Even though downsizing and tiny living have started to become a bit of a “trend” lately, showing up on TV shows, in magazines and maybe even in your neighborhood, I realized that there are still some myths out there about downsizing.
Some of them are understandable and a few of them are just downright silly, but I thought I would take a moment to dispel some of the myths right now.
Myth #1: When you downsize, you should get rid of almost everything.
Um, no. Just because you’ve decided to downsize or live a more minimal lifestyle, doesn’t mean that you have to learn to survive with one outfit, a wooden stool and some saltine crackers. Downsizing is about getting rid of stuff, yes. But it’s about paring down to the essentials for YOU. That means if you play hockey regularly and keeping a stick, a couple pucks and a net around is a must for you, then by all means, do it! There are no “rules” to what you “should” or “should not” keep. Other than paring down to what YOU really need. Yes, you should get rid of the clothes you don’t wear, the books you don’t read, the random clutter that has six inches of dust on it. But you don’t have to go off the deep end and get rid of stuff that you truly use or want, just because you feel like you “should.”
Myth #2: You have to give everything away.
No way! In fact, I tried to give as little away as possible. I did donate a TON of clothes to an abused women’s shelter and “Dress for Success.” But other than that, I at least tried to make as much money back as I could when getting rid of my belongings. Now of course, this will all depend on how much time you have. But if you have the time, don’t just drop all of your stuff off at the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army without at least running a few Craigslist ads or having a yard sale. I sold all of my furniture on Craigslist, a bunch of collectibles on eBay and a slew of random stuff at my yard sale.
Myth #3: You’ll regret it later.
Now, I can’t speak to the ultimate truth or falseness of this one. I can only speak for my own experience (and my friends’ who have downsized) and I can tell you that, I have never looked back with regret once!
See, when you downsize your stuff, it actually becomes a little addictive. If anything, you may find yourself downsizing more even after your original “purge” is over. I know I did! You realize more and more what you really need to get by and the rest just starts to seem excessive.
Myth #4: You’ll end up buying it all back.
Again, I can only say that this has been a myth for myself and my friends who have downsized, but I’m pretty sure it will be false for you too. If you are actually taking the steps to downsize, then it is probably because you have come to the point in your life where you are ready to have less, whatever the reason. Sure, you might be tempted from time to time, but what I found is that I am no longer as “compelled” to buy something in the store because I just think back to what I’ve gotten rid of and I don’t want to go down that road again. Downsizing is all about a perspective shift. So believe it or not, even a former shopaholic (like myself) can downsize and not “upsize” all over again. As long as their heart was really in it in the first place.
Myth 5: You can’t express your personality anymore.
Again, downsizing is not about owning a pair of brown cargo shorts, a wooden stool and some Birkenstocks. YOU are still YOU, you just have less crap to haul around. When I downsized, I kept my Wii guitars (I do rock at Guitar Hero, after all), a rather disturbing looking angel-dog statue with a little white dress and a halo that my mom gave me when my first dog passed away and a collection of about 150 shot glasses. These may not seem like the most “sensible” items to keep when doing a mass purge, but they all express my personality. Both to visitors that come to my home and to myself… making me feel at home in my space!
Myth #6: You won’t do it “right.”
You’re probably starting to see a bit of a theme here… but there is no “right” or “wrong” way to downsize. There are no rules or guidelines that you HAVE to follow. So it’s impossible to “do it wrong” or “mess it up.” Downsizing is a personal decision that you have to come to, as a result of whatever is motivating you in particular, be it lowered debt, less stress or more freedom. YOU get to decide what stays and what goes. And even if you do make a “mistake” and keep something you shouldn’t have… you can always get rid of it later! And the same is true for things that you wish you hadn’t gotten rid of. If you really need an item that you got rid of in your purge, you can always buy another one later and it won’t be the end of the world. Go ahead, I won’t tell anyone. ;)
Myth #7: You’ll never finish.
Although I can certainly relate to these types of thoughts, especially when you’re smack dab in the middle of the downsizing process… I can assure you, you will finish. There will be some days where the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated just seems to be ENDLESS and you wonder if you’ll ever get to spend a Saturday outside of your house again. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! And again, since there are no rules, you CAN take as little or as much time to downsize as you want. If you’re an immediate gratification person like me, you probably will want to rip through it all as fast as you can. But if it’s a little more overwhelming for you and you need to go at a slower pace, go right ahead! There will still be a day when you will tape up that last box and turn around and realize… “Oh my gosh, I. Am. Done.”