate waters and keep our relationships strong.

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

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  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
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3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures


4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
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  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
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  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
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2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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