Downsizing is the first step on the path to tiny living. I’ll be doing a lot of sharing about what I’ve learned during my downsizing journey in future articles. You can also follow me as I go even further to create the ultimate tiny lifestyle.
I went through a huge downsizing after I left the corporate world. I was head of a marketing group responsible for generating 400 million dollars in annual product sales. As you can imagine I was paid pretty well. Although I’m a conservative spender I bought a lot of stuff during that period to fill my new condo and later a new house. So when it came time to downsize to free myself “up” financially, I had a lot of work to do.
Being frugal and single, I’m sure my job was a lot easier than it might be for some people. The process of downsizing came in stages as I made the transition from traditional size homes to smaller and smaller ones and from employee to entrepreneur.
Sell Your Way Down
The most valuable tool for downsizing is the garage sale. I had a garage sale before each move to a different home. I think I’ve done about five garage sales. I was amazed at how successful each one was. I made several thousand dollars during each sale. I think my marketing background helped a lot. I applied every sales and marketing technique that I had learned to the garage sale.
It may take several garage sales at different times and properties to free you from the all the stuff that restricts your freedom. Once you’ve sold down to your current comfort level in letting go of certain possessions, you’ll be ready to go even deeper after you’ve adjusted to their absence.
In the beginning, you may miss your stuff for a few weeks. It’s like a form of withdrawal. But after a while, you’ll begin to enjoy the extra space and fewer hassles. Then you’ll be ready to go even deeper into your belongings to find more things to sell. At this point, you may discover that you’re on a roll and want to go all the way to the bottom of your possessions pit and sell everything but the minimum necessities and the highly valuable items.
The minimum necessities are select cooking and eat utensils and bed and bath gear. The high-value items are your computer, files, tools, select clothing, and memorabilia. Everything else can go! You can use the money you make during your garage sale to buy essential items in a size that fits your new lifestyle.
I wrote a detailed article on how I did it entitled, “Garage Sale Tips for Making Serious Money.” It’s a very long article but covers everything you need to know for a successful sale. It even includes free garage sale and directional signs that you can download and print.
Tiny Lifestyle Mindset
There needs to be a permanent shift in your attitude about what the ideal house and lifestyle are. You probably already have an interest in the tiny lifestyle, but to gain the motivation you’ll need to succeed you’ll need to educate and reprogram yourself. The education comes from reading articles on websites like mine and watching documentaries about this lifestyle.
We have been indoctrinated since birth by consumer product and home builder advertising, television, movies, the press, magazines, and more on what the “ideal” house and lifestyle looks like. I don’t care how smart or tough you are, everyone is influenced by these mediums. Much of its effect is hidden from us in our subconscious mind, which is exactly where advertisers want it. Advertisers have done such an incredible job, that their messages about the ideal home, car, and lifestyle have come apart of our culture.
Are you still skeptical about the power of adverting? I’ll give you the best example there is. Cigarettes! There was a time when about 90 percent of the US adult population smoked cigarettes. Here’s a product that can maim and kill you and is highly addictive, yet the tobacco companies were able to persuade the majority of the adult population through numerous promotional efforts to use their product. It’s a similar story with alcohol more recently, by the way.
I’ve done business with some of the largest, most prestigious advertising companies in the world. If you’ve never been involved in the process of creating advertisements that cost millions to produce and broadcast, I think you’d be blown away by how much goes into it.
When you begin the process of downsizing you’ll have to deal with the concepts of the ideal life that have been implanted in your brain by advertisers. After a while, your new vision will take over. You’ll also have to deal with certain family and friends who may mock your new lifestyle choice because they lack the knowledge that you have.
Initially, my motivation for downsizing was to decrease my expenses and increase my savings so that I could pursue my entrepreneurial dreams. This change has served me extremely well. I’ve been able to try many online business ideas over the years without creating a penny of debt. Zero! No payments whatsoever. This is one of the key advantages of downsizing.
Later on, my motivation shifted to the desire to create permanent freedom and financial independence by maintaining my downsized lifestyle and wanting to downsize even further. As I learned about all the innovations and possibilities that have been created in small house living I grew to love it. From that point, my desire to learn more has been insatiable.
My suggestion is to you is to create a list of advantages to downsizing over continuing to increase the size and number of your possessions. The advantages for me are freedom, financial security, more time to do the things I love, and fulfillment of my rebel spirit.
The more you learn about tiny living and other people who are enthusiastically pursuing or living this lifestyle the more excited you’ll become.
Whatever your motivations are for downsizing, stay true to yourself. And if tiny living is something you want, never give up on creating this rewarding lifestyle for yourself.