A few weeks ago I published the article Would You Move To A Completely New Place? In it I mentioned that we have put the home-buying process on hold, and we plan on staying in our current house for at least a few more years.
We have put it on hold because we don’t know where we want to live. However, that doesn’t mean that we stopped looking at houses.
I am definitely a crazy person and I probably look at houses on Realtor.com and Zillow at least once a week.
It’s a habit and an obsession…
To backtrack: We bought our current house when we were 20. We weren’t making a lot of money back then, but the market was great for buyers and we needed a place to live, so we decided to buy (we, of course, thought about other things as well). We like our home and it will do for the next few years, but I also don’t see it as our forever home.
I’ve always wanted a bigger kitchen, a bigger bedroom, and some land. Our house (by my standards and Midwest standards) is small. Our house is currently 1,200 square feet. We do have a finished basement though that adds another 1,200 square feet to our home.
I grew up in apartments because my dad hated houses (he hated the maintenance, lawn mowing, HOA’s, and so on), so I guess I’ve always wanted a big house since I didn’t have that when I was a kid.
Anyway, I have been catching myself searching for homes that are 2,500 square feet and above. I don’t know why.
Does anyone really need a house that big? Do I need a house that big?
According to MSN, the average home in the U.S. in 1950 was approximately 983 square feet, and in 2004 it was 2,349 square feet. That is a HUGE increase!
I don’t think there is anything wrong with whatever decision you make regarding how big your house is, as long as you can afford it. Some people are fine with a 400 square foot home, whereas others like 3,000 square foot homes.
But, if you really want to save money, below are reasons for why you should rethink that massive home:
Of course, this all depends on the location, but in general a bigger house will cost more than a smaller house on the exact same lot. The different in price can easily be a few hundred thousand dollars.
You will find yourself paying for a larger mortgage, and you will also have to pay higher property taxes. Don’t forget about higher home insurance as well!
Many newer homes have vaulted ceilings, which can easily increase the heating and cooling costs. Even if you don’t have vaulted ceilings, a bigger house will lead to higher utility expenses because there are more rooms to heat up and cool down.
If you have a bigger home, that means the possibility of something breaking is a little bit higher than if you had a smaller homer. You might have a larger lawn to mow, more to paint, more to repair, and so on.
If you have a McMansion, then you may find yourself with a lot of extra rooms that you feel you need to fill up with things.
You may find yourself buying furniture and other items for a room that you only step into a few times a year. Furniture is not cheap – you may spend thousands to furnish a room in which you will just close the door and forget about.
I know someone who has FOUR living rooms in their home. One is the actual “living room,” the other is a “sitting room,” one is a “play room” and I don’t know what the fourth is. Oh, and then they have a basement living room as well, so I guess that is FIVE. It just seems like a lot of wasted space to me…
I also know a few people who have a dining room, a formal dining room, a breakfast room, and a lunch room. WHAT THE HECK? And they usually only use one room to eat in, whereas the others are maybe used once a year. Can you imagine having to buy four separate dining tables?
Every time the seasons change, I like to take a look at my habits, and decide if there’s anyway to streamline them, to minimize them, or to reduce my consumption.
Can I reduce my expenses in any way? Can I stop consuming something that I’ve always thought is necessary, and what do I really, truly need to add to my home this fall to make life a little bit easier to live?
I find these reflective questions to be an excellent way to intentionally and mindfully reduce the volume of stuff in my home.
As a minimalist in a 400 square foot house, I feel that it’s important to continually try to minimize and remove clutter from my house. I’m always trying to weed out the stuff that I don’t need, keep only the functional or beautiful items, and find new homes for the stuff that no longer needs to be a part of my life.
Here are a few ways I’m going to keep my minimalist philosophy in play this fall.
With fall, comes the urge to decorate. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner, and the crispness of the fall air makes me want to put up new art, and invest in a few decorations. This fall, I’m going to try to only purchase compostable or recyclable decorations. There are a few ways I’m going to achieve this:
For the last few years I’ve dressed up for Halloween. This year, I’m not sure if I’m going to. I’m not really crazy about the idea of a bunch of useless costumes taking up space in my closet. I could donate them, but odds are they’d end up in a landfill eventually, so it might be easiest to just abstain. Better for the wallet too!
Do you plan on dressing up?
Whenever the seasons change, I get the urge to shop. To combat this, I make sure to dig out all of my winter gear that has been packed away for the summer. I wash it all and make sure it’s ready to be used, so I can make a mental inventory of what I already have. No need to buy duplicates.
Before I pack away my summer stuff, my dresses, my sandals, my patio furniture and camping gear, I make go through everything. I try to pick out stuff that I didn’t use, that no longer fits, or that doesn’t make sense to keep, and I try to get rid of it. What’s the sense in packing stuff away if it has no benefit to me?
Fall is one of my favourite seasons. The trees change, the warm sweaters and gloves come out, and the wonderful smell of wood smoke permeates the air. It’s also a great chance to take a look at some of your habits of consumption and trim them down to help save money, clutter and environmental impact.
I’ve been working really hard in the evenings and on weekends for the past year to generate extra income to pay off my debt. It’s worked!
I’m now only two months from having the entire $38,000 eradicated (I had the same amount as Michelle). Now that I’ve pretty much got my debt in the bag, I’ve resolved to make a little more time for myself and spend less time side hustling and writing.
Since I’ve had a bit of extra free time in the evenings and on weekends, I’ve been on a huge minimalizing kick.
I’ve let things pile up around here, and without the time to address it, it has been driving me crazy.
The problem is, once I start cleaning and eradicating clutter, I sometimes get carried away and before I know it, half of my house is torn apart, and I’ve been so busy flitting from one project to the next that I haven’t been able to actually get rid of anything. Maybe it’s the millennial in me, but when I’m at home, sometimes I have a hard time concentrating on just one project, and completing it, before moving on to the next thing that catches my eye.
So, I’ve adopted the “One thing a day” rule. With this rule, I still get to indulge in my minimalism kick, but I don’t get overwhelmed by it all. I pick one thing, and tackle that. Once I’m done, I’m done. It could be anything, from a project as small as organizing the medicine cabinet to some more significant.
Yesterday, was the weekend, so I picked a fairly significant project, one that has been nagging at me for over a year. My entertainment unit was where I chucked all of my electronic crap when I first moved in, and it’s remained a snarled tangle of cords and CDs ever since.
Even though the door was closed and I couldn’t see it, I knew it was there, that mess. It mocked me, and I longed to do something about it, but never had the time. Last night, I picked it as my one project. I removed everything, eliminated about 50% of the contents, and put it all back in an orderly fashion. I made it function as a storage space that actually served a day-to-day purpose.
Tackling one thing per day helps keep things in perspective, and you move towards your goals without getting burned out or losing interest.
You won’t avoid it, because it’s not a huge project, it’s just one thing – it’s easy, and depending on the size of the project, could take as little a five minutes.
The “one thing per day” doesn’t just pertain to minimalism. This strategy can be applied to all sorts of ongoing projects or interests you want to take on. Whether it’s exercising, learning a language, paying off debt, or just plain getting stuff done that you’ve been putting off, resolving to tackle one project – any project – per day can be a great way to get a ton of stuff accomplished, while never feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or exhausted.
Since I’ve started using this “one thing per day” rule, I’ve been able to accomplish all sorts of stuff. I’ve started running regularly again, I’ve managed to keep my house clean without letting the dishes or laundry pile up, and I’ve organized and gotten rid of bags upon bags of stuff that had been cluttering up my life.
Honestly, it’s felt great, and I’m really happy that I’ve had the time to be able to do it.