live with less

Top 3 Ways to Live With Less

My mom and I are different in that she is a saver and I am a spender. She has a natural inclination to save her money until she finds an item truly of value. I agree with this concept in principle, but just seem to have a broader definition of “value” and therefore my savings have historically been scarce. This doesn’t mean that I compulsively blow all my money, or that I can’t understand having a savings or preparing for the future financially (Tristan and the angels rejoice!). It does mean that I have a lot of things.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a bit more about what items are worth spending money on – I have a better sense of what style of clothing is most practical for my lifestyle; I no longer have an eclectic college decor palette and have instead edited down to certain colors and textures; I research thoroughly to know whether a particular item is truly an amazing deal and/or hard to find. I’m better at distinguishing the ACT-NOW-CRUCIAL-PURCHASE feeling from the ooooo pretty! impulse feeling. Does that make sense?

Back to my mom. One way she has majorly influenced me is by giving me a love of purging. She is constantly getting rid of unnecessary items for the sake of “being tidy.” I too love editing; partly because my petite apartment sizes to date have necessitated it (and I like the challenge), and partly because I firmly believe that we are more creative when we have less options. For instance, we both loved this tiny RV-sized apartment (click the picture for a photo tour):


That website led me on a several hour tangent looking for tiny inspiring homes. I found this video from Life Edited founder Graham Hill on his 400 square foot Manhattan apartment that is six rooms in one and can host a dinner party for ten:

Here’s a quick 5-minute video where he explains how Less Stuff Leads to More Freedom:

I’m constantly looking for new ways to push myself in this area. Getting rid of clothing can be tricky, because we’ve all told ourselves that most trends eventually come back around and our currently outdated sweater could one day be vintage fabulousness. I personally am pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clothing (and Buffalo Exchange has rewarded me) and am fortunate to have had very few regrets. Here are my top three tips for living with less if you’re a spender like me.

TOP 3 WAYS TO LIVE WITH LESS - Torie and Tristan

1. Temporarily store it. For the last two years, I’ve only unpacked half of my fall/winter clothing from storage. The pieces that are packed away, I don’t miss. The pieces that are in my closet, I completely love. I am used to living without the extra clothing, but without the anxiety of getting rid of them altogether. I then enjoy looking at the options in my closet, finding new creative outfit combinations, and actually being able to move the hangers on the rack (…).  I feel far more comfortable getting rid of the items stored away at the end of the season. I’m currently doing a similar experiment with my candle/candlestick stash.

2. Make a list. Us spenders are not going to just stop buying things to “live on less” – no fun at all! But figure out what you tend to buy extra of and make a shopping bucket list. For me, this is clothing. I have a bucket list of 10-12 classic items that I completely love and am slowly procuring. There is no deadline, so I have a lifetime to find a way to get a St. John suit, but I still have a sense of purpose when I’m shopping. I also have a “trendy” shopping list for each season (so, 4x/year). I used to do this in jr. high and high school, when I had to strategize how to get the most out of my clothing allowance.  When I started earning my own money in my early 20s, I went a little crazy with the clothes spending, and I have since returned to having a seasonal list to help me focus. This type of list helps you take advantage of trends in a thoughtful, less impulsive way. You can even develop a fashion mood board for yourself. And limit the amount of daily deal sites you allow yourself to subscribe to!

3. Focus on upgrading versus adding. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve honed in on what types of clothing are most suited for my lifestyle. As such, many of my purchases are replacing and/or upgrading current items in my closet. I do work out, but do I need 12 college T-shirts for the gym? Or, would I prefer a small rotation of cute sport bra tops from Lulu Lemon or Zella? A less expensive example of this would be DIYing furniture you already have. It looks new, but it’s not taking up any more space in your home. When I’m thrift shopping, I almost always check the sweater rack to see if there’s a cashmere version of a sweater I already own. The black jersey wrap dress I recently purchased has replaced a cheapie jersey swing dress with holes from overuse. And so on. You already know you’ll wear/use the item, so it’s a safe use of a shopping obsession. 🙂

You might have already seen this gal’s amazing DC studio apartment tour, which proves that one doesn’t have to be a minimalist to live on less.

425 Square Foot Apt

Here’s a shot of my old 400 square foot studio apt. I’ve posted a full tour on the Torie & Tristan Facebook page.

Torie Studio 5- Torie and Tristan

I’m also totally loving the Tiny House Swoon website right now.

Do you have any tricks for getting yourself to live with less? I’m well aware that I don’t have all of the answers. Do you know me personally and find it hard to believe I am such an avid purger? 🙂