Think Small; Live Big
Everyone always says that "home is where the heart is," but if you've ever traveled, you know that your heart isn't always where you are. As our wedding day gets closer and closer, my fiancé and I have spent a lot of time discussing what's important to us and what we can do without. We're making a conscious effort to downsize our lives in an effort to live bigger. In doing so, we hope to see more of the world rather than staying at home reading about it.
The first step in this whole process has been eliminating unnecessary things in our life. I'm an avid, dare I say expert, Craigslister and have managed to make several hundred dollars selling things that have been collecting dust. In addition to selling our belongings, we have been donating plasma twice a week. Admittedly, donating plasma is not glamorous and can have adverse effects on the body after a lot of donations, and we will both probably quit once the wedding is paid off. These two relatively simple things have allowed us to not only purge our living rooms of clutter, but manage to cover gas and grocery costs while our incomes go directly to bills and savings for the wedding.
The second step in this process has been house hunting. The future Mrs. currently owns a 4 bedroom, 2 full bathroom house in a nice neighborhood. We use about 1/3 of the space in that house, but are paying to heat and insure it, and that's money we can use elsewhere. We both know that we want to eventually call Fort Wayne home for our family, but for now, we're looking for more of a launch pad than a home. Humans need little to survive. Oxygen, water, food, sleep, and shelter. There are not many things in the world that people can’t live without.
So why are people compelled to amass a collection of things that serve no purpose but to take up space? Sure, there are luxuries that can take those basic needs to new levels. A couch to sit on certainly makes a shelter more comfortable. A refrigerator and stove open food up to countless possibilities. But what about accent tables, statues, spare bedrooms, and home theaters? Upgrades, yes. Necessities? Far from it. After looking at nearly 50 houses, we finally found a 2 bedroom 1 bath house to fit accommodate our goals. My fiancé's house is currently listed and we are taking every step necessary to make this a reality.
Step three is ensuring a measure of financial security. While we don't care to be wealthy, I've grown accustomed to a certain level of nourishment. There are work programs available in certain countries that offer food and housing in exchange for manual labor. Glamorous? No. Means to survive and see the world? Yep. We are also looking into careers that would allow us to work remotely. While I work in digital marketing, I'm not sure I can thrive outside the office in my current position, but it opens the door.
Final step: Jump. When you know what's holding you back and actively work to shed those burdens, there is nothing left to stop you from living your dreams. Our dreams are to see the world while we can still enjoy it. Life is short, and people get old.
Our plan has received mixed reviews (mostly positively) from family and friends, but ultimately it is up to us to make ourselves happy, and big houses and fancy cars just aren't what we need. We need adventure. It's not enough for us to see things, we need to experience them. Climb mountains. Jump off cliffs. Meet people and have our world views turned upside down. In four months we leave for Belize on our honeymoon, and will hopefully kick off several years of better, simpler living.
Downsizing your life can be a positive reflection on who you are as a person. Not only does it help you to live within your means, but it allows you to do more with your life. It will challenge you to assess your life in every aspect.
Don’t let your life be defined by things and you may find that suddenly you can afford to have those romantic date nights, or better yet, romantic vacations. Downsizing will lead to a growth in appreciation for what really matters.
(Photos from author's travelogue: Oui Travel)