Someone asked me recently to share some of the specific benefits of “living like this.” Her family was considering taking a similar trip and wanted to know what they might be in for.
The thing is, there is no one definition that seems to fit what this is.
We’re living with less, traveling full time, living in an RV, and generally enjoying temporary unemployment. We’re making our own definitions of happiness and success. We’re becoming couch-crashing experts. I don’t imagine any family — or any one person — will ever emulate our current lifestyle exactly because it’s uniquely ours. However, there are some aspects of our current journey that might be worthy of adaptation.
I think we can all benefit from learning to live with less – less stuff that doesn’t really matter. This is one of the first lifestyle changes we made, and the one that helped make all the rest possible.
10 Benefits of Living with Less
1. I set aside no time in my schedule for cleaning.
If something gets spilled, it gets wiped up. The floors get swept when we set up at a new campground. There is no need to make time every day or every week for cleaning. How much time do you devote to “keeping house?” Is there anything you’d rather be doing with that time?
2. I don’t spend time shopping.
To be honest, I miss shopping. I tend to rely on the pleasure of acquiring things when I need a mood boost and that coping mechanism doesn’t fit with my current lifestyle. On the plus side, I no longer spend my weekends running shopping errands. The only thing we shop for regularly now is food.
3. I spend less time looking for stuff.
I still lose my iPhone several times a day and I’ve managed to misplace one of a pair of mittens I just bought in New Mexico, but I definitely spend less time searching for lost items.
4. I’m more content with what I have.
I used to sit in my house and think about all of the things I had yet to buy, things I was certain I needed in order to be happy or successful. I cursed the cheap things I’d foolishly purchased to get by until I could afford what I really wanted. Ironically, having less stuff has made me less obsessed with what I don’t have.
5. I’m more environmentally responsible.
Owning fewer items has made me more aware of what I own, what I use, and what I throw away. I think this has made me a better conservationist, a value that’s become really important to me in recent years.
6. I’m more resourceful.
Living with less has made me a better problem solver. When a new need arises, I no longer think about how I can meet it with $10 and the closest Wal-Mart. Instead, I think about how I can use something I already have in a new way. Getting better at finding multiple solutions to a single problem has, I think, made me a better freelance writer.
7. I don’t make purchases based on guilt.
As a parent, I’ve definitely been guilty of buying things no one needed just because not buying them made me feel bad. The newest game, the new clothes, the plastic toy that I knew would be forgotten about even before it broke – my kids don’t even ask for these things as often as they did four months ago.
8. I’m learning to value quality.
I know on a logical level that it makes more sense to buy quality than to purchase a cheap item, but growing up poor trained me to always go for the lowest sticker price. This short-term thinking has repeatedly resulted in waste and buyer’s remorse, and yet it’s a tough habit for me to break. Living with less has forced me to carefully consider any new purchases, which has really helped me to focus on long-term value.
9. I’m learning to think beyond the short-term.
My natural tendency is to live in the moment and embrace instant gratification. Having to focus on quality and think about how one item can be reused over and over again forces me to step back and look at the bigger, more long-term picture. Living with less is also a long-term sacrifice made in an effort to achieve long-term goals, something I haven’t always had the discipline for in the past.
10. I can do more with my money.
One of the most obvious benefits of living with (and purchasing) less is that you spend less money. For us, that extra money equals more time on the road and less stress. It means Jared being able to spend time with me and the kids instead of looking for a way to earn money. It means I get to focus on writing what I’m passionate about instead of churning out content for cash. Those are powerful motivators for our family to keep our possessions to a minimum.
Would your life be better if you could learn to live with less? What’s stopping you from finding out?