Whether it’s by choice or not, there comes the decision to downsize. It doesn’t come easy, and don’t expect it to suddenly get easier until you arrive in the neighborhood of downsized. Then, for some reason, it starts getting easier as you realize how much lighter you are starting to feel.
“Stuff” whether it’s nice stuff, expensive stuff, collector stuff, family heirloom stuff, or some other kind of stuff, is really stuff that weighs you down. It’s stuff that you work so hard to get and keep and store, and not stuff you are actually using day in and day out. Seriously, how often do you really spend time with your grandma’s china?
When you are first packing up and sorting stuff as to whether it goes with you, goes to the trash, or goes to live somewhere else, it’s hard. You are going to want to keep far too much stuff, guaranteed. There are 101 reasons why you need to keep that gadget, gizmo or object. If they aren’t your reasons, they’ll be your spouse’s reasons.
Relax, this is best done in stages anyhow. Fill your dumpster, give away, sell or donate the other stuff, and then start reassessing what you have kept.
It’s at this point that you take a good hard look at your new downsized abode. It doesn’t matter if you are living in your car, a van, a motorhome, a smaller house, or the mansion up the hill either–just start putting your “stuff” into the new digs. If it’s smaller than the place you left, it’s at this point that you’ll be looking for a shed or storage unit to fill with your extra stuff.
At first, that storage fee doesn’t seem too high, but start figuring it over the course of a year or longer, because even if your downsizing is “temporary”, it’s going to take longer than you think to get back on your feet and into a larger place again, if you even intend to (or want to after downsizing.) Before long, you could have bought entirely new stuff that was better suited to your new lifestyle.
With that realization, you start looking at that storage unit with new eyes. It’s a money pit. In addition, stored stuff starts to deteriorate for whatever reason, maybe just because it’s now “forgotten and forlorn stuff.” When you do need or want something, it’s a seriously big project to find it in that overfilled storage unit too.
Even at $55 per month, in a year, you’ll have spent $660 to keep that stuff that you can’t even get to what you want or find it when you are in the storage unit. It’s become a monkey on your back, and do you really need it there? In addition, if you are downsized and living mobile, when you need that tool kit or seasonal change of clothing or whatever stuff…you aren’t going to be near that storage unit, and will end up spending a small fortune in gas or replacing it entirely.
The obvious solution is to give it up and simply get rid of, sell, or give away the contents. While you couldn’t do it when you were initially downsizing, you’ll find your attachment to stuff has shrunk with each month of paying that storage bill. Maybe you will encounter friends or relatives who need the items that you are storing too, and they can be given, sold or on “indefinite loan” to them. With more serious elimination, that storage unit becomes a box or two of stuff, an amount that can either join your other “daily stuff” or a friend/relative can store for you indefinitely in their garage or attic.
That’s the stuff part of downsizing. The tough part of downsizing is the non-stuff portion, the portion of bills and friendships and relationships with all kinds of people and entities.
While the downsizing may have come at the hands of economic disaster, once we become accustomed to the concept of downsizing, we start realizing how much nicer less can be. We really don’t need all of those things we thought we did, and with a much tighter budget, we’re now motivated to start cutting away every bit of non essential from our budgets.
Don’t go overboard here–everyone needs some things in today’s society. Some things make even the most mobile and downsized among us, those who are actually living in their car, still seem “normal” in today’s society. One of those is a cell phone. While you might not need a fancy phone with all of the latest bells and whistles, being able to communicate with others is important. Lots of agencies and companies want a contact number, and many people have gone to cell-phone-only for their telephone service, so as long as you have a phone…you are meeting that requirement. If you can’t do a contract phone with their regular bills, there are a number of pay-as-you-go options available that can have time/days added to them from a long list of vendors.
Another serious must-have is a mailing address that can stand in as your “physical address.” You don’t have to actually live there, but it needs to be someone who is willing to have you use their address, receive packages when necessary, and give you a call when something does arrive. That means that it needs to be someone stable and your relationship with them needs to be somewhat stable too, and it shouldn’t be the girlfriend-of-the-week. It can, however, be anyone from parents, your ex-spouse, a long time friend, a sibling, or your cousin…as long as your mail and packages are unmolested and can be retrieved in a timely manner. If you are mobile, it needs to be someone who can forward things to you in your alternate locale too.
Being downsized doesn’t mean that our lives are on hold either. We still need contact with the “real world”. We still visit with family and friends. Granted, our new digs might not work to entertain them, but alternative locations can be found for very pleasant visits and meals. Restaurants and local parks are often great options, and your choices can be made according to budget, time, weather, and location. We may visit them at their house, grabbing a hot shower along with a meal, making up for our own limited facilities.
If your downsizing is due to economic reasons, rather than choice, remember…it is a phase, an opportunity to reduce your materialistic load and reassess your priorities while simultaneously exploring new employment opportunities. By looking at the entire situation as an opportunity rather than a set back on your life’s journey, you can use it to its fullest. It really IS an opportunity to recreate yourself, professionally, spiritually, and personally.
When this journey is done, who knows what kind of wondrous opportunities lay waiting for your arrival!