“I love clutter!”. Said nobody, ever. So why do we keep buying more and more stuff?
Wherever you look, there are adverts on TV and social media telling you that unless you have this exact product, your life just won’t be complete.
Instead of being happy with what we have, we are being taught that what we have isn’t enough. That we need the latest gadget or this season’s clothing in order to be truly happy.
Unfortunately, that means that last season’s clothes or the previous iPhone sit in our houses gathering dust. As this goes on and on, the ‘stuff mountain’ grows.
But there are some people out there who are rejecting the ‘more is more’ notion and are dialing back on their consumption.
There are very few things they truly love, and these are the only ones they keep, freeing up their time and money for more important things.
These are the minimalists.
What is Minimalism?
Josh Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus from TheMinimalists.com say that
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom”
The idea behind minimalism is to get rid of all the clutter, be it clothes, gadgets, apps, or even friendships in order to free up headspace to enjoy life more.
About a year and a half ago, my partner and I decided to move from a house to a much smaller flat. I’ll be honest, the decision wasn’t to downsize, but to move to a better location (I’d owned the flat for 12 years, so wasn’t paying gentrified prices!).
Over time we had accumulated a lot of ‘stuff’ in the house, I really didn’t think we had that much, but when we decided to move? Holy hell.
We donated, sold and chucked BAGS of stuff. And then when we arrived at the flat, we donated, sold and chucked EVEN MORE.
It absolutely floored me how much stuff we actually had. I would have said I was already pretty minimal but according to the countless things we get rid of, I really wasn’t!
Where can I learn about minimalism?
There are a number of minimalist blogs, podcasts, books, and documentaries, below are some excellent ones to start with.
Josh Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus started their Minimalist movement to talk to others about ‘living with less, in order to experience more”.
After both of them had decluttered their lives, they took off on the road to share the minimalist love at a number of free roadshows.
To be honest I don’t follow the blog, however, they did produce a great documentary ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’ in 2016 which was a really interesting watch on how others have decided to live with less. You can get this on Netflix if you have it.
If you want to declutter and become more minimalist then something awesome for you to do would be the Minimalists ‘Packing Party’, I didn’t do this as we moved to a new flat last year so I had to do it anyway.
The idea is that you pack up everything you own as if you were moving, and then only unpack the stuff you need, like bedding, toiletries, and clothes you need to wear.
After a few weeks, it’s likely there are still many things still in boxes which you really don’t need. So you get rid of it!!
This is clearly very drastic, and won’t be for everyone but it is an interesting idea. You could always take it room by room.
Some other bloggers for you to check out are:
Joshua Becker blogs on minimalism with his wife over at their site becomingminimalist.com. They live a seemingly typical suburban life with a house and car etc but in actual fact are committed to living with less.
Colin Wright at exilelifestyle.com got rid of all his belongings in 2009 apart from what he could fit in a carry on bag. He chose which country to live based on votes from his readers!
I am sure you have also heard of the Marie Kondo book on ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by now. I haven’t read it personally, but the idea is that you go through all of your possessions and only keep what brings you joy.
Minimalism vs frugality, are they the same thing?
Um, kind of but not really.
Frugality is about spending less, minimalism is about having less.
Frugalistas will typically focus on the cost of something and actively search for bargains. You could be frugal but still, own a lot of clutter.
Minimalistas will concentrate on owning as little as possible. But what they do own is more likely to be of higher quality and therefore potentially higher cost.
I personally think you can use the two hand-in-hand. If you are trying to save money, minimalism stops you from buying useless crap, regardless of whether it is a bargain or not.
If you want to simplify your life and own a few high-quality items, frugal habits can help you find a way to purchase these items for less i.e buying used or discounted.
What can I declutter?
Well, what can’t you declutter I guess!
Here is an initial list to get you started.
- Clothes and shoes – what doesn’t fit and what do you just not like
- Old make up
- Old mobile phones and chargers
- Random electrical leads
- Books you have read and will never read again
- Anything broken you keep telling yourself you’ll fix
- Out of date food still in the cupboard
- Anything you forgot was there (any idea what is in your loft right now?)
- Apps on your phone that are a distraction (social media, I’m looking at you)
- Kitchen gadgets you don’t use
- Odd socks, holey tights
- DVDs and CDs you don’t watch or listen to
- Toxic friendships
- Social commitments that don’t make you happy
I am sure you will be amazed at the amount of distraction you can reduce from your life. And if you want a reality check on how much money you waste on ‘stuff’, after your declutter take 10 things that you are selling on eBay and then work out the difference between that and how much you paid for it.
*Shudders*. Damn that depreciating sofa!
How do I stop buying sh*t I don’t need?
Mrs Frugalwoods has a great way to curb unnecessary purchases with her ‘72 Hour Rule‘.
The idea is that you have an ongoing purchase list, and you add to it every time you think you need to buy something.
Leave it for 72 hours, and during this time, consider if you need it, think what else you could do with the money or see if you have something that will do the job.
After the 72 hours have elapsed, ask yourself again whether you still really want or need it.
What are the benefits of minimalism?
Calm your mind
The less ‘stuff’ you have to look at and think about, the calmer your mind will be.
I’ve realised that having loads of things everywhere actually stresses me out.
Cluttered house = cluttered brain.
Sell your unwanted sh*t and invest the money (don’t buy more sh*t!). I made over £1000 by selling unwanted clothes, gadgets etc on eBay.
Once you have got your house or flat into a calm organised space, you are not going to want to fill it again. All the money that once would have bought more useless things, can now be used for investments, your business or taking time out from work.
Get your time back
Less stuff = less cleaning, updating, maintaining, organising, decision-making.
The more simple your life is, the more time you will have.
Save the planet
By buying less, you will be creating less waste, using less packaging and reducing your impact on the environment.
You definitely don’t need to own pieces of high priced white Scandi furniture and a capsule wardrobe of organic Mongolian cashmere to be a minimalist. Simply paring down your own possessions to what you truly need and love is perfectly sufficient.
Only you can decide the level you are comfortable with. For some, a bed, a desk, and a sofa are all they will need. For others, this is a step too far.
It doesn’t have to be super extreme. Just the act of starting to declutter will have a knock-on effect on what you choose to spend your time and money on.
Have you tried to declutter your life? Did you feel better for doing it?