What is Minimalism?

Why minimalism may be just what you're looking for.

People define minimalism in many different ways. You could say the definition of “minimalism” isn’t minimal at all! Haha. Crack myself up. Anyway, despite varying definitions of the word I consider myself a minimalist, and here’s the deal…

Photo credit to  Pixlr .

Photo credit to Pixlr.

When I talk to friends, family, and colleagues about this lifestyle, they can be quick to judge. I’m sure they’re imagining a house with white walls and weird art, a life with no embellishment or pizzazz. Fortunately for me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

For all those curious people, here are my minimalist principles:

1. Life Gets Complicated All By Itself.

My dad once told me to “keep it simple because life gets complicated all by itself.” I don’t always listen to him but this sage wisdom is lodged in my mind.

Start with a house crammed with furniture, a closet crammed with clothes, and a car crammed with empty food containers. Now throw in life’s truly important stuff. A new baby or a new pet, a career change or retirement, a cross-country move or lifestyle change; so much to think about!

All of a sudden your home, car, AND mind are cluttered and life is suddenly overwhelming. Minimalism is a way of controlling the controllable and saving energy for the rest of life.

2. Space is Money.

First, if your house is smaller, so are your house payments.

Second, if you have a smaller house, you have less stuff! How much simpler would life be if you could have less stuff? Imagine you had fewer belongings to purchase, maintain, and replace when they break… Hello savings account!

3. Money is Time.

Do I really need to explain this one? Smaller house payments, smaller credit card bills, does it sound like a dream? You could actually say no to overtime hours and hang out with your kids instead. You could take that epic trip you never thought you could afford. You could risk your job to make your dream career happen. The possibilities are endless!

Three Simple Ways to Ditch Your Stuff!

1. Downsize!

Gather ALL your belongings in the center of each room. Go through each room, one by one. You could take a weekend or an entire month! That’s ok.

As you go through each room, think “Do you really need all that stuff?” Pull out all the belongings you have used in the last year and put it away. Now filter the rest of your stuff. I won’t tell you how to filter, that’s up to you, but send a good portion of the remaining stuff to the dump, nearest homeless shelter, or thrift store.

*Lots of friends have been asking for help with this. There’s a longer post on Purging Stuff coming soon.

2. Never Bring Home Free Trinkets!

You know those Mardi Gras beads you got from the local parade three years ago? How much would you miss those if they were never in your house? What about the XXXXL free t-shirt you got from you Car Show last year? Or the plastic clappers from that ball game last year? You get my point, unless you can think of an immediate, productive use for this trinket, leave it at the door or in your donation box (see #4)!

3. A Place for Everything…

A Place for everything, everything in its place. It’s hard to accumulate excess stuff if you have to find a spot for it. This is a VERY powerful rule. More than once, it’s stopped me from buying unnecessary clothes, stockpiling groceries only to watch them go bad, or keeping shipping boxes for the next time I ship something this exact size. It also means that your work surfaces, beds, and floors remain clear for when you actually want to use them. Verrrrryyyy handy.

4. Keep an Ongoing Donation Box.

Every six to twelve months, we take a pile of stuff to our local thrift store. I’m always on watch for excess stuff tucked in the back corner of my cupboards. It somehow snuck back there because I thought it would be useful and haven’t thought about it since. My minimalist senses are sharpened by our tiny RV and I purge belongings whenever the mood strikes. Having a donation box ready makes it that much easier.

In an effort to keep this article minimal, I’ll leave you with this:

Minimalism is a series of baby steps that lead to a simpler life. Try one or two, you might be surprised at how easy and rewarding it can be.

Want help paring down? Send me a video of your space and I'll give you some tips!