A few years ago, my roommate and I were talking about our rooms and I can’t remember exactly why we were, but she said to me, “But you’re a minimalist.” Hm…what does that mean? I started to do some research and while “minimalism” sums it up, I like to see it a different way. Blogger Becoming Minimalistic summarizes it in a very nice post called “What is Minimalism?”
Minimalism is a lifestyle that we contentiously choose to live.
Why did I choose the minimalist lifestyle?
I chose it because my parents were hoarders when I was growing up and in my adulthood, I couldn’t live like that. Growing up, we had a 1,500 square feet house in a really nice suburban area of Northern California and my parents worked in tech. They had the money to buy happiness for the family. Over my high school years, I hated the fact that I could never find stuff that I actually needed. When I started college, I took the bare minimum. I got through those 3 years just fine. In fact, every time I moved, I packed 1 full car and that was it. I moved every year for 8 years and never wasted any money on a moving company.
What does minimalism mean to me?
It means appreciating everything you have because you only have 1 of it and it’s enough to get you by in life. It doesn’t matter if it was a pair of Christian Louboutins shoes or a pillow; it’s the fact that you bought something that has been thought through and you can explain why you bought it. It also has a place in your home and don’t have to dig through piles of stuff to find it. Furthermore, you can tell someone where it is in your home from memory.
Is minimalism for you?
- Are you ok with not having duplicates of things?
- Can you part ways with something that hasn’t been used in a long time?
- Will you dedicate the decluttering at least once a year?
- Can you keep spending in check?
- Will you question every purchase?
- Are you comfortable in small spaces (i.e. less than 1,000 square feet)?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you can start a new lifestyle!
4 simple steps to start minimalism
- Take a 30 day cleaning challenge. You can easily find these online such as Popsugar’s 30-Day Cleaning Challenge. This way you have a new house to start with.
- Declutter your closet.
- Declutter your kitchen by removing any duplicate items that haven’t been used in a while and place into a box.
- Take all the remaining rooms, one room at a time, and find at least 10 things to donate.
- Continually repeat on a regular basis.
Now for the hard part to tackle
- Refrain from buying anything new unless you can mentally find a place for it before walking out of the store or you plan to upgrade/replace something, in which you will donate the old item and replace with the newly bought item.
- Stop online shopping unless you know you absolutely need something. My husband has a terrible problem with online shopping and it’s too easy nowadays with the 1-click solution. What we did was get rid of Amazon Prime. OMG…I know…madness! Who doesn’t have Amazon Prime? But, it really helped us, because free shipping is $25 or more; therefore, we really had to think about what we’re buying and why before we could get free shipping.
- Try to plan your weekends head of time whether it’d be brunch with friends or hiking with your dog. I know that when we get bored, we’ll just go to the mall to “walk around,” but we all know what that means…
- Dedicate yourself to finding a hobby. I love to go running in the mornings, but it only takes up an hour of my day meaning I have a lot of time to potentially online shop or go to the mall. I tried any different hobbies out before I realized blogging about personal finance is what took up over 10 hours a day.
- Inventory your stuff. HUH? SERIOUSLY? Yes. It helps you keep track of everything you own and finds duplicate items that you may missed. I keep an inventory of all my clothes on Google Sheets and have a column for “Donate.” When I see something that is a duplicate, I will donate it. It also reminds me that I have a lot of stuff and don’t need to buy more.
- Downsize when you can. The smaller the space, the less likely you’ll feel the need to fill it. For example, my parents and I used to live in Chicago, IL with 2,000 square feet. My parents bought a lot to fill the space, but when they moved to California and into a 1,500 square feet house, the extra stuff from the 2,000 sq ft place was unnecessary. In fact, the extra stuff was very cluttering to the point where we ended up donating a lot.
Eventually your newly adopted habits become your lifestyle and culture. It really doesn’t matter if your stuff is Chanel or Michael Kors, there is absolutely no need for 3 wallets from 3 different designers. Buy stuff that you truly love and will make you happy for a long time even if it’s a little more expensive than you would normally pay for, but you’ll never feel the need to upgrade.
Bottom Line: Minimalism is your commitment to a simple lifestyle. You’re constantly thinking about purchases and ensuring that you’ll make full use of it where you actually appreciate the items you have.