It never ceases to amaze us how many people want to know if living smaller is really living better.
Well, it really is! There has not been a single day we have missed oversized suburban home, or all of the stuff that filled it. In fact, if anything, we regret not downsizing earlier.
A few years back, when we started our quest to live with less space and clutter, I think most people who knew us thought we had finally lost our minds. The doom and gloom questions never seemed to end.
“Why would you want to give up a suburban house to live in a 1054 square foot home?”
“You will regret this someday, what will you do with all of your stuff?”
“You are going to be so cramped. Why in the world would you two build a house without a basement? You are going to need someplace to store all of your things!”
What most people didn’t understand was that we didn’t want “stuff” to store. Nor did we want extra space or rooms to fill with things we didn’t need or have to clean.
We simply wanted a comfortable space that had exactly what we wanted and needed, and nothing more. Too many people equate downsizing and living smaller with sacrificing.
It doesn’t have to mean that at all. In fact, by living smaller, you have more time and more resources to spend on the things you truly do want to do and have.
For us, that simply meant being able to live at our farm without the worries of a big house payment, or the time and energy required to upkeep a large space.
In spite of all those early warnings from others, downsizing and living smaller has made us both happier than we could ever have imagined.
In a nutshell, it boils down to this. More space = more cost, more work and more headaches! Once we eliminated the space, and quite frankly, the crap that filled it, it was unbelievably freeing.
In the past two weeks alone, we have had five different couples visit our little “Simple House” to see what it’s really like to downsize and live smaller.
And I think it’s pretty safe to say, all 5 of them left realizing how it really can work. Don’t confuse downsizing with living without.
It is in reality, living with more. When you eliminate all of the junk and crap, you suddenly have more to use on things you really want.
With that said, here are 5 of the biggest tips we have learned along our own journey.
5 Big Keys To Downsizing And Living Smaller
#1 Don’t Confuse Tiny Living With Reasonable Living
Look, we will be the first to tell you we could never live in a 200 square foot home. It simply wouldn’t work. The #1 key is to find or create a space that has what you need, and nothing more.
For us, that meant building a home at the farm that had only the rooms and space we would use. For others, it might be finding a smaller apartment or condominium.
Whatever it is, first and foremost, stop paying for and maintaining space you don’t need or use! It costs more to heat, cool, furnish, and keep clean!
Do you really need extra bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, a great room, a finished basement, a bar, a den, a….well, you get the picture.
#2 Avoid The Clutter – Purge / Sell / Replace
The number one reason people think they need more space is simply to have and store stuff! Avoid the need for storage space by avoiding the clutter in the first place.
We speak from experience. In our old house, we simply had too much unused things stored all over.
Our single most freeing and life-changing exercise was when we started our downsizing One-A-Day, 365 Plan.
For one solid year, we sold, gave away, recycled, or threw out 1 item each day that we rarely used, or didn’t need.
It not only made our lives more simple, it made us realize how much junk we had accumulated. See; 365, One A Day Plan
And as you purge, take any money earned and put it in the bank or pay something off. It becomes a total win-win for your household finances and peace of mind.
One last thing on this subject. Once you purge, only buy things that replace something. You will be amazed at how much it makes you think about purchasing in the first place.
#3 Start Eliminating “The Unnecessary”
We all buy way too much, way too often, and for all of the wrong reasons. Eliminating those unnecessary purchases will free you more than you ever can imagine.
The two most expensive budget line items to every household are almost always the house loan or rental payment, and car payments. Downsize both!
The next time you purchase a car, think about what it needs to accomplish. Do you really need the sport package with all of the bells and whistles?
Remember that all comes at a cost, and really doesn’t provide much in return. Especially when it causes stress to your life.
Stress like a $30,000 to $40,000 price tag and a nice big loan. Buy smart and buy what you need, not just to have it loaded. It saves so much – in money and stress!
#4 Stop Purchasing “The Latest And Greatest”
This goes hand in hand with #3. It’s really crazy, but by trying to keep up with the “Jones’es”, we all end up destroying our bank accounts.
When you head out and by the new release of the Iphone, Iwatch, or the biggest TV, or the next latest and greatest thing – you simply overpay for it.
Part of downsizing is realizing that if what you have now works, wait until you need to replace it.
A big screen plasma tv cost upwards of $3000.00 a few years back. Today, you can get an even higher quality flat screen 55″ TV for about $400.
And I am guessing the old TV could have made it that long. People waste more money on “have to have” impulse purchases than anything. We call them “regrettable” purchases.
I remember one of those in my life all too well. When I was 26, I used an entire bonus to buy a top of the line 38″ big screen tube tv with picture in picture.
Yep, showing my age now, eh? But, 1 year later, I could have purchased it for less than half. 3 years later, it was pretty much a dinosaur.
In 36 months, I owned a $3000.00 tv that was the biggest waste of money ever. I never have forgotten that. Ever! We eventually stored that television in a downstairs basement for 10 years and actually had trouble giving it away!
The moral of the story is wait until you really need something to purchase it, then buy one generation back from the latest and greatest.
This simple practice will save you a tremendous amount of money over a lifetime. It also will save you from big stress! Stop thinking that the next thing you buy will make all the difference.
It rarely if ever does. Except of course, the difference of making you broke when you have to pay it off.
#5 Keep Living Spaces Open
There is one more secret to make living smaller work. Whether you are looking to buy, rent or build, make sure your space has an open floor plan.
Our house may be small compared to many 2,000 to even 5,000 square foot homes, but it is wide open. And it makes that 1000 square feet feel like much more! See : Simple House Project
We do all of our living in the kitchen and great room, and that accounts for roughly 70 percent of our homes space. We kept those rooms airy and open and connected for a reason.
Because it feels so much larger! In fact, we both agree it seems like there is way more space in this house than our old one. – And gave up 2200 square feet!
Here’s to living smaller and living better! – Jim and Mary.
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