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What I Learned By Donating And Giving Away Nearly All Of My Stuff

When we sold our house and moved into an RV, we had to give away a ton of our stuff so that we could start living minimally in a smaller space. We gave away a lot of stuff to family members, had neighbors come by and take whatever they wanted, we had Salvation Army come to our home to do a big pickup, and more. We didn’t sell a single thing, instead we gave it all away.

One year ago, we gave away all of our stuff, moved into an RV, and start living minimally. Here's what I've learned by living with less stuff.And, it felt great.

Now, we live in a 33 foot RV and are definitely living a minimal lifestyle.

We aren’t the norm, though.

The size of the average home in 1950 was less than 1,000 square feet. Fast forward to 2013, the average home size has increased to nearly 2,600 square feet (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).

We were fairly close to that size when we owned a house. The house we owned in the St. Louis, Missouri area was around 2,500 square feet, if you included our finished basement, and it was just for myself, my husband, and our two dogs. Our home in Colorado was almost as big, at slightly over 2,000 square feet (with no basement).

However, we decided to buck the norm and started living minimally by completely downsizing our life.

This isn’t to say that we are perfect, though. I used to keep pretty much everything I came across, and my basement was proof of that. I would always say “Oh, but I’ll use that eventually!”

And then, eventually would never come, haha!

All the clutter and everything else that went with keeping everything you’ve ever bought can get annoying.

We made the decision to start living with less stuff for many reasons, but the main reason was that traveling nearly full-time added to the stress of owning a home. So, we figured why not just take it a step further and actually travel full-time?

All of the belongings we have are now inside the RV, except for a few childhood items and photo albums that my dad left me after he passed away. Those are all stored at a family member’s home.

Now, life is great.

Living minimally has been great, and I’ve learned a lot by giving away nearly all of my belongings.

Below is what I’ve learned by living with less stuff and living minimally.

 

I have wasted a lot of money in my life.

Okay, so this is probably a given. If I was able to give away nearly everything I’ve ever bought, that means that I’ve probably wasted thousands of dollars in my lifetime.

Knowing this has really helped me understand how to manage my money better.

Now that I realize how much money I’ve wasted, I am much more able to say “no” at the store when debating whether or not I should get something. I now realize that I don’t really need much, and this helps me to only buy what I need instead of things that will just create clutter.

I can also walk into a store and only buy exactly what I need, even if that store is Target!

I have so much more control over my spending and that has saved me a lot of money in the past year.

Related:

  • 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
  • How To Save Money – My Best Money Saving Tips

 

I don’t need a lot of the things that I once thought I needed.

I kept a lot of things because I thought I needed them for the future. On a regular basis, I probably only used around 25% of the things I had in my house.

Actually, probably even less than that.

I know I’m not alone – many people keep items because they think they may need them in the future. You know the feeling – you buy something, don’t use it right away, and years later you find it but just can’t throw it away in case there is some circumstance where you need that exact item.

If this is you, then you should put a timeline of no more than one year on the item. If you don’t use it in that timeframe, then there’s a big chance that you’ll never need it.

Chances are that you won’t miss it much.

When I think about how much stuff we gave away, I honestly can’t even remember half of the things. Now, I know that I never really needed the majority of those things.

 

Owning more stuff doesn’t make you happier.

Having more stuff doesn’t make you happier.

It’s really that simple. Things don’t make you a better person, they don’t make you more successful than others, or anything else.

I know this because I have less stuff than I have ever had, and I am happier than ever.

You should only own something if you truly want it. Who cares about what everyone else has!

 

Giving away nearly everything feels great.

Sure, this blog is all about making and saving money, and I could have easily sold a lot of the things that I gave away for thousands of dollars.

However, it felt great giving it all away, and honestly, it was a lot easier.

If I had to do it again, I would do it all over again.

 

Life is much more peaceful living with less stuff.

Getting rid of so much stuff has made life much more peaceful. Hanging on to so much stuff for years and years can add an insane amount of clutter to a person’s life, both physically and mentally.

I know this personally because I kept many things, such as clothing, because they were things I held onto after my dad passed away. I kept outfits that I wore the last time I saw him, from his funeral, and so on.

It just wasn’t healthy.

By getting rid of things, I was able to finally let go. Hanging onto those things and looking at them every day wasn’t healthy.

 

It’s easy to start living minimally.

As you can see from the above, living minimally has a ton of positives. One last positive is that it’s very easy to do.

