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Minimalism and Gifts: How To Give Minimally

Every year on my birthday, my friends and family want to buy me stuff. They know that I’m a minimalist, so they are often lost about what to buy me. This is a guide on how to buy gifts for a minimalist (or what to tell your friends and family if you’re a minimalist).

1. I’ve Made A List of Things that I Was Planning to Buy

Giving MinimallyThis is a win-win situation. Around my birthday, I always end up needing something. I don’t keep a physical list (because that way I might write something down that I’d otherwise forget about), but I keep a mental list of things that I know I’m looking for. I’ll find the exact item I want, down to the color, size, material, everything.

I will make a very detailed list (I even include links to websites to buy the product from) and give that to my family. This way, they can get me something they know I want and will use, and I’m happy with what I get. This tactic usually works best for close family (or good friends, depending how your relationship is).

2. Ask for Dates

One of my favorite gifts to give and receive is a quality friend/family/sister date. This is something that you plan to do together. It can be as simple as going for a walk together or having a cup of coffee, or it can be a whole day of experiences in which you are connecting with each other. This can be fun for everyone involved, as you get to plan it however you’d like!

3. Donate to a Charity that You are Passionate About

If you don’t need anything and can’t spend quality time with someone (or you just don’t want to), ask for a donation to a charity that you’re passionate about. This way, the person feels like they are giving, and you get to feel the benefit of giving.

Minimalist Gifts

4. Ask For or Give Consumable Items

Consumable items are a great gift, because you get to give a physical item and enjoy the process of giving and receiving, but it won’t contribute to clutter. My favorite consumable items include a bottle of wine, a high-quality package of whole bean coffee, loose leaf tea, or homemade treats.

5. Ask For or Give Something That Will Help The Environment

The only exception I make to the list above is buying something that will help save the world. I like to give the gift of high quality reusable bags (to those who don’t currently use them), high quality to-go coffee cups, or even a batch of cute reusable produce bags.

These are my favorite tips for gift giving and receiving as a minimalist. These tips have held steady for me for the last few years. Once your friends and family understand why you don’t participate in traditional gift giving, life as a minimalist is so much easier – so make sure to have that conversation early on.

Your Turn!

  • How do you give minimally?
  • Which of the above tips are your favorite?

6 Common Myths About Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle that I’ll always support. Though it is a very personalized lifestyle, there are loads of misconceptions and assumptions made about minimalism. Here are six common myths about minimalism.

minimalism myths

1. You Count Your Belongings

Though some minimalists do count the amount of belongings they own, a lot of minimalists don’t. I don’t count the amount of things I own, because the number isn’t what is important to me – I prefer to know that the things I own are bringing value to my life. I like to constantly ensure that the belongings I have are working for me, not the other way around. To me, it’s not about the number of things I own – it’s about the value that those things bring me.

2. You’re Nomadic

minimalism myths Lots of minimalists travel full time. But a lot of them don’t, as well. Minimalism gives me freedom that I never thought possible in my previous life. I like to use my freedom to travel full time, but most minimalists I follow don’t travel as much as I do. Minimalism allows the freedom to live the way one would like – and to me, that means full time travel. However, I know loads of minimalists who are settled down in apartments or houses.

3. You Only Wear Black

It’s common in minimalism and capsule wardrobes to have a color theme. This way, matching is easier and most of your clothes will go with each other, ensuring ease of getting dressed in the morning, as well as a simpler and smaller wardrobe. Though black seems to be the most common color (it’s definitely my color of choice), not all minimalists only wear black.

4. You’re Also Vegan / Zero Waste

Minimalism is an alternative lifestyle – it’s still far from mainstream. Living a sustainable and/or vegan lifestyle are also alternative ways of living. But just because all of the above lifestyles have something in common, doesn’t meant that minimalism encompasses them. I consider myself a minimalist, but I’m not zero waste. I know loads of minimalists who aren’t vegan.

common myths minimalism

5. You’re Cheap

Possibly the most common of assumptions about minimalism is that minimalists are cheap. Contrary to this belief, I believe that minimalism means that you can buy the best of everything. For example, if I am going to buy a computer, I want to buy the best computer I can. I don’t want to buy a cheap laptop that will only last me a few years – I spend a decent amount of money to buy the most high-quality, long lasting computer that I can find. I also look for high quality clothes, shoes, and even food. Because I buy less, I can afford to buy better quality items.

6. You Work Online

minimalism mythsWhen I went minimalist, I quickly saw how much more free, light, and happy I felt. I didn’t feel weighed down by my belongings anymore, I could pack up and move wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I saved up some money and started traveling. I very quickly realized that if I were to work online, I could keep up this travel-based lifestyle forever. Though I work online, most minimalists I know do not. You can be a minimalist and work a 9-5, you can be a minimalist and work retail, you can be a minimalist no matter what your line of work.

