I am excitedly downsizing and simplifying our life as much as possible.
My husband will kill me for saying this, but if I could, I would move out of our house and into an apartment RIGHT NOW! I've realized, after five years of home ownership, that we are just not house people. Don't get me wrong - my husband is incredibly handy and takes great pride in house projects. I love having a full kitchen and a washer/dryer in it! But the truth is, we don't spend time (and don't have the money for) improving our home or taking advantage of the property that we own. I won't give examples at the risk of embarrassing ourselves but suffice it to say, we haven't done our neighborhood any favors by moving in.
Before we bought our house, when we lived in apartments and friends' basements, we always acknowledged that most of the world had less space and raised more children in it than we ever would. I long to return to the simplicity of a small space and the freedom from mortgages! But since that won't happen any time soon, I am doing everything I can to live like I have less - because I need less! Here are some examples:
Cleaning out every cupboard, closet, and corner. I am slowly opening every hidden corner of my home to assess what's living in it. Just because I have the room to store something doesn't mean I should. Unused objects are being sold on Craigslist; useless objects are headed to the alley for free pick-up or to Savers. So far, I've ditched my couch, bread machine, a rocking chair, deep fryer, and some toys. And the list is still growing!
Buy only what we need, when we need it. I've instituted the "clean out" rule in my kitchen on a weekly basis when it comes to my fridge and my cupboards. Rather than letting a partially stocked pantry or "empty" fridge spur me to another grocery run, I am challenging myself to use what we have before we buy more. This weekend, when we were snowed in and I couldn't do my usual weekend shopping, I searched the back of our fridge and cupboards and created a meal based solely on what we had lying around - things I would normally have overlooked in order to restock. When we do go shopping, I focus on the immediate: what do we need now? This is a little harder in the winter (when it's annoying to go outside frequently!) but in general, I'm adjusting to short bursts of store trips, picking up necessities and completely using them before heading out again. This fits well with my goal to walk or ride for all my shopping, as I'll have to carry less.
Recycle everything. This is a simple rule: I'm trying not to buy Maren (or myself) anything new, and when we do acquire a new-to-us item, we must send something of ours off to a new owner. This keeps our space usage at equilibrium and minimally contributes to the environmental, social, economic, and global issues surrounding how stuff is bought and sold.
Budget? Next on my list is creating and maybe actually sticking to a household budget. This is harder because it involves the spouse, which means I start imposing (ahem, suggesting) my values to him...and hoping they stick. We have agreed that we want to be more aggressive about paying down debt next year, so I think a budget is a close next (or necessary) step to making that happen.
What about you? How do you live simply?