Living with less does not have anything to do with sacrificing. It’s about living smarter to have a higher quality life. To do this we must ignore the sales pitches in the media and chart a new course that truly serves our best interests.
Our society has been brainwashed into believing that larger size, more features, and more luxury are better when it comes to our biggest purchases — a car and a home. When you consider the financial pressures that these purchases put on a person or family, is it truly better? When you compare all the advantages and disadvantages, I would say absolutely not.
Living with less to have more is about making the choice to ignore advertisements and social conditioning and consider car and home purchases from the standpoint of pure economics and common sense.
The clever advertising messages by automobile manufacturers and home builders have done an excellent job of convincing the public that buying the more expensive product is the best choice. They do it by attaching this choice to joyful, pleasure-filled images of ridiculously happy people enjoying their products. They also attach this choice to your ego by including images of envious friends and neighbors admiring your new car or home.
Keep in mind that while you are working 8-10 hours a day at your job, the creative staff at advertising agencies are spending their days coming up with clever ways to sell you a product within a span of space or time measured in inches or seconds.
The film industry also contributes to building a social psyche that bigger and more elaborate is better. Movies depict fantastic stories about fictitious heroes living in huge homes and driving expensive cars. Then they promote their movies with extravagant premieres and award shows.
The television and news media love to take advantage of all the hype, drama, and larger-than-life celebrity images that were created by imaginary characters in movies! It’s an easy buck for the media to place opinionated, mouthy commentators on the sidelines of celebrity events to produce the perfect environment for advertisers. The goal of advertisers is to get your brain to associate excitement, pleasure, and status with their products by showing their ads during celebrity events.
That’s a long explanation, I know. But I feel it’s necessary to override the brainwashing that exists in the minds of many people. Most of the information that you take in from advertisers and the media is received subliminally. Information received in this way is stored in your subconscious mind, which represents 90% of your mental capacity. When this happens dozens of times a day, over many years, to millions of people, it becomes part of the consciousness of society. In other words, it becomes seen as being true and needed.
So when it comes time to buy a new car or home your advertising and news media conditioning will compete with your logic on what’s the best choice. The advertising and media messages may be so clever and strong that they may masquerade as logical impulses in your brain. This is powerful stuff. By the way, there are subliminal programs for positive purposes too such as those for self-improvement.
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what will bring you the greatest benefit when it comes to a new car and home.
Living with Less in Regard to Vehicle Purchases
Automobile manufacturers and dealers make the most money from their high-end luxury vehicles. Therefore, they are going to go to great lengths to create an enticing image that persuades you to buy them.
The truth is that some of the same components that are used on high-end vehicles are also used on low-end products and vice versa. For example, if there is a safety feature like automatic headlights that were created for a high-end vehicle that could be installed on a low-end vehicle, do you think they would build separate systems? Absolutely not. Automobile manufacturers are going to share as many components as they can to maximize their profits.
Manufacturers work hard to differentiate the high-end vehicle from the low-end vehicle by adding a lot of extra features, horsepower, and design elements. With higher-quality materials, does it cost more to produce high-end vehicles? Yes, but not as much as you might think. Most of the money they make is on all the extra bells and whistles that they add to the vehicle along with your willingness to pay more for it because of its perceived value and prestigious image. The same marketing strategy is used to price maintenance, parts, and accessories for high-end vehicles. You will pay much more for these items than you will for low-end vehicles even though in some cases it might be the same service, part, or accessory.
On top of all that, you can add on the higher cost of your vehicle license, registration, taxes, and insurance. In addition, fuel costs are usually higher as well due to the larger size engines.
So your best bet is to buy a low-end vehicle with good gas mileage that you like and then add the accessories that are important to you. With the extra money you save, you could personalize it by adding some custom wheels and other items.
Another way automobile manufacturers get you to buy larger, more expensive vehicles is to show you how their vehicles can accommodate “possible” future needs. For example, they often have advertisements that show the driver of their vehicle joyfully transporting their family to a reunion, friends to a restaurant, the soccer team to the game, or a new television home from the store. If you have a large vehicle, you will most certainly be called upon to perform these duties.
Most vehicles only have one to two people in them 99 percent of the time. Why pay so much more money for the other 1 percent? With all the extra money you save, you could afford to rent a van or truck for those rare situations when you need it.
