A year ago, my wife and I embarked on a journey to downsize our lives. We put money down on a house half the size of our house at the time. In order to make the move, we stopped owning most of our stuff. How did we do it? We realized the four hidden costs of owning lots of stuff.
First Cost: Space
Space is money. Every house has a price per square foot. Last I checked, it was $230 on average in our zip code. Is that collection of childhood books worth $230 in storage costs? Is that 8-person dining table worth the extra $1150 to keep around for those rare occasions when more than two are seated for dinner?
Second Cost: Maintenance
Another book or two may not cost much in maintenance other than the occasional dusting. But what about things that break like cars and mowers? Even a chair may develop a loose leg or that desk drawer may start to stick. And when things completely stop working, they must be replaced. But if we only have one TV, two computers, and one car, the burden of maintenance fades.
Third Cost: Time
The important things in life tend to hide among the less important things. Car keys find their way into junk drawers, underneath a stack of papers, or mingling with that pile of clothes you rarely wear. Daily tasks also tend to take longer. Finding a pair of pants to wear among a set of three is much faster than among a set of twenty.
Fourth Cost: Attention
Tasks take much longer to finish when emersed in a thick pool of distractions. Typing at my computer, my eye picks out a mug I bought in college. I start reminiscing about dorm life and dining hall Lucky Charms. Suddenly, I snap back to the present and realize an hour has passed. Is that mug worth an hour of my time?