Many a soul has endeavored to downsize for various reasons — which usually stems from the desire to save money and/or to be liberated from Possession Prison. I myself have undergone such a transformation over the years. Well, okay, I never had all THAT much to start with, but more than I needed by a long shot. So, even my shift to the Lilliputian Lifestyle was itself small compared to some others. Nevertheless, here we are in our diminutive abode with our modest belongings. And, you know what? It’s really fun and rewarding to be frugal if you know what you’re doing. Not only is there an interesting challenge to save money, but also to find less expensive things you’ll be just as happy and content with.
Yeah, most people associate frugality with being cheap and uncomfortable. Self-denial, sacrifice, patience, endurance. All of those words of drudgery. And that can be true at times, like anything else. But ultimately, it’s really what you make of it. If you enjoy a challenge and are a bit creative, it’s much more gratifying and productive than blowing your money on stuff you don’t need, don’t want or has no value to you later.
For starters, we, a family of 4, live in a single-floor ranch home with 3 bedrooms in a quaint, grass roots neighborhood. Years ago, we downsized from a home that was ~33% larger than this one. Still not large, but with that downsizing we also cut our home cost by about the same amount and trimmed the lot size in the process. We also live in an unincorporated area so presently we pay no city taxes. Plus, heating and cooling costs are obviously less (and with only one floor, there’s only one AC unit).
But the surprising thing is that we swapped some disadvantages for advantages, with few trade-offs. For example, all 3 of the bedrooms are larger in this house. I remember thinking how cavernous my son’s bedroom seemed when we first moved in. Ha ha. Compared to his previous one, it actually is, but he’s managed to fill out that space pretty well. The garage actually fits 2 vehicles reasonably well (which the other one did not). We have a small laundry room now — rather than a closet for the washer and dryer like before. And the dining area is actually a little larger. All of that for less cost!
What were the trade-offs? Well, the kitchen and living areas are a little smaller for entertaining guests — which we do all of once a year. Whoopty-do. The bathrooms are a little smaller, and we went from 2 1/2 baths down to a measly 2 full. Oooo, less to clean! The one thing we do lack now is the bonus room, which we used as a family room. Not a huge deal, really — that bonus room took up so much floor space that the bedrooms were cramped as a result. That’s why the ones we have now seem so large in contrast.
Still, downsizing the home means that you have less room for junk. Actually, we initially had less room for non-junk for that matter — for the stuff we had. So we started the reducing and phasing out process. We did not rent a storage facility and throw excess stuff in it to rot and cost extra money.
Over the years, as things wore out and needed replacing, we looked at buying smaller, less expensive items that would fit better in this home. For example, as mentioned in a previous article, our audio “system” consists of a mini PC connected to some awesome budget-audiophile speakers. It’s a micro system that transforms our pocket-sized living room into a vast concert hall, where it completely envelopes the auditory senses emanating from the symphony stage. [Audiophile hyperbole at work!] In the past, I’ve owned some fairly expensive audio components with floor-standing speakers. But I can honestly say I didn’t find as much satisfaction with those as I do with these miniature boxes. Modern tech advances have really helped in this regard.
The PC itself is an HP Pavilion Mini (cheap from Best Buy — notice the name, Mini), paired with a dinky Brother HL2275DW printer (cheap from Wally’s). Notice the computer looks like your typical Tupperware bowl:
Add a Solid State drive to queue up the performance a bit and you have decent power for such tiny-ware. But nothing too expensive. This sits on a small PC desk, a Walmart self-assembly unit that takes up little space. We have no TV, so the internet serves up whatever we might happen to view or listen to.
We do still have our LR furniture from the previous house, which is a bit large but comfortable. Going smaller in this case would have created undue expense because it doesn’t need to be replaced yet. Going on 15 years with it so … not bad with kids!
On the automobile front, we drive mid-level compact cars now: A Mazda3 and a Kia Soul — a mini car and a mini (fake) “SUV” — giving us ample room in the garage where larger, more expensive vehicles don’t squeeze as well together. At some point I’d like to write an article on the Soul. It’s an unusually fun vehicle to drive with lots of positive aspects and a few cons. But, as you can see, these fit right in with the whole idea of small. Aaaaaahh, less junk, less cost, less burden!
We’ve also endeavored to donate, sell or trash many items without replacing them over the years. An old treadmill, a sewing cabinet, a china cabinet, an outdoor storage unit for kids’ bikes or like items, are gone. We cleaned out unused kitchen supplies, outgrown kids’ toys, books, and other belongings that lurked in drawers, closets and behind or under furniture. We eliminated the Gulliver-sized possession heap and are making do just fine with less.
There are some more things we could yet scale down, but it does get more difficult once you’ve already done so repeatedly over time. What about you? What could you downsize?
While you think about it, visit this really awesome photo-gallery of Lilliputian Landscapes by Judy Robinson-Cox.
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