In case you haven’t noticed, there is a real emphasis lately on the value of acquiring experiences instead of things. The point is to have the money to be able to travel or attend events, go back to school or play more sports. None of these things can be accomplished if your only focus in life is the acquisition of more and more stuff.
With that in mind, if you want to embrace a lifestyle that has you looking to experiences, rather than things, for your fulfillment, a big step in that direction is to consider downsizing your living space.
Before you move forward, think about your decision
Do your homework and really evaluate your lifestyle before just jumping into selling off the family home. It might seem idyllic to live all together in a smaller space but somewhere in the middle of a February snow storm, will you regret your decision? Consider the size of your family: if you’re not done having kids, you might not want to be so quick to sell the three bedroom home in favor of a smaller condo unit.
True downsizing means getting rid of years of stuff. Furniture, piles and piles of kid’s art and school work, holiday decorations that have been in the attic for years and all kinds of stuff that many years of living have acquired. Big houses have bigger storage places. Make sure that you are ready to part with the stuff or otherwise your “downsizing” is really just “re-distributing”.
Condos and apartments don’t have much storage so if you’re not prepared to part with your stuff, are you willing to pay for separate storage units and have your “stuff” across town in a different location? That’s an expense that goes some way to defeating the purpose of downsizing.
You may also find that moving to an apartment, condo or some kind of independent living facility will also change your daily routine. Rambling around a big old house that has provided comfort and security for many years is not the same as now living in a small space with just the necessities. These type of living quarters are based around a lot happening away from your “place”. Are you ready or willing to change your life that much? The alternative is to be stuck in tight quarters wondering why you ever moved.
Now for the reasons why downsizing might be the right choice for you
Generally, downsizing brings up ideas of cost savings. Savings on insurance, utilities, maintenance, taxes, and then of course the cost of the home itself. The once ubiquitous “American dream” of home ownership is dampened a little because what once was the goal to “pay off the house” and be assured a place to live for free is no longer possible thanks to heavy real estate tax burdens. You need to look at the numbers as renting, even with modest annual increases, might not be better than simply downsizing to a smaller home.
Ultimately, the real benefit of downsizing is spending less of your income on a mortgage, home maintenance, property taxes. With those savings realized, you now have additional funds for life experiences, whether that’s travel, good cuisine locally at restaurants, wine events, investing in your hobbies and sports and so on. Downsizing might even allow you to fully pay off your mortgage, which is a big dent in the monthly budget and the funds from which can be reallocated to a retirement plan, debt reduction or other goals.
Another financial aspect is that many people, in a bid to get the biggest house they can afford, have all their money tied up into the property and have no cash for emergencies. This puts a huge strain on their financial resources and places them in a precarious position the minute there is a problem in their lives, like a job lost, or a health scare.
A larger property is more work: keeping the inside of the house clean and tidy and keeping the yard looking nice and maintained. The bigger the space, the more work there is to maintain it (or costs, if you choose to hire people to help with that). That can be stressful and physically taxing for many. Plus, if travelling is one of your downsizing goals, having a place like a condo, where you can just turn the key and leave without worrying about maintenance, is valuable!
Investing the difference to improve your future—
By downsizing your existing living space, you could take the difference and invest it in a vacation property. Alternatively, you could invest it in a business, your kid’s education, or the market, allowing you to live off interest, rather than spending your capital.
Simplifying your life—
With less ‘stuff’ comes less hassle. Yes, you’ll have to get rid of some things when you downsize but you’ll be surprised how much you don’t miss them! Fewer things break down that need replacing or repairing, you have less to organize and keep tabs on and you can simply enjoy your life, rather than being controlled by the need to acquire more stuff, and the debt that often comes with that mentality.
When you downsize your home, there simply isn’t anywhere to put more stuff and so you are forced into a mentality of doing less shopping and acquiring fewer things. The interesting part is that, before long, you realize that you don’t miss all the stuff and you are enjoying the lifestyle that not spending all your hard earned money on things provides.
Helping the environment—
A smaller home means a smaller carbon footprint. It really is a one-to-one ratio for this equation! You can even go so far as to take measures to live off the grid, saving on heating and water, using up less resources and energy.
Downsizing is as much about the need or want for a lifestyle change as it is about financial savings. Both aspects need to be considered in full before making any big plans.
This is not a sponsored post. Advice and copy courtesy of Marty Basher, home organization expert for ModularClosets.com.