FHB Tips: How To Get A Sparse Home And Its Benefits
Holy shit that is a huge house.
You know, I found that image while searching for the phrase “house”. Not a “big ass house”, not a “huge house”… just a plain old “house”.
I think it says something when you are served an image result of a house with two garages while trying to find a standard house. I mean it’s SO big they don’t even make garage doors three cars wide, so they had to build two separate garages in there! And that’s considered a “normal” house… insane.
But bigger is better right? Who wouldn’t want that huge ass house?
That mind set actually seems to be changing a bit from what I’ve seen but it’s still definitely the default. Some more cluey people are realising that having four cars isn’t super amazing… it just means you have to pay four rego bills, four insurance bills, four service bills, four petrol bills…
Some have begun to realise that less can be more, that due to the ever increasingly digital nature of life, having lots and lots of physical things can be a real burden and it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. Why have rows and rows of DVD’s when you can just stream any movie ever on the fly? Why have CD’s and photo albums and books that all get damaged over time, take up space, require constant dusting and sorting and insuring when you can just have your music, photos and books all stored safely in the cloud for free? Why have filing cabinets bursting with old receipts and files when you can just scan them in and throw out the paper copies? Why even own a car when you can just Uber?
Being an efficiency nut bag of course I’m ALL for this type of thinking. I vibe very much towards the “minimalism” style of living and frankly would be in heaven all day if I could live in something more akin to the Four Eyes House designed by Edward Ogusta:
Gorgeous. I’d have to think about it, but I might even consider keeping that fruit bowl on the kitchen bench.
Anyway my point is that I’d like to encourage you all to stop yourself next time you go to buy something and think about the item in regards to its whole life and everything it’ll entail. Whilst this might seem a bit boring and annoying at first, I’ve come to realise that it’s what allows you to continuously own a house that doesn’t magically fill up with crap over time. Instead you have a house that is open, free from junk being everywhere, easy to clean and maintain plus you save a HUGE amount of cash over the long run.
Total Cost of Ownership
Let’s say for example that you’re wanting to buy a second fridge to store extra food/drink for parties or whatever. The fridge might cost $1,000 or $300 or maybe you even scored it free when a friend replaced their old one, either way I’d highly recommend you begin to think of purchases in a different way which is referred to as TCO or Total Cost of Ownership.
TCO looks at the WHOLE life of the product or service from it’s initial purchase price, to its ongoing costs, maintenance and also other issues that may come about due to the product such as health or safety issues. Now obviously the fridge has its upfront cost but before you “buy” it consider its TCO:
- Firstly consider if there’s a different alternative that means you don’t need the fridge at all. Do you already have an esky? Could you borrow one for parties?
- Where will it go? (this can be a slippery slope that soon fills up spare rooms and garages leaving your cars out in the cold)
- If you know where it’ll go, will this location have any impact on the house’s looks? Will it make a room too small or too full?
- How much will it cost to run? (old fridges are usually HUGE energy hogs and very costly)
- What happens if it breaks? Will you pay more money to fix it or just leave it and have broken, unused things in your house?
- How much extra will it add to your contents insurance? (this can add up quickly if purchases aren’t kept in check)
- Realise that it means there’s now TWO fridges you’ll have to periodically clean taking up your time
- Realise that parties don’t happen very often so it won’t even be used very often
- If it does break will you have to pay to get rid of it?
On top of all this there are the knock on costs. This fridge might push things over the edge meaning the whole house feels cramped or “too full” resulting in huge costs when you feel like a bigger house is “needed”. The cost of building or buying that extra space in the new house then has even more costs to heat or cool it, to fill it with shelves or other bits of furniture, to clean and maintain it and on and on it goes.
Now many people believe this is a bit “overkill” or going too far to do this type of analysis for every purchase but to be honest after a while it just become automatic in your head as it’s usually the same issues that you have watch out for so it’s not a great hassle. Even with all the possible issues above, it still might be the best idea to purchase the new/used fridge but at least get into the habit of thinking about it as that way you’ll really know what you’re getting yourself in to and you’ll also be able to watch out for the signs of a growing junk pile.
If you DON’T keep an eye on this behaviour most people end up going down one of two paths:
- They start with a SMALL house, buy more and more things eventually resulting in a house that’s cramped and full of junk. They then claim the house is “too small” and buy a bigger one, then the cycle repeats.
- They start with a LARGE house and simply buy more and more things to “fill it up” or “not make it seem empty”. Eventually they go to path 1.
Both of these scenarios are a good demonstration of Parkinson’s Law which is generally speaking said to be:
“The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource“
Or in other words, if your house has the resource of lots of free space… you will buy more and more stuff until it’s full.
Another similar off shoot of the law is “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” but hopefully you get the point. Humans take up whatever resource they can get their grubby hands on. This only serves to hurt you in the end as you end up in a house that’s packed to brim with junk in every corner making cleaning a nightmare, daily life a chore and adding large amounts of unneeded stress to your life. At some point you might even make it worse by buying that bigger house only to have the whole process start again but this time, costing you even MORE money.
A Sparse House Is A Choice
A house that has belongings in it… but isn’t over stuffed with junk that’s never used (such as the image above) is a choice that you consciously make and work at. The benefits have been scientifically proven to help keep your long term stress levels down and allow you to focus more resulting in a healthy lifestyle. Beyond that it frees up a huge amount of your time, likely a LOT more than you’d think too and the more you earn, the more time your possessions are likely taking up.
Cleaning is easier and quicker. Organising, stacking, sorting and maintaining your possessions is less demanding with fewer things. Getting the tasks you want done or finding the things you’re looking for is often far quicker when piles of junk aren’t in your way. It’s far better for the environment and then there’s the huge cost savings as well, both in the form of lower spending costs, ongoing costs plus the avoided costs of being forced to buy a “bigger house” later on.
The overarching goal of maintaining your house should be to never have to buy a bigger one because of too much junk. Instead, fill it with something majestic