Less is more

I truly believe less is more.

Some could argue that, less is less, and more is more.  That’s true, too, from a different perspective.

In a more accurate way to say, less on A means more on B.  A and B are mutually exclusive, and there is no intersection (borrowing a math term).  Here are some examples:

  • Less on spending means more on saving.
  • Less on clutter means more on living space.
  • Less on junk food means more on healthy living.
  • Less on talking means more on thinking and doing.
  • Less on whining means more on gratefulness and happiness.

Here comes down to the key question we are facing every day: which is more important to you, A or B?

Another question is: How much is less?  Less to what extent?  Everybody has his/her own definitions.

I’m not a minimalist.  I admire the people who choose to live a minimal lifestyle.  That’s very courageous.  As of today, I still have the cable TV, and we each have our own favorite channels.  I mainly watch football, sometimes soccer and documentary.

99 pairs of shoes:

I used to have a coworker.  She moved over to Ohio from another state.  Before the moving, she already threw quite a lot of stuff.  At the end, she said she still had 99 pairs of shoes.  To her, it’s already quite a downsize.  I respect her choices.

How many pairs of shoes do you have?  I have less than 9.  That’s pretty much what I keep all those years.  Of course, it doesn’t include the indoor slippers.

It would be tough to manage the 99 pairs of shoes.  Where do you put them?  I guess you could put each into the box, and stack the boxes.  But, how do you know what you have?  Color label them? Or use the database to keep track of them?

Probably you need a shoe closet with tons of shelves?  If shoes occupy your closet, where should your clothes go to?  Quite a daunting task to me.

How much did the 99 pairs of shoes cost?  Assuming each pair cost $40, that would be the total of $3,960.

How many times would each pair be touched every year?  Assuming you wear only one pair of shoes every single day, then the annual average usage for each pair would be 365 days / 99 pairs = 3.7 days/pair.

Do you keep wearing the shoes till its last day?  For most of my shoes, I won’t stop wearing them unless they are holed out.  What’s the lifetime for a pair of shoes, if you keep wearing them every day?  Probably 8 months?  That would be 240 days/pair.

How long could the 99 pairs of shoes last?  That would be 240 days/pair * 99 pairs = 23,760 days.  That is 65 years!

What does it mean?  If you are 30 years old now, and have 99 pairs of shoes, you have stocked all the shoes you need to the age of 95.  Congratulations!  You don’t have to worry about the shoe store bankruptcy anymore.

Simple is good:

I have one house, only one.  Getting the 2nd house?  Not me.  I don’t’ have the extra money, and don’t need the maintenance hassle.  I try to minimize the effort spent on the house.  On the other hand, I don’t want to rent.  Yes, renting is low maintenance.  But, it’s more comfortable to live under my own roof, and in my own terms.

I have only one car.  I can’t live without a car, as I need the freedom to go anywhere I like to, as long as I can still drive.  Owning a second car?  No, thank you.

I don’t buy much stuff, unless it’s really needed.  But if I have bought it, I keep using it.  13 years ago, I bought a treadmill.  It cost $450.  Most of the time, I walk outside.  But when the weather is bad, the treadmill is used as a backup.  It eliminates my excuse of not walking.  The treadmill is still in a good shape.

It’s good to get rid of stuff, if you are very sure you don’t need them anymore.  But, it happened to me sometimes, I threw the stuff away, and later found out I need it.  I won’t necessarily buy it again, but feel bad for throwing away useful stuff.  That’s probably how the clutter grows.

Wrap up:

Less is more.  It’s easier to be said than done, especially when it comes to spending versus saving.  That’s why the credit card business keeps growing.  It’s good for those banks, but bad for the consumers who are stuck in debt.  At the end of the day, what matters the most are the well beings of yourself and your loved ones.  Do what is right for you.

In the spirit of Less is more, I tried to make this post shorter.

Do you believe less is more, or less is less?

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18 Responses

  1. The older I get Helen, the more I think that less is more. It just helps keep life in balance for me. Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Tom, very true. Our attitude toward life changes over time.

