Simplify Your Life – Go Smaller

Smaller living

Why We Went Smaller

I have written several posts before about how to simplify your life and why your family will thank you.  Due to our simplification process, we decided to sell our home and move into a smaller place. We left a 3 bedroom home to go to a 1 bedroom home and couldn’t be happier! We have finally settled into our new, smaller home with everything in its place.  Consequently, many people we have spoken to do not understand why anyone would do this. It seems as if we are going backwards.

You know the American dream is to buy a big house and have a great job with children. Oh, I forgot the white fence. And the dog. It seems like everyone always wants to get more stuff and bigger homes. Yet, people seem unhappy and grumpy.  The problem with us was, we didn’t feel like we had time to invest in each other and our daughter because we were so busy taking care of all of our stuff. And working on the house, because that truly never ends. Just ask anyone who owns a home! Something always needs to be fixed, painted, updated, cleaned, etc. And then, there’s the outside. It is never ending.  Rather than fixing up physical things, we’d rather invest in relationships.

How We Feel Now

After moving out and getting unpacked, we are completely at peace with our decision.  The smaller home can be cleaned in no time at all.  We have more time to spend with each other and less stuff cluttering our space.  As I have written before, it was very difficult to start the process.  Many of us have an emotional connection to our stuff.  Hence, getting rid of stuff is very personal.

But, now that we have come full circle, I can tell you that it is worth it!  I can tell a difference in my stress level.  We are happier and feel free.  There is freedom in simplifying!  Since moving, we now have more time and money to continue to pay down debt.  God does not want us to be in debt.  It’s not healthy to owe money to others for things that we cannot afford.  Many people go their entire lives in debt, whether it’s a mortgage or car payment, or both.  As a result, they may never experience the freedom that comes with having less stuff.  Most of all, humans were created to thrive on relationships, not FaceBook status or how big your house is, or how much stuff you buy.  Relationships matter.  All of our stuff really does not.

Benefits of Going Smaller

  • More time to spend with family
  • Don’t take things for granted
  • Shifts priorities – you learn what is important
  • Less stress
  • Everything serves a purpose (or two)
  • Peaceful (Especially if you live on a farm like we do!)
  • You learn creative ways to do certain things
  • Less waste – you’re not heating/cooling space you don’t use

How many of you actually use your dining room, anyway?!

I would encourage anyone reading this to look at what you are currently holding on to.  Does it serve a purpose?  Could you part with it?  Everything that we own is stored in our subconscience.  All those unnecessary trinkets are really clogging up your mental space.   Read more here and here.  Start in a closet.  Or the garage.  Is there enough space to park your car?  If the answer is no, then that should be the goal.  It’s so sad to see all of these homes with garages and cars parked outside.  Don’t pay for storage, go through your belongings and purge!  I promise, you won’t regret it.  The long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term feelings.  Don’t be afraid to go against the grain or “norm” just because others aren’t.

 

Want to read more?  Click here to purchase my ebook about Living Simply.


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Click here to find one book that helped us simplify our lives in more ways than one.

Living Simply – Are You Ready For It?

Less is More

I viewed a documentary called Minimalism, focusing on living simply in a world of I Gotta Have It Right Now.  Very inspiring and eye-opening with interviews of many people, including people with PhDs discussing the poor social state that many of us are in.  Less is more.  Why have we let the marketing industry brain wash us into thinking we must have __________ to be happy?  Thinking about people trampling  others at Black Friday sales makes me sick.  At the end of the documentary, one of the authors of the minimalist blog said, “Love people, use things, not the other way around.”  That is a mouthful!  As believers we are called to love others, but I’ve never thought of it like this before.  So, instead of “listening” to someone talking while you are using a smart phone, put down the phone and invest in that relationship!

The Love of Material Things

We are living in a current society where many people do not want for anything; they buy whatever they want whenever they want it.  Living simply isn’t even a thought.  You don’t have enough money?  That’s fine; there’s a credit card, or store card that you can charge.  This is SOOOOO unhealthy!  Instant gratification has spoiled so many of us.  I remember growing up and saving up my birthday AND Christmas money to buy things that I wanted.  Those wish lists that I created so my friends and family knew what I wanted……. that has all gone by the wayside.

