Warmest regards: A new slogan, think small
Throughout our lives we are often told we should think big.
Think big and it will happen, we’re told.
If we grow a bit dissatisfied with aspects of our life, we’re told we can remedy that by thinking bigger.
Think big and claim what is yours.
I have a different take on that. Here’s my motto:
Think small and be happy with what you have.
For most of us, that’s pretty darn much.
Yet, for many, there is always a yearning for more.
Someone with a great new car already has his eye on a bigger, better car.
An acquaintance with a three-car garage just bought another garage because he’s out of room. He wants more garage space so he can add more cars to his growing collection. His wife says her husband will never have enough cars.
Along with that “not enough” feeling, some of us will never have a big enough or a nice enough home. That’s because no matter how nice a place we have, we keep wanting to upgrade.
I keep reading about the national trend toward smaller homes. I haven’t seen much of that around me, have you?
Because I do a lot of interviews for my newspaper stories, I get into many homes. I sometimes find myself surprised when retired folks with a big gorgeous home with a wonderful view tell me they are in the process of building another home in the same community.
One woman said she wants a home with more space. I didn’t wonder out loud why two people living in a home with four bedrooms need more space. I didn’t have to ask because she told me.
“I need more room for all my crafts,” she said.
Another woman with a grand home on the water said she and her husband want a better water view. She has a home on the bay but wants to upgrade to one on the Gulf.
My friend Gina is a Realtor who loves to hear comments like that. “If everyone was happy with their home, our industry would collapse,” she laughs.
When I was buying my Florida home, it came down to two choices. One was a small bungalow with sunny rooms and a pretty view. The other was a much bigger home with more bedrooms and more living space. They were just about the same price.
When I said I was picking the smaller home, Gina tried to talk me out of it. “You’ll be getting more home for your money with the bigger home,” she said.
I thought a two-bedroom home was perfect for me. Since keeping to a budget would be part of my retirement, I wanted to be careful of outgoing monthly expenses.
The bigger the home, the more taxes, more insurance, higher utilities and more flood insurance we pay.
I figured the difference in those expenses between the two homes would add up to thousands of dollars a year.
So I bought the smaller home. I’ve never been sorry.
But my husband is. When I bought a small home I had no idea I would get married again. But I still think a two-bedroom home is big enough for us — with one room left over for guests.
David agrees my house is big enough for the two of us — but not for all his “stuff.”
I tell him that’s simple. Get rid of the stuff. Some of the boxes he’s storing haven’t been opened in decades.
When you get to be our age, it’s time to pare down and simplify. David agrees in theory. But he can’t pull the plug and actually find a new home for all the stuff he never uses and never will again.
Stay tuned. Our discussion is ongoing. My friends say David will never embrace my “think small” philosophy.
I didn’t always think small. When Andy and I were raising a family we wanted space. Our perfect home was a big Victorian with plenty of delightful space inside and out. But for many of us, as we grow older our priorities change.
There was a time when I liked to shop in the mall. But that time is long gone. Now, I “think small” when it comes to shopping. I no longer enjoy tramping from store to store.
As much as possible I avoid the big box stores in favor of the locally owned smaller businesses.
My husband and I had fallen into the habit of heading to a certain big box store whenever we needed anything for the home, be it nails, paint or garden supplies.
When a local person bought a hardware store in our town it took us a while to discover we could get better service and one-on-one advice from the smaller hardware store.
The same thing goes for bigger items. I can’t say enough good things about the local owner of a tile and granite place. When I was shopping for granite his advice saved me money and resulted in a successful home improvement project. We can’t begin to get such customized service at a big box store.
Thinking smaller is also freeing. Having less stuff and a smaller place means I have more time for the fun things I want to do.
Big might be better for some. But I’m definitely much happier to “think small.”
Contact Pattie Mihalik at email@example.com.