Friday, April 21, 2017

Are we minimalists? Family of 6 moves to a small apartment...

Personal story ahead!!!
A couple of years ago my husband and I were sitting in church and listened to a talk about SIMPLIFYING. It was a very good talk and interestingly enough, went right along with many things we had already been thinking about. And it got us thinking even more...
We were tired of living paycheck to paycheck and working just to pay the bills. It didn't make sense, either- my husband has a good job, I work part-time on the side, and we do not live an extravagant lifestyle. But we did have debt - some necessary from school, cars, and our home, and unfortunately some unnecessary from bad decisions a decade ago that still haunt us. 
We were trying to cut out expenses, save money for a rainy day and retirement, and donate 10% of all we earn "to a good cause." It just wasn't working. We needed to do something DRASTIC. That, along with not liking the idea of being tied down to where we live - a rural desert city in the middle of nowhere and far away from the things and people we love - we decided to bite the bullet and put our house on the market. We felt good about it and prayed all along the way for help knowing if it was right and if so that it would sell.
One year and a what seemed like a million showings later, we were blessed to sell our home. Then we hit a roadblock- there was NOTHING else on the market. Our idea was to buy a very cheap, small home, still earning equity while paying everything else off. Apparently, Heavenly Father had other plans. He led us to a very small, 2 bedroom 1 bath, clean and quiet basement apartment that we didn't even know existed before. Utilities were covered-saving us $750 a month! - and rent was just about right for what we had in mind. 
Thank goodness we already had a huge storage unit because after going through everything and getting rid of a lot, the rest needed to go into storage. 
For years I had read about this minimalist movement. The idea to get rid of everything except what sparks joy in your heart when you hold it in your hands. The idea to have this Pinterest Picture Perfect small, modern dwelling with lots of white, clean spaces. I hate clutter, I hate spending money on things I don't need, I love getting rid of things and go through our stuff regularly, and once dreamed of dumping everything and starting fresh in a small minimalist space, so this should be easy, right?!
WRONG. After going through some stuff, my brain just stopped. making. decisions. I couldn't deal. Not to mention, a family of 6 just comes with a lot of STUFF! Stuff that you don't LOVE, but that is practical, that you NEED. That's the fact of it. This place is tiny. And no matter how hard I tried, I could not make this space look like my Pinterest inspiration pictures. 
I have come to terms with this. Because the hardest part is over. Selling a home I loved and putting everything in boxes and getting us all in this small space was SO. HARD. But we did it. 
Now we have the chance to REALLY put our finances in order. We have a debt elimination calendar that I'm excited to watch SNOWBALL and in one month we've already paid off some things. This will be a great opportunity to step back and re-evaluate our goals and our path as a family and a couple. 
And I realize that the STUFF doesn't matter. It's minimalizing the extra stuff in my brain that brings peace and clarity. THAT'S SIMPLIFYING.
I know that I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me. Things that don't make sense to anyone else. Things that are really HARD. 
And after this, things can only get better, right?! Or different! After ten years, we're ready to get out of debt and trade this trial for another one :)
So for those of you who love all things houses and home decor and pretty spaces like me, and from now on see internet headlines such as "How a family of six makes it work in a tiny apartment," you'll know that it IS possible. But those are just pictures, and outside the frame, where you can't see, is the family trying hard to make it work. Because the most important things in life aren't shown in that picture anyway.