Downsizing Your Way To Happiness

Here’s the deal. One of the things that can determine how well you live in retirement has to do with how much “stuff” you have.

For many people the time in their life when they have the most financial independence is in the years nearest to retirement. If you have lived your life for years “doing without” it it just makes sense that you would want to buy the things you always wanted but could never quite afford.

Often this is because raising children to adulthood is so darn expensive. Good parents with just enough to get by tend to give up their desires so they can give their children what they need or want.

But once those young ‘uns are all up and raised – watch out! This is where we come to grips with the idea of pent up demand. What happens when you want something for years that you can’t have? Well let’s just say that when the time comes when it is possible to get it, people may just forget to stop and see if it’s still what they really want.

When I was working in the construction industry it was common to see people approaching retirement building very large houses at just the time in their life when they didn’t need the space. It seemed that they were finally getting to have the house they had always dreamed of. Perhaps it had a large garage or a formal dining room. Or maybe a master suite of the type they had always coveted. It was also common to see them come to the realization after only a few years that building it was a mistake.

Investing in a home under the right situations can be considered to be owning an asset, but it can’t be denied that the money spent on a house like this is going to be money that could go to other things. The same is true of so much of the other stuff you have accumulated or want to accumulate.

Often people find that when they shed some of the “stuff” they are addicted to, the divesting is accompanied by a sense of freedom.

It is always the case that financial well being involves balancing income with outgo. In retirement it is often the case that increasing income by much is not an option. So the only option is to reduce outgo.

If you actually look at your life, how you actually live vs. the type of life you have always coveted, downsizing might be good option. Shed some bills, pay off the car, sell the big house with acreage and buy a smaller one with a smaller yard. Especially if you intend to travel in retirement – it might not make sense to have a bunch of capital tied up in a home you rarely see.

Build a budget, and as with all the other advice, balance what you want with what you can do. The true path to happiness in life is in figuring out how to not want the things you can’t have. Though in reality, it’s about deciding which things you want most. If you are willing to make the trade offs, you can often find a way to have or do the things that are most important to you.

Can’t have a big house, and a fancy car, AND travel the world? Choose. And then learn to be happy with your choice. Anything else is likely to leave you bitter. And that is nowhere on the path to happiness.

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