A Simple Life Is A Good Life – I Believe Less Is More

PinExt A Simple Life Is A Good Life   I Believe Less Is More

In our consumer society today, I think we often overburden ourselves with stuff.  I have been guilty of buying things and more things only to find that the luxuries soon become burdens.  With everything you buy comes some responsibility.  Once we have made these purchases, we often have to maintain, insure, and use them to avoid guilt.  In other words, what we thought was going to be a luxury that would give us a better life sometimes becomes the very thing that steals our freedom in how we spend our time and money.  Over several years, I have come to realize that less is more.  I believe that a simple life is a good life!

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I recently took a step to simplify my life.

In 2005, I purchased a hot tub for my backyard.  It was a nice tub.  I enjoyed getting in for a soak in the evenings.  However, it wasn’t long before it started demanding my time and attention.  Granted, it doesn’t really take that much time to maintain a hot tub, but with all the other things going on it was just one more thing that would give me that twinge of guilt every time I looked out into the backyard.  I would think things like:

  • When was the last time we used the hot tub?
  • How much did we spend on that thing?
  • I should really be taking better care of it.
  • It looks like the sun and wind is taking its toll on the exterior.

I felt like it was a ball and chain that I dragged around the house.  This is not what I expected when I bought it.  I had images of nice relaxing soaks where the jets would massage away all my troubles.  It often seems that this is the way things turn out.  We buy something thinking it will make us happy, when in reality, we find these are the very things that steal our joy.

Every thing you buy asks for a little piece of your time and freedom.  As a result, in this case, I decided to sell the hot tub.  I listed it a week ago on Craigslist and sold it yesterday.  It is a relief really.  Yes, a part of me is a little sad to give up the hot tub, but another part of me is overjoyed that I no longer have to worry about it.  I am free!  My life is simpler as a result of divesting of this so-called luxury.

From a simple life to more complex to simple again.

Most of us especially those of us in the Middle Class typically start out life with very little.  We have the gift of simplicity, but we don’t usually appreciate it.  Instead, we pursue what we think is the American Dream.  We graduate from school, get a job, a spouse, a house, a mortgage, and 2.5 kids.  We buy cars, boats, Seadoos, campers, hot tubs, motorcycles, swimming pools, and other recreational items.  At least, this is what I did.  I spent my 20s and 30s buying everything that I could dream up to purchase.

Eventually, I realized that all the stuff I thought was fun was actually stealing all my time and money.  I started my 40s by selling a bunch of the recreational stuff that was draining my time and the enjoyment from my life.  Slowly, but surely, I have reduced the things I own to reclaim control of my life.  I don’t think I can get back to the simplicity I enjoyed in my 20s, but I can certainly move in that direction.

The 100 thing challenge.

In an effort to combat consumerism and pursue a simpler life, Dave Bruno has embarked on an interesting personal challenge.  He is attempting to winnow down his personal belongings to just 100 things.  On his blog, guynameddave.com, Dave has posted the rules to the 100 thing challenge.  He also posts regular updates to his list of things as he narrows it down.  I think the challenge is probably harder than first imagined.  I’m sure I would be surprised if I tallied up the total number of personal items that I own.  I think I’ll keep an eye on Dave’s site to see how it goes.  He plans to be down to 100 things by November 12, 2008 and then to live for one full year with only those items.

Let’s review the advantages of simplifying.

There are a number of advantages to simplifying your life and reducing what we buy.  Here is a summary of what I believe are some of the best reasons:

1.  Less Guilt.

Having less stuff often leads to less guilt.  I no longer have to feel guilty that I’m not using my stuff often enough or that I’m not maintaining it as well as I should.  Stuff costs a lot of money.  When I don’t use it all the time, I feel guilty that I spent so much on it.  A simpler, less cluttered life means less guilt for me.

2.  More free time.

Less stuff means that I have more free time to do the things that I really enjoy.  This adds more meaning to my life.  Instead of maintaining some possession, I get to write this blog or spend time with my family.  Both of these, are more enjoyable than cleaning out my hot tub.

3.  Lower cost of living.

Getting rid of things that require maintenance lowers my cost of living.  A lower cost of living helps me live within my income.  This means less stress and anxiety.  When I owned a boat, I added up how much it cost to pay the payment, pay for storage, and pay for gas.  It was astronomical and didn’t make any sense.  I sold the boat.

A Simpler life really is a better life.

I am convinced that in life, less really is more.  It feels good to get rid of some things.  I don’t believe in living a barren existence, but simplifying can actually increase your happiness.  Why be a slave to the things you own?  I’m going to continue to examine my possessions and cut back where I can.  I’m also going to try to avoid buying things that will only complicate my life.  Do you have suggestions on how to simplify?  Leave a comment and share your idea so we can all benefit.

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PinExt A Simple Life Is A Good Life   I Believe Less Is More

24 thoughts on “A Simple Life Is A Good Life – I Believe Less Is More

  1. Jeff-Great post. I couldn’t agree more about status symbols being a burden. Look at your house. If you double it’s size, your expenses more than double. Your insurance, mortgage, and utilities double. Then there is all the stuff you need to fill it. And the quality and size of the stuff needs to increase.

    This understanding is a key to success. Until you can move past your need to impress the Joneses you will be stuck in neutral. I explore this in my posts All That Glitters Isn’t Gold, Three paths to financial abundance, and The Real Housewives of Orange County.

