- I can think of at least seven ways to embrace minimalism.
- Do you believe in minimalism?
There are things in life that we want but don’t need, and this appears to be the mantra of the modern world. So, what is the solution? We keep hearing stories of minimalism with people selling everything they own, and downgrading to a small home, but the reality is that minimalism doesn’t have to be an extreme practice. It is, by its very definition, the act of living with less. This means that you have to define what “less” means to you.
The purpose of minimalism, then, is to declutter and downsize so you can focus on what matters. But what are some of the practical ways to start practicing minimalism?
I can think of at least seven ways to embrace minimalism.
1. Simplify Your Spending
Simplicity is the key component of minimalism. Budgeting is crucial, but you can simplify and streamline everything, and the best place to begin is with your expenses. You can take a look at the things you use every day, and decide if they are adding value to your life.
The reality is that it’s a very time-consuming thing to get right, which is why many people avoid checking their bank accounts. But if you want to start, there are some simple things you can do.
For example, take the smart phone we cannot seem to live without any more. When I decided to take minimalism seriously, I realized I was paying too much for it. It was possible to simplify this by reviewing my data plan alone. I just looked at how much data I was actually using and decided to switch to a low-cost plan since I wasn’t going out anywhere and could use the home WIFI.
I did think of downgrading my phone but that didn’t seem necessary. And I won’t tell you to get rid of your phone either – just be savvy with what you actually use it for. The reality is that there are plenty of data plans out there, such as the SMARTY unlimited data plan – so just review your phone bills and do what you need to do.
I did the same with my broadband connection – just downgraded my plan as I found that I wasn’t using even half the data that came with the current plan.
When you start to simplify this one thing, you start to save money. Naturally, this is a very beneficial by-product of being a minimalist, but it’s one of the key strategies. When you start to review your spending and bring it down to the bare essentials, you have a solid snapshot of whether you are spending your money on the things that really matter.
2. Sell or Donate What You Don’t Need
Embracing minimalism involves eliminating clutter. In a physical sense or mental clutter. Look around your living space; do you get joy out of everything you own? If you can identify things that don’t add value to your life, just get rid of them!
Start small. It takes time to sort through your possessions, and it may very well be an emotional journey. Take some time to come to terms with the value of a specific object context but you don’t necessarily need to throw these things away, you could put them into storage.
I found that after I boxed things I wasn’t using and stored them in my garage which, fortunately is in our basement, when I looked at them again after months, I realized I could give them away.
But the things you do not wish to keep – donate or sell them. You can donate them to a thrift store, and you will know that it’s going to go to a better place.
3. Get Rid of Duplicates
Do you need to be like Noah, and have two of everything? Of course not! If you have similar shirts, utensils, or electronic items, it’s very unlikely you use both objects. It’s very difficult to part with items we have had for a long time, so we hang onto them even when we get a new version, especially when it comes to our smartphones. And we keep the old one in the hope that we will use it again, but it usually adds up to the electronic clutter.
If you need two of something, you’ve got to think of WHY.
4. Protect Your Assets
Being a minimalist is about operating with the bare minimum, but you still need to prepare yourself for emergencies. One of the benefits of being a minimalist in a physical sense is if you ever find yourself at the receiving end of a burglary, there isn’t that much to steal.
However, if you suffer a break-in, the big downside is that you could lose everything you own. You have to protect your assets properly. Start an emergency fund and have proper insurance.
To be an effective minimalist, you need to operate with the things you need in life, but when everything is taken away from you, you’ve got to make sure you are protecting yourself.
5. Learn to Say “No”
Being a minimalist in your mindset is just as important as the physical stuff. Take control of yourself and learn how to say “no” to the things that don’t add value to your life. We all suffer from that fear of missing out syndrome on occasion. But if you are someone that comes away from social events feeling drained, you have to ask if it’s adding value to your life.
Saying “no” can feel somewhat unnatural if you’re not used to it, but one of the best tools to help you cope with this is to block time out for yourself. Once a week set aside a two-hour block where you can do whatever you want, as long as it benefits you and nobody else, and if a social event falls during that time, you can turn it down.
It’s important to remember that you should make yourself a priority. Never feel guilty for saying “no” to things that don’t benefit your life – we all experience the need to socialize, but giving too much of ourselves to something will not only exhaust us but also devalue our sense of self. One of the best lessons in practicing minimalism is prioritizing yourself.
6. Think Before You Add Something New to Your Life
A minimalist considers every major purchase before they go ahead with it. If you need something new, think hard about the quality of the product, real or theoretical. Every minimalist needs to add things to their life on occasion, but the difference is in making sure that you think through each vital decision.
For example – I’ve been thinking of buying a new gas stove and a blender. Now, the thing is, I already have one of each. The thought of an upgrade feels good. But I stopped to think – what advantage will a new stove and blender have over what I already own? Not much really except that I will be spending a few thousands to feel good.
So, I simply squashed the idea of buying the new appliances and felt pretty good about it because I had made a sensible decision. Truth is, the ones I have work perfectly well.
The next time you want to add something to your life, ask yourself if it will truly make your life better.
Incidentally, the same works for relationships, too. Think about it!
7. Streamline and Systemize Your Life
Minimalism is all about making life easier. And the great thing is that there are infinite possibilities to what you can streamline and systemize. You can switch to digital statements to avoid paper clutter. You can set your bills to autopay, fix your emails to remove spam, and can automate just about anything these days.
When you start to systemize your life, there’s a lot less to think about and deal with. You can apply this to your wardrobe, your work, and your life in general. When we streamline our lives, this greatly reduces what they called decision fatigue – something quite common these days. If we reduce our decision-making capabilities by eliminating those minuscule ones, it gives us the opportunity to focus on the things that actually matter.
A great example of this is diet. We have a wide variety of tasty foods to choose from, but if we introduce more complexity into our life, it may result in us feeling bloated, physically and mentally. That doesn’t imply you should eat a bland diet, but when you switch to clean eating for say, six days out of seven, it is a wonderful way to pay attention to what is actually going into your body. When you eat what your body needs, you start to feel better.
Embracing minimalism can be great for the mind, body and soul. But that needn’t mean that you have to sacrifice stuff as people seem to believe. When I started to practice minimalism, I realized just how cluttered my life really is. And even if I am not fully there yet, the journey is definitely rewarding.
Do you believe in minimalism?
Do you practice it?
I know from personal experience that living simpler with fewer possessions is so freeing. I went from an extravagant, materialistic lifestyle, in my marriage, to a very different, simpler lifestyle as a single woman. My kids think I’m poor (compared to their rich Dad), but I have everything I need, and more important to me I have less stress and more freedom. My time is my most valuable asset and being able to spend it how I want is peace of mind!
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I had to laugh at a couple of these Vidya. I’ve found myself in the same place a few times. I’m pretty good at not needing to switch my phone out because some new one has been launched, but I’m not so good with thinking it’s a good idea to switch out my kettle or my toaster. Maybe not as bad as switching out the oven or other large appliances – though I have a hankering to do that too! But since starting a budgeting programme (which I love) if it isn’t on the budget it doesn’t happen.
As for saying no…I think I’ve written about that plenty of times, because it was a hard one for me to do – but life became so much better once I managed myself a little better! Enjoyed reading this, it did make me smile.
These are great, Vidya—different than the usual minimalist tips. I do have a house with all the basics so I might not seem like a minimalist. But I honestly don’t buy what I don’t need. And I make a point of regularly going through what I have and donating what I no longer need. What I have in terms of my furniture will last me for decades. I won’t be redecorating just for the “fun” of it.
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