The financial benefits of living with less

Downsize your way to financial freedom.

When people think about “living with less,” visions of cramped living quarters and hipster couples espousing the virtues of straw-based plumbing may spring to mind. Condensing your belongings to fit into less than 250 square feet isn’t for everyone; the financial freedom associated with tiny living, however, definitely has universal appeal.

Even if you don’t have plans to downsize, there is wisdom in living with less stuff. According to recent statistics, the average household has more than $130,000 in debt, $15,000 of which is on credit cards. What’s more, consumers are spending 9 percent of their household income on interest, to the tune of nearly $6,700 each year. It’s obvious we can’t afford the stuff we insist on accumulating.

Still, escaping the siren song of the American dream is no small feat. “There are a lot of contributing factors to why and how we spend, from personality to life context and necessities,” says Dave Herman, director of applied sciences for Payoff, a financial wellness company. Herman asserts that the more you buy, and the more you design your life around spending, the more you associate your lifestyle with the items you own. “The more your thoughts and behaviors are focused around the hedonic experience of the immediate gratification,” he continues, “the less you’ll focus on the long term, such a saving $100 dollars every time you get paid.”

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