For a growing number of Americans, living on less is becoming more rewarding, as a reduced cost of living brings more financial freedom, more time and greater prosperity. While some devoted minimalists have moved into trailers, refurbished school buses or live in homes as small as 400 square feet, you don't need to be quite so extreme to enjoy a savings lifestyle.
The Financial Advantages of Less Space
Moving into a smaller home can have huge financial benefits if you're trying to reduce debt, save for retirement or even retire a few years earlier than your current savings allow. Even moving from a $400,000 home to a smaller $200,000 home, for example, could drastically reduce your mortgage payments or eliminate your mortgage altogether.
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A smaller home has a host of other financial benefits. Taxes and insurance would be lower and you may even spend less on maintenance and utilities. Lower-cost housing may also make it easier to get a loan. Spending only 12 percent of your income on your mortgage payments, compared to 30 percent, for example, could significantly lower your debt-to-income ratio, an important part of determining your credit health.
The Lifestyle Benefits of Smaller Spaces
While a minimalist lifestyle isn't for everyone, having less room can bring a family closer together. Because their children are physically closer, parents report that they spend more time playing and interacting with them. Spouses maintain that they argue less. It's simply too uncomfortable to be in a prolonged argument with someone who is always ten feet away, so minimalist couples have an incentive to resolve conflicts more quickly.
Less Space Means Less Stuff
Less living space generally means owning fewer belongings. If you took an inventory of everything you own, you might be surprised at how many things you haven't used in the last year. Calculating how much money you've spent on things you seldom use could be downright disheartening.
Part of the minimalist lifestyle is about not wasting money on nonessential things. Then you can save more money or work fewer hours so you can focus on activities you love — hobbies, your family or your business. You also free up time that you'd otherwise spend cleaning, dusting and shopping for more stuff.
An Immediate Benefit to Minimalism
Before jumping in with both feet and moving into a tiny house, why not try minimalism in your current home first? Go through your closets and shelves and remove everything you never use. You can put things on your front lawn and have a yard sale, or take pictures of items and sell them online. After a few weeks, repeat the process by eliminating the items you use once in a while but don't really need.
Not only might this help put a money in your bank account, it could give you a taste of what a minimalist lifestyle means, while leaving you with less to pack if you do make a move to a tiny home.