My Life, Downsized

My Life, Downsized

A reader, Denise, emailed me saying,

“Just found your website last week.  Love your posts.  Working to simplify our lives now – both in the area of finances as well as job/career choices.  You may have it listed in an earlier post, and if so, you can point me to that, but what things did you do initially to get started essentially downsizing from the chaos?  I’m ready to slow things down and just enjoy my kids – they’re 7 and 4, and do those little projects like painting their rooms that have been on hold now for over two years!  Love your remodeling pics – very inspiring.”

First of all, thank you, Denise, for your kind words and for your email asking about how to start on a path of simplifying and “downsizing from the chaos”.  I started this blog a little under a year ago, which was actually after we were well under way on our new life path. So it hasn’t all been documented as we went, but there is some backstory on how we got where we are and how this simpler life got started.

My About Page has a little background as well as these posts here:

What Happened To Me?

Being Debt Free Means I Can Live For Today

I’d also like to share this post from Small Notebook, Trading Down to a Smaller Home. While not about me and my family, it is a very good example of what I think most families go through and the shift in attitude that comes with the choice to downsize your life.

Once upon a time, I lived here

All 2700sf with a huge basement, a garage, and 9 closets and an attic was mine. I loved that house. Still do. But things needed to change if I wanted to have the life I was seeking – to stay at home with my daughter and for my stay at home dad husband to go back to work. We lived in Western, NY and hubby hated the long gray winters. Lots of things were just not right for us there. We put the house on the market and it sold in about 2 weeks. Our adventure began and a few months later, we moved to Florida where we bought our fixer upper. With no garage, no basement, and hardly a closet to be found.

I realized quite quickly that I was going to have to make some changes to how I felt about my stuff. Not everything could stay. I no longer had sprawling rooms to spread out in. There was now a bedroom for everyone instead of extra bedrooms for “stuff”. And so, I started purging. Little by little, I took boxes and bags of things I had kept around mostly because I had the space to and not because those things were useful or even beautiful to me. They just were.

Through this transition, I began to see money differently. I saw myself selling or giving away so many things that I had spent money on, and often times A LOT of money on. But those things weren’t always the wisest of purchases. I had hobbies I thought I would take up, I had clothes I bought just because. Now, because I saw how much I consumed and essentially wasted, I am much more considerate when I am going to buy something. How long will it last? How much do I love it? Where will it go? What will I do with it? Every purchase has to have a purpose now because I never want to go back to the days of sorting through things that have been shoved away into boxes simply because they could.

This house has not always been wonderful. You know, it has looked like this before.


More house transformation photos can be found on my House Remodel Photos page, plus posts about our Living Room Remodel, Kitchen Remodel, and my daughter’s Princess Room Makeover.

It’s been a long journey but this house and this life change has made me and my family think more about what we have. It has made us appreciate living a simple and small life. When you don’t have a lot of space to work with, little things count more. I now find myself appreciating the simple beauty of a cozy room full of charm and character that is comfortable and organized. I want people to come here and have a comfortable place to sit and talk. I want my kids to have a place they can grow up calling home, a place that they were part of building and making what it is today.


The path that we all choose in an effort to simplify and downsize may look different from someone elses, but this is the path that is most authentic and right for us. Our goal was to make things easier, have more time as a family and to depend less on a paycheck to afford ourselves more time, energy and freedom. My hubby has a job that gets him home by 3 p.m. most days, which means he has a lot of time for his family. He doesn’t make a lot of money and there is no denying it’s not always easy, but when we think of the days and the times we have together, it has been the right choice for us today and one that has ultimately benefited us in many surprising ways. I doubt it will always be this way. Things will change, our children will grow up and enter school so our priorities and needs will change with that. But for today, it feels right and it works well for us.

The way we see it, we can either look around at what we don’t have in terms of money, stuff, or a big house and be disappointed or feel deprived. Or we can see what we do have – a comfortable home for our family, time together, and an appreciation for all the things we used to miss when life was more fast-paced and seemingly flying by as we flailed to keep up with payments and bills and work schedules. I know none of us will look back and wish we’d spent more time at work but we will be glad for all the time we had to spend as a family because of the choices and sacrifices we are making now.

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  1. I have been living at half my previos income for 9 months now, only able to afford car/insurance, gas, and cigarettes with some spare change for a meal or two out of the house a month… But I don’t feel any different, any poorer, than I did when I could come home with new junk every few days. The only difference is that I spend less time cleaning and donating :D

  2. I’ve been wondering a lot lately about how we could change things around here. We won’t be moving anytime soon, so we’ll have to find another motivator to get rid of stuff. On my other blog (one bag nation) I talk about decluttering, getting more organized, etc. but it’s not really focused on simplicity per se . . . just wondering!

  3. This was a great read, Emily. Good to get to know you a little more and more about your life philosophy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi, came via Le@third on the right.
    Great advice you have given.

  5. Theresa says:

    Our family is having to move into a 2300 sq foot home (rental) after having lived in a 7000 sq foot home for 20 years! We had to foreclose and found we had to be out in six weeks. I have been selling as much as I can on Craigslist but have not been able to pack very well for small things. Luckily we are able to move some furniture items in early, but it is very hard on the kids motivating them to pack. We have now only a little over 2 weeks left, so it will be very stressful the last 2. It is challenging because I work so much as does my husband. I will miss our home terribly. The good thing is it is more central to stores where we are moving and housecleaning won’t take so long! I only get 1 week off from work to finish moving/clearing out junk from garage etc.! Feeling very panicky.

  6. Keep up the great work! This website is inspiring. Thank you

  7. Just out of curiosity, where in Western NY are you from? I grew up in Rochester, but have now escaped the winters and live in Virginia. Although I must say, I still miss the fall colors and the landscape.

  8. Looks like you are living the life of simplicity! We are moving into a RV and it’s the cheapest payment we will ever have. We never had parents who gave us cash for our wedding, in fact my dad gave me 3 credit cards all maxed out. So it’s up to us to make it. I don’t want my husband to slave just to bring a paycheck home for the debt, I want to experience awesome family adventures. I enjoy reading your blog!

  9. Fabulous post! Your thoughts and tips are wonderful and truthful. We’re going thru the same thing but in the early stages. Can’t wait to hear more about yalls journey.

  10. you can also save a lot of money when you do some home rentals, just find a cheap one ;,*

  11. Hi Emily,

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting such an inspirational story. I am currently in the process of re-evaluating where I’m at and where I want to go and reading things like this make me realsie the possibilities are endless.


  12. Surprisingly well-written and informative for a free online atcrlie.

  13. Im having a little problem. I cant get my reader to pickup your feed, Im using bing reader by the way.

  14. These are truly wonderful ideas in on the
    topic of blogging. You have touched some nice points here.
    Any way keep up wrinting.

  15. You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing that I think I’d never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very large for me. I am taking a look forward on your next
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