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When Less Is More


In today’s age it seems that there is a long list of items that you “need” in order to keep up with the current trends. In fact, many people feel like they need optional accessories like an iPad or smart phone in order to be popular or even efficient at work. Not having constant access to the internet may cause you a delay in opening the latest email.

Truth be told, consumerism runs rampant in the United States. People both buy and cling to material objects because of the sentimental value that they hold. I personally know this all too well. I strive to live as simply as possible, but I am a sucker for books. In fact, I even work at a library. I absolutely love reading books and especially owning books. I have limited myself from buying unnecessary books, but when I can find books for free I can’t resist but to take them home to add to my bookshelf, even when there is a slim chance that I will ever open it again. In some respects it is an addiction.

It is this sort of consumerism or attachment to stuff that not only can create
unhealthy living environments, but also places a financial strain on families. In order to resist this, I want to illustrate how owning less can save you money.

When Less is More

  • Smaller Home: Simply put, having fewer items will allow to
    live in a smaller home and to live comfortably. A good friend of mine just recently purchased a three bedroom house for his family of three. He just recently told me that they were already outgrowing the house. I couldn’t bring myself to bring up that my wife and I happily live in a small one bedroom apartment less than a third of the size of their house.
  • Cheaper Travel: Have you ever traveled with someone who had to
    bring EVERYTHING? I know I have. It is not only more expensive, but can be quite the hassle to get around as you try to lug around those extra suitcases. Everyone knows that airlines now charge you for each bag that you check, but it can also cost you more when you have to upgrade the rental car to fit all of your suitcases or even tip the bellhop more money for managing your extra luggage.
  • Car: Having fewer items can allow you to get by with a
    smaller, more efficient car. It will not only save you money on gas, but also costs thousands less for the smaller model. The price difference between a car and an SUV is even more drastic.
  • Moving Costs/Storage: Having less stuff can also mean an easy
    way to save on moving costs and storage fees. I know several people that hold on to so many things that they are forced to rent a monthly storage unit because they don’t have the storage space at their house. While it is not on the same level as the ‘Hoarder’ TV Shows, it is still quite absurd to have this much stuff.
  • Mindset/Lifestyle: Last, but not least, I find that having
    fewer items helps reinforce the mentality that you don’t need the latest items or the entire collection of X. It keeps you from unnecessary spending and allows you to direct your money towards more meaningful goals.

I believe that understanding the many ways that having less can save you money is only the beginning for making a change for the better. If you feel tied down to the many possessions that go unused or are unnecessary, you might want to make a change. I know that I am going to start weeding out the books that I don’t use. Do you have something you have been meaning to get rid of?

What are other ways that less is more? Have you experienced the benefit of living with less?

This post was written by staff writer Corey from?20’s Finances. His personal finance blog helps people plan for the future. Be sure to subscribe
to receive email updates about 20’s Finances.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Yes, I wanted my house to be under 2k sqft so I could have smaller utility bills. I have a family of 6 so the smallest car I could get was a mini-van..I got the only 4 cyl they make:) We only use 1 tv in the house, when we watch it, it is as a family:)

    • Those are some great ideas, Brenda. I loathe consumerism and as an American it is so easy to get sucked in. I don’t have an iPad or iPhone or any fancy electronics, but I do find myself being attracted to shiny gadgets now and again. In the long run, it’s silly. It is all created with planned obsolescence in mind and in a month or two will be old news!

      • Yep. What once seems like an awesome device will soon become a relic. It’s best to consume less. I know I was happier when we cut down on all of our belongings!

  2. Nice work Brenda. It certainly is difficult some times with such a large family, but I am sure the 4 cyl saves you lots on gas. My wife only had 1 TV in the house when she was growing up and she loved it. It meant more family interaction.

  3. The office where i worked recently underwent a move, and it was an almost spiritual experience to purge ourselves of stuff. I find myself able to work much more efficiently without the clutter that had built up in my office. It is a very liberating experience, and quite conducive to getting more stuff done!

    • That sounds like quite the experience, indeed. I know that I would like to get rid of some of the clutter at my work. 🙂

    • Yes, I love traveling with just my backpack too!

