Nov 6, 2015 · 5 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

As part of this look I’ve been taking at why we should bother to own less, I’ve talked about why I’m personally obsessed with downsizing as well as getting down to what you really need.

We learned that one of my main reasons for getting rid of stuff is being able to make a quick getaway, should the need ever arise. I don’t expect that I’ll ever need to outrun the law, but I do live in earthquake country, near some very dry hills, so there’s a good chance we’ll need to evacuate due to earthquakes or wildfires. Or both.

So there’s that.

But I don’t want to talk to you today about running from natural disasters. What I want to talk to you about is freedom and control.

Call it what you will: downsizing, minimalism, decluttering, simplifying. It’s all for one purpose, in the service of one goal: freedom. Freedom to do what you love. Freedom to work maybe a little less. Freedom to live your most authentic life.

Owning less brings a few different kinds of freedom that all add up to one big freedom and control the life you want to live.

Freedom from debt

So I wondered, at the beginning of this journey I’m in the middle of, how getting rid of stuff would help me achieve freedom from debt. I mean, I sold some of my stuff, but garage sales don’t bring in that much. At least they don’t for me. As a knitter, spinner and former weaver, I was able to sell some unused equipment and yarn on a specialty website, but none of that decreased my debt.

Well, it turns out, once you go through the effort of getting rid of a large percentage of your stuff, the last thing you want to do is bring in more junk to take its place. Getting rid of stuff is work. Hard physical and emotional work. I’m still at the point of going through my things and trying to figure out what else to toss, and I am enjoying the clear surfaces and the space that opened up after I got rid of my GIANT desk.

The thought of filling it all up again with stuff I don’t need – and I know I don’t need it because I’ve been living just fine without it – almost brings me to tears. No way in hell am I going to allow more knickknacks or other junk in. You can’t make me.

So yeah, that’s how that works. Once you do all that work, you don’t want to mess it up, and so you stop going out to shop. It really causes you to stop and think before making any impulse buys. I have found myself in shops with some doo-dad in my hands thinking “oh this would be great for such-and-such a purpose.” Then I think about where I would put it. And then I think about dusting it. And then I put it down and walk on.

Downsizing has, for me, really cut down on unnecessary purchases, but it hasn’t solved every money problem. Silicon Valley, where I live, is ridiculously expensive. I mean, we have some of the highest home prices and rents in the country. It seemed like everyone who was pursuing minimalism lived in the middle in another, much cheaper, state where people can actually own their own homes. gasp! But many of them talked about moving to smaller homes because they now had less stuff.

I’m still working on that part, and that’s where living in a tiny house comes in. I’ll talk more about that later. But the point is, I need to get rid of stuff if we’re going to live in a diminutive dwelling and save some money.

Freedom from unimportant tasks

OK, so cleaning is important. Nobody wants to live in a pigsty. But if you have too much stuff, you spend too much time taking care of it instead of taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

Think about it. Think of all the stuff you have to dust and vacuum and store and organize and repair. Then think about the time you spend inside the mall, shopping, when you could be outside, sipping a drink on the patio or hiking or doing anything else besides spending money on something you probably don’t need, likely won’t use for very long and will then need to get rid of.

As someone who has just and is still getting rid of things, I can tell you that selling stuff online, organizing garage sales or making trips to the Goodwill take up a lot of time. Really, who wants to be spending their time on buying, storing and getting rid of things? It’s just not a good use of the precious few hours we have on this earth. Nor is it good to toss all that stuff into the landfill.

If you have less stuff, it’s easier to clean and easier to store. You still have to repair things once in a while, but with fewer things, there’s less time spent doing that. In the end, you’ll spend less time and effort trying to get rid of things.

Freedom to pursue the life you want to live

Ultimately, this is what we all want – to live the life we were meant to live. Not one where we’re working to pay for things to put into empty spaces.

Less of a focus on the buying, keeping and tossing of material things means we’re free to focus on what really matters. And let’s face it getting your hands on the newest, latest, fastest blender is not really what matters. Your relationships, your art, making this world a more beautiful place – that’s what matters. That’s really the point of it all, to live the lives we were created to live. As far as we know, we’ve only got one shot at making a difference to the people we love an to those we touch with our works.

The freedom that lets me do what I”m meant to is what I’m after. How are you pursuing your freedom?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.