Downsize and Simplify Your Life – DFA Tip of the Week

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There are many small ways to reduce costs in our every day lives, so to help do just that each week I post the money saving “Tip of the Week”.

“And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Luke 19:17

This week’s tip involves…simplifying your life by downsizing your possessions!

A Common Problem

A lot of people are experiencing a steadily increasing amount of stress & discontent related to unquenchable desires and/or a paycheck-to-paycheck type existence.  Many of us have been following the ever-so-common path of college, career, & consumerism – like so many others – only to wind up with a big house, a bunch of debt, and a restless state of mind!  Many times we end up feeling that our lives would be better if we could just get that raise at work!

As an alternative to dwelling on the absence of desired salary increases – over which we have no control – we’re better served to focus on reducing our possessions and lowering our expenses.  It stands to reason that taking charge of what we can change and forgetting about what we cannot are necessary predicates to the increased financial well-being we seek.

Thinning out & streamlining your “stuff” is a great way to start taking charge of your own financial destiny, and will likely yield any or all of the following benefits:

  • Reduced clutter
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduces expenses
  • A smile on your face
  • A little extra money on the side
  • A jump start to your very own Debt Free Adventure!

When is the last time you took an inventory of the items in & around your home to decide whether or not you actually need, use, or even want them?  Chances are, if you did take a home inventory, the amount of unnecessary stuff you have would blow your mind!

Normally an overabundance of useless possessions exists in direct correlation to an empty savings account & financial instability.

So What’s The Answer?

Go through every room of your home with a pen & pad of paper and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need it? Need…not want.
  • Do you use it? If you have not use the item with the last year or two, you can safely rid yourself of its burden.
  • Do you believe in it? Your belief system may have changed since you originally saddled yourself with it.
  • Does it do more harm than good? Making positive choices can be awesome turning points in our lives, be it financial, physical, or spiritual.
  • Do you even want it anymore? Past purchases made in haste often lose their luster after just a short while.  This is a common reality and just one example of the empty promises of rampant consumerism.

Make sure you do not limit this philosophy to your possessions alone; you can also successfully apply these questions toward your habits & services used.  You may decide to sell your DVD collection, quit a bad habit, cancel your TV service, install a rain barrel or may decide to do all four!

Remember that you do not need to do everything all at once.  This exercise can be something you do over the course of one week, or something you do over the course of one year!  My wife & have been actively taking inventory of our behaviors & belongings since the beginning of 2009, and intend to do so continually for the rest of our lives.  Slowly but surely this practice of downsizing and simplifying our lives is yielding great results, both expected and unexpected.  This weekend we found several items that we either never use, no longer enjoy, and/or no longer believe to be beneficial to our lives…so we’re selling them on eBay!

What about you??

Click here to see all our past DFA Tips of the Week.

DFA is passionately dedicated to helping others break the bondage of debt using biblical principles.

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1 The Weakonomist

I’m in the process of doing this. I’m getting married this fall and still own many things from the first couple decades of my life. We’ll be downsizing and starting our lives together, so a lot of crap is going away. Hopefully I can donate or sell at least some of it.

2 Paul @ FiscalGeek

Spring and Summer seem to highlight our clutter and disorganization more than the rest of the year and your reminder here is just enough to get me to kick this off with my wife this week. The boys are excited about having a garage sale so this will be it!


I’ve been married for 22 wonderful years to the best woman on the planet…but she never throws anything away.

I used to do my own “spring cleaning” when she went to visit her family. When she came home, I would tell her what I did and she would be angry for 3 days.

Now, when she goes, I do my thing but don’t tell her. She asks me if I’ve thrown anything away and I tell her I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Now she’s only angry at me for 1 day. A net saving of 2 days!

How’s that for frugal???

4 Matt Jabs

Ha ha! Thanks Neal, this made me laugh out loud today!

There’s a post for an eager PF blogger…How to reduce the time your wife is mad at you. I’d read that post for sure!

5 K-IntheHouse

That is funny, Neal!

Matt, yet another great post. I have to admit, I hate to throw things away too but now and then comes a point when I can gleefully purge things. It comes in a cycle about every two years. We moved into our current house 2 years back so I guess its about time. 🙂


It might be a good start to turn off your TV! No element of modern culture makes us want more of what we don’t need/shouldn’t have/can’t afford than TV.

Credit may have been the enabler over the past 20-30 years, but TV has largely created the demand for most of the stuff we have. Pull the plug and it’ll be a lot easier to let go of all the stuff!

Oh, and you’ll have more time to delve into your Bible… inadvertant multi-tasking you might say.

7 Matt Jabs

Ha ha, timely comment Kevin! I completely agree, check out my article from last week on how I canceled my Satellite TV service.

Thanks for bringing this up again. Though going without TV begins as a sacrifice, it winds up as a huge blessing!

8 Mom

I am going to show my husband this post. We have almost come to blows over all the crap he has in our garage. We have been here almost four years and every year he has gone thru the stuff and thrown a lot of it away, but there is still an awesome amount of stuff left. We actually spent the entire beautiful Memorial Day weekend with him sorting thru the stuff yet again and packing some of it for his move to Florida in order to follow his job. There is actually room to park a car in there! But, dont get too excited, appearances ARE deceiving….I was looking for some twine to tie something down and I realized the true state of affairs in there. Camping stuff, fishing stuff, hunting stuff, tools, miscellaneous junk thrown helter skelter in boxes and stuffed in any available space. I dont give up easily but I may have to wave the flag of surrender in this case…..

9 Mom

PS I think I will go watch TV!!:-)

10 Kate

Matt-Great article! It never hurts to be reminded to take control of my stuff before it takes control of me. Keep up the great work!

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