10 Things I Learned From Downsizing Our Life

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I posted about Small House Living earlier this week and introduced you to Lori and her family of six who are currently living in an RV. The comments on that post were quite lively and there were lots of pros and cons shared for both living in a small house and having a larger house.

Lori posted a follow-up post yesterday called 10 Things I Have Learned By Downsizing Our Life. I think you’ll find it very interesting and insightful — at least I know that I did. Head over here to read it.

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Small House Living: Could you downsize in house?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of Small House Living recently. My blogging friend, Lori, has shared about their family’s fairly radical decision to downsize to an RV and travel around the country as a family.

This in and of itself is impressive. But it’s even more impressive when you find out that they are doing this with four kids in tow.

Part of the idea of voluntarily downsizing appeals to me in a big way because I don’t like extra clutter and stuff. On the flip side, the thought of living out of a really small space sounds like a recipe for lots of tension. Namely, I like to have quiet places to retreat and living in such a small space might make me feel like I’d go crazy after awhile. :)

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There can be a lot of benefits to downsizing, though, if even for a short period of time.

When I was 10 years old, my parents sold our house and moved all 7 of us (there were only five kids at the time!) to a single wide trailer for 7 months while we built a home in the country. Since our living space was very limited, we put most of our household items in storage and only kept out the essentials.

We have so many memories from that summer in the trailer, most of them good memories. And we discovered a lot of benefits to living in a small space. Such as:

  • We hardly spent any time cleaning. My mom divvied up the household chores amongst all of us and with only 6 total rooms in the trailer, that meant very few chores to go around!
  • It fostered togetherness. We couldn’t really go off by ourselves because there wasn’t a lot of space, so we had to learn how to get along even in tighter quarters! I have many fond memories of nights spent all together in the living room reading before bed.
  • We made our own entertainment. We weren’t able to bring many of our toys/things along, so we had fun using what we had for forms of entertainment. We built an elaborate tree “house” using things left in the old barn. We experimented in the kitchen with new recipes that only used the microwave, crock pot, or electric skillet (we didn’t have an oven in the trailer). And my older sister did a lot of sewing since she was able to bring her sewing machine.
  • We became more grateful. My parents were investing most of their money into the house-building project so there wasn’t a lot of extra cash that summer. I distinctly remember it being the first time in my life where we had to do without and I remember how much contentment and gratefulness this helped me develop.
  • It taught us the difference between a need and something that’s nice to have. There are many things we had to put in storage that summer that we’d always assumed you needed to live. But we realized that, if you can survive without it for 7 months, it’s probably less of a necessity and more of something that’s nice to have. It’s good to learn from a young age that there are very few real needs in life. I’m grateful for the conveniences of things like ovens and dishwashers and dryers, but you can survive just fine without them, as we did for those 7 months.

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I was reading Kathi Lipp’s new book called Clutter Free recently and she talks about their decision not to move up in house, but rather to downsize in stuff.

She lists off a number of benefits for living in a smaller house, including:

  • Smaller houses are less expensive to furnish than larger houses.
  • Smaller houses are less expensive to heat and cool compared to comparably built larger homes.
  • Smaller houses force you to use all of your home.
  • Smaller houses force you to be intentional about your possessions.

I love her conclusion that, much of the time, we don’t need a bigger house, we need less stuff. If you’re feeling cramped in your space and like your family is bursting at your house seams, make sure you’ve eliminated all the unnecessary clutter and extras first before you starting shopping for a bigger house.

Have you ever downsized before — even for a short time? Do you think you could do what Lori’s family is doing and downsize your family to an RV? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

For inspiration, check out this article: 12 of the Most Impressive Tiny Houses You’ve Ever Seen

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Want to save even more? Do without.

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Heather from Queen Bee Coupons has a great post up on saving money by doing without. Here’s a snippet:

When I decided to stay home with my kids (seven years ago!) it meant cutting our income by 60%. That’s right, 60 percent. Take $100 and throw $60 of it out the window. What was once $100, became $40 at the grocery store. I wouldn’t change staying home for a second. I wouldn’t trade anything for those extra 60 dollars, but I would be picky in how I spent the money I had left.

For us, this meant – if it wasn’t on sale and/or we didn’t have a coupon – we generally didn’t buy it. It was that simple. If it wasn’t a loss leader in the grocery ad (one of the best of the best deals), we would wait, and do without, until it went on sale.

And now, seven years later, our budget isn’t as tight – but we still live by this principle.

Read the full post.

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One of the Most Important Gifts We Can Give Our Children

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One of the greatest gifts in moving to Tennessee has been quickly finding a new church home. We’ve been challenged, inspired, uplifted, and spiritually fed each week through the preaching, as well as being blessed by the people and their warm hospitality and hearts for the Lord.

