A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Stop Complicating Your Life

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in one half of a duplex and my grandmother lived on the other side.

Like many newly married couples, our first home was nothing special.

The walls were so nasty that we asked permission from the landlord to paint them ourselves.

The bathroom wallpaper was so unattractive we were actually thankful that the previous tenant had ripped half of it off.

Our collection of furniture collection was composed of whatever our family members had gotten tired of.

It wasn’t anything special, but it was simple and it was ours.

The Complications Begin

We quickly became accustomed to our new life.

We even got used to the train track fifty feet behind us that brought noisy trains by at all hours of the night.

We gradually replaced furniture and added to our possessions.

We started accumulating things, filling up our attic and our closets.

We became more and more like the typical American household, financing what we couldn’t afford yet determined we needed.

Our first two major financed purchases:

Our first dog…bet ya didn’t know you could finance a dog. I didn’t say you should, but we could…and we did.

We also financed our first computer. It came complete with a screen that weighed as much as our couch and a printer big enough to run off your own posters (since that is such a common thing for people to do at home, right?).

I will never forget how we justified the computer purchase to ourselves. It was an expense for our new side business and after all…

We’ll never need to buy another new computer.

Appreciate the Simple Life

It’s funny now. But seeing how we so quickly complicated our lives isn’t that funny at all.

Whenever we drive by our first home, we both just sigh. “Oh, if only we could go back to the duplex.”

We didn’t realize how great it was to have a simple life until life wasn’t so simple anymore.

Can you uncomplicate your life?

Sure, you can. It’s never too late.

However, it’s always harder to uncomplicate your life than to keep it simple from the beginning.

There are SO many things I would have done differently if I had the chance. Most of them center around our finances and our possessions.

I’m hoping I get the chance to help my children avoid some of those tough lessons by teaching them principles that I didn’t learn growing up.

What life lessons do you have to share on appreciating the simple life?

Article originally published on 06/25/2013

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  1. Yes, yes and yes. I love your honesty and appreciate this topic very much. I especially love that you pointed out that it is harder to uncomplicate your life vs keeping it simple from the beginning. We went through a similar phase (for lack of a better phrase). We started small, bought a trailer, then gradually moved up and bought new stuff to replace the old. Then we realized that by doing that it was only making things harder on us in more ways than on. Embracing minimalism truly gave us the most happiness, happiness in the moments not things. In fact, it was a two year stint in unemployment that woke us up to what we actually need and we are still grateful for becoming unemployed – we didn’t know it was exactly what we needed. Lovely article Faith.

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Aubrey,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s never fun when you’re going through those life changing lessons, is it? The tough part is being able to look back and appreciate them for what they are. Part of what opened my eyes was realizing how relaxed I felt on vacation when we each only had one backpack and one duffel bag. How was it we could be happy and relaxed for over a week with such few things?! Hmm, maybe we don’t “need” as much as we think we do.

      Aubrey- I just read your 15 Weirdo Facts post about you. 🙂 Makes my 21 list of things about me seem boring. Haha http://minimalistathome.com/21-things-you-probably-dont-know-about-me/

  2. I found your blog maybe a month or so ago. I started in your archives and worked my way present. We were taking a whole car load every Saturday to the local mission, thanks to you! Still a LOT of work to do. We’re a family of 5, and my husband is in the Army. I think because we started like you, in a teeny apartment, I thought we needed all these things once we moved into a bigger home. Come to find out, we were SO much happier then in our modest little apartment. Life has gotten far too complicated. This post really hit home as now we have so much debt due to financing. Not computers or dogs, but a home and 2 cars. I just recently totaled one of our vehicles we were making headway on paying down, and we now added 11g to our debt by getting another new car.

    • Is there anyway you can make it work wih 1 car? If you really need the second vehicle because.of the distance from the base look at scooters or motorcyles for which ever person doesn’t haul the kids around. Our van was totalled out when we were hit head on by an unlicensed uninsures driver who was on drugs. That was 22 months ago. There have been a few times we’ve felt we needed a second car since then but have juat borrowed or rented

  3. Hi Faith…just found yiu by reading a comment you made on another blog – about the Aweber vs MailChimp discussion. I am in a quandary about whether to use Aweber because I had started out with it – but I didn’t have a blog at the time. I only wanted to send an email newsletter. I had no idea of how to use it – it all looked too complicated. So I started with Constant Contact and built a nice little mailing list from that – not huge…about 1000.

    But now I have a blog and I am slowly building that…with Feedburner which I want to get rud if. I am more technically orifucuent now, so I am thinking if switching. Would live yiur advice. I think that you being the minimalist and a proponent of the least complicated – I welcome your input.

    Getting back on topic, I need to pare down my belongings. Being a decorative painter and a designer and home stager – I have to store a lot if stuff. I am seriously considering just blogging as a career change and I am having difficulty with getting rid of my “stuff.” So – it’s a blessing that I found your site. I need to pare down and simplify more. I am off to read more of yiur blog!


  4. That sounds so much like us. We were in college when we got married and the first two years we lived in a 450 sq ft apartment from the 40s. I cried when I saw it. It was ugly, inside and out. Our furniture was mismatched and old. But we made it ours, and then I cried again when we moved out. Those years were so simple. We think back to them often and wonder where we went wrong financially. We’re not in deep debt, but we had more saved when we had a few hundred non-bill-paying dollars a month than we do now that my husband is a full-time CPA at a big four firm! Something is so wrong with this picture.

  5. Hey Faith, just found your blog. We still have the coffee table we got from the preacher who married us, but most of our other hand-me-downs are gone by being broken over 14 years of marriage. I have refinished numerous salvaged pieces and resold them. My only new purchase has been one couch and now a bed, on my doctor’s instructions. Isn’t it great how you can use black spraypaint or varnish to touch up otherwise crazy-making pieces? My husband wants a more minimal living space, esp as we are still in an apt. He says I have too many dishes, and hates my glass ones. I still want to have dinner at my home sometime. We don’t have kids, and I do want to streamline. How do I decide which pieces to get rid of? I like the idea of keeping ones that give me joy, but also hate the idea of being attached to ANY of my possessions, in case something gets stolen or broken. Help–MBB

  6. This article speaks to me about our car, as well. We paid cash for a new 4 door car when we found out we were pregnant. Thinking back, I think we did it out of sheer expectation; when you have a baby, you need a new car. Although we’re not really in debt now, I wish we could have some of that money back. We’ve never regained that savings and we have to pay more for insurance. 🙁

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