Downsizing – steps to simplifying my life

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I am 15 months away from downsizing. That’s when my son graduates from high school and I will be able to sell my 3000 square foot house. I’ve been ready for this for a while but it’s important to stay put so my son can graduate with his friends.

There is not a lot in my house that I plan on bringing with me, a few pieces of furniture, kitchen essentials and small appliances and the contents of my sewing rooms will make the cut. The rest is either: too big (I anticipate cutting my living space in half), not my taste anymore or just decorative knickknacks that fill space. In my next home I only want the things I need or absolutely love.

As someone who is trying to be more mindful of her own as well as the companies I deal with,  ecological impact, I could be considered a hypocrite for getting rid of perfectly good (old) stuff in exchange for new stuff. However, I feel that I am handling it in a responsible manner. Here’s how:

1. I intend to sell or give-away whatever doesn’t make the cut. It’s not going into a landfill, but getting a second life in someone else’s home.

2. Not everything is getting replaced. So much of what I have is just stuff to fill space. Letting go of it frees up my time,  (from cleaning and caring for it), my budget and my space so I need less. I don’t want to be a slave to my stuff.

3. The majority of what I do replace will be with second-hand finds. I love the thrill of the hunt of finding a bargain at the thrift store or garage sales. One dresser that will be coming with me was a $30 buy at Goodwill. It was an ugly green but I stripped it and in its natural state it is beautiful and well made. The drawers are put together with dove tails, not nails, a sign of quality.

4. For the things that I buy new I intend to first try to buy it from a local manufacturer. If that isn’t possible, then I will look to quality American manufacturers – I want it to last. It’s important that we support manufacturing in this country. You may think you are better off shopping at the big box stores but those low prices are an illusion. They don’t take into account how they are eroding all of our earning power. It’s not just the menial jobs that no one wants that are shipped overseas where cheap labor markets are exploited to make all that cheap stuff we buy. As we’ve seen with the economy, any of us can be affected. Well, trades people are safe. You aren’t going to call India when your toilet is backed up.

Then there is the hidden environmental costs of all those cheap goods – on the manufacturing and the disposal end. Dyes from jeans are leached into drinking water. Stores like Ikea are cutting down forests for furniture that ends up in the dumpster because it is so cheap that people would rather throw it  out and buy new stuff rather than deal with the hassle of moving it.

I have 15 months to do my research. I expect to pay more for these goods but then I expect that for some, it will be the last time that I need to buy them. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve blown $400 at one time at Sephora, not to mention all the little nickel and dime purchases (meaning under $100) I’ve made over my lifetime for stuff I didn’t need. This time around I am willing to pay a fair price for a quality good that I need, love and will serve me well for hopefully the rest of my life. Everything that I keep or buy will now be evaluated on a strict criteria. My time and money are precious. I don’t want to be a slave to jobs that don’t feed my soul. Adapting this mindset will allow me to pursue my dreams without worrying about how I’m going to pay my bills.

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