Do you need to downsize your life?

By Stew

I recently purchased an item of furniture via Craigslist from a woman in a nearby town. In the course of our interaction, she stated that she was trying to get rid of furniture because she was moving to a smaller apartment. She stated that she was trying to “downsize”.

Do you ever sit back and think about the amount of “stuff” that you owned five or ten years ago? Most of us had a whole lot less. My parents dropped me off at college with enough stuff to partially fill the back seat of a car. By the time I left college, I needed a pickup truck and had to leave some stuff in storage. After a year of marriage, Mrs. Stew and I moved across town and made two trips with a small pickup truck pulling a small trailer. Two years ago, we moved across the country and needed a 24′ Penske moving truck. I was just thinking the other day that if we needed to move again, we would probably be looking at a 30-footer.

Granted, our family has grown and our living space has grown. There are some legitimate reasons to acquire more stuff. But what is your bottom line? What is the least amount of stuff on which you could survive? Most of us have far more than we really need – and there is no shame in that as long as we remember from Whence it came. Most of us are blessed.

I once spent time in a foreign country where families of 8, 10 and even 12 were living in huts the size of my kitchen made of pressboard and corrugated steel. They had one bed in which the took turns sleeping in shifts. They had no yards, animals ran freely through the village – yet they survived. On the other end of the spectrum, you have a woman who is trying to sell the most expensive house in the world. It looks like a nice place to visit, but can you imagine the headache?

Sometimes, Mrs. Stew and I dream about our ideal lifestyle when the kids leave home. She envisions a loft in downtown Denver or Chicago. Since our retirement is going to be pretty sparse, I talk about becoming over-the-road truckers, taking turns at the wheel and spending our nights in a semi-tractor bunk. We both sometimes talk about getting a little cabin way up in the mountains. In a way, they all sound good because they all sound simple.

However, we are not waiting until our kids leave home to downsize our lives, we are starting now. Do you ever downsize? Or are you too busy keeping up with the Joneses?

Article by Stew

Photo by dno1967

7 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Do you need to downsize your life?”

  1. Damsel Says:

    My husband is Active Duty Army. We’re pretty good at downsizing — We never know what kind of house we’ll be moving to. Our current house is about 500 sq ft larger than anything we’ve ever been in before, AND it has a basement! Of course, our stuff has gradually expanded to fill the space we have. I’m terrified of our next move in about a year. I know we’ll probably end up with quite a bit less space, and the Army will only move a certain amount of goods based on the number of people in the family… I’m pretty good at whittling down to the “basics”, and already know what big pieces will be the first to go. I’m constantly purging kids’ toys, clothes from all of us that we don’t wear or have outgrown, kitchen stuff we don’t use… all of the small-clutter-type stuff. It’s the big furniture we’ve acquired that probably won’t fit.

  2. Ace Says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful piece.

    “Do you ever sit back and think about the amount of ‘stuff’ that you owned five or ten years ago?”

    I just did this, and it’s kind of unbelievable. I moved into college with 2 large suitcases of stuff. When I moved out four years between my GF and I, we had 4 car loads! And the amount of stuff that I’ve accumulated from then until now. It’s kind of mind blowing.

    I think that as our lives begin to rapidly spiral out of control because of “upsizing” we forget how nice and carefree simple is. I’m glad that I’ve become much more aware of my spending because it forces me to think about my stuff. And how much adding more just complicates things.

  3. Khaleef @ KNS Financial Says:

    I see this happen all the time. We now live in a 900 sqft apartment and hopefully, we won’t fill it with “stuff”!

  4. Financial Bondage Says:

    I don’t have much stuff and don’t want it. Stuff requires time and money to care for it. Usually twice a year I do a stuff audit and see what I can trash or give away.

  5. Hope to Prosper Says:

    Our house is a perfect size at just under 2,000 square feet. There was a time when I wanted to add on, but I am really glad we didn’t. Now that our kid are grown (ages 17 & 21) I’m thinking we’ll have an office and a guest room soon enough.

  6. Dan in Philly Says:

    Ownership is a curse. I remember a story, which may or may not be true, that John Wesley was told his house burned down. “One less headache for me!” he exclaimed joyfully. While I don’t go that far, there is a lot of truth in that expression.

    Studies show that stuff does not make you happier, experiences do. What experiences are you building your life with? Are you experiencing overwork and overstress managing your stuff? Do you think buying a beach house will help you relax? Think about it! A whole ‘nother house to worry about keeping up! What a relief!

    I decided a while ago that the only things I will own are the things which are necessary to live life in America: A house to keep my family safe, a car to work, and clothes for my family. I focus on those things, and what little else I buy I consider to be extraneous “stuff” which does not matter at all. Even the house is not, at the end of the day, anything but a house. It serves a purpose, but so could any other house. What makes a house special are the people who live in it, and those people will be with me no matter where we live.

  7. The Best Money Blog Says:

    Downsizing a little in the present can help you save enough to upsize to the tenth degree in the future! At least that’s what I think.