Living simply doesn’t even make sense to so many people.  Who needs anything?  It makes me sick to think of the hundreds of dollars that I have spent on clothing!  Fashion that changes every month is too much to keep up with and not even worth the time or energy.  Many people are trapped in this state of keeping up with their neighbors, or showing up their family, or outranking their friends.  We can’t even enjoy our lives because we are working so much to pay for things that we don’t need and to live in houses that are too large.  For more information about clutter, click here.

simplify your life

Living Simply is a Process

We have slowly made small changes over the course of 2 years.  First, we slowed down our spending.  Just because Apple launches a new product, doesn’t mean that the old one stops working.  Why is it that we feel like we have to have everything the second we want it?  Three and four generations ago, people worked hard for everything that they had and I bet they were more grateful and lived happier lives.

The next step my family took was looking at some of our larger furniture and knick knacks.  Do we need all of these tables in our living room?  No.  Do these little figurines serve any purpose?  No.  Do we ever use that?  No.   Is it necessary to have 3 of one thing?  No. Having lawn sales was extremely helpful in getting rid of things we didn’t value and making some extra cash.  We are living simply and are actually happier with less stuff.

Learn more about de-cluttering here.

We are currently in the process of moving into a one bedroom apartment from our 3 bedroom home.  This is not something that will happen overnight, and it will not be easy to begin.  However, once you begin this process, it is SOOOO FREEING!  You feel free when you simplify and downsize.  It helps you focus on what really matters in your life.  I want to spend less time cleaning my house and more time with my family.

And don’t forget about your digital life.  Click here.

Ripple Effects

Not only are these habits and thoughts unhealthy for us and our families, they also affect our society.  I am a teacher, so I see the next generation on a daily basis.  Talk about struggle.  Talk about frustration.  I can see it in the kids and the adults.  It almost seems like we are speaking different languages.  So much time is spent on social media that face-to-face conversations, social etiquette and common courtesy are becoming nonexistent.

Communication is breaking down because people don’t have the life skills to function around other human beings!  It is so aggravating when you are talking to someone and they won’t put down their phone/tablet/whatever the newest gadget is!  Human beings are relational.  We are wired to function as collaborative groups, relying on each other and helping each other.  This love for material things has made us so selfish and introverted that we’ve lost something along the way that I think is detrimental to the species!  It is so encouraging to view other people snapping out of it and realizing that the best things in life aren’t things.

living simply

Make a Change Today!  Less IS More!

Be intentional.  Live Simply.  Enjoy life.  Love who you are, regardless of what you have or what you are wearing.  Evaluate how you are spending your time and money.  Are those things that you have in your closet really worth anything to you?  Could you get rid of some of your clutter to eliminate having to pay someone else to store your stuff?  Start small.  Tackle one room (or closet) at a time.  I like to give myself challenges.  Eliminate the need for one shelf in your closet, or fit everything into one box.  We just went through our Christmas decorations and have everything other than the tree fitting into one tote.

Don’t go to work just to make enough money to pay the bills, or to pay for the things that you don’t need.  Life is so much more than stuff!  Slow down and pause to smell the flowers in your garden.  Listen to the animals chattering in your backyard.  Spend time with your kids.  These are mood-boosting and “bucket” filling.  (If you haven’t checked out the book, Simplify, I strongly recommend it!)  These are the important things in life to focus on, not cleaning your 4 bathrooms in your huge home.  As the minimalist said on the documentary, “Love people and use things.”  How can you love someone today?

Read more here.

De-cluttering Your Life

So, we’re on this journey of de-cluttering and downsizing for financial purposes among other things.  When you think of de-cluttering, you usually think of getting rid of stuff.  Read: Get rid of your junk.  That’s really only the first step.  It is the most difficult to get started, but once you get going, it does become easier.  Although it is not the only step, it will be necessary to start there.

