Week Six: Asking Hard Questions

2014ccwk6 How’s your home looking? More importantly, how are you feeling about stuff, your attachment to it and what those small buying choices ad up to after a few years?

This is the week to stop selling DVDs on Amazon or getting rid of those cute on the hangar but painful in-person bras. This week is about the bigger picture. What could having less and living a bit smaller give you and others?


 Forget all of your “but I can’t because ____ ” for a moment and just consider some of these ideas. Disregard that you just refinanced your mortgage, or moved to a bigger home, or bought a second car or got an awesome job that doubled your commute. You’re not selling or buying or changing anything when you suspend your reality for a second and daydream.

If I lived closer to work/school/amenities I could:

  • walk to work
  • get rid of our second car
  • spend more time with my spouse/friends/kids
  • spend more time on myself

If I moved into a smaller home I could:

  • spend less time cleaning
  • lower my mortgage or pay less rent
  • spend less time on tidying/moving the lawn/home repair

If I quit some of my/my kids evening/weekend activities/classes/commitments I could:

  • go to bed earlier and get more sleep
  • find the time for health/creative/work goals that I really want to invest myself in
  • save more money to retire earlier or give more to charity or travel more
  • feel less rushed

These won’t be easy things to think about. Some of you may just say it’s not the time for you to open this can of worms. I get it. I truly do.

However, if you’re interested in seeing how the ideas and practices behind this modern minimalist movement can benefit you in a bigger way than a closet full of clothing that you actually wear and fewer impulsive home ware buys – this is it.

This is the stuff that really excites me. One day you’re cutting the cable which feels pretty radical and a few months later you’re trying your hand at living without a car. You started this journey just hoping to finally clear the basement so you could put a second television down there for the kids or finally renovate for a guest room but then the basement is empty and you’re thinking, why do I need this extra room? The kids are finally playing in their rooms because they can find their toys and my reading chair is no longer piled with clothing so I have my quiet spot to finish The Goldfinch (so so good!). Could we live in something smaller?

It doesn’t mean you have to act on these thoughts or opportunities. Simply coming to the realization that you maybe don’t need as much as you once thought you did is a huge win. Because if you can see that what you once thought of as a need is really a want, you’ll feel much more content with what you do have.

Happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.

So… think about it. I’ll have a few more posts up this week and a wrap up for the Clutter Cleanse with more resources for those of you still feeling the weight of your stuff.

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  • Great questions. Some people will be ready for them.
    Others won’t. They will need reminders ;o
    The point of conversion will be different for everyone, but the more I see this kind of thing, the more I hope people will begin to get the message and begin to behave differently. Slowly, but surely.
    Thanks for your work these past few weeks, I’ve really enjoyed the posts and also the many suggestions and discussions that then arise in the comments!

  • Great questions and succinct points (as usual!).

    Time is money. Got past the “all the money I spent on this stuff” mind set. Once you get the clutter out of the way, it clears your mind of that weight and all it entails and encourages me / prevents me from buying more. I like being free of the excess baggage – physically, mentally, emotionally. With the time I have saved without this baggage, and truly looking at my time as something not to be squandered – I’m saving time and not wasting it. “Time is money” the circle comes around to a much better mind set this time. Yes I spent a fortune on stuff I got rid of / never used / never needed. Yet I grew and now will not waste that time that was once in my bank account.

  • This is a tough one that we’ve been grappling with lately. We don’t have long commutes, but we live in the Rocky Mountains with lots of snow so walking and riding bikes aren’t options. We have a 1700sq ft townhouse/duplex and two young boys. The three levels are inconvenient with an infant, but the mortgage is affordable in this expensive area. Hmmmm, guess we’ll see.

  • I rolled my eyes at myself already a couple of times this past two weeks. I have made such an improvement since coming back from CA and everything is organized, uncluttered and completely simplified, and there I go and start buying myself just out of the blue new outfits for work. Somehow I feel that I’m failing and even criticized myself with the dialogue ” what do you need new stuff for when you just got rid of some stuff you wasn’t even using” and then I realize I was being to harsh. I seldom buy myself things I truly like and use. So yeah, I have improved and still fail. Good questions for pondering and finding out the true meaning of why we do what we do too.

  • We just found out that the military is sending us 5,000 miles from our current locale to an island in Alaska. Where we will live in government housing; most likely a 900 square foot duplex with 1.5 bathrooms and 2.5 bedrooms. And no garage. I am so excited. We were planning on getting a bigger house than our current 1000 sf 2 bed 2 bath 2 car garage if we were moving where we thought we were going. But we don’t need more space, even with our 2 little girls and weather that will keep us inside a lot. We just need to get rid of more stuff! And move the girls out of our room. :-) We are going to sell both cars and buy one that can handle the weather up there, and DH will be riding his mountain bike to work (2 miles). I am becoming increasingly interested in “living small” but having a big life, with a big impact…realizing that most people on the planet live in a house less than half the size of mine, with multiple generations, and do just fine. Redefining what we want our normal to be.

  • I love this – great logic! I bought my home based on these ideas – sure it cost more, and was smaller than some alternatives, but I could live there without a car. I could get to work on public transport, and I could grocery shop by foot (yes, THAT close, seriously!). Sure I could have had more square footage with more bedrooms, but it was just me then, and there was no reason. I wish more people realised that ‘expensive’ inner city living often does without costly car costs and time of communiting costs, just to start with!

  • Not having lots of after-school commitments is something our family has always prioritised. My daughter is 13 and my son is 11 and they only have 1 out of school activity each: art class for my son on a weekday and horseriding/volunteering at stables for my daughter on a Saturday morning. They both had/have music lessons during school hours. I’ve never felt stressed or rushed taking them to their activities and we have relaxed family time after school most nights. I started this early on, and am still practically the ONLY mum I know who isn’t in the car every night of the week! Plus I’ve saved us an absolute fortune!! (I’ve never been able to understand how families with more than 2 kids can afford to have them in 5 activities each a week).

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