  4. We have 3 cars with over 100,000 miles on them, and no payments. Two of them are hondas and one is a subaru, so repair bills are few and far between .

    • That’s great. I also prefer to have not car payments. It gives you a lot more freedom.

  5. I’m a huge fan of smaller houses. We live in a fairly large apartment right now, so I’m trying to convince my other half that we could live in a smaller space. We’re not pack rats and have keep our storage to a minimum. Less is definitely more when it comes to moving. We won’t need two moving trucks next time!

    • Yes, I absolutely hate moving. I would say that I have more stuff than I need, but far less than most. The worst part about moving for me will be the books. 🙂

  6. I have lived in a 600 sq. foot apartment for years. Prior to this I rented a tiny room in Europe… that is one way to see how HUGE our apartments/houses are in the states. My room was at max the size of most peoples bedrooms. Now I have my 600 sq ft. place that I think is huge, but lots of my friends think it is tiny (and it is the size of most of their master bedrooms). However, my electric bill is $25 in the winter and $45 in the summer with air conditioner blowing all night. Lower electric bills are a plus. So is less time spent cleaning. Bigger the place= more time spend cleaning, I hate cleaning so I have no intention of getting a large place 🙂

    • Alice, I absolutely agree. Our standards for big are definitely bigger than many other countries. I also don’t like to spend a lot of time cleaning. You are right, having a smaller place cuts down on this significantly.

  7. Why do people accumulate so much crap? lol It’s interesting to think about moving in with a few boxes but moving out with tons of junk. Less is more.

    • Agreed! I think people judge their worth by their possessions sometimes.

  8. I am working on cutting down my stuff to the bare minimum. I like to do a lot of arts and crafts, so I often feel like I “need” all the supplies for those activities. I would like to move to San Francisco eventually, and I plan to be able to fit comfortably into a small space. But I am working on my craft supply “addiction.”

    • I can certainly see how having a hobby like crafts would inhibit your ability to sell things.

  9. I always believed in buying high quality products and clothes even if it meant I had less. Generally specking high quality things last longer and look or perform better.

    • I agree. There is a need to optimize your purchases.

  10. Having more things requires more mental energy. Every time I am tempted to buy something, I ask myself is it really something I will use and enjoy or is it just going to add more clutter to my life?

    • That sounds like a great motto to live by.

  11. It is really important to be frugal in these times when the rates of consumer goods are escalating. Yes, I have felt that buying books is one area for me where less is more. I have many books on my shelf that I have not even touched. So, buying only those books that you are going to actually read is one area for me where less is more.

  12. I’m a big fan of simplicity. It seems like a constant struggle to keep the junk from accumulating. Lately I’ve been working on reducing my wardrobe to a few quality shirts and couple pair of pants. Pretty sure I don’t need much more than that and will save tons of closet space.

  13. Yeah, the biggest part to having more is definitely the mind set. I try to reduce the number of recurring bills as much as I can so that I can have a greater cash flow.

  14. We got rid of one of our cars to cut down which got rid of insurance, gas and repairs. It leads to a lot of savings if you can do it.

    • We share a car too! Sure, sometimes it’s inconvenient, but overall, it’s definitely a savings. Plus, I get more time in the car with my hunny! 🙂

  15. Great post! I never seriously thought about the whole consumerist vs minimalist for myself until recently. In the past, I tried to keep up others (not excessively) but here and there are the shoes or the cloths or the DVDs or whatever. Now I have enough clutter at my one bedroom 600 sqft place I have no idea where stuff came from or why I decided to buy certain items in the first place (or maybe I have so idea :)). I have become more conscious of what I have and what I buy in the past year. I am beginning my journey of only buying what I need (I am not ready to use the term ‘minimalist’ yet…I don’t think I’m quite there. I need to ‘observe’ myself further in the coming year). By living a simpler life (without being consumed by material goods), I hope to find more time and money to do more meaningful stuff such as sports, volunteer work, hang out with friends, etc.

    • It is extremely refreshing to live on less. I’m sure you will enjoy it. And, having some extra cash in your bank account is nice too! 🙂

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