DECEMBER 2014 – the breaking point
After reading countless stories of millennials and gen-Xers who shoulder many of the same debts, we asked ourselves how we ended up in the same situation as everyone else…
“When did we decide that ‘debt’ was something we could afford?”
With that unanswered question in mind, we made 2015 the year we change our lives. We embarked on a journey to achieve debt freedom.
Our plan to achieve debt freedom and financial independence/early retirement focuses largely on downsizing all of our stuff in an effort to save money to pay off debt faster.
APRIL 2015 – downsizing begins
Downsizing to only two coffee mugs is just the beginning and no, it’s not a euphemism; today, we have only two coffee cups. 😉
Decluttering was one of the very first steps we had taken.
When we started purging stuff from our closets several months back, we found a lot of stuff we forgot we had. Here’s an example of some of the “treasures” stored in our closets:
- An overcoat worn one time, 15 years ago (donated)
- Scrap metal, dozens of pounds accumulating in the garage over a period of years ($)
- Welder and helmets ($)
- A collection of Philip K. Dick novels ($)
- Lamps, one table and one floor ($)
- and so much more stuff sold or donated or just given away to passers-by…
Craigslist and eBay are beautiful inventions as they provided opportunities to sell things that we don’t need to people who would put them to good use.
And there is still a ton more that we won’t need once we move to the small house, including mattresses, a TV stand, dining room table and chairs, etc. We can further reduce the number of kitchen appliances and gadgets we have by eliminating them or opting for smaller versions. How many times we have cooked two baked potatoes in a full-size range I may never know, but it was a terrible waste of energy. *shudder*
Decluttering to be able to downsize from 1,500 sqft to 500 sqft is just one of the many steps we’re taking on this personal finance journey. We also strive to make better financial decisions, like paying off our debt and cutting our cell phone bill.
SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE – living in a “tiny” house
Downsizing everything in our lives means a HUGE reduction in waste. Shopping less and on specific days has made a big difference. We eat all of the food in our fridge, so we don’t shop nearly as often. Saving lots of money
While getting rid of stuff to optimize our lives was difficult at first, it became easier as time passed because with each item sold and we’re a little closer to financial freedom. But then getting rid of stuff became difficult again. The most difficult part? Challenging the notion that this was stuff we needed. I wouldn’t say it was an emotional connection we had to our stuff, but that’s about the best way I have of describing the feelings of panic and worry that accompany the purging of clutter.
In the original post, I think I made it seem easier than it really was to get rid of stuff. Sure, the 15-year-old coat that’s in amazing condition was easy. But now, we’re eliminating stuff that is somewhere between that old coat and “we use this every day and can’t live without” French press. Books that haven’t been read in 10 years should probably be donated (but I loved them when I read them that one time!). This part is difficult. This part is where it gets interesting.
Downsizing every aspect of life to get to tiny living involves leaving no stone unturned, so we’re looking at our physical stuff and our financial stuff. Gotta keep our eyes on the debt-free prize, and making these small, insignificant-in-the-big-picture sacrifices will be worth it.
MARCH 2017 UPDATE – debt freedom
We’re completely, 100% debt free. We paid off all of our debt, including the tiny house mortgage.
Now, we’re working to become financially independent in which work is “optional.”
MAY 2018 UPDATE – TBD