The Decision To Downsize
It’s human nature to collect and save things. From a strictly survival stand point, the more you have, the more prepared you would be if a disaster happened and/or resources became unavailable for a time. Think staying warm and fed through a long winter. We’re hard-wired to survive, except this natural instinct has backfired for many people by causing an exaggerated focus on material objects. For many of us living [in America] in the present time of a materialistic and disposable “culture” we’ve moved from needing items to survive, to wanting items for the sake of well, wanting them. There seems to be this illusion that the more you have, and the larger your house, faster your car, and newer your clothes, then the more successful, better, and happier you are [seem] too. Gotta keep up with the Joneses right?
Where do you draw the line? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE new shoes, and if I could find both the funds and justification, I might own 500 pairs. BUT have you taken a minute to think about what you ACTUALLY need? Have you thought, maybe, just maybe, you have a ridiculous amount of stuff? What parent hasn’t complained about how many toys their kids have as they’re trying to clean them all up? Or thought that if their house wasn’t so big it would be a lot easier to clean? And what’s that credit card bill at?
No one likes to think about what they don’t need. That’s not fun. What’s fun is picking out a bigger, clearer, flat screen TV, or watching your kids face light up when you enter Toys R Us. Speaking from experience, aside from that moment of cleaning rage where you feel like you want to throw everything in the trash, thinking about owning less items, is down right scary and uncomfortable.
Here are two thoughts to help you warm up:
- While the United States has only about 3% of the World’s children, it holds 40% of the World’s toys.
- Goldfish will grow ONLY as big as the fishbowl they are placed in. (OK water quality is a factor too but bear with me here and keep it that simple).
Let’s take the first one. Did reading that make you feel like an asshole? The Grinch? Like your kids are spoiled [rotten]? Yeah, me too. I’m going to let that one sink in every time a birthday or holiday comes around. Or when I see my child playing with the box the toy came in instead of the toy…
Now the second one. Imagine you are the goldfish and your house is the tank. Bigger the house, the more you will feel the need to fill it. The more walls that “need” pictures, the more rooms that “need” furniture. The more windows that “need” curtains. When was the last time you saw a completely empty room in a house? For me, unless those people were moving in or out, the answer is never. So now, the smaller the house, the less stuff you need to fill it. Simple.
Such are the thoughts that my husband and I have been mulling over for the past year.
We saw some movie about a 200sqft house and thought “no way” but we had fun wondering how we would design and live in a space that small (for starters we’d have no kids, haha). These conversations then progressed to how much space did we actually need? We started to pay attention to our current 2,000sqft 2 car garage home. The answer? Not much. For example, laundry gets sorted in the hallway, just outside of everyone bedrooms. Do you think the kids play in their rooms while I do the mundane task of folding clothes? No, they drag their toys to the 20sqft of hallway space (or just help me [un]fold laundry). The turning point for me came one day when I looked around, and realized my ENTIRE family was in that 20sqft of space; laughing, talking, playing, even after the laundry was done, we were just hanging out, completely unaware that we were in a space smaller than my walk-in closet. How about that walk-in closet, and the 10 other storage spaces in my house? All stuffed with items which about 50% of I couldn’t remember the last time we used, 30% I can think of one time in the past year (seasonal?), and 10% that we “actually” use (blankets, towels?). Suddenly our “spacious” floorplan felt awkward, excessive, wasteful, and poorly designed.
So what did we do?
We made the decision to downsize. Not just our possessions, but our house too. While most people are focusing on bigger and more, we have decided to go the other way and focus on smaller and less.
We are putting our 2,000 sqft house up for rent, and moving into a 880 sqft single-wide trailer.
Read more about our journey and learn how you can downsize too!