    Keep up the fantastic work. We enjoy your regular dose of success advice to help keep us on the right track!

  2. Great post! I really love the act of throwing things away/out/giving things away. My wife and I moved a lot over the last year, and we had to get rid of a bunch of junk. I’m really happy about it.

    Now that I’m gainfully employed again, however, it seems we’re accumulating “stuff” quite rapidly. It’s alarming. Thanks for this post. I needed a reality check.

  3. There are so many things that would fall into the hot-tub category. I have a pop-up camper that we rarely use anymore. We used to go camping 8 times per year, but in the last 4 years, we’ve been only three times.

    The huge hot tub type bath tub we have in our master bathroom is rarely used since we also have a shower. The dining room is rarely used since we eat at our breakfast table. The living room is rarely used because we’re in the den.

    My garage and attic are both stuffed full of things we rarely use anymore. Garage sale anyone?

  4. @B – You’re right. The more and bigger stuff we get the higher our cost of living goes. With the economy as it is, it is a good time to simplify!

    @Cory – Isn’t it amazing how fast stuff piles up? It seems we just can’t hardly keep ourselves from accumulating more. We have a garage sale about once a year and never seem to lack things to put in it.

    @Ron – I have a pop-up camper too and we have had about the same experience using it. We used to go a lot, but now that we have a second child, we go a lot less. I still can’t let go of the camper though. I have a lot of good memories camping and I hope we’ll get back to it when the kids get just a little older. I guess some things are tough to give up.

    Thanks for your comments! Keep’em coming!

  5. I really think I could get rid of half my stuff without noticing. It’s sad, but I feel uncomfortable thinking about it not being there. Lots of “What if I need it?” worries.

  6. Jeff – Anytime I start to get too attached to the stuff around me or start wanting more stuff, I think about all the things I’ve ever acquired in my life. I have no idea where most of it is anymore (if I even still have it) so I must not really care about it too much!

  7. I enjoyed your article, and couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been a big believer in “simple” after my family had to go through various life changing phases over the years. Also, I would many times do things the hard way.

    After going in circles and getting no where. I’ve learned to embrace the word “simple”. It’s beautiful! I can only wear one pair of shoes at a time. The more clothes I have the more difficult it gets to decide what to wear.

    Also, due to allergies in the family — I am extending this simplicity attitude to food. I only like to use recipes with less than 10 ingredients.

    So it is so refreshing to hear people like yourself and the other visitors coming to the same conclusion. Life is too short to be shackled with a lot of things!

    I’m getting carried away, so I will leave you with this…
    “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

  8. @Mrs. Micah – We all probably have way more than we truly need. However, I agree that it isn’t always easy to give up our things. Of course, when we do, it is usually freeing like in the case I describe above about my hot tub.

    @Amanda – That’s a great way to get over our attachment to things. I know I have left a trail of unwanted items behind me in my life and I couldn’t even begin to list it all!

    @Suzy – You’ve obviously truly embraced simplicity. That is great! I think you are right that too many things shackle us. We all need to strive for more simplicity in every area of our lives.

    Excellent comments! Thanks so much for contributing to the discussion.

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  12. We recently sold our big screen tv for the same reason. It was too big for our house and it turned us into anchors, just sitting and watching for hours when we should have been doing other things with our time.

    Now, I’m off to round up some empty boxes…we’re about to have a big purging yardsale followed by a trip to the goodwill.

  13. Congrats on working towards the simple life!

    I myself am having a few stumbling blocks, but I’m working at it. 2.5 years ago I bought an old worn out 460 sq ft house in a great location (across the street from my grandkids!)…and have been busy adding on and remodeling (cash basis!) I’m gettin near the end and have the sore muscles and caluses and paint stained clothes to prove it. I’ll end up with a 1035 sq ft 2 bdrm house that I designed just for me. Like instead of a walkin closet, I have a 6×6.5 ft scrapbook/memory room.handmade gift making room :) And the 2nd bedroom is entirely for the little grandkids – bunkbeds and toys/books.

    I made a deal with myself that if an item/items didn’t fit in this house (put away in cabinets – not in boxes still on the floor) that it was going. This has been hard to do – I still have a stack of boxes, but the stack lessens every week. I am Determined!!! At the moment, my stuff OWNS me – but I will change that soon! My goal is by 5.5 months for now.

    My outside stuff, gardening and tools, has to fit in the 7×10 wood shed – along with the firewood!

    Garage sale soon – clothes to charity now.

    If it doesn’t fit, out of sight, it’s going!
    Good luck with your purging also!

  14. @Julie – Good for you! I think you made an excellent decision!

    @Marci – You are certainly committed to simplifying! It sounds like a lot of work too. I applaud your effort.

    @Hayden – Keep what you truly love. Ditch the rest!

    Thanks for telling your stories!

  15. Seriously awesome! This is my philosophy exactly, that the things we own can end up owning us if we’re not making smart, conscious decisions. Each time I get rid of something, I really do feel freer and richer.

    And yep, we’ve been guilty of the “toy” thing too at my house. To be honest, I much prefer the company of free library books and my discount dog to these expensive, high-maintenance goodies.

  16. @Sara – I think the library is the best institution ever created. Discount dog! I’ve got to visit your site to see if you explain this one further. Too funny!

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