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Will family heirlooms soon be a thing of the past?

While the majority of Americans have received an heirloom from a relative, a new survey conducted by Mayflower shows that Baby Boomers and Generation X are significantly more likely than Millennials to put an heirloom in a safe place to pass along.

According to a recent Mayflower Mover Insights Study, which explored different generations’ relationships with their belongings, Baby Boomers (64 percent) and Generation X (60 percent) are more likely than Millennials (53 percent) to put an heirloom in a safe place to pass along. However, Millennials (17 percent) are more likely than Generation X (12 percent) and Baby Boomers (10 percent) to refurbish or repurpose an heirloom into something new.

“While working with clients preparing for a move or paring down their belongings, we’re starting to see differences in how each generation values family heirlooms, which often translates into how they use them,” said Scott Roewer, founder and CEO of the Organizing Agency. “In line with the minimalist movement, Millennials don’t like extra clutter, so they’re more likely to keep heirlooms if they can refurbish these items to give them new life or a functional purpose. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to store items to pass down to their children or grandchildren someday.”

The survey also explored how Americans feel about decluttering and purging unused items. It showed most Americans (82 percent) agree that living without clutter or excess makes them feel freer. In addition, 80 percent of survey respondents agree that clutter stresses them out and half declutter their living space to feel more relaxed, expressing an intrinsic motive for decluttering their lives.

However, these feelings don’t always translate into action. While Millennials (23 percent) are more likely than Generation X (12 percent) and Baby Boomers (8 percent) to say they are minimalists, Baby Boomers (40 percent) and Generation X (34 percent) are more likely than Millennials (27 percent) to actually declutter once a year.

Americans are finding new and unique ways to purge unwanted items. The survey found that 47 percent of Americans say they use some kind of online service, social site or app to help them declutter.

In addition, Americans are looking to make some quick cash off their unused items. One in four respondents (26 percent) are considering selling unused items through a resale or consignment shop and one-third (35 percent) are considering selling unused items online.

For many Americans, decluttering is a task for the future, not for today. Overall, 43 percent of Americans second guess their decluttering tendencies by keeping items they think they might need again someday.

In fact, while 57 percent of respondents say they’ll purge everything they don’t need before moving, only 44 percent have actually done this in the past.

“We know that moving is one of the few times in life when you are forced to confront all of the items you own to decide what goes and what stays. This can be an emotional journey,” said Pat Baehler, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Mayflower, which assists in moving approximately 50,000 families each year.

Survey Background: Respondents to the survey were selected from Research Now’s consumer panel to reflect a distribution of U.S. adults, ages 21 to 72. Respondents were also selected by regional geographic distribution (South, West, Northeast, Midwest) to reflect U.S. demographics. Without knowledge of Mayflower’s sponsorship, 1,500 respondents completed the survey.

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