Minimalism: The Benefits, and How to Get Started!

by Kate on June 28, 2013

in Healthy Living, Healthy Mind, Simple Home, Simple Living

Since becoming pregnant, I’ve become somewhat of a minimalist. That’s not to say I’m one of those people who manages to live with less than 100 belongings. That’s incredible, but probably not practical for many of us. But minimalism is probably the best thing that could have happened to me before having a baby because there’s really no other time in my life that I’ve felt quite so bombarded with advertisements and well-meaning friends who insist I need a million things.  Over the last few months, I’ve gotten rid of basically half of everything we used to own–not exaggerating. My closet is down to about 1/3 the size it was before. In the process, I’ve found that minimalism has the following benefits:

1. Minimalism Means Less Frustration

Fewer belongings means I know where things are! Having a place for everything and everything in it’s place is actually possible when you don’t have stuff crammed into every corner.

2. Minimalism Makes A Clean, Tidy Home Possible

Our apartment is much easier to keep clean and it’s amazing how a clean home will make you feel so much lighter and happier.

3. Minimalism Makes You Appreciate What You Have

When you make a commitment to not own as much, you are more careful about what you buy.  Thus, you actually LIKE all of your belongings. No more closets full of clothes you don’t like and never wear (or, worse, don’t like but are forced to wear on laundry day). In a society where consumerism is practically a religion, it can be difficult to find a quiet space where you’re not bombarded with the message “You won’t be happy unless you have _____.”  It’s good for the soul to sit at home and feel “I love my things,” instead of “I wish I had _____.”

4. Minimalism Saves Money

Since you are choosier about what you buy, you probably won’t buy as much. Or, you can afford to spend more money on higher quality, longer lasting items (which also saves you money in the long run).

5. Minimalism Saves the Planet

When you buy less you dispose of less, so you don’t contribute as much to the landfills. Furthermore, many minimalists make a point of trying to find items that they know will only be used short term (baby gear, for example) second-hand for this very reason.

How To Become a Minimalist

There are no hard and fast rules. Minimalism to me is more about changing your frame of mind than what you actually own. That said, I’ve found that minimalism involves two main activities: regularly reducing your belongings, and careful purchasing of new belongings. So, here’s a bit of advice on how to get started on each of those tasks:

Reducing

1. Get rid of duplicates: If you have two of something–two stock pots, two black dresses, two pairs of skinny blue jeans–consider getting rid of one of them. Often when we have two of something, using the one we like less actually causes anxiety/disappointment because we really just want to be using the one we love most.

2. Set an Item Limit: For items we tend to have a lot of–clothes for example–it helps to pare down your collection to a number of items that feels comfortable, and then commit to never having more than that number. Thus anytime you would buy a new shirt, for example, you would donate or sell one to keep your collection the same size. This works with just about anything but is especially helpful for clothing, toiletries, and kitchen goods.

3. Have a Garage Sale: When you’re in the process of reducing your belongings, it’s easy to become fatigued and give up. A planned garage sale is great motivation, and the money you make helps fuel that motivation even more.

Purchasing

1. Before you buy, ask yourself: Will having this item in my life improve it enough to justify the space it will take up and the time it will take to maintain it?

2. Before you buy, ask yourself: How often will I use this? How long will it last? Would I be better off buying this used?

3. Determine Your top 5 purchasing locations: I find it helps to have favorite stores to limit yourself from buying things unnecessarily. Pick 5 places that you plan to shop at regularly–maybe 1 grocery store, 1 superstore (like Target), 1 department store, and 2 specialty stores that cater to your biggest interests (possibly clothing, beauty, or entertainment stores). Pick places that generally stock items you like at prices you can afford. Then make a habit of only shopping at those stores. This limits what you buy because being in an unfamiliar location will be a visual reminder that you’re trying to minimalise. It also helps cut down on decision-making stress (no more aimless wandering around the mall for hours.)

So that’s it for my intro to minimalism! Do you consider yourself a minimalist? Do you have any tips to add that have helped you streamline your belongings and simplify your life? Let me know in the comments below!

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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