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Living The Minimalist Lifestyle – Is it Possible?

by J. Money on Monday, August 24, 2009

I feel like I want to be a Minimalist right now :) I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but in theory it sounds awesome! Fewer things to worry about, less clutter in the house, less maintenance costs, less less less!

Minimalist $50 Thing Graph

I’ve been thinking about this for over a week now since the Frugal Bachelor started hitting on it. And then even MORE when he linked over to The 100 Things Challenge by the Minimalist King himself – Leo @ Zen Habits. Damn that really got me thinking….what the hell am I doing collecting all this stuff?! Do I even *use* half of it? (answer: no)

Before I get into it all though, here’s a great explanation of what minimalism is by ecollo:

When the term minimalism is used, it often refers to art that is stripped down so it only includes the bare necessities. That same principle applies to the minimalist lifestyle. The idea is to de-clutter the area around you and to avoid accumulating more by simply not buying things you don’t need.”

YES! I like, I like! Now, anyone who knows me in REAL LIFE would probably tell you that I represent the opposite of minimalism ;) I have frames & art all over my walls, drawers stuffed with trinkets, collections of things I can’t give up, boxes of 8th grade notes, etc etc…in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if people mistaken our place for an antique store! Or at least a thrift store. haha…So yeah, this would def. be a challenge for me. But like I said, in theory I’m all about it!

Minimalist Lifestyle = Fewer Things On Mind

As I get older, I’m realizing that the more stuff I have the more stuff I have to WORRY about. I really hate that. I could honestly say that I love 75% of the items I own, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth the mental price tag. I mean, how could I appreciate what I really own when I’m in front of the TV or laptop all the time anyways? I dunno…

The other side of me asks me what the hell I’m talking about ;) I LOVE all the artwork and pictures watching over us as we roam the halls. They scream LIFE, HAPPINESS, CREATIVITY – so what’s bad about that? Nothing I don’t think, as long as I keep and appreciate *those* belongings and instead rid myself of the other junk lying around. I guess that’s the first step here – dividing your stuff up into things you absolutely enjoy, and then all others under it. No real gray areas – either you love it or it’s “so-so” and it’s taking up space. (there’s probably a 3rd category of things you *need* like tools and such too, but not sure where that fits in with this lifestyle)

Minimalist Lifestyle = Less Clutter

If the brain power wasn’t enough, the physical part is. Every day we go through our front door, see 1,000+ things instantly, and then brush most of it away to concentrate on the items needed that very second. And that’s just the first level! If you have 2 more (like we do), the same thing occurs every time you walk through. It’s not the end of the world, but I bet your brain would feel a lot better seeing LESS stuff around the house. Or I guess less UNNECESSARY stuff as we have already determined (or at least I did with the art everywhere – if those aren’t important to you they go right into YOUR so-so bin).

And guess what? The fewer things you own the less maintenance/upkeep you have to shell out money on! No more fixing unimportant (to you) gadgets, toys, collections, etc etc. I’m telling you, if you could pull it off I bet you’d be a lot happier :)

And having less clutter around the house is just the first half of it all. If you can clean things out, and STICK to it, the desire to buy more and more stuff would diminish along with it. After all, if you keep buying things they’ll go right back on the shelves and drawers that you just worked so hard to freshen up, right? That means less money going out the door, and a fatter savings account. Or at least a house full of *must haves* if you subscribe to the “buy something – throw something else out” rule.

Buy Something – Throw Something Out

If you/I can pull this whole minimalist lifestyle off, I think this is a rule that would help us stay on track. Say, for example, you DO get all your belongings down to 500 (or whatever # you choose) and you want to pick up a new such & such. You have to then ask your self – “Will I enjoy, or need, this item more than any other of my 500 things?” If that answer is Yes, then go for it! And then sell/donate the item you want to replace it with. Simple :) If you were Mr/Mrs. Perfect of course.

So what do you take from all of this? Well, it all depends on how happy or not you are with your lifestyle. For me, I could use the de-cluttering. I don’t think I could get my life down to only 100 items or a liter bottle full (seriously, that’s hardcore), BUT I could certainly cut it in half. Perhaps a 1,000 items challenge? I dunno…I just find this whole minimalism stuff incredibly inspiring.


