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Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Happiness

February 20, 2018 | By Schuyler Williamson

Thanks to Gene Ramsey from DownsizingDad.com for this article!


Quick, think about what makes you happy. Is it the 30 pairs of shoes in your closet? Your gas-guzzling SUV? Or is it time spent with family and friends? Chances are, the things that make you truly happy have nothing to do with material possessions. If you’ve found yourself with lots of stuff but little joy, keep reading for a few ideas on how to downsize your life and upgrade your happiness.

Clear your closets

You don’t need a closet full of clothes and shoes to have something to wear. You can easily remain stylish by incorporating a few key pieces and versatile accessories into your wardrobe. BeMoreWithLess.com’s Courtney Carver recommends spending an afternoon going through your closet. Start by removing everything and making a giant pile on your bed. Make four piles – love, maybe, donate, and trash – and only keep the things you will truly wear in the next three to six months.

Consolidate media

One of the easiest ways to eliminate clutter in the living room is by purging shelves of books and movies. In a world with Netflix and Kindles, there is no reason to keep the entire Harry Potter series or a box set of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies on the shelf collecting dust. If these are movies/books you know that you will visit again, sell your hard copies and buy the digital versions. If nothing else, you will never have to worry about losing them, ripping pages, or scratching a disc.

Look for less space

According to U.S. News & World Report, there are plenty of reasons to move from your 2,500 square foot mini-mansion into a smaller house. Not only do smaller homes cost less to maintain, but you’ll save time on cleaning, landscaping, and general upkeep. Knocking 1,000 square feet off your floor plan additionally makes it easier to live a simpler life and focus on the things that really matter, like spending time with your children.

Invest in experiences

Once you have purged your personal belongings, you’ll need to avoid the temptation of replacing them with other unimportant items. Instead of refilling your closet or giving into the children’s request for the latest version of MineCraft, use your money to give your family experiences that they will cherish for a lifetime. As the Huffington Post points out, even if your children are young, money spent on travel is never wasted. Even if they don’t remember the details of your long weekend in the mountains, there are lessons and emotions they will take with them into adulthood, similar to those gained from going to the park, reading books together, or tucking them into bed each night. Traveling gives you an opportunity to unplug and pull away from things that take up your attention. And, kids who get to experience new things as children will be more likely to keep an open mind as an adult.

Follow the 365 day rule

Perhaps most importantly, assess what you’ve used in the last year. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear and stop feeling guilty about a gift you’ve never used or items that are too outdated to use again. If it hasn’t moved in the last 365 days, you probably don’t need it. By holding on to items that don’t actively bring you joy, you do little more than teach your children that it’s okay to remain stagnant. You have to get rid of the things holding you down in order to get ahead.

Hire help when necessary

If you find that your stuff overwhelms you and you don’t feel as though you can take on this task alone, opt for help from a professional organizer. A professional organizer is an impartial party who can help you remove the items that tie you down and show you ways to organize going forward so you won’t have to downsize to this extreme in the future. According to HomeAdvisor, in Austin, TX, it can cost between $390 - $1,025 depending on the size of your home, and take two - three days to complete.

As they say, less is more. These words are never truer than when spoken regarding your home and your lifestyle. By letting go of things you don’t need, you make room for all the things that you do. And you’re teaching your children how to live a life free of baggage and burden.

Thanks to Gene Ramsey from DownsizingDad.com for this article!