My happy small home!
You may have noticed over the last few months things have been a little erratic here and on my YouTube Channel. I've been busy making some big life changes and getting set up for the next chapter in my life. So here is the back story.
2 years ago, in August 2013, I decided to start preparing for a major life shift. My youngest child would be graduating from high school in the Spring of 2014 and going to college in the fall, so the home I raised my children in, and built my eBay business in, would no longer be needed. At that time, I thought moving to a condo would be a financially wise choice, so I began the downsizing process. I worked through my 3,000 square foot home with 16 years of accumulation, one room at a time. It took 18 months to mindfully and deliberately work through all the "stuff" and keep only things that served a purpose. (And I didn't think I had that much stuff accumulated.)
Downsizing was both a financial decision as well as a quality of life decision - and it's hard work. There is a lot of emotion involved in thinning out your possessions. From a financial perspective, I was living in a 16 year old home where maintenance costs started to eat me alive. Maintaining a home that size as a single parent is very stressful and time-consuming. And not how I wanted to spend my time - and definitely not something I was good at. It didn't make sense to keep paying huge utility bills for rooms nobody was using, repair costs for all the things that kept breaking, not to mention things like property taxes and HOA dues. Our home had served us well but it was time for a new arrangement.
Also, from a financial perspective, I really needed to start saving more for retirement. As a self-employed person for 13 years, I didn't feel I had saved enough for retirement and wasn't at the benchmark I needed to be at for my age. I needed an aggressive plan to catch up.
My house sold in March 2015 and I moved in with family for a few months while I figured out a plan. My parents graciously offered me a place to come stay and "figure it out" so who would turn that down? I ran my eBay business out of a small room in their basement and kept things going as best as I could while....get this...JOB HUNTING!
I decided a full-time job would be the way to "catch up" financially. Since I don't have small children at home and am physically able to work, why not? I landed a job as the Marketing Manager for one of the most successful real estate agents in North Atlanta. I love my job and the people I work with. It is a win-win. There is room for advancement and part of my job is training new employees so it is a great fit because I love teaching as well as selling. (God was at work on this one.)
So in 6 months, I drastically decreased my monthly expenses and drastically increased my income. I would also like to emphasize that I am ready to embrace a more frugal lifestyle. I no longer use credit cards and am more than happy to continue driving my 2008 model vehicle with 83,000 miles on it. Most of the stuff in my apartment is eBay inventory and that is fine with me. Clutter is emotionally draining and I am on track to become a minimalist - but with an eBay business selling other people's cast off items. Kind of ironic, huh?
I really dreaded the thought of owning real estate at this point in my life. And this may seem backwards to some people, but I moved into a 1,200 sq ft apartment. I am 7 miles from my job, have a beautiful drive to work though horse country sprinkled with gorgeous luxury homes, and have about 10 thrift stores in a 10 mile radius to support my eBay business.
I really love apartment living. Renting is less stressful than owing a home - at least for me right now. I don't have to worry about what is going to break or fall apart next - I can just call maintenance when a problem arises. No more paying to have lawn mowers fixed or worrying if this is the year I need to replace the ______(insert name of expensive major appliance). I can concentrate on achieving my financial goals, enjoy this station in life, and have a little fun in the process.
To include my loyal readers on my journey, here are some photos.This is my kitchen and dining area - small and simple:
I hadn't been aggressively growing my eBay business because I wasn't sure where I would end up and what the storage situation would be. I actually have plenty of storage and can easily quadruple my inventory and still have plenty of room. Here is most of my inventory - I keep it in my bedroom.There are about 200 items in those tubs so plenty of room to grow.
I keep my shipping supplies in a shelving area in the laundry room:
And my workstation is just a simple folding table with my 4 year old desk top computer, printer, and a scale:
I am also making a conscious effort to only sell small items, that I can sell at a high profit margin, that are easy to ship. With less space that means less storage for large items like paintings and lamps, but also less space to store shipping supplies. I focus on clothing, shoes, needlework, cosmetics, small collectibles, and accessories. I really enjoy the process of selling on eBay so that will never stop. Nothing to fear, it is only change.
I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to all my friends and family who helped me on this journey. It was much more emotionally and mentally draining than I could have imagined. Change is hard and scary. But you can do it. I am sure many of you reading this are on the same track and are considering downsizing as you head towards being an empty-nester. Take your eBay business with you - there is no reason not to. There is no shortage of stuff in the world to sell (in fact the waste stream just keeps growing) so we have job security!
If you have questions about this process, I am here for you. Just send me a message and if nothing else, I understand what you are going through!