3 Things living in a rental house has taught me & why I’m now loving live on less
For years, I’ve searched to find my purpose. The daily grind of mom life left me feeling so lost and like my job as a mom wasn’t enough. Recently, I’ve re-discovered that spark, that fire, that purpose and it has come in an unexpected way, from an unassuming source.
Two months ago, we packed our bags (literally just our suitcases) and said goodbye to our dream house for an adventure in the desert in order to get our kids in school full time in-person. We found an unfurnished rental house, brought what fit in our suitcases (we always fly Southwest because bags fly free and everyone is first class), and said it’ll be fun to live on less for 6 months.
What I didn’t anticipate was what living on less, and living in a rental house would give me. As in, more money, time and purpose in my life. And who doesn’t want more of that? These are easy things to do right now and I’d be shocked if you didn’t find similar results.
Learning to live on less in a rental house
After we made the decision to leave our dream house, we had to get it ready to for renters to come stay in our absence. This meant cleaning out the closets, the drawers, that cupboard that had somehow become the home for hurried clean-ups when guests were coming over in order to ensure the house looked extra “tidy” (you know have that cupboard and drawer too…don’t judget me).
In just 4 short years, we have managed to fill every closet, drawer, and cupboard our 3,200+ sq foot house offered. Those casual Target & Homegoods runs add up, accumulate and compound and you’re left with SO MUCH STUFF. And a gross longing for more. (*inserts hand to forehead emoji)
As we packed for our adventure, I was disgusted with myself. It’s not a matter of whether we can AFFORD these things (we can – but if you can’t that’s a whole other can of worms), it was more just the incessant excess we had. I felt suffocated by everything. Just my closet alone, made my want to vomit. I thought I regularly pared down and would have told you I’m decently good about ensuring that everything in my closet I like & wear (lies) and I generally always have an ongoing donation stash for our house stuff (clothes included) at all times.
But this felt different. Never had I ever taken EVERYTHING out of the drawers, closets, and cupboards to see it all together in it’s true state. Taking everything out showed me exactly how much excess we had. And I wanted to do better. Be better. Because yikes!
Here we are 2 months into living on less and it’s weird but we’re STILL ALIVE! We actually need way less than we think we need! And look, I’m not a minimalist blogger or anything like that, but I do feel a social responsibility to just do better and constantly help our planet when and where I can, and simply consuming LESS is one tiny way I can do that. So here are three things that I’ve committed to after living in a rental house:
3 habits to adopt to find money, time & purpose after living in a rental house
1. Buy secondhand. Our current rental house was unfurnished and I was able to furnish an ENTIRE house just from Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. I found CUTE stuff too, on a budget, that people were getting rid of. We even went dumpster diving at one point and snagged a cute painted white end table for our family room and a perfectly good bike for one of our kids. BINGO! I’m not a huge environmentalist, but I do care and this feels like one simple way I can consciously switch up my buying habits.
For clothes, we buy what we need. I like socially-conscious brands like this one (or for bougie splurges this guy) when I can, but otherwise we buy the bare minimum. Need new socks? Fine, one pack and we take care of them. Thrift stores for everyday items is also a hit. There’s legit stuff there!
2. Leave a cabinet or cupboard empty (or 5). Just because we have the space, doesn’t mean we have to fill it. This is a simple thing to do, but harder in practice. Easier though when each space has a specific purpose. Don’t put board games in multiple cabinets – choose one and whatever fits there, stays. If it doesn’t, re-purpose, donate, or gift.
3. Find a hobby that serves, helps, or makes money not spends it. Let’s be real, I am here for TARGET and HomeGoods. I love those places. But oftentimes I’d find myself wandering there after preschool drop off, or if I had an hour to spare (or needed to kill an hour in between mom life duties) and I would just wander the aisles. Aimessly (okay, I did need that box of sparkling water but that’s it). And then I just go back the next week and find more crap I didn’t need. The end result is too much stuff.
I have found that reading a book, serving my friends on social media, growing a business – these are all ways that I fill my time now in the pockets of my day. Instead of shopping, I’m serving. Not only does it leave me with lasting joy, but I’m busy connecting and having fun that I’m not “bored” and just filling my time.
Who doesn’t want more time, money, & purpose? I’m so grateful to this adventure to have unexpectedly found these things by simply making myself aware of my spending habits & adopting a few simple habits that will have compounded positive effects long-term.