I can tell you from first-hand experience that downsizing can be hard work. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I can also tell you there is a lot to be gained from having less stuff and ultimately it is well worth the effort.
Feel Better with Less Stuff
Clutter is bad for your brain. Studies have shown it decreases concentration, causes stress, and can even lead to depression and social isolation. Getting things clean, organized and manageable will simply make you feel better and help you enjoy life in your home.
Save Money With Less Stuff
Many people do not reflect on the true cost of all their stuff. We all understand its purchase price, but there are many other costs we bear. Perhaps the biggest expense is living space. The more stuff you have to share your space with, the more space you need to pay for. While American families have grown smaller in the last century, the size of our homes has gotten much larger. Slowly but surely the stuff is taking over and we are all paying a hefty price to store it in our rents and mortgages. Now even our homes are often not enough and storage companies have sprung up all over the country and are growing like gangbusters.
There is also all the stuff you by to store your stuff, clean your stuff and fix your stuff. Every time you move your stuff you pay again to box and pack your stuff which of course requires more stuff. And finally, there is the money many of us spend on interest for loans we used to buy our stuff.
When Trail and I sold our stuff, we were not looking to maximize revenues, we had a plan and were in a hurry to get it done. Even giving a lot away and selling at fire sale prices, we made around 5-10 thousand dollars selling our stuff. Given much more time we probably could have made five times that amount. That’s nothing compared to what we spent on it, but honestly, we already got plenty of value from most of it and in our new life it would be nothing more than a burden so it was essentially all profit.
Make Room for Your Future
When you are surrounded by all you could ever need, and then some, you can become consumed with maintaining it, managing it, and luxuriating in it. In moderation, all that is fine but it can quickly crowd out time and energy for new experiences, ideas, and adventures. People are usually happiest when life is improving and moving forwards. Being ensconced in endless stuff tends to stifle that and in the material game chasing ever bigger and better piles of stuff can become all consuming. You space for stuff is limited, but your space for memories and experiences is limitless.
The stuff you own can act like chains that bind you in more ways than you may have considered. One of the reasons I decided to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle is it frees me from working for other people. Without a mortgage, credit card payments, utilities and so forth to worry about, I’m free to do what inspires me even if it makes considerably less money than being a salaried software developer. It also, of course, frees us from being bound to the land our home was on. We can now go anywhere we can drive to, stay as long as we care to, and go whenever we feel the mood. Some folks life literally with only what they can carry and are free to go anywhere in the world without worrying if their stuff is safe or cared for. For a great many reasons, the less you have the freer you can be.
I was most happy downsizing when giving or selling things I owned to people whom I knew would get as much or more utility and enjoyment from it as I did. Taking all my old Legos into the office was a little painful but folks were so happy to get them and told me how excited their kids would be.I knew I made a good decision, probably one I should have made long ago. While I have many fond memories playing with them, they were not doing me any good sitting in the closet for years on end. The world is not just that little bit happier than it was before and that makes me feel good.
It can be fun
The process is often a great trip down memory lane. You will often find things you had long forgotten. And of course not everything needs to go, you just need to get your stuff down to a manageable level where it fits in with your life and isn’t lurking in the shadows of it and spilling out the edges. If you have hidden treasures, make room and get those out where you can enjoy them more often and preserve them for the future.