18 Times in Life When Less Is More


For people immersed in our consumer culture, it may be hard to imagine, but more of something isn't always better. Surprisingly, even making more money may not be better. Studies show that the salary level for peak happiness is $75K; people who make more than this are less happy. So having more money — and more of the stuff that money can buy — may not necessarily bring the joy you might expect.

Which stuff are you better off having less of? Here are 18 times when living with less is the way to go.

1. Smaller House

A smaller home means smaller expenses. The initial purchase price of a smaller house is generally less than a larger one, property taxes are less, and your utility bills will be lower as well. Some people are even thriving in tiny houses with just 400 square feet or less of living space. How much space do you really need? (See also: McMansion to McCottage — Why Smaller Houses are Smarter)

2. Smaller Car

Some people buy a car to haul cargo or transport a lot of passengers. But it seems like most vehicles carry only the driver most of the time. Smaller cars are cheaper to buy, especially compared with a big SUV or pickup truck. Plus, you'll save money on gas every day.

3. Smaller Portions

In the United States alone, 30%–40% of our overall food supply ends up getting tossed. Not only is this a huge waste of resources, but it's a huge waste of money, too. Reduce your contribution to these statistics with smaller, smarter food portions. Make a meal plan and grocery list before you do your shopping, and stick to the essentials. While you're at it, limit your portion sizes to save even more money and stick to a healthier diet.

4. Fewer Channels

In 2016, the average cost of a cable TV package reached a staggering $103.10 per month. You pay for all those TV channels, but do you really get that much viewing pleasure out of it? With fewer TV channels, your bill will be lower every month. Maybe you could cut the cord altogether, and instead find more time to do other things that are more enjoyable than watching TV.

5. Less Random Stuff

Everything you buy has to go somewhere, whether that means a spot on the shelf, or place in the garage or basement. Instead of spending your money accumulating clutter, why not see if you can get rid of some stuff instead? Sell it online, have a garage sale, or donate to a good cause.

6. Fewer Books

Books are great, but ebooks are even better since they generally cost less and take up no physical space. You'll spend less money, and reduce clutter, by going digital for your favorite reads.

7. Smaller Yard

Lawn care in America is a $40 billion per year industry. Buying a home with a large yard is a popular goal, but why? Are you really planning on spending that much time in it? Not only will a smaller yard save you time on all the mowing and upkeep, you'll save money on lawn care products, too. Even if you already have a large yard, you can cut back on maintenance by landscaping to reduce the amount of grass you have. This will give you some of the benefits of a smaller yard without moving.

8. Less Exercise Equipment

Let's face it: Most exercise equipment costs a small fortune, gets used a few times (if at all!), and then just takes up space for years. Instead, find a physical activity that you enjoy that doesn't require any clunky, expensive equipment. Maybe you can take up running outside, or check out free workout videos online.

9. Fewer Gadgets

So many gadgets were rendered obsolete with the rise of the smartphone. If you're still hanging on to items like small digital cameras, GPS devices, alarm clocks, calculators, and MP3 players, then it's time to let go. That little device in your pocket can do it all. (See also: 7 Tools and Gadgets Your Smartphone Can Replace)

10. Less Jewelry

Jewelry is a luxury, and the expense can really add up. How often do you actually wear it? You'll also need somewhere safe to keep it, and possibly insurance to protect it from loss or theft.

11. Fewer Vehicles

If you can get rid of an "extra" vehicle in your household, you can save space, maintenance expenses, and insurance costs. Vehicles almost always depreciate in value, so there is no advantage in owning more than you really need. Carpooling and ride-sharing are a great way to get around without driving yourself. (See also: 5 Points to Consider When Becoming a One-Car Family)

12. Less Facebook

On your Facebook feed, you can read all about the expensive new stuff your friends are buying, or check out photos from your relative's latest lavish vacation. Social media has brought keeping up with the Joneses to the digital realm, and it can feel inescapable. It's no wonder studies have shown that more time on Facebook leaves people feeling sad and unfulfilled. There's a simple cure for too much Facebook — less Facebook.

13. Less Driving

No one enjoys a long commute. Not only do you have to pay for all those extra miles you're driving, but people are often less happy when they have those long drives to dread. If moving closer to work to reduce your commute is not practical, try to reduce your driving in other ways. Some employers allow workers to work longer days and take an extra day off, or even work from home a few days per week. If you're going out on errands, combine multiple stops on the same trip.

14. Fewer Clothes

With fewer clothes packed into your dresser and closet, it is much easier to find something to wear. Why not sell or donate what you no longer need? If you're having trouble deciding what clothing to get rid of, start with items that require expensive dry cleaning, clothes you haven't worn in over six months, and items that no longer fit. You might be surprised by how much this alone can get rid of. From there, build an affordable capsule wardrobe with timeless pieces that will last you for years.

15. Fewer Cleaning Products

Somehow, I ended up with many bottles of different cleaning products under my kitchen sink and in my closet. I even have a box filled with various floor cleaning chemicals that I am trying to figure out where to store. I think I spend more time sorting, storing, and searching through my excessive supply of cleaning products than I do using them! If you have a surplus of soaps, sprays, and other cleaning supplies, stop buying them! Seek out simple, multiuse cleaners that do the same job. (See also: 30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace)

16. Fewer Toys

When my kids were younger, we would often pick up cheap plastic toys in fast food meals or as small gifts for them from a shopping trip. These toys would get played with once or twice, never get touched again, and then create clutter to the point where it was hard to find anything in the toy room. Yes, we actually ended up with an entire room filled with toys! My advice: Less is more when it comes to toys.

17. Less Stuff in Your Coffee

Do you take your coffee with cream and sugar? If you're loading your morning cup of joe up with sweeteners, maybe you can try cutting back. It is so much cheaper to just drink black coffee. Plus, black coffee has no added calories or fat. And you can actually taste the coffee!

18. Less Stuff on Your Desk

There are all kinds of office supplies and organizers you can buy and put on your desk. They may give the illusion of productivity, but in reality, they're just getting in your way. I have found that the less stuff I have on my desk, the more productive I am.

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