Why Less is More: Our Downsizing Story
I guess you could say it all started back in 2012 when we decided to get serious about becoming debt free. I'm not really sure if we actually had an "Aha Moment" or anything, but thinking back to that year, it was more than likely me being a nervous wreck about the less than stellar financial situation we had gotten ourselves into by starting a second business in addition to the photography Reid had been doing for quite some time. We thought it was a great idea at the time, and was something innovative that would make us a good bit of money in time, but it just turned out to be nothing but stress and something we were doing for the wrong reasons.
Even though I've always tended to be a pretty frugal person, (normally in a relationship you have a saver and a spender - I was definitely the saver ;) and we weren't in huge, massive amounts of debt, I was actually surprised at how quickly we were able to hit our goal using Dave Ramsey's Plan. And when we hit it, it was the best feeling ever! It definitely made up for all the times we had to say "No" to many things including outings with friends and family that we had to completely cut out of our budget.
As great as that feeling was, no more than a year later, after we got out of said business and our photography also started to dwindle, we found ourselves back in debt and back into the old habits we had worked so hard to get rid of. I remember feeling so defeated. After all that hard work, we let our guard down and the snowball of debt started all over again. Let me just say here that while we did pay off our debt pretty quickly the first time (about 18 months), accumulating it back happened much faster - only 2 months! It's scary to even think about and a warning to all of us.
At the end of that year, after much deliberation, we both decided to do the sensible thing and get corporate jobs. We were honestly so burned out from running our businesses, that it was actually a much welcomed change. Steady income, shorter hours, benefits, and not taking your work home with you every night and weekend - Yes, we were ready! Caveat - it seems like any time you look at things like the Instagram and Facebook accounts of people running their own businesses, it always seems like such a perfect picture, but as we know from personal experience, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than that perfect picture shows. There are many wonderful aspects to running your own business, but it also takes more time, more energy, more money, and more stress and worry. Needless to say, we just needed a break.
Upon perusing the internet one day, we came across The Comet Camper, and started reading up on downsizing and living minimalist. It didn't take long before we decided to delve into this class to learn more and give us some sort of process for making our life easier and more balanced. After completing the course, having an $1,800 profit garage sale, donating other goods, and moving into a less expensive home, we never felt better. No, we are not out of debt yet, but we have a written goal and plan to get there by mid-2017. Are we going to move into a tiny house or cramped apartment - no, that's not for us (although you should definitely check out The Comet Camper website if you are interested, there is so much great information!), but there are many ways to downsize and get a more balanced life, and the course was just one way that really helped us learn why we were in the place we were, and gave us many practical steps to get us going. It also connected us with likeminded people who were on the same journey.
It's really amazing to see how that in just a short amount of time we've gotten rid of so much stuff, but gained back so much more in return. The time we've gained on a daily basis just from not having to pick up, clean and put away so much stuff that gets continually piled up, makes such a big difference. Having smaller rooms lends to having less junk, less to clean, and more money in your pocket because you don't have the need to fill huge amounts of space. Paying off debt by selling stuff and having less monthly expenses (by giving ourselves rules of buying needs vs. wants) also obviously frees up more money to put towards things such as savings, giving, our sons college fund, and a future full time traveling plan. And time? I remember one of the first weekends in our new rental home. Our weekend was unusually open, so we spent most of it at home. As I looked around with the usual feeling of depression from knowing I'd have to spend a lot of my weekend cleaning and doing chores, I quickly realized that wasn't the case at all. Most things were in their place, and besides the few loads of laundry and small cleaning tasks here and there, I had a whole weekend to work on the many things I had been meaning to get to for months. What a feeling! Seriously, I couldn't remember the last time I literally didn't feel guilty on a weekend for just lounging or "having fun" when there were so many other things to get done.
Now, I do have to say, that after our big garage sale and moving, there were a couple things that we wish we would have kept. I tend to get a little over zealous when ditching things, but that will definitely be a lesson we hope to pass on to others. I think this is a good place too to mention that when we call ourselves "Minimalists", that doesn't mean you get rid of every belonging you have and love, live in the smallest place possible, never buy anything new, and only have 2 outfits you wear on rotation. I could never live like that, and for most people, it's just not realistic. What we do now is use a gauge of keeping things that 1) Have a legitimate purpose and is frequently used, 2) Fulfill a real need (as opposed to a want), 3) Are sentimental to us, and 4) Things/hobbies that bring us true joy.
Now that we have a clean slate and are off to a new start, we are going to be tackling trying out different resources and daily/weekly practices to balancing all the different areas in our life. We look forward to sharing what we're doing, resources we find and create, and what we're learning along the way. Here's to a new, balanced, downsized happier year!
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