Stuff steals your joy and suffocates your life.
Do you believe this? I do. I’m on a mission to become weird.
Dave Ramsey says, “Don’t be broke. Be Weird”.
He suggests to look at what everyone else is doing and run the other way. The Joneses want stuff: cars, houses, furnishings, clothes, and the bills that pay for the stuff put a noose around their neck that one hiccup in life–an accident, a car repair, a broken appliance–leaves them “stuffocated”.
Nerdwallet says the average household is $135,924 in debt.
Bloomberg says $16,000 of that is credit card debt.
No. More. Stuff.
Nearly three years ago my family of four took a vacation and all of our needs fit into two backpacks. If we had taken more stuff we have checked bags and missed flight connections. We each had three or four sets of clothes and washed them in the sink and hung them to dry. We were minimalists and it was an experience that left us thirsting for more–I mean less–stuff.
Over the last eight weeks, we have sold so much stuff. At the same time, we put our house on the market to sell. Last week we closed on the sale. No one would have said our home was cluttered. Judgments say we lived simply. We didn’t pour additional concrete for the driveway or build a shop, or fill the house with furnishings. Simply to others felt “stuffocated” to us. We leased a 997 square foot 2-bedroom apartment for four people. The girls share a bedroom and we have a dog. No amount of downsizing prepared us for the transition. No matter how small our material goods are there was still too much stuff. We still have a few boxes of stuff to take to Goodwill, and we are 100% debt free. We are FREE! Here’s what we’ve learned.
Less stuff means more life.
Remember that backpacking trip? We can have great experiences like those more often. We can move quickly with less stuff, even be more spontaneous. There’s no house, yard, or anything else to maintain. We can go whenever we want, where ever we want to be. That thought alone leads to a lot less stress. Stuff doesn’t hold us back.
If your income comes from online sources the world becomes your playground. House sit for people around the world and your lodging and utilities are covered. Go have experiences stuff will never let you have.
My mom is a pack-rat. She still has my grade school worksheets. I recently convinced her to shut down a storage unit where she was storing stuff because it has cost her more than $5,000, for stuff that fit in her garage. My husband’s mom is a pack-rat. She doesn’t understand why we want less stuff when stuff can be handed down, passed around, or is generally useful. My Dad wants to know when I am coming to pick up my late Grandma’s china. It’s beautiful and I don’t have room for it. Dad chuckles when we talk about our next move. We get the, “Oh you kids…”. We’re in our 40’s, hardly kids, and this feels better all the time.
Shopping is fun, and what if having extra money leads to helping causes you care about. Start a foundation to touch people and needs with care. Do the work only you are meant to do.
I am not saying you don’t need to buy things. Plenty of people need a house. I think people need a place to live that doesn’t own them. For my family, a house is a liability, not an asset. We move often. I wouldn’t call us nomads, but history says we move every 4-5 years. If that means selling a house in a downturned financial cycle then we have a lot to lose. Luckily, we sold our house while the market was high. Now we get to plan next steps. If you enjoy living in a house as part of the American Dream, that’s great. Hopefully, the house fits your income. Dave Ramsey suggests no more than 40% of your income be tied to a house on a 15-year term, fixed rate mortgage. You don’t have to furnish it with big-box high priced things. Shop second hand if possible. Visit a garage sale. A little elbow grease and paint can make furniture or decor something you love with a great story. Tell your story.
Open your mind and be free
On Dave Ramsey’s program, he allows people a debt-free celebratory scream. “FREEDOM”! It’s based on William Wallace from the movie Braveheart:
Don’t you want freedom from stuff, debt, and clutter?
Tell us how you plan to become free in the comments.
*Originally published as a guest post on Thrifty Guardian.