7 Things You Can Downsize Right Now

When we think of the term “downsizing,” we often think of trading a larger home for a smaller one. But downsizing isn’t just for houses. Look around you. What’s consuming too much of your time, your money, your space, or your energy? In a nation that famously supersizes everything, downsizing just might be the key to a more fulfilling life. Here are seven things you can downsize right now.

1. Car

Advertisers work hard to convince us that what we drive defines who we are. But that trick costs all of us money (after all, who wants to be a 1974 Pinto?).

Don’t fall for it. Instead, embrace this revolutionary truth: Cars are simply tools to get us from Point A to Point B. Unburden yourself from an auto loan you can’t afford and insurance premiums that bust your budget. Downsize to the safest, most fuel-efficient pre-owned model you can afford.

2. Wardrobe

My sister-in-law once had so many clothes that she purchased three commercial clothes racks and expanded her closet into the basement. If your wardrobe is gobbling up more square footage every year, it might be time to downsize.

Consider donating items you no longer wear to charities like Dress for Success, Career Gear, or a local community outreach center. You could also sell your clothing, shoes, and accessories to an online consignment shop and make a little extra cash.

3. Cable and cellphone plans

Once we’ve signed up for cellphone plans and cable packages, we seldom give them a critical review. That inattention means we could be missing out on cheaper options that better match our lifestyle, or special offers that provide the same level of service for less money. Take 30 minutes to see if you can downsize your cable and cellphone plans — and the costs that go with them.

4. Subscription services

From gourmet cheeses to beauty supplies, subscription services deliver the world to our doorstep. But all that convenience comes at a price.

Take a hard look at your bank statement and your spending habits. Are multiple subscription services nickel-and-diming your budget to death? Is most of that gourmet cheese growing fuzz the fridge? If the answer is “yes,” switch to a less expensive subscription package or cancel altogether.

5. Spending

Forget about the idea of cutting corners for a month or two. When you downsize your spending, you’re finding permanent ways to minimize your expenditures. It’s a mental and behavioral shift that’s the first step in living more frugally. Explore ways to reduce your monthly spending by 10 percent, and then use that money to pay down debt or boost your retirement savings.

6. Debt

Once you’ve downsized your spending, attack the three-headed monster it created — debt. While it makes perfect sense to pay off debt with the highest interest rates first, many people find more success using the debt snowball method. In this approach, you pay off your smallest debt first (regardless of the interest rate), which gives you a motivational boost to stick with your downsizing plan until everything is paid off.

7. Schedule and commitments

A dear friend of mine recently started a new job with a college on the East Coast. In addition to this full-time administrative role, he’s teaching two classes and interviewing students for a grant program. I love him to death, but saying “no” is not his strong suit.

Sound like you? Remember, your time is a rare resource. If you’re constantly moving and always stressed, downsize your schedule. Life is short; carve out some time to simply be.