This past year, my mother downsized from our six-bedroom family home into a two-bedroom condo in a senior development. Although she was nervous to cast aside her old life, now that the deed is done, she feels elated and freeā€”and wishes she'd done it years earlier.

Now, my mom no longer worries about keeping her lawn mowed and driveway clear of snow, because maintenance staff does it for her. Rather than rattling around a huge house that took hours to clean, she has a manageable space she can easily tidy up herself. And, not incidentally, she has more money for whatever comes down the road.

Nonetheless, downsizing can still fill people with dread; experts say this is largely because they've heard horror stories from people who went about it all wrong. Here are the top six mistakes people make when downsizing, plus some ways to make the process easier and less intimidating.

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