Minimalism seems so trendy right now. Everyone is talking about it. There is Tidying Up plus other shows and documentaries on Netflix that have people inspired to declutter their entire homes and get down to what they really love. I tend to think that a lot of folks that watch these shows and take action on them, feel a weight lifted from their shoulders. But who knows how many of those same people actually follow through with living with less stuff.
Our minimalist life started in late July 2017. We had just watched The Minimalists’ documentary on Netflix. D and I thought to ourselves, why the heck do we have all this stuff? We had a rough first half of the year emotionally and physically. We were just over having so much stuff in our lives that didn’t make sense and weighed us down. So we purged our whole house in August 2017. Then we purged again in early 2018. We felt so much better with less stuff crammed in our house with us. That weight was lifted.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is living more with less. That “less” is the obvious owning of fewer possessions. Minimalism is also the approach to how you live. So, sure you live with less junk in your home and only own the things that make you happy, but what about every other part of your life?
As a minimalist, removing the things that clutter your life help you achieve living life to its fullest. This would include:
- material possessions that clutter your life and that you don’t love
- digital clutter and time-sucks (limiting social media, unsubscribing from emails)
- toxic friendships and other relationships
- hobbies and activities you don’t enjoy
- unhealthy and processed foods
- a job that ultimately is killing your passion
In the place of the negative or not-so-helpful things your removed from your life, you are able to fill that with positive things that you enjoy and get pleasure from.
For me, I left a job that drove me crazy and caused so much mental stress that I was numb at the end of the day. In turn, I was able to stay home with our son while my husband works. Not only do I get to enjoy the vivacious little boy that he is becoming but also get to write. And boy do I write a lot. I love writing for my blog.
I do things that bring me joy and pleasure. Because we have less, I am able to do so much more.
On the high note of doing more, we also have to budget like our lives depend on it. Yes, we have a 40% savings rate on a lower-middle income salary. But minimalism has become so much more than just a lifestyle. Minimalism is a way for us to survive.
Minimalism and Mental Health
I have felt so much healthier since we have eliminated so many cluttering material possessions from our lives. Things stuffed into cabinets and closets would give me a twinge of anxiety whenever I would try to find a home for a new item I bought or just to put something back up. I created our list of 18 things we won’t buy in 2019 as a way to curb spending but also to help focus on keeping our life as minimalist as possible.
Remember digital clutter? I deleted Facebook from my phone so I don’t see that icon and mindlessly click on it and start scrolling (time-suck). Facebook also caused a fair amount of anxiety for me. I was a part of a minimalist moms group and the “I’m going to burn my house down I have so much stuff” mentality of a large portion of the group made me feel like I should own less and less possessions.
From not looking at those over-dramatic, over-the-top posts about how much crap these women felt they had, I took a step back. I learned to appreciate what I had again and was grateful for everything that I own.
For us, that is what it is all about: appreciating and feeling grateful for everything that we are privileged enough to buy and appreciating the loved ones around us.
Where Frugality and Minimalism Meet
If you ask what type of minimalist I am, I will tell you that I am a frugal minimalist. There are a variety of minimalists out there and they all have different incomes and frames of mind. So why does being frugal and being a minimalist go together?
For some families, like us, saving money is a necessity. One way to achieve a higher savings rate is by simply being a minimalist. We own less, sure, but we also buy less. Take our grocery budget for example. Some months we only spend $50, those are the tighter budgeting months. Then we spend $150 the next month to replenish those pantry staples that have run out, but still only but exactly what we need.
The frugal part of us wants the great money saving deal, the minimalist part of us only wants exactly what we need. We have started a system of having a max of three of the same item. So if pasta is on sale one week for $0.50 a box, I know that I can buy three boxes and be comfortable with that sitting in my pantry until we eat it. Saving money and limiting how much we bring into our house!
So what does our life look like with minimalism?
Our life with our 10 month old son is simple but amazing. We cook from scratch, have game nights on Wednesdays, movie night is Friday (with a movie checked out from the library – frugal win!), and the weekend is simple family time. We see what’s new at our local thrift store, hike, play frisbee golf, and just spend time together as a family.
Rarely do we spend all weekend watching TV, so those easy weekends when there are no chores to get done or activities to do are a treat.
If you came over to our home, you would have no idea we are minimalists. We have an appropriate amount of furniture, there is carefully selected art on the walls, and our son has plenty of toys strewn about the living room. But if you more closely inspect, you’ll find that we have nothing in storage, we can park both cars in our garage comfortably, and our closets are very tidy. We really have just what we need to be happy.
We don’t force this lifestyle on anyone – it just isn’t our place. Will I help a family member declutter and organize their home? You betcha! But I’m not going to tell them that they would be better off only owning five shirts and two pairs of pants. No. Each individual is different.
Going Into the Future with Minimalism
Our family will have a minimalist lifestyle for the foreseeable future. I hope that our son learns that life is so much more than what you own or what that person over there owns. Life should be about family and the ones your hold dear. It should be about the experiences you have during your short time on Earth.
We hope to incorporate less chemicals into our daily routines (cleaning specifically) and do more DIY projects and substitutes. We buy less chemical laden products with plastic packaging and instead purchase base ingredients like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
It doesn’t matter what you own as long as you have food, water, shelter, and clothing. As long as you care for and nurture your family, you have a good life.