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Finance February 8, 2010 at 8:15 am

Well I will be honest. I am living a minimalistic life. I gain $20-25/week and I only eat small and cheap foods. If you adhere with this such lifestyle, I tell you, you might enjoy and understand the meaning of life.

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2 Frugal Babe May 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I’ve been getting more and more excited about minimalism for the last few weeks. My family and I are living our dream of having a huge garden (this is the first year here, but we’re hoping that eventually most of our food will grow in our own backyard). So obviously we’re not interested in living out of a backpack or having only 100 things. But I am interested in rooms with lots of open space, flat surfaces without a bunch of stuff on them, clear floors and walls, and no “black hole” storage areas in the house or basement. It’s a work in progress, but so far I’ve filled the car twice with donations for Goodwill, and I’m on a roll. I’m also doing pretty well with avoiding going into Goodwill “just to look” when I drop off the donations!

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3 J. Money May 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

@Finance – I believe it! I’ve got a WAYYYYYS to go right now, but I’m slowly but surely getting there ;)

@Frugal Babe – There you go! That is awesome :) If you can keep up that momentum you will be soooo much happier! I go in little spurts of energy here and there but I’ve cut out bringing IN stuff pretty drastically. Trying to keep with the “1 in, 1 out” rule too – just kinda hard. haha…

I wish I hadn’t lost all the other comments that were here when this originally posted as there was some great discussions going on….some FOR minimalism and some knocking it – but regardless it was great to hear varied opinions on it all :) Oh well, that’s what I get for not starting on Wordpress to begin with.

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4 caston July 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

living the minimalist lifestyle is sparking my curiosity. i lived like this before i got married, but i did not know it had a name. my wife loves to buy things and decorate our house way to much. how can i convince her to get rid of so much junk?

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5 J. Money July 5, 2010 at 1:04 am

Hah! Unless it’s “junk” to her, not much you can do ;) I’ve been doing better about it myself, but still hard to get rid of wall decorations I really like seeing up. The second they start cluttering my head more will be the second they’re out the door.

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6 savvysavingbytes July 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I’ve always lived a minimal lifestyle and I feel, like you, that all my art on the walls can never be considered excessive. Art feeds the soul.

I also go along with the: when you buy a new thing — throw out an old one, but I do it mostly out of necessity. Having a leprechaun-size apartment keeps my buying habits in check.

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7 J. Money July 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm

That would do it :) And totally agree – Art does feed the soul! Esp if you are the artist behind the work.

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8 Hope Henry July 30, 2010 at 1:25 pm

J. Money, If you mat your pictures so that several will each fit in one size frame (and you create an easy-off back for each frame), you can file your pictures in a flat container, such as an artist’s portfolio, and hang a limited number at a time. It is less cluttering to your mind, takes very little space to store (the portfolio could be hung on the wall behind your clothes in the closet), and you get NEW pictures every time you change them out…
My father was an artist and I love his prints, but I hate a cluttered wall…I find my pictures more satisfying if they are allowed to be special enough to be noticed. Changing them out also keeps them from becoming ignored background.
You could also put two or three behind one another in a frame to store them, but, depending on the medium, you might end up with one bleeding onto another (I also come from a damp climate :O) ).

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9 J. Money July 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Not a bad idea my man! I like the fresh look every now and then too – something that rarely pops in my mind when decorating. Most of my artwork is framed in big gaudy gold & silver frames (like a king!) but it would be nice to switch ‘em out every now and then. The funny part here is that I went from 1 bedroom to 3 levels of house and everything I had pretty much filled the walls of the entire place! haha… so now my art is more spaced out, but it’s still a lot.

I will say, however, ever since writing this post I haven’t accumulated much stuff at all! And I’m still sticking to the “one thing in, one thing out” rule. Gets easier as time goes on :) Thanks for the idea!

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10 Jonha @ Happiness October 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I don’t think Budget is just Sexy, how you connect with your readers and truly make them feel that they’re part of some community is what matters the most! And yes, I like how you can simple lifestyle as minimalist.

