As the weather cools and we start to rotate our closet into fall, we can’t help but think about the fact that having lots of stuff comes with a lot of nonsense: fixing broken furniture, dropping clothes off at the cleaners, re-heeling shoes. That’s not to mention the stress of losing expensive items. The New York Times recently profiled a woman, Tammy Strobel, who reduced her belongings to just 100 total, including everything from cooking gear to shoes to a bike—she doesn’t even have a TV.
Everyone’s Doing It
Tammy Strobel went from having a two-bedroom apartment and two cars to living with her husband in a 400-square-foot studio. She has far fewer belongings but also fewer concerns…not to mention the fact that she’s cleared herself of $30,000 in debt. Similarly, our very own in-house Certified Financial Planner® Lauren Lyons Cole recently embarked on a project with her friend and fellow financial planner, in which they each cut their spending by $1,000 in the month of August. As an experiment, they also had a week in which they only spent $100 total. This idea is all about simplicity, cutting out the noise that gets in the way of what really matters in life.
We Challenge You
We don’t expect you to reduce the materials in your life as drastically as Tammy or Lauren have, but strive for simplicity nonetheless. “As a financial planner, I thought I was already living as frugally and responsibly as I could,” Lauren says. “I had no idea how I’d manage to cut a whole $1,000 from my budget—that’s insane. But in the end, it was far easier than I’d imagined.”
Our Challenge for You Has 2 Options:
1. Go through your closet, jewelry box, or general belongings and get rid of 10 items today. Sell them on eBay if they’re worth anything. Either way, revel in the glow of streamlining your life.
2. Change one financial habit for two weeks as an experiment. For example: Only shop from the grocery store’s coupon flyer, stop ordering food delivery, decide to spend only $100 per week, or don’t turn your TV on to see if you could live without cable.
Here’s Why: People Are Happier Spending on Experiences Than on Objects
Studies have shown that people are happier when they spend money on, say, a white water rafting trip instead of an expensive new pocketbook. The New York Times reports that “recession anxiety [has] prompted a ‘back-to-basics movement,’ with things like home and family increasing in importance over the last two years, while things like luxury and status have declined,” according to the Boston Consulting Group. In a nutshell, we benefit more from activities that bring us closer to loved ones than we do from a new couch.
So, instead of stressing over that stained white shirt or the expensive earring we lost, we’re ready to simply have less stuff. Getting rid of belongings we don't need frees up time to think, enjoy family, have a glass of wine, and cut out worries about stupid stuff that doesn’t matter.