One Reason for Hoarding

There’s always a reason why someone becomes a hoarder. For some people, it has to do with a particularly traumatic upbringing. Others may have extreme difficulty making decisions about what to throw out, or what to keep. Some people find security in owning every single thing they might possibly need someday.

Then there’s this guy. He was supposed to share an inherited New York City brownstone with his brother. Instead, he holed up in the $10 million home and spent the last seven years filling it with….well, with everything. This worked for a long time, but now his brother is taking him to court.

When someone lives with so much accumulated clutter, there’s always a reason for it. Some reasons, however, are more obvious than others.

Build Your Own Small House with a 3D Printer

I’ve been known to complain that no one is building small houses anymore, even though many people would like a new small house because of convenience and low cost. As it turns out, you can now bypass builders and build your own small house using a 3D printer for as little as $10,000.

Not everyone wants a small house, of course, but many of us who live in small houses love them. For those who may not be retiring with as much money set aside as they might like, this could be a way to live affordably and securely. I look forward to seeing this concept grow in the future.


The Questionable Value of a Top-of-the-Line Kitchen

I think it’s interesting that so many people will plunk down tens of thousands of dollars to create a top-of-the-line kitchen in their homes, complete with the latest design in cabinets and hip counter surfaces, even though they rarely cook. It’s all about having a kitchen that looks like it belongs in a magazine or on a cooking show, I guess.

Personally, I adore my hip cabinets. Check this out:

Those are genuine 1980s vintage cabinet fronts. Inside you’ll find sturdy plain old wood cabinets and shelves from the 1950s, when the house was built. I suspect that’s also when they installed my very cool counter tops:

That’s right, speckled Formica. We’re talking the height of luxury!

OK, so I’m being sarcastic. The fact is that I love my kitchen. It’s made of very sturdy materials that have lasted for years and still have a lot of life left in them. Since I cook from scratch every day, and we do a lot of dishes because we don’t have a dishwasher, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Yet it doesn’t bother me at all that I don’t have the latest cabinets or countertops.

You see, I’m a firm believer that there’s a trade-off between time and money. You have to give up one to get the other. Personally, I value time more than money, and the older I get, the more valuable time is to me. I can live without a $20,000 upgrade to my kitchen, because I don’t want to spend the time it takes to earn that 20 grand just to have a fancier kitchen. The one I have works just fine.

Some of my attitude stems from the fact that we’re debt-free. Most people will put a kitchen upgrade on their credit cards and think nothing of it. But we worked very hard to get debt-free, so we aren’t part of the how-much-a-month crowd. We also like to keep our expenses down so we can work part-time, which gives us more time to pursue other interests. Being able to live this way is much more important to us than having the latest kitchen upgrades in our home.

Besides, five years from now, today’s cabinets and counters are going to look outdated anyways.

Most People Don’t Need a Big House

Over at, they’re discussing how people who live in big houses only use a small percentage of their total square footage when it comes to daily living. That wasn’t true of us.

Our big house had five bedrooms and an office. We ran two businesses from home, and I homeschooled our children. For many years, every single room of our house was used every day. I used to say that we got more mileage out of our mortgage payment than anyone else we knew.

But that was then. The kids are in their 20s and 30s now and on their own; we downsized to a smaller house several years ago. There are three of us living in 1000 square feet, and we’re quite comfortable. However, had we stayed in our old house, we’d be rattling around with more space than we’d know what to do with. I can easily imagine that, like the people mentioned in the link above, we’d be spending most of our time in just a few rooms of the house.

Thinking about how you use the rooms in your house is a really valuable exercise. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, you might want to consider whether your current house is really larger than you need it to be. A smaller house means lower costs; lower costs equals more freedom because you don’t have to earn so much money to support yourself, leaving you more time to do the things you really want to do.

I suspect that for many people, the big house ties them to their jobs. If they love their jobs, that’s fine. But many people don’t love their jobs. Living in a smaller house might free them to work somewhere that pays less but offers work that they love.

Some people love the status that a big house confers on them. If status is your goal, then you probably don’t care whether you use many rooms in your house or not. You’re more concerned about what other people think.

I certainly enjoyed having all the space we had in our big house (the master bath was bigger than the master bedroom in our current small house). But that house took a long time to clean, cost us a fortune in property taxes, and maintaining it would probably wear us out now, since we’re a little older (ahem) than we were when we built it 30 years ago.

I loved that big house, and I miss it. But I love this little house, too. Ultimately, some people actually need and use a big house, as we did, but only for a certain stage of their lives. After that, I think most people will find that living efficiently gives them more freedom.