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11 J. Money October 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Thx my friend :)

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12 Skint in the City May 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

From being a hoarder and a clutterbug all my life I’m becoming more and more into minimalism the older I get. Especially with my wardrobe. The way I see it now, the fewer clothes I have, the more I get to wear what I’ve got – and the easier it is to find stuff. I got sick of wasting money on new clothes because my wardrobe was so cramped I forgot what I had. Now, as soon as I buy something new, an old garment has to go to ebay or the charity shop.

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13 J. Money May 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm

YES! I love that way of doing things too. Sometimes I forget until I go to put that new shirt away and realize I then have to get rid of something, but I made up a new rule that it can be *anything* at all. If I love all my shirts and I bring home another one, I can get rid of something else in the house and call it even. Just as long as I’m not adding MORE stuff to the house.

Glad you’re no longer a hoarder!

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14 Military Traveler August 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Military moves are good for trying to maintain the minimalist lifestyle. We are trying to teach our children that principle as well. Before and after our 2 years moves (for the past 10 years) and every time we want or happen to obtain something, we have to get rid of something else as you discussed. It’s worked for us so far. Also, if I need something, I try to shop online for it specifically. It avoids many of the in-person impulse buys. And I like a good bargain, but as my mother always said, “It’s not a bargain unless you truly “need” it AND find it at a good price:)”.

But my challenge is time…because we’re only in an area for a short period, I often over schedule our family to see and do as many activities as physically and emotionally possible!!!! Let’s just say that over the summer, my detail oriented 5 year old has asked for the next day’s schedule…..I guess to prepare himself. I need some work in that area.

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15 J. Money August 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hah! That is awesome :) And I totally get the whole military life too – we moved over 20 times due to dad being in the military. I miss (and loved) all of it! Though now I have trouble settling down in one spot, haha… but thanks for reaching out. It’s a good reminder for me to continue doing the “one in, one out” thing too – I tend to forget ;)

(Also, AWESOME blog name! Haha… “Sisterhood of the Traveling Military Pants” – I love it)

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16 mi$$y September 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

i have lived the minimalist lifestyle since ~ 2001. I gave away my tv, garments i didn’t wear, etc. Now i’m married with a toddler, and thankfully my husband loves minimalism too!! yes, no clutter = serenity. you know what you have, and you focus on what’s important — not the next thing to buy or get. we don’t own a tv; not b/c we cannot buy one, but b/c it’s clutter right now. we have one laptop, which at night we often use to stream tv or movies on free sites like hulu.com, veetle.com, et al. We have one car, too. it’s not bad. living more simply enables you to truly appreciate the finer things in life (family, friends, nature, etc.), and connect with God. Yes, faith is at the top of the pyramid regardless of stuff.

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17 J. Money September 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I like!!! All great things to keep in perspective :) Thanks for sharing mi$$y, haha… dope name too.

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18 Genevieve Parker Hill January 24, 2014 at 2:21 am

Wonderful! I shared this with readers in the Minimalist Living community on FB, which you all are so welcome to join: https://www.facebook.com/mnmlstlvng

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19 J. Money January 24, 2014 at 7:22 am

Awesome, glad you enjoyed it :) Will check out your site!

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20 peabright green October 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I guess you could say I’m a quasi-minimalist…I have the mindset but putting it into action is my biggest concern. My biggest obstacle is my massive book and CD collection…but I am slowly determining what I really need and acting accordingly…and it feels good to see free shelf space again. Growing up I always felt that our family crest included the motto “Don’t throw that away, it might be good for something”. I lived with my mother and grandparents, all of whom lived thru the Depression in Appalachia so they were loathe to get rid of anything. My grandmother would beg me to help clean the basement but would stop me before I threw anything away. So basically ” cleaning” was simply rearranging clutter. My brother is still like that. The way he sees it, he PAID for all that stuff so he’s keeping it….even if it is worthless or obsolete. Therefore incurring fees for storage rental units, new outbuildings, etc. I remember my mother had a storage unit for some of her possessions and after she died it took us months to clear it out…all that time having to pay rent on it…and the stored goods couldn’t even be sold for enough to pay the rent. As I get older I am more and more drawn to the saying, “You don’t own possessions, possessions own you.”

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