Four years ago, my husband Joe and myself set out to buy our first house together. He owned our very first house before we were married, so I moved in and attempted to make the 50 year old 1,100 square foot ranch less bachelor pad-esque.
When the time came for us to move because we *thought* wanted more space, we more than doubled our square footage, buying a two-story 4-bedroom home with over 2,600 sq ft. In our heads, we would be having a family and each room would be used so it was the perfect place to grow into. We aimed to buy something reasonably priced in a developing community. The schools were newer and the district was ranked well. As a former educator, that’s one of the first things I look at when trying to decide on a home.
Once we found a location with those requirements and a floor plan we liked, we signed a contract on an empty lot and lived with my husband’s Oma until our home was built.
Before we knew we’d need IVF, we loved the house. We hosted family get togethers and barbecues often. Cleaning was manageable because I had the time and two of the bedrooms weren’t used regularly so we didn’t need to clean them.
Then we started infertility treatments and our money got tighter, and then – luckily – we found success and I was pregnant with twins. Of course, we’d spent nearly $30,000 on infertility treatments out of pocket within the time we lived there, and that’s before we spent 36 days in the NICU with TWO babies.
Financially, 2017 and 2018 were really hard years for us. Before that, we were able to put some money into savings each month. For two years, we completely cleaned out our savings and then accrued debt.
***This is not the time or place to tell me that my kids were worth it. I know that. It doesn’t make the financial strain any less real.***
I adore my husband and think he’s the greatest human to exist, but he isn’t totally perfect. I’ve never actually seen his butthole pucker when we talk about money, but I imagine it’s immediate and forceful. He’s most definitely needed in our partnership to reel me back in when I want to spend, and he’s great at financial planning, but IVF and NICU expenses literally put gray hairs on his head.
Our three-year young house simply became our biggest financial burden. We could afford it, but did we really need to? Plus, 2,600 sq ft is a lot of space to be responsible for cleaning. Our place was cluttered with baby things and I rarely had time to clean more than one room, so we added the expense of hiring a cleaning lady to come bi-weekly. Less stress in one area, but more spending in another (and so more stress).
A smaller house could mean a smaller mortgage, less rooms to clean, less money on things like electric and insurance, and a less-puckered-butthole for Joe, which is also beneficial for me.
After a few months of thinking about it, we decided to put our house on the market, and within two hours of our listing going live, we had a contract on it. Yes, it really was a beautiful house.
Six weeks later we moved into a home less than a mile away, in a neighborhood that had been around for 20 years or so. The amenities are awesome: two pools and a clubhouse, an active and reasonable HOA, and the schools are within walking distance (when the kids are older).
Our new house would be 1,300 sq ft: half the size as the one we were leaving behind, and while it felt like a drastic cut, that also brought a really cool side effect:
Everything I brought into the house had to be intentional and have a specific place. We simply didn’t have room for a lot of the extras like we did at the old house.
I started selling random things on Facebook marketplace, and giving away and donating the rest. I slashed our furniture stash, Marie Kondo’ed my closet, and was forced to go through the twins’ wardrobes to reorganize sizes.
It felt so damn good.
Then I got rid of all of the extras:
Why did we have so many junk drawers?
By the time we moved, I had gotten rid of a lot of our heavy pieces so transporting furniture was easier and we needed less help. And unpacking wasn’t horrific, though it’s never fun.
And here are several other ways slashing our square footage in half helped better our lives:
- My husband’s brain is less exhausted and the decline in his stress level means we are happier as a couple, too.
- We are able to clean both the living room and kitchen each night, along with maintaining some kind of orderliness in the house daily
- We are replenishing our savings account
- Less time spent cleaning means we get to spend more time together as a family, more play and more smiles
- I’m not accumulating a bunch of crap to fill space
To say the move simplified our life is pretty much dead on. I didn’t expect it to be so immediate or obvious, though we theorized it might be. And, yet, here I am: able to write a blog post after the kids went down AND after we cleaned up for the night.
I’m not suggesting you do the exact same thing as we did, but I sometimes think we do the bare minimum when it comes to minimalism, just to say we’ve actually done something. However, stepping up your game and actually letting go of what doesn’t make you happy really does bring a certain tranquility to your day.
You can find joy in getting rid of the unneeded things society tells us to hoard. I didn’t realize it would be so powerful, but it’s so, so worth it.
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
It really is THAT good.