Some people have the mentality of “the more I own, the better off I am”. While that could be true in the event of a disaster, owning more doesn’t make you better off… or happier.
With our journey into minimalism well under way, our minimalist life makes me feel better and more efficient now than I did owning more. I still struggle sometimes with bringing new (or new-to-us) items into our home (read more). However, I am more confident in my ability to live minimally – even if I do have to remind myself of it.
Why it was hard to let go.
As a former couponer this thought of living with less was daunting. For years I would buy multiples of everything. I purchased items on sale just for the sake of purchasing them.
When Dan and I graduated from college, money was tight. We held on to way more stuff than we should have. That included cheap grocery items, cheap clothing, and stuff we lugged with us from college. We were afraid that we got rid of an item or we passed on a sale, that we couldn’t afford to purchase anything else.
We let our things define us:
The couponer with too many hand soaps
The college grad with textbooks laying around unopened
The people that keep up with trends
While I did want to stop relying on have excess to feel secure, I had to change my mindset.
My mindset and feelings towards objects changed.
I decided the more that I had, the less someone else had. And the more that I had, the more time I would spend taking care of our stuff we didn’t want or need. Without spending hours shopping for new items, finding homes within my home for them, and then regularly rearranging them and cleaning them, I got time back in my life.
With that new and refreshed frame of mind, I was able to let go of a lot. I eliminated over half of my clothing, three-quarters of my stockpile, and probably about half of our remaining belongings.
How crazy is that?
We had been out of university five years and accumulated far more than we needed. While we moved from our first tiny apartment together in a medium size U-haul, we hired a moving company to take us from our first city apartment to the next. We paid someone else to take our 45 boxes (Dan numbered them) plus our furniture across town.
We paid the same company again to move us from that swanky apartment into our first home. Oh, how I was disappointed that our furniture looked tiny and sparse in our new home. I wanted new furniture, new appliance, new and better everything.
From that borderline greedy new homeowner to where we are now is remarkable. We have found contentment. Deciding that less = more has been the best life change.
We figured out how to be content.
With our new mindset in place (less = more) and knowing that other people in our country live with far less than us, we became happier, healthier people.
That first round of decluttering (the purge) lifted a weight from my shoulders that I didn’t know existed. It didn’t hurt either that we made over $1000 from our garage sale.
There is less to clean, less to organize, and less stress about getting it all done. Those people that are crazy busy all the time… I wonder if their lives would be easier with few possessions. Even on the busiest of days for our family, we are less stressed and less anxious than we were with our things suffocating us.
We found more time for the outdoors and for each other. Because we stopped buying things we didn’t need and stopped shopping for fun, our eyes were opened to nature again. Even after a difficult hike or a rained-out camping trip, we come home to a refreshing home that doesn’t dampen our spirits.
We feel secure in owning less because all that stuff that was cluttering our home and our minds was gone. Why would I want that back in my life?
That’s always our goal: our home should be a haven for relaxation and a space where our family can flourish.
We diligently track expenses in a Google Doc. When we stopped purchasing things that we didn’t need and saved the money we made by selling our possessions, we were amazed.
All of this income – that had been there the whole time – was suddenly left over at the end of the month. It wasn’t thousands of dollars, but it was enough to help us pay off our auto loans and stack a nice sum into our savings account. *We recommend opening an Ally money market account. The interest is outstanding!* The new financial freedom that we found also allowed us to increase our 401(k) contributions and save for retirement.
With our savings boosted and monthly expenses lowered, we have found financial stability. I even quit my job in 2018 to be a SAHM and work on my blog.
Everyone’s version of happiness will be different. Letting go of the notion that owning more is better and exciting, will bring you mental clarity to figure out what is really most important to you. Owning less allows you to do just that.