Many people think that living minimally would be difficult because you have to get rid of so much stuff, change your mindset, and more. However, it’s been a very easy change for us.

Having less stuff and spending less money on things we don’t need allows us to spend more time on things we care about and actually want to do. Plus, now we hardly ever have anything break because there aren’t many things in our life that can be broken.

We don’t miss anything, we don’t feel like we need anything – we are happier and much more carefree now by living with less stuff.

Are you interested in living minimally? Why or why not?

 

The post What I Learned By Donating And Giving Away Nearly All Of My Stuff appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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Lessons Learned from 6 Years Without a Car

If you’ve ever considered going car-free, I’m here to tell you to take the plunge.

Over the last 6 years I’ve lived in 3 different cities, sans car (much to my suburban mother’s amazement). I got rid of my car in my early 20s, the moment I found a job that was walking-distance from my first studio apartment in Seattle.

Being car-free isn’t always easy. Little trips can be a hassle, and getting out of town for the weekend is more complex. But I’ve found it makes day-to-day life more carefree. If you’re walking, biking, or bussing around your city, you get to discover things you never would in your car, save a ton of cash, and live a little greener.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years without a vehicle:

Designing your life, car free

When you don’t have a car, you’ll consider drastically different factors when you look for a place to live.

Here are the top priorities I looked for in a new place, in order of importance:

  • Grocery store proximity – I can get a new job that’s closer, but I can’t build a new grocery store. Sure, you can get food delivered, but I prefered to save money and get a little exercise doing my own shopping. I tried to keep my grocery runs to a 10 minute walk or less.
  • Neighborhood walkability – You can get a general idea of how walkable things are on Walkscore. If you browse a few neighborhoods, you’ll quickly see the difference between suburban sprawl and easily areas where you can cover most of your errands on foot or bike.
  • Commute options – Are you close to a bus line or, better yet, a transit hub? Limited transit options may not be a dealbreaker, but you should at least be sure your regular routes are covered.

These criteria often led me to centrally located spots—downtown hubs, or neighborhoods that are fairly self-contained. That meant higher rent, but the money and time I saved not driving made it worthwhile.

Enjoy that extra $$

When you get rid of your car, suddenly you’ll notice hundreds more dollars in your pocket every month (surprise!). I owned my vehicle outright, but was still paying ~$300 per month in parking, gas, and insurance. Gross.

I chose to put that cash in savings. Even as an entry-level receptionist, I suddenly had extra money to add to my retirement and my emergency fund.

Getting rid of the car built my cash cushion in two ways — lower monthly expenses, and less risk. An accident or a mechanical failure could set you back at any time, making it tough to plan. A flat monthly bus pass is a much more predictable expense than car ownership.

Creative transportation options

One of the lovely parts of not having a car? You get really creative about transportation. Here are the best resources I’ve used in my time without a car:

  • Cycling/Bikeshare – Biking isn’t for everyone, but if you’re brave, it’s a beautiful way to get around the city and stay crazy fit. Many cities are jumping in on the bikeshare trend – so you don’t even need to know how to change a tire. Wear a helmet!
  • Fancy bikes – Too tired to ride? Electric bikes. Need to take it on the metro? Foldable bikes. Need to haul stuff? Cargo bikes.
  • Carpooling – As a formerly car-free person, I’m now living my values as a carpool mom. See if your company can connect you to a pool through Zimride, or hop in a carpool through the Waze app.
  • Car2GoCar2Go is a pretty cool alternative car sharing service. Free parking, you don’t need to find designated spots. Just leave it wherever! Perfect for one-way trips.
  • Scooters – Don’t hate, those little scooters littering the sidewalks are a really fun solution for the last mile of your trip. You can buy your own if sharing hasn’t hit your town.
  • Trains – We may not have amazing bullet train service, but Amtrak is still a wonderful way to see the scenery. It’s more comfortable than the bus (dining car!) and not much more expensive.
  • Car rental – If you’re keeping a car for rare weekends away, you’d save a ton of money just renting instead. Bonus: no maintenance, and you always drive a late model.
  • Peer-to-Peer car rental – This is kind of a wild thing, now you can rent cars from people on the internet with Turo. It’s cheap, but I’ve had mixed luck with the vehicles there. Rent at your own risk.

If you need to test the car-free waters, give some of these alternate transportation methods a try. That way you can find out what works before you take the plunge. Even if you keep your wheels and reduce the amount of time you spend driving alone, that’s a win for the planet, and for a more connected city. Happy non-driving!

The post Lessons Learned from 6 Years Without a Car appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com