De-clutter your life! Easy ways to downsize at your own pace.
We love this picture, but not as much as others. Thinking about living in a smaller home really puts things into perspective.

Step 1: De-cluttering your belongings.

We found it easiest to tackle this one room at a time, but do whatever is best for your personality. We started listing high dollar items that we knew we could sell on Amazon.  Hubby got rid of his Starbucks mugs – we don’t support Starbucks anymore, so it worked out well – and I got rid of my Willow Tree figurines.  I loved collecting them, but they do not serve a purpose.  I would get rid of a few each week.  Slowly winding down my collection until I had one left.  Have a yard sale, give to family members, or just donate if you don’t want any hassle.

This is very difficult, especially if you are a sentimental person.  I found it helpful to give yourself realistic challenges, like within one week, reduce the game collection from 25 board games to five.  Each day, remove two, and so on.  We found it helpful to go through areas more than once.  We’ve gotten rid of kitchen items and clothing probably once a month.

Step 2: De-cluttering your mind.

You do not NEED the thing that you are about to purchase.  Go home.  Think about it.  Decide if it is a necessity or just something that you want.  Will you still want it in 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years?  There are many things that we feel like we need, when really it is only what we want.  Watching shows like the “Tiny House Nation” and “Tiny House Hunters” helps you get a perspective.

We have tried to downsize over a period of months instead of days like the people on those shows do.  It is not as stressful when you know you’re not fighting a clock.  We will put items in a pile to see if we really need/use them or not, then after a few days/weeks, we will get rid of the items.

Step 3: De-cluttering your technology.

E-mail messages should at least be organized in folders and not cluttering up your inbox.  Sort through your other accounts like Pinterest and see if you really need to hold onto all of those pins that you saved.  I couldn’t believe how many pins I had saved more than once!

Everything has a place in your subconscious mind.  Clutter that has no purpose only clutters up your mind.  No one needs that!

Step 4: De-cluttering your calendar.

Many of us think and do so many unnecessary things!  I just started reading this book called “Simplify” as part of a Bible study.  There are so many great points in it!  There can be too many good things.  Learn to say no when you feel overcommitted.

Get your priorities straight!  I know as a mother, it can be easy to not take care of yourself, but it is necessary.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.  Schedule yourself some “me time” doing things that you like to do.  Go for a walk, take a bath, write, get alone with God.  This will help you be your best and ultimately benefit those around you.

These are the main experiences that I have had on our journey to becoming more minimalistic.  Anything that you can do is an improvement!

 

Clutter is bad

…….. Having clutter says a lot about the current culture that we live in.  Many people believe that more is better, but I’m here to tell you that it is NOT.  Having more stuff means you have more stuff to clean/clean around.  It means that you have spent time & money on something that does not serve a purpose.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have nice things.  Just remember: they are things.  I hate cleaning to begin with, but when you add moving 50,000 things around just to dust, it becomes completely overwhelming!

This tiny living movement is encouraging, although, I don’t think at this stage in my life that I am willing to sacrifice that much space with a child and God-willing more to come.  At least, it’s making people think about what is important and what can be relocated.  Sell your stuff to make some extra cash, donate to a local thrift store, give to needy.  The options are endless.  And although it may be really difficult to get started, it is well worth the effort.

I think the hardest part of the home for me to get rid of was in my closet.  I don’t know what it is about women and clothing, but man was that hard.  Once I made the first step, it has become really easy and FREEING to scale down my wardrobe.

I read somewhere that everything we own holds a place in our subconscious mind.  Whoa.  Every. Single. Thing.  I have moved several times, so I know how much stuff we have.  Just that thought alone has made me more willing to let go of things that really have no purpose or meaning.

I encourage you to try it.  Pick one room in your home and look around.  Is there anything in it that doesn’t serve a purpose?  Could you do without something for two weeks?  Two months?  Two years?  If you don’t even know that you have it, shouldn’t it be used by someone else?  I promise that once you start, you will feel so much better.  If one room is too intimidating, try one area.  I used to be big into scrapbooking, so I focused on my scrapping stuff.  Start somewhere.  This week.  Challenge accepted?