Living With Less: America’s Quest for Simplicity

Millions of people are trapped in debt and unable to reach their peak potential.
Millions of people are trapped in debt and unable to reach their peak potential.

– Step one: We spend years working to pay the mortgage, buy nicer cars, more gadgets, trendier clothes. Leaving us with piles and piles of stuff.
– Step two: Cleaning out, moving, or just tryng to free up some space. We realize not only that these previous purchases haven’t brought us meaning, but that they’ve actually distracted us from what is most meaningful.

How it happens

– We have three times as much space per person in our homes (compared to 1950).
– Avg. house size:
– 1950:983 sq. ft.
– 2011:2480 sq. ft.
– Family members per house:
– 1950:3.37 people
– 2011: 2.6
– Leaving
– 1950: 292 sq. ft.
– 2011: 954 sq. ft.
– Per person
The average U.S. resident has as much individual space in their house as an ENTIRE 1950’s family would have shared.

– We spend A LOT of time filling that space with stuff.
– With the average American spending 43.2 minutes per day shopping.
– That’s 261 hours a year, or the equivalent of 6 and a half work weeks.
– American women top this stat with an astounding 399 hours and 46 minutes spent shopping per year.[3]
– That’s 8 and 1/2 years of shopping if you live to be 63.

– Which takes up more time maintaining ALL THAT STUFF.
– With 21.5 hours weekly taken up by unpaid household maintenance, including
– 11.1 hours spent on maintaining things around the house.
– [this number includes cleaning, laundry, sewing, household management, lawn and garden care, maintenance and repair, and purchasing of goods and services.]
– With this number almost TRIPLING from ages 24-65, as we get more stuff
– 24 maintenance time: 6.7 hours a week
– 65 maintenance time: 18 hours per week

Which leaves us absolutely LIVING FOR STUFF
– Work+Shopping+Maintenance time spent
– 40 hours+5.04 hours+21.5 hours= 66.54 hours/week
– Or 9.5 hours per day

Source: Masters in Human

12 thoughts on “Living With Less: America’s Quest for Simplicity”

  1. hey Owen thanks to you we are building something biger next summer but will probably spend even less time shopping then as we will have a garden and a few animales to cut down on the need to shop. besides i married a woman who hates shopping i think she may be the only one in america.

  2. thanks for making me realize how un-averag our household is. we have 6 people living in a 836 sq ft place. we shop an average of 8 hours a month an i gave a few extra hours to cover online window browsing. we do seem to spend all our time on maintence rather it be dishes and luandry or mowing the lawn.

    • That doesn’t sound American. You have to shop till you drop, don’t you know? The global economy depends on you buying endless crap. /sarcasm

  3. You both make excellent points.

    Purchasing items, in and of itself is not a good or a bad thing.

    It all depends on what is being purchased, the reason it is being purchased, how useful and important the item is to the buyer’s life, and how long the item will be used by the buyer, his family, and the next generation.

    For example: Purchasing healthy organic produce that we may not have the means, skill, or patience to grow ourselves is a very sound and wise purchase. Purchasing quality tools that will provide decades of faithful service is an intelligent investment.

    Purchasing the latest electronic gizmo, such as the latest cell phone, when your older model cell phone works fine and already does everything you need it to do, is getting trapped by the habitual and impulsive consumer culture. That culture perpetuates the lie that the act of shopping itself is a means to happiness or fulfillment. That culture is destructive and built on a lie.

    I offer an alternative to Owen’s statement that may make this concept more clear. Of course, this is just my opinion and interpretation. I’m NOT trying to put words in Owen’s mouth. He clearly can speak for himself.

    “Do what you love to do — “your calling” — and do meaningful, constructive things and the desire to buy things just for the sake of buying things just vanishes.”

  4. Do what you love to do — “your calling” — and do meaningful, constructive things and the desire to buy things just vanishes.

  5. For those interested, Wendy Jehanara Tremayne has an excellent new book out on the shelves right now that has a GREAT perspective on this exact topic.

    The Good Life Lab, Radical Experiments in Hands on Living.

    She talks a lot about living abundantly, in nature, and with nature.

    Not trying to buy abundance, which is actually fostering the opposite of abundance. Trying to buy your way to happiness leads to depletion of resources, exploitation of people, and material possessions with no real value or meaning.

    I’d much rather live abundantly with nature.

    Fun read, and will definitely get you thinking.

  6. The Reply function is not working for me. It’s another server glitch with our web host.

    So anyway, the lesson is to simplify your life and have more time for more meaningful things. Building your own natural home debt free is a big part of the equation.

    See Jay’s comment about homes being confiscated for minor tax infractions.

    • That’s not a server glitch. It’s a feature.

      The government has confiscated your reply function and sold it at auction because you once forgot to put a dime into a parking meter some 35 years ago. Either that, or it was some guy that parked next to you, and they nailed the wrong guy.

      Either way. It’s your fault for not knowing that owed the government money even though they never sent you a bill.

      I wonder what the interest and penalties are on dime, compounded over 35 years?

      That could add up to a sizeable bill. No wonder they took your reply function hostage.


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