Frugal Living: Rightsizing Your Life

A key component of frugal living is: Live within your means. One way to do that is to shed that which you do not need and consciously simplify your surroundings.

I freely confess that I’m a bit of a hoarder, and I’m definitely a collector. Knowing that, I either deny my collecting desire, or play games with my self to keep it under control. Making rules like “you can only add something if you get rid of at least one other thing” help me keep it in check. Thinking about how I’m spending money on <insert object>rather than saving for the trip to Venice also helps.

Simplifying your surroundings has a lot of benefits. It’s easier to clean, for one thing. It’s more restful on the eyes, for another. But it goes beyond that to a place where the conscious evaluation of your living space may mean that you entirely change your environment. That is rightsizing.

I am looking ahead to when I’m older and I know that I will want a very different space than where I am now. I live on three stories which is great when I’m confident my limbs will take me up and down stairs easily — but when I’m 60 (or 80!) those flights of stairs only add to my potential to fall and injure myself. (Which, I have to say, I’m likely to do given my childhood penchant for falling down stairs.)

Given that, living on one floor becomes much more important. Or maybe two, with the second floor for guests and storage. There is a strong possibility that my mother will live with us for a portion of the year, so my next home will have some kind of mother-in-law private space/apartment for her. I absolutely want a garden space, I want to grow more of my own food, and when I’m no longer working that produce will be a supplement to the household costs.

I think I want a smaller space, but when it comes down to it, I’m not sure that is strictly true. I can’t imagine not having my own office/ritual space. And J needs his. We’ll always need that guest space, and even if we combine it with the workout room (as it is now) that doesn’t *save* space. I don’t need two living rooms, though, just room for the books in what I’ll affectionately call the media room (that is, where we watch tv), but that room better be big to hold all of those books. We need a dining room that accommodates a table for 10 (12 would be better, but its hard to find a table that big that isn’t custom made) because we do entertain a couple of times a year, and often have people over for games.So, if not smaller, then it would be laid out differently, with more planning and practicality.

But a component of rightsizing is to deliberately review your life and plan for what you want to be a part of it, instead of what you’ve got. For me, that means reviewing what we have — and periodically getting rid of what we do not use.

This month, May, we’re doing just that. (We started in April, but the month got away from us.) Along with putting up the rugs and switching the drapes from the winter-weight to the summer-weight, we’re going through the closets and the garage and asking ourselves; do I use this? does it have a use at all? is it sentimental in value?

What it’s led to is that we’re going to store our CDs in sleeves ($4.99 for 100) in a box in the garage — this frees up quite a bit of space in J’s office and a shelf in mine.  Photos are either getting put in an album, or tossed. Non-memory-related paper materials are being scanned and stored on an archive drive. J is selling his Dwarven Forge terrains and we’ve already taken a lot of scrap wood and materials to the dump. There are a number of appliances that are now on ‘probabtion’ — if I don’t use them in 2009, they are going away. This includes the Atlas pasta maker I’ve owned since 1994 and have never once used and the Donovi ice cream maker that I use every couple of years.

And, of course (and most importantly) we’re talking about it. Js expectations are different from mine, and we’ve got to negotiate our way through the differences.

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