Simplicity in Action: Corey’s Story

Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.


Several years ago my wife and I decided to place our house on the market. We weren’t looking to move to an enormous house, but since we have two kids we were looking to gain another bedroom and a bit more storage space.

After several weeks of preparation and organization, a couple of things became clear:

1. We own a lot of junk. No wonder we were tight on storage space; we had too much stuff. As part of the organizing, we got rid of two pickup truck loads of stuff, and still had too much junk.

2. The homes that would be a “move up” in space and amenities were more than we wanted to spend. For years my wife and I have been working to live below our means. A move would stretch us a little beyond where we wanted to be – not that we couldn’t afford it, but why try to afford it?

Since my business is called Simple Marriage, part of keeping things in marriage simple is living, er uh, simply.

After deciding not to go through with the process, we noticed a tremendous weight was lifted off our shoulders. We began making plans to get completely out of debt and travel more with the kids.

In other words, living life more alive and less tied to things and stuff.

This process helped us realize how easily you can be trapped into living according to a perceived expectation of society.

How exactly did society evolve to the point that when you have x number of kids living in an x number of bedroom house, you must get a bigger house in order for everyone to have their own room, and an office, and a playroom, and on and on?

Didn’t our parents grow up with two or more kids in the same room? Plus, I heard that they walked to school through snow uphill both ways.

It also seems that as a society today, we feel entitled to a certain lifestyle. A certain amount of luxuries.

But at what cost?

Since my wife and I decided not to move, there was a new level of passion and love in the house. We were less worried about the finances. Spent more time with the kids. Planned future trips and excursions. Plus, we got away on the weekends for fun.

I think there is a correlation between living within or below your means and passion in marriage.

There is less stress. Less worry. And more room for adventure.

Try it. Spend some time organizing the house. De-clutter.

Then spend the time planning an adventure together. Spend time with friends. Serve others.

In other words, live and enjoy living, together!

Read more from Corey who writes regularly at Simple Marriage. His resources will help you keep it simple and make it better.


  1. says

    You make so many good points, Cory. I have experienced more passion with my husband since we began living below our means. Like your family, we are committed to creating memories with each other. I can’t recall many gifts that came in boxes, but I remember every birthday getaway my husband ever planned for me – hikes, little towns – all so much fun.

    An extra room or more “stuff” can never compare to the adventures you are creating for your children. Hats off to you and your wife.

  2. says

    A great lesson Corey. Your story is a similar one to ours – except we did move to a house beyond our means. We have now downsized to a house with just enough space. We learnt the hard way that having a big mortgage and not much spare cash causes stress within a relationship. Luckily like you we have lessened these stresses now.

  3. says

    Some great, simple thoughts. I love that the idea of moving made you realise how much junk you had. I also love that you fell on love with the house again.

    For me, the most important lesson was how living below your means and not stressing about money has helped to strengthen and develop your family relationships due to the extra time you have. Time is such a valuable resource, and I feel you are spending it wisely.

    Thanks for sharing your story Corey.

    I’ll be checking out your site more too. I love the concept!

    • says

      Thanks Mark-

      It’s so great to have time together and not always feel lost as we progress from item to item on the schedule.

  4. says

    Like you, my path to a simpler life began with a move. I decided to move closer to my workplace to simplify my daily routine. Like you, prepping the house to show it to buyers helped me see how much unnecessary junk I had. Keeping it spare for the more than 6 months it took to sell it helped me see how much better I liked living in a house with less junk. Isn’t is amazing how one thing can take us in a direction we never anticipated going?

  5. says

    Dear Corey, I love your story – not only because it fits my own quest to continually declutter and simplify, but it also meshes with my other passions of marriage, parenting, and spirituality. It sounds like were on parallel paths, my husband and I are just a half generation ahead of you. You can check out some of my marriage & parenting stuff at Glad to meet a fellow traveler.

  6. says

    How true that today we think we need a bigger house for our families. I laugh when I hear people say they can’t live with just one bathroom. I was one of six kids and we had one bathroom. My downsizing came when I wanted to move closer to the center of town, but the cost of living near the lake was too high for me. I finally got rid of everything I didn’t need any more and found I could easily fit into a small apartment right by the lake for less than I was paying to live further out.

  7. Jim says

    When I married my wife we bought a one bedroom co-op and we paid cash. No worries about maintaining a house, no monthly mortgage to pay, limited space to accumulate things. I believe the key to a happy marriage is being on the same page when it comes to finances. Have a nice place to live and the things that you need and no more. In 16 years of marriage we never had to down size because we never had the desire to up size.

  8. says

    Great story–thanks for sharing! We’ve also found that we’ve been more passionate (about our marriage and life in general) since we’ve been downsizing. We’re still stuck in a house that is more than we need, but with fewer possessions, we’re able to work toward having something smaller (in our case, that something smaller will float and have sails, but I digress…).

  9. Karen says

    Not sure when or where your parents grew up, but most of the houses in the neighborhood where I grew up in the 1960’s had 2 bedrooms, a small number had 3 bedrooms, and they all had one bathroom and tiny kitchens. My best friend shared a bedroom with her 2 younger sisters in their 2-bedroom house. (And yes, we did walk to school in the snow, although it was only uphill one way, and it was lots of fun climbing the snowbanks plowed up along the streets. There were no school buses until grade 7, because the junior high school was more than the regulation 1.5 miles away.)

    My husband had a similar childhood, and when we bought our house 25 years ago, we rejected the 2.5 baths and family room that are standard for most homes in the area where we now live. Our small house is ideal for us, and has enabled us to live below our means and save money. Things got a little cluttered over the decades, but we’ve been clearing things out bit by bit. Thanks, Corey and Courtney, for this latest inspiration to keep decluttering and simplifying.