Downsizing, or “the Coffee Maker” story

While having dinner with a friend who is in the process of buying a house, the question “was it difficult moving into a smaller house?” came up. Off-the-cuff, I didn’t think so: although I moved out of a 2,000 square foot house, with a three car garage (and attic) and into a 900 square foot house with neither garage nor attic, the former house was only half-full. The latter became stuffed to the gills, however. Much stacking and, over the course of the next 21 months, much purging (mostly donations, although some things did sell) I had the upstairs in a presentable state. In the process I noticed a funny thing: getting rid of things wasn’t getting any easier with all that practice. Rather, it was getting harder as I got down to the things I still used fairly often. No big deal, except that I realized I would have to cut my rent payment (and correspondingly square footage) in half (along with all other expenses) if I wanted to cut my spending from its current 50% of income to 25% in order to achieve my goal of being able to retire early enough to enjoy full-time bicycle touring in the near future (by age 40, just six short years away, if not sooner).

The electric drip coffee maker was one such enigma: I used it once every single day, yet it served only one purpose and consumed space 23 hours 55 minutes a day. I realized I had one of my grandmother’s (now) antique percolators (and one of her tea-pots) as well as a french press, and promptly gave away the electric drip coffee maker. After about a month of happily using the percolator to make coffee, I realized it would heat water just as well when not loaded with coffee, and donated the rarely used teapot. A month after that I not only realized I never made more than one mug’s-worth of coffee at a time, which the french press handled admirably, but also realized I could heat water in the one sauce pan I had decided to keep, and donated the percolator. Bingo: no more single-purpose coffee making devices taking up space, just a travel mug with a french press-lid and a multipurpose sauce pan, both of which get used several times, every day.

To elaborate on my answer to my friend’s question “was it difficult moving into a smaller house,” I would say “no,” as long as you’re able to look at even commonly-used things and ask “what function does this thing serve, and what else do I already have that can do part or all of that same function?” Being able to remove things that needlessly duplicate functionality allows one to happily live in less space.

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One Response to Downsizing, or “the Coffee Maker” story

  1. KateH. says:

    Sean – Sounds like you know what your priorities are, have figured out how to achieve them, and you’ve accomplished both at a admirably young age. Congratulation! Keep up the great writing and best wishes on your bicycle touring future!
    KateH. recently posted..START To Downsize Book Review – “1001 IDEAS FOR KITCHEN ORGANIZATION – THE ULTIMATE SOURCE BOOK for storage ideas and materials” by Joseph R. ProveyMy Profile

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