Couple’s Downsizing Journey Leads to Happy, Healthier Lifestyle

Have you taken the “100 Thing Challenge“?

Logan Smith grew up on a ranch in Siskiyou County, Calif., learning the value of living within his means and investing in a few quality items that would last.

But his wife, Tammy Strobel, took it to a whole new level with Dave Bruno’s “100 Thing Challenge.”

“Living in an expensive two bedroom condo in Davis, Calif., with two cars seemed too in-congruent with those agrarian principles,” explained Smith, a Ford Scholar from the Class of 1996. “So I suggested we try living with less to see how it felt to save a little money.”

Strobel ran with the idea, eliminating so much personal stuff that she can fit all of her personal belongings into a backpack!

Strobel, a 32-year-old freelance writer and owner of, made national headlines in early August when New York Times reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom googled “simplicity and happiness” and found Strobel’s blog.

They’ve been featured on MSNBC, AOL, NBC’s Today Show and Yahoo!

“Who would guess that people are so hungry for stories of happiness through downsizing?” Smith said.

Smith, 31, recently earned his Ph.D. in physiology and is looking for work in medical research or teaching. They live in a sparsely furnished 400-square-foot studio apartment in northwest Portland, Ore., with their two pet cats.

This “downsizing journey,” as they call it, has not only eliminated a lot of clutter from their lives but financial debt and anxieties as well.

“Relief from the stress of daily living was almost exactly what I had imagined retirement felt like in old age,” Smith explained.

But the journey hasn’t always been easy.

“The cars were the most difficult item to give up,” Smith admits. “Our culture has interwoven cars into the fabric of our social interactions.”

“Now, they hop on their bikes when they commute, and they feel healthier because of it. They have more spare time these days and enjoy bike camping, reading, cycling, picnicking and volunteering.

“I think a minimalist lifestyle fits with The Ford Family Foundation core values by removing distractions and helping us focus more on putting our values into practice,” Smith said.

“By reducing our expenses and need for material wealth, we have found that we can devote more time and money to our relationships and to our community.”