It’s About Your Home, Not Your House

My Big Lap wardrobe is coming together nicely. Thank you to UBank for supporting our family and sponsoring this post.

When Tracey was lying in hospital recovering from a month of almost not being here anymore, she wasn’t dreaming about a bigger lounge room or a fancy facade. In fact, she wasn’t wasting time dreaming about buildings at all. She wasn’t thinking about her house: she was thinking about her home. She was thinking about the people she loves and her life’s experiences.

And after three months in hospital, when she came home she’d changed. In the first three months she tossed out sixty-two large garbage bags of stuff we had in closets and under beds. Stuff she couldn’t bare to part with only the previous year.

“I don’t know why I was holding on to all this,” she told me cheerfully one day as she pointed at yet another couple of bags for me to drive to disperse to either the tip or a local charity. “Not only does it do nothing, it clogs the house up and makes it messy which stresses me out and makes me more frustrated with the kids.”

To put this into perspective, this is the woman who refused to throw out her cassette tapes from when she was a teenager, even though we own the same music on CD (which also went) and now iTunes.

This year Tracey and I made a decision which is changing our future. We decided to not build a newer, bigger home for our family and to sell our block of land which I’ve spent years drawing up house plans for. We decided to be happy with what we have and to keep the old Queenslander and simply make a few changes so it better accommodates our big family.

Death taught us that. Well, near-death.

So instead of each of the kids getting their own room: instead of a butler’s pantry and recessed lighting on the footpath: instead of a walk-in robe with his and her sinks: we’re renovating. But even before that starts, we’ve decided to buy a bus and travel around Australia with the kids for a year or so.

Not a fancy bus either. A simple, practical, ‘it’ll do’ ex-school bus with everything we need and nothing more. Because you don’t have to spend more money to have more fun. Not only was the bus we bought a quarter of the price of every other one we were seriously considering, since we’ve started fitting it out for our family we’ve halved the amount we thought we’d be spending because we’ve decided we don’t need ‘stuff’. Plus, the stuff we need doesn’t have to be the biggest stuff.

Stuff needs to be maintained and stored. Stuff won’t love you back. Stuff takes money away from experiences with the people who will.

It’s a mind shift, but it’s worth taking the time to practice. When we first got the bus we were still doing it wrong. We sat on the bus and wrote lists of all the things we needed. The list was exhaustive and expensive.

Then we spent hours sitting on the bus working out what we don’t need to have fun.

We weren’t silly. We’re still having a fridge installed and an air conditioner, but we’ve decided to forego the washing machine. We save $2500 for the purchase and install of something which wouldn’t have been big enough (4kg) for the seven of us anyway, and there are laundromats all over the country we can use.

Do it. Grab a cuppa and quietly contemplate what you think you need but can do without. The infinity pool? The parent’s retreat off the main bedroom? The second floor extension? Do the kids really need their own bedrooms even? You’ll be amazed how you’ve fooled yourself.

Which is sort of the whole point of these videos which UBank have put together with six terminally ill people sharing their final thoughts about what’s important as you find yourself about to step into the great beyond. Have a listen to them and maybe let their words trigger a small change in you, spark an internal dialogue, rather than waiting until the end of your life – or near-end as in our case – presents you with your own penny-drop realisation: It’s just stuff.

Raising a family on little more than laughs



  • Well done guys. We are doing the same here. De-cluttering and making do where we can or improvising instead f buying new stuff. It is quite cathartic to get rid of things you no longer need. Makes the house feel so much bigger and so much neater. Good luck with your travels around our big beautiful country. Your whole family will learn heaps about our vast cultures.

  • Your family has such a fabulous future planned!
    I have been removing bag loads of items from our home in the last few months, and it feels great! Is so good to get to the core of what truly makes you happy in life and to remove all of the other distractions.

  • I love this message so much. Good for you. I find decluttering and simplifying to be so therapeutic. I’ve done it not only around the house (it’s still a work in progress mind you) but I’ve also started decluttering my social calendar and all the things that cost money that I would have only done because of FOMO but with people I didn’t really need to have in my life who made me feel crappy. I feel so good. I’ve even begun losing weight and saving money on Red Rock potato chips I mean groceries LOL.

    • Not saying I don’t like the look of them, but I’d rather be able to afford the fuel and lunch to take the kids to the beach 🙂

  • Great blog Bruce. Been on this train of thought for ages too. Good for you. So different reading a blog from you that doesn’t make me LAUGH OUT LOUD!

    • Felt a little disrespectful to ham up these poor people’s interviews. And the message is poignant enough to carry the post I think. But yes, I agree lol

  • We’re pretty much doing exactly the same thing beginning in December next year except in a camper trailer. And the decluttering has already begun. But reading this has made me want to jump into a higher gear! I just looked at my kitchen cupboards and realised that we have shot glasses that we received for our wedding that have never been used in our 10 years of marriage! Why do we still own them?! Thanks Bruce and enjoy continuing on your cathartic journey. I know I will!

  • Fantastic and not only do you deserve to have a wonderful time on the trip, you won’t regret it ever!!!
    My hubby and I have lived in a 17 ft van for 3 years one stint and 20 months this time and now have no intention of rushing back to our house – as opposed to our home which we live in and love! It is a tiny space but we don’t miss all the “stuff” we had collected over 50 years of marriage and the thought of rattling round in even a small 3 bedroom house seems ridiculous. I wish you all every happiness and good health in the anticipation and the reality of your journey!!!

  • Im so happy to hear this Bruce and couldn’t agree more. Generally speaking, if you not happy without it, you will never be happy with it.

    When you spend less, have a smaller house, have good reliable vehicles that are reliable but not necessarily fancy, you get to work less. Meaning you get to spend more time with your family, doing the things that truly make you happy.

    Less clutter and stuff means less cleaning! Always a win in my life!

    I never want to look back at my life and think I missed out on persuing and living out our dreams because I was too busy persuing money to buy stuff I am too bust, or too tired to actually enjoy.


  • Love this post Bruce. Houses these days have rooms upon rooms upon rooms for storage of stuff and things. We don’t need more stuff, we need more time with the people we love. Our homes should be filled with people we love and memories. Not mountains and mountains of stuff. Off to share this on my Facebook page.

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