Over the past year, our furnace, water heater and fridge
died. Collectively, those three items cost almost $5,000 to replace, which has
left a gaping hole in our savings account.
Hence my resolution to stick closely to the budget this
year, and to save harder (which is a whole ‘nother post). Sticking to the
budget means not buying anything we don’t absolutely need. No more wandering a
local shop to see what’s new. No more checking out the T.J. Maxx clearance
sections. I’ve got to behave myself this year.
Not buying anything unnecessary is a wonderful way to keep
down the clutter in our house, because clutter builds up after shopping trips.
Either you buy something that replaces something else (that you then neglect to
get rid of) or you make impulse purchases that are fun, unnecessary, and now
require you to find space to put them.
So limiting my purchases automatically reduces incoming
stuff. Yes, this is logical, but it’s funny how easy it is to forget that when
you’re in the store and something cute or lovely is calling your name.
This also applies to thrift store and estate sale purchases, which have comprised the bulk of my shopping in recent years. No, I don’t spend much on those items, and I’ve come away with some really high-quality things for pennies on the dollar. But they still cost something, and they definitely add to the clutter in my small house. Sooner or later, they’ll fall into disuse and will have to be dealt with.
That’s why my resolution for 2019 is to buy less. I hope to
keep the clutter down while building up the savings account. Wish me luck!
So it’s been seven years since we bought our small house after living in two large rental houses (and a five-bedroom two-story for many years before that). You live differently in a small house than in a large one, and it took me a while to figure that out. (I included what I learned in my eBook Secrets of Small-House Living, written a few years after we moved here.)
Now I’m used to living in a small house, but it has not become routine for me. I still love only having two bathroom sinks to clean instead of four. I greatly appreciate being able to plug the vacuum in the middle of the house and do all the vacuuming without once unplugging it, much less lugging it up and down steps as I did for many years.
Perhaps the thing I love best about my small house is that I don’t have to spend too much time or money on it, which frees up both things to be used for other pursuits. Every bit of time I don’t spend caring for a larger house can be spent reading, writing, gardening, or sewing. Every dollar I don’t spend on this house can be saved, or spent on travel. And we’re not talking about just a few bucks. The property taxes on this house are 1/3 of what we once paid on our large house. Now that’s quite a bit of savings!
There are downsides of living in a small house, but they’re quite minor. I’m aware that a couple of relatives are appalled by the fact that we gave up our lovely huge house for something that can best be described as modest. Oh, well, I gave up caring what they thought long ago.
Another negative is that sometimes I feel cooped up, especially now that it’s winter. But I’m solving that in two ways: I’ve turned a spare bedroom into a reading room, so that I have somewhere to sit and read besides the living room, and I’m making more of an effort to go for walks (all bundled up, of course) and meet friends for coffee now and then. These are things that I should have done long ago, because they are both quite enjoyable, and I find that afterwards, I return to my little house with a new sense of appreciation along the lines of “Be It Ever So Humble, There’s No Place Like Home.”
The Sentimental Person’s Guide to Decluttering just came out in print for $14.95, and it’s already selling. This is so exciting for me! What a great feeling to hold my own book in my hands. Many thanks to those of you who bought the ebook; its sales numbers made my publishers decide to bring it out in print.
Speaking of Amazon, a reviewer there liked it, but wishes I would have addressed how to declutter when you have little children. Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to give advice on that subject. I tried decluttering many times when my kids were small, but all of my efforts ended quickly and in failure because I was just so busy dealing with everything else: the kids, the house, meals, etc. That’s how I ended up with a basement full of stuff that eventually filled two storage units. I just couldn’t find time to go through it all until I was forced to when we sold our house. By then, my kids were teens and young adults.
So you won’t find that information in my book, because I found it too hard to declutter with several children underfoot. But if, like me, you find yourself living with way too much clutter, I can show you how to get rid of most of it while keeping only your most treasured possessions. Just read my new book 🙂
(Continuing the theme from last week’s post….) A family of six decides to give up the modern life of the big house full of toys and furniture and take their family life on the road. We’re seeing more and more stories about this and it fascinates some of us and appalls others.
As someone who raised a large family in a big house for many years, I can understand the appeal of this kind of lifestyle. Reducing your possessions so that you can fit everyone into a trailer (even if it is a relatively roomy Airstream) forces the kids to entertain themselves and to enjoy being out in nature. That’s much better for kids than being cooped up inside all the time and constantly being given toys, games and electronic devices to keep them occupied.
So I’m on the side of those who think this is a lovely idea, and that they’re making oodles of awesome family memories. That said, their kids are still young. I can guarantee that once the eldest child passes puberty, if not sooner, Mom and Dad will begin dreaming of a home where there are doors. When you live with teens, doors are a must so that parents can have some peace and teens can have some privacy.
But for now, it’s a wonderful lifestyle. If they’re smart, once they decide to settle down again, they’ll find a home that isn’t so large that it requires a lot of time and money to manage. Having a large family is plenty of work on its own; adding in the responsibilities involved in maintaining a huge house is what often pushes parents into “overwhelmed” territory.