Our path to Lighter Living happened by accident. I had no real intentions of having a smaller footprint or having to downsize, anything.
But three years ago the house that we had been renting for ten years went up for sale. It was owned by a family member and without getting into all the drama that ensued, I’ll just leave it at we wanted to buy it, but things did not work out. I had no intentions of ever moving from that house, I wanted to live there until I died, but life had other plans.
We were at loss as to where to move, we had two dogs and we were carrying around items from a packed full three bedroom farmhouse. It just so happened that a place my parents had bought in the city was no longer needed and they decide to sell it the same month we had to move.
It was very small compared to what we had been living in, it was old, full of paneling, no yard, and extremely cheap. We had no other choice at the time, but I was literally heart broken. I never imagined myself living in a place like that.
We agreed that it would only be temporary, until we could complete our house hunting. A year max.
So I frantically called multiple storage units trying to find a place to put all of our stuff… Do you have any idea how expensive they are? I had sticker shock. There was no way I was going to fork over $150 a month.
The only other thing to do was try and cram as much of our stuff into 800 sq. ft. that we could.
As an OCD clean freak, it drove me crazy. I hate things sitting around on the floor, or piles in the corners. But I told myself soon we will get a house and all will be well.
After two more attempts to purchase a house, it just wasn’t working out. I was crying daily because I was so unhappy where we were and I just wanted a home.
Then one day my husband calls from work and says he’s going to have to go into the doctors, he started having a severe reaction at work. At first we thought it was maybe food related, I completely changed our diets but, that didn’t work. Then we went down a whole list of possibilities. In the end he ended up being allergic to a product he was using at work. They weren’t going to change products for one employee, so he had to find a different position in the company. The only one available, that was away from the product, was for considerable less pay, but at the time there wasn’t much else he could do.
Our house hunting was over for the time being…
After a few weeks of depression, I finally snapped out of it when a family member made the remark “Boy, aren’t you guys glad you didn’t get that house? You would have probably lost it with all the health issues and the position change.”
It was like someone slapped me upside the head and was like “Hello, wake up and stop being so selfish!”
In my heartbreak I didn’t see how much being in that place was a blessing. Our bills were minimal, especially compared to our old house.
So my attitude slowly started to change. I tried to look at the good things about living where we were and not focusing on the selfish desires I wanted.
Room by room I started minimizing our belongings. Our local thrift store was completely stocked full from our many trips. I held onto a lot though. Every nook and cranny was completely stuffed full.
You couldn’t open a closet without things falling out because I just wanted to hold onto them incase we got a bigger place one day.
Well, I got sick of the clutter. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I went back through each room, with a check list.
- Do I use this daily/weekly?
- Have I worn this in the last year? (I did yearly because our seasons can be quite drastic here in Wisconsin)
- Does it have a serious sentimental value? (My daughter still had all her young childhood stuffed animals, she picked 10 very special ones)
- Does it make me happy?
- Am I keeping it only because it was a gift and I don’t want to offend the giver?
Now keep in mind that I was not on a complete minimalist mission. I have more than 30 clothing items, accessories, and shoes. My goal was to have organization. I wanted everything to fit easily into its space. I didn’t want anything stacked or shoved in somewhere. If I had eight shirts that I wanted to keep but only five would fit in the remaining dresser space I had to pick five that I really liked and let the others go.
I did this with cloths, shoes, bags, decorations, bathroom towels, dishes, dog toys, kids toys, etc. Everything was minimized to just what would fit comfortably. Let me tell you it was not an easy process. But having things organized and easily accessible is so worth it! If you are like me, you stress out when things are a mess, or when you have to hunt for thirty minutes trying to find that one pair of shoes you buried somewhere.
Here are a few of the things I found that helped me the most while de-cluttering our belongings.
- It’s okay to keep some favorite sentimental items, but that candy wrapper from you first high school date could probably go… (Yes, I had one and it was a Twix bar because Twix are awesome!)
- Get rid of any clothing items that don’t fit. There is nothing more discouraging than opening your wardrobe to a row of cloths that you can’t fit into because of ____________ (insert reason here). Even if you think ‘Oh one day I will fit in this!’ When that day comes (because it will if you are working for it!), go get yourself a new outfit or two. You definitely deserve them! But facing a ton of non fitting cloths every morning is not a good way to start your day. Only keep cloths that make you happy!
- MOST IMPORTANT TIP – As soon as you have gone through you items and have your bags/boxes to donate or give away (which ever you choose), take them in immediately! If you let them sit around to long you may be tempted to go back through and grab a few items to keep, just because. Then the vicious cycle starts all over again.
This is just a quick (but long read – haha) overview of how our journey began. There is so much more to talk about and explain.
But let me just leave you with this. – Sometimes life doesn’t always go the way we had planned. Life, death, and even health issues can completely change what you had penned down for your life plan. Learn to move with the waves of life, if you relax and sway with them as they hit, it’s not as bad. My life has had many rouge waves come and knock me down unexpectedly. But each time I make it back to the surface, I’m a little bit stronger. –
Random Life Fact, we are still living in the old, tiny house. We purchased it for cash from my parents and have no mortgage over our heads. Is it my ideal dream home? No, but it feels great knowing that we aren’t living from paycheck to paycheck just to pay for a house. Without the dark cloud of a mortgage payment straining our budget, we have been able to take our first family trip, in 14 years!
If you made it this far, Thank You!
Tell me about your journey to Living Lighter in the comments below, and any special tips or tricks that have helped you!