      I’m in China now, due to a family emergency. Sorry, won’t be able to talk much now. but will be back online in 4-5 days, reply folks’ comments, and also enjoy your new posts. I’ll also share my personal story that just happened in my family in China in the last week.
      – Helen

  2. Hi Helen,
    I can’t even imagine having 99 pairs of shoes. Some of my friends think I’m pretty cheap, because I don’t spend money on stuff I don’t need. Shopping is not a sport for me! That said, I’ll happily spend my money on experiences like our local Broadway plays, our symphony, and our Shakespeare festival. I’m a believer that “less stuff = more experiences!” As for a second home, we’re getting ready to drop some coin on a travel van – I don’t want to pull my house around with me, or own a second one for that matter. I want a “tiny home” to take me to new places and on new explorations!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Lynn, yeah, 99 pairs of shoes are quite a baggage. I agree with you. I don’t like shopping either, and only buy something when I really need to. Experience is more valuable to me. I enjoy having a good time with family and friends. Travel is fun.

  3. Joe says:

    I’m with you. I think less is more too. The shoe explosion is crazy. I used to have just 1 pair of sneakers and flip-flops until I graduated college. Now I have a bunch of shoes. It’s crazy. I’ll give most of them away before we move. Even our son is seeing the shoe inflation. He already has sneakers, soccer cleats, sandals, and rain boots. It’s ridiculous.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Joe, some people love buying shoes and handbags. You reminded me of the simple college life, when we didn’t have much stuff, but had the ambition and dreams to change the world.

      I used to live in a 120 square feet dorm room while in Beijing. With that tiny space, it’s just impossible to accumulate stuff. After coming to US, my living space keeps growing, and it’s getting more cluttered for sure.

  4. Less is definitely more. Life can be quite hard sometimes, and the more I can simplify it by doing and having less, the more I can achieve and be content.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      I totally agree with you. Extra stuff takes our valuable space away, and stresses people out. It also makes us numb, and we lose the focus on the most important things.

  5. Caroline says:

    99 pair of shoes! That’s insane.
    I agree with you Helen, I think less is more but it took me a long time to get there. Not that I was extreme in my younger days but I did enjoy buying things a lot more than I do now.
    I remind myself of it whenever I see younger people waste money on stuff. It’s a journey and we learn as we get older.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Caroline, yeah, 99 pairs of shoes take tons of space for sure. That’s really true, when we get older, we realize what matters the most. 25 years ago, I spent much more money on clothing and accessories than right now. At that time, I cared a lot what other people said about me. Now, I don’t care about those trivial things any more.

  6. Dragon Gal says:

    Hi Helen, Less is definitely more. I’m currently trying to donate many of my things so that when my husband is ready to start traveling the world, then I can just pack one bag and jump on a plane. I’ve learned for myself that being attached to things just weighs me down. Thanks for the inspiration to have less!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Dragon Gal, traveling the world sounds very cool. Seven months ago, I was in Taiwan. When taking the train from Taipei to Taichung, I saw a solo back packer guy. We all stood there in the crowd, as the seats were sold out. I was thinking, how cool and simple life is, just doing backpacking!

  7. Less is always more.

    To many people make life over complicated. Simplify and it will help to see what you really care about in life.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Thank you for sharing your thought. Yeah, some part of life is in our control. It’s up to each of us to make it simple or complicated. Priority matters a lot.

  8. GYM says:

    That’s a lot of shoes! I have more than 9 shoes though. I agree that less is more. I also try to really think about whether I want something before I buy it. It’s hard when you live in 450 square feet- there’s not much room to accumulate stuff!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, yeah, that is a lot of shoes. Shopping could be hard to control to some people, and saving could be a big struggle. It’s a smart idea to really think about it first before buying it. Sometimes, more living space may not be a good thing, as it gives people more chance to accumulate stuff.

  9. Katrin says:

    Completely agree that less is more. I have quite a minimalist wardrobe but admit to owning more than 9 pairs of shoes. But that’s mainly because I still own a number of dressy shoes from my old job which are still in great condition. Like you, I wear my shoes as long as I can. Now most days I just wear sneakers, or Wellies when I walk my dog. I totally love that I don’t have to dress up any more, to me that’s really liberating.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Katrin, the dressy shoes look very nice for sure. As I’m getting older, gradually I gave up wearing the heels for more foot comfort.

      Yeah, many people may not list “No need to dress up every day” as one of the retirement advantages. Actually it’s very cool, after retiring, we have the choice to wear whatever we want to, instead of what we should wear. That’s part of the gained freedom.

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