Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

8 Tips for Editing Your Life that Work for Any Budget

Yesterday we featured a story about a $275 DIY murphy bed to show that an edited life is by no means for people rich enough to choose less (rather than having less imposed upon them).

Let’s be clear: excess is far from a rich man/woman’s dilemma. Watch an episode or 2 of Hoarders for proof. Cheap housing and consumer goods have made virtually every socioeconomic bracket victims of excess…and crippling debt. The average American household carries $16K of credit card debt!

And sure, we love great architecture and product design–much of which has a steep buy-in cost–but there are infinite things you can do for little or no money to start living an edited life. Here are 8:

  1. Edit your possessions. Go through your closets, drawers, file cabinets. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used something in the last year, you probably won’t use it in the next. Toss it, recycle it or, better yet, give it away, get a receipt and use it as a tax break. Is your stuff too expensive to give away? Sell it and make some money.
  2. When you do buy, buy high quality stuff you like and will use. Okay, so this might sound a bit contradictory, but sometimes the way to save money is to spend it. How many times have you skimped on a purchase, buying the inferior thing you don’t like because the high quality one you did was twice as expensive? Then the inferior things breaks, doesn’t get used or becomes the unwanted child of your possessions. If something is 2x as expensive and lasts 4x as long (or is used 4x as much), that’s half the price of the cheaper thing.
  3. Get rid of your books. Few things take up space like books, and eReaders have come a long way, and dropped way down in price; e.g. Kindles start at $79 and have thousands of free titles. Want something cheaper, download a free Kindle app that allows you to read on your phone or computer.
  4. Get rid of paper. Switch all of your bills and statements to online only (put them on autopay if possible). Scan receipts. Work on completely digitizing every form of receipt, bill, statement, etc. This save paper and clears clutter for no additional cost.
  5. Take a walk. We don’t think about cars taking space, but they do–a Honda Civic sedan takes up 85 sq ft. of it. Cars’ collective footprints increase the size of our homes and cities. This is not to mention the ongoing money and stress of things like gas, insurance, upkeep, etc. Few things simplify your life–and save money–like ditching your car. While we know it’s not feasible for many to do this, if you’re moving, consider a place where you can walk, bike or use public transport to the various activities in your life: work, groceries, etc. Your health, planet and pocketbook will thank you.
  6. Get some budget transforming furniture. Sure, it’d be great to have an unlimited budget for furniture, but few of us have that option. There are countless folding tables, sleeper sofas, folding chairs and affordable DIY options that can add tons of utility to a small footprint.
  7. Try a sharing system. Maybe you’re having a baby, try a toy-sharing system. Maybe you need to use a car once or twice a month, use a Zipcar. Maybe you have wedding to go to, rent your dress or tux. Why pay full-time salaries and overhead charges for the stuff you only need to perform part-time duty?
  8. Consider moving into a smaller home. When moving, think about what you really need and trim at least 20%. The amount of stuff we have is not a fixed thing–it expands and contracts depending on the amount of room it has to occupy. Smaller spaces are cheaper to buy and rent, easier to maintain and have built-in safeguards against accumulating too much stuff, and when laid out right, can have all the utility of a much larger space.

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