We all want the big house with the fancy car, don’t we? That’s what life is all about – getting enough money to stretch your finances as far as they will possibly go so that you can give the side-eye to your neighbours when you move on to a bigger place.
Well, actually, no. There’s a lot more to life than a big house and while having all that room might be nice, is it really what you need? Gradually, we are all coming to realise that the big house dream is one that was fed to us as kids but the world has changed a lot since then. Keeping up with mortgage payments is hard enough without spending all your time panicking about what the neighbors think.
Shifting your perspective now will give you the chance to finally realise some of your goals – the ones that aren’t about scatter cushions or convertibles – and get something that can’t be bought at a store. And the first step you can make is a bold one: downsizing.
Reduce the Amount of Stuff You Have
These days, stuff just doesn’t have the currency it once had. In fact, with minimalism becoming so prominent, the less stuff you have the more fashionable you are. Technology has a huge role to play in this cultural shift. Instead of buying lots of books, DVDs and CDs or having folders and folders of pictures and home movies, we now have a laptop and a smartphone that do it all.
In a small box the size of your palm, you can now fit every media you have ever owned. And, you don’t need hard copies anymore because you can back everything up using cloud computing. In fact, technology has almost blurred our stuff out of existence completely.
Given all of this, you definitely don’t need a huge home to house all your stuff anymore. Scan your pictures in, get an e-reader and have done with all that junk. Amazingly, there is still a huge market out there for second hand things and sites like www.buybackexpress.com are ideal for easily selling your books online. Over a couple of weeks, you could happily empty out your house and cash in on your old bits and bobs.
Many people are now living in much smaller homes – particularly in the city – and this has led to an increase in multi-functional furniture. For example, it seems that there are a lot more sofa beds on the market now, all designed to be more flexible and fit in with modern households. They aren’t huge pieces of furniture any more, they are smart, sensible pieces that keep their secret right up until the moment you bring out the pillows and blankets.
With less stuff and smarter furniture, you will quickly start to see just how much space goes unused in your home. This is the first step to realising that you could be much happier in a smaller place.
Lower Your Living Costs
Large homes create large bills. This is an incontrovertible fact. If you have 8 rooms that need heating, lighting and everything else, you can guarantee it is going to cost a lot more than if you have four. Plus, rent or mortgage repayments on a smaller place will always be a lot less, even if you are living in a slightly better area.
Downsizing is the perfect way to reduce your living costs and work better with your money and financial planning. You don’t have to live in a tiny studio apartment, just look at homes with slightly smaller rooms and you will already be making a saving. Many new builds are now built with a single living space combining kitchen, living and dining which subtly reduces the square footage but makes for a much more agile living arrangement.
People get used to new situations really quickly so as much as you might think of a space as too small or even claustrophobic to begin with, with your own things moved in and a lick of paint on the walls, you will soon get used to your new lifestyle. And when your bank account starts looking healthier, you won’t regret your choice.
Focus on What Makes You Happy
So now that you have less stuff and less space, what are you going to do with your new savings?
Well, a really smart move would be to either build up your emergency fund, assuming you don’t already have one, or to try overpaying your mortgage to free yourself from its hold a little sooner. Paying off debts is another good way to use your new savings and you should always focus on doing that before you make any other financial commitments.
But, if you want to enjoy your money – or at least some of it – you should focus on what will make you happy. This could be anything: a dream holiday, a chance to travel the world, an opportunity to go back to school or to take a course you always fancied. Perhaps you will enjoy your new financial freedom with smaller things like lunch dates with friends or going to see movies or theatre.
Your house is certainly a big part of your life and it is often the stage for your most important moments, but it is not the be all and end all of everything. You won’t be able to take your house with you in the end and all the stuff you leave behind will be a chore for your children to go through. Instead, think about what you want to see and do and experience. Make a bucket list of everywhere you want to go or all the things you want to try out to get an idea of everything you are giving up for your big house dream.
That smaller apartment looks a lot more manageable when you know that you will be able to afford two weeks on the beach, doesn’t it?