Another famous storyline by manufacturers is the advertisements that show their vehicles towing a trailer or boat to a magnificent alpine lake. The ones I like the most are those that show a high-end 4WD SUV driving off-road on incredibly rough terrain with stunning wilderness scenery in the background. No intelligent person would drive a brand-new vehicle off-road on topography like that. And it’s probably illegal anyway. All considered you’d be better off renting a cabin, a boat, and an ATV when you get there if you ever do.
Do not allow yourself to get caught up in all the hype, guilt-creating images, and fantasy storylines shown in automobile advertisements. Approach this decision logically, make the smart choice, and do what is in your best interest.
Living with Less in Regard to Home Purchases & Rentals
Many people make the decision on how big of a home they should buy or rent based on how much space they need to accommodate all their stuff. In this case, their stuff is in control of their purchase or rental decision.
Some people have so much stuff that what they are really buying or renting is a storage facility. What ends up happening is that you buy or rent a home that is big enough to house all your stuff and then you’re stuck with a huge mortgage or rent. “But I’ve still got all my stuff!” you rationalize. If your mortgage or rent is so big that you can’t afford to go out to a restaurant occasionally, is it worth it?
If you are buying, the land is the more valuable asset, not an enormous depreciating building. The more land you own the more privacy you’ll enjoy and the more possibilities you’ll have for future uses.
Like high-end vehicles, when you buy a big house all of your costs go up. Your sales tax, decorating, and landscaping costs all go way up. The same goes for your ongoing expenses like property taxes, utilities, and maintenance. When it comes to renting, you will, of course, have higher utility costs.
The biggest monthly expense for most people is their housing cost. The more you can reduce this expense the more money, freedom, and peace of mind you’ll have. With your extra money, you’ll be able to do more of what you enjoy. You’ll also be able to save a lot more money which will give you, even more, peace of mind and eventually financial freedom.
There’s another exciting advantage to buying a small house. With all the extra money you save, you’ll be able to fix it up exactly the way you want. No compromising will be necessary to afford the mortgage. Do you want granite countertops, marble floors, premium appliances, energy-efficient technology, state-of-the-art central heating & air conditioning, and a spa in your backyard? No problem!
The smaller the house you buy the better. Now, this may be a difficult concept to get your head around. We’ve all been programmed to believe that we need a certain amount of square footage inside our homes. But are the dimensions that are in your head really what you need? For example, do really need a 3,000-5,000 square foot home? Do you really need a family room, living room, multimedia room, game room, computer room, and den?
How often do you entertain large groups of people or have overnight guests? If you have a big house, you will most certainly be expected to! Do you want the hassles and cost of hosting parties and caring for overnight guests? If you were living in a small house and wanted to have a party, you could afford to rent a room at a nearby community center, hotel, or country club.
So what about all your stuff? Think about it. Do you really need seating, tables, place settings, cooking equipment, bedding, and towels for 20 people when there are only 1-4 of you living in your house? Get rid of all your stuff. Everything! Hold a garage sale and turn your stuff into cash! You’ll find everything you need to know to have a successful garage sale in an article entitled, “Garage Sale Tips for Making Serious Money.” Then with the money you make from your garage sale, you can buy a few nice things that fit perfectly into your new tiny house.
Are you starting to get the picture? Smaller home equals smaller mortgage, or rent, which equals greater freedom.
Now let’s really scale down. Imagine an intelligently designed house that is exquisitely appointed with a mortgage that is a fraction of the cost of renting an apartment and is only 400–1,000 square feet. I understand that you’d need more space if you have a lot of children, but consider this from the standpoint of it being for 1-3 people. You can factor in the number of children you have later.
Once you remove all your stuff from the equation and adjust your thinking to living in a skillfully designed smaller space, you’ll begin to see how well it will work. Once you become a convert to this way of beating the system and living well, you’ll start to get excited about it.
Another benefit of small houses is that their impact on the environment is much less. This happens because fewer natural materials are used to build them, their footprint is much smaller, and their waste output is less.
If you’re interested in green living and/or renewable energy, adding these features to a small house would be much less expensive since your square footage and energy use would be so tiny. And you’d have the extra money to do it since your building cost and mortgage would be so much smaller.
If you override the advertising messages and social pressures in your mind, you’ll see that small is smart when it comes to home purchases and rentals.
There are many other ways to downsize your life. But vehicle and home choices are two of the biggest ways you can have more by living with less.