During the Christmas season, our church has been encouraging families to adopt a theme of “Less Under Our Tree, More For the World.”

While the adults in our church have been encouraged to give and make a difference, I’ve loved the strong emphasis they’ve placed upon encouraging the children to give, too. They have given the kids specific needs and ways that they can help with their coins and dollars.

These specific needs and dollar amounts have been a huge inspiration to our girls and they’ve been spending time doing chores, emptying their piggy banks, counting change, and soliciting donations from us for the special Global Christmas Offering on Sunday.

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Earlier this week, I discovered this sign that they had put in our hallway as a reminder for us all to keep contributing any loose change this week.

As I’ve observed my girls being so passionate about finding ways they can contribute and impact other children around the world, it’s motivated me to look for ways to be more of a giver in my own life.

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And Kathrynne and Kaitlynn’s desire to give is rubbing off on Silas, too.

Last week, I took the kids to the The Greatest Christmas event here in Nashville. Ann Voskamp was one of the main presenters, along with Ellie Holcomb and Amena Brown. This event was sponsored by Compassion, so halfway through, Ann shared about the opportunity to sponsor a child and how it could make such an impact.

When Ann finished sharing, my kids all looked at me, eager to do something about it. I quickly leaned over and reminded our kids about the girls we write notes to/support and the moms & babies we support through our CSP.

I want to be able to regularly write notes to our Compassion girls as I know this is so important to them, so we’ve opted to only sponsor two girls (plus our CSP) so that we could be more faithful about writing to them.

And honestly, I was feeling like that was enough. Or so I had told myself.

But then, 5-year-old Silas looks at me intently and said, “But what about the boys? We need to support the boys, too.”

I was speechless. There was no quick comeback for that plea.

So, I sat there for a moment and then said, “You’re right. We need to do something for the boys, too.”

I hesitated before I responded, “Would you like to pick a boy for us to sponsor?”

His eyes lit up and he excitedly responded “Yes!”

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The next day, Silas and Jesse looked through all the children waiting to be sponsored on Compassion’s site and finally chose 6-year-old Gerald from the DR.

Silas instantly felt a connection to Gerald because they are almost the same age and they both love baseball. Watching his enthusiasm over making a difference in Gerald’s life reminds me that giving our children opportunities to be involved in impacting others’ lives is one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to them.

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We don’t have much figured out as parents — other than that we have so much left to learn! — and every day, we struggle with attitude issues and character issues. There are days when it feels like nothing we are trying to teach or live before them is sticking.

But then there are moments like this past week, when we realize that they are watching and learning. And I’m so grateful for these hearts and their desires and willingness to have less under our tree so we can give more to the world.

If our kids can someday leave home knowing that there are a world of needs around them, that money will never buy happiness, that there is so much fulfillment that comes from giving, and that money is just a tool to be used to change lives, they will be well on their way to living contented, rich lives — no matter their income level or career.

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What Kim Kardashian Can Teach Us About Contentment

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I usually “live in a cave” when it comes to current events… but it’s almost been impossible to avoid the fact that Kim Kardashian chose to pose nude for the world recently.

Only God knows her heart. Only God knows why she made this decision.

I’m not here to call her names. She’s been called enough things this week.

I’m not here to talk about how her actions make other women feel. Many other writers have done a great job of that. Nor am I here to open up a discussion on what is and isn’t appropriate to be shared with the public.

But what I think we all can learn from Kim Kardashian is an important lesson on contentment.

Yes, contentment.

You see, so many of us buy into the lie that money and fame will buy happiness. We chase after more. We wish we had a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, more clothes. We want to be in a place where we can afford to buy higher quality items or have more wiggle room in our budget.

We look at that family at church, or the family in our neighborhood, or that blogger online, or that family member, or that movie celebrity and we envy what they have that we don’t.

We think, “If only we had this…” “If only we had that…” If only we had more money…” “If only we had more in savings…” “If only we had a better job…”

We believe that more will automatically equal greater happiness and fulfillment. We want what the Jones’ have.

But here’s the thing: the Jones’ probably aren’t happy.

As Kim K. has shown us this week, having a net worth of $65 million dollars doesn’t equate happiness. Even though she can pretty much afford to pay for whatever it is on earth that she wants, from my perspective, it appears that she’s still seeking something she doesn’t already have.

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I think it’s fantastic to get on a written budget. I think it’s often helpful and good to look for ways to increase your income. But, ultimately, know that the best thing you can invest your time and effort into is developing contentment.

If you’re not 100% fulfilled, happy, and embracing right where you are, there’s a good chance you’ll never find fulfillment or joy elsewhere — no matter how much money you make, how many likes your post gets on Facebook, what kind of house you live in, or what kind of promotion you get at work.

Contentment is much more valuable than the greatest net worth on earth.

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