These were six of the most common myths/assumptions about minimalism. Learning more about minimalism and just how personal it is helped me realize that I could become a minimalist. Minimalism is a lifestyle that works for you – creating a life of freedom, happiness, and more excitement.

Your Turn!

  • What are some myths that you’ve heard about minimalism?

How Minimalism Helps Me Live More

I originally turned to minimalism to clear out the clutter in my house. I had no idea the impacts a minimalist lifestyle would have on my mental state, and bank statements. This is four ways that minimalism has helped me embrace life even more.

minimalism live more

1. I Have More Time

Before minimalism, I didn’t think that having a lot of stuff took up a lot of my time. But when I looked at where my time was going, I noticed that I was spending a lot of my weekend time doing one of the following: laundry, shopping, cleaning, or organizing. If I wasn’t doing one of those things, I was most likely scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on my couch. After embracing minimalism, I have less things to clean, I spend almost no time organizing, and I do one or two loads of laundry a week, usually during the week. My weekends are spent laptop-free, in nature, doing something I love.

2. I Have More Resources

Because I have stopped buying unnecessary things, I’ve saved an incredible amount of money. My lifestyle is simple and extremely inexpensive to maintain. I consistently save at least 50% of my income, and spend a lot of time not working. I travel full-time, and sometimes I’ll even work in exchange for room and board. My minimalist lifestyle allows me to save so much money, while living more.

3. I Have More Energy

minimalism live moreAfter trading my 9-5 for a more flexible schedule, I’ve created tons of downtime for myself. If I feel like I need some time to unwind, relax, and take it easy, I can spend a day journaling or reading. I know that when I get sick, I am able to rest, and when I feel like spending time outside, I can go for a hike or walk to the beach. I can choose how I want to spend my time, which helps me create a better balance. I now spend some days working all day, and some days I’ll spend not working at all. By giving myself  time and space, I can live in a much more flexible way.

4. I’m Happier

Minimalism has helped me to create a better life for myself. I no longer dream of fancy cars and brand new iPhones; now, I feel happy with just a simple wardrobe, the technology that I need and use often, and a good, healthy diet. Having the ability to obtain everything I need and nothing more brings more joy to my life than I ever thought possible. It feels amazing to no longer feel like I need a new car, own a house, or have 2.5 kids to be successful. I have everything I need to live a happy life, and I am very happy with my lifestyle now.

This was just four of many ways that minimalism has helped me live more. Minimalism changed my life drastically for the better, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Your Turn!

  • How has minimalism helped you live more?

 

5 Signs You Might Be A Minimalist

Minimalism is a very personalized lifestyle – it’s about finding a system that works for you. Though it varies person to person, there are some essential aspects to it. These are five signs that you might be an unintentional minimalist.

minimalism signs

1. You’re Not Attached To Stuff

It’s important to get things that you like, but it can be common in our western culture to get very attached to things. When you refuse to let your sister borrow your shirt because it’s your favorite shirt (though you know she will treat it well), you may be a bit too attached to that shirt. Minimalism is about only owning things that you need, but getting attached to material possessions is never a helpful mentality.

2. You Don’t Buy Much

Because minimalism focuses on the essential, becoming a minimalist usually means that you won’t be shopping very often. I rarely visit malls anymore, and I only go food shopping once every week (for produce) or every other week (for bulk items). I use my clothes until they are unusable, whether that means holes, rips, or tears. I don’t buy multiples of things I don’t need. I have one pair of pajama pants, and I don’t need a second, so I won’t buy another pair of pajamas until the pair I have is no longer usable.

minimalism signs

3. You’ve Defined Your Essentials

You know what you want and you know what you need to thrive. For me, essentials include a simple capsule wardrobe, basic hygiene products, a good backpack, my laptop, camera, and a good book and/or notebook. In terms of belongings, this is all I really need. If I was settled down in a permanent living situation, I would simply add dishes and some basic furniture to this list. Viola!

4. You Don’t Have Unnecessary Stuff

Not only do you not buy much, but you get rid of belongings when you realize that you don’t use them or don’t need them any longer. By continuously culling your belongings, you’re creating a clutter free, clean, and minimalist surrounding. I’m constantly getting rid of things that I don’t use regularly anymore. I recently purchased a keep cup, and as soon as I brought it home, I got rid of my old reusable coffee cup (I donated it to a friend who didn’t have one).

5. You’re Debt Free (or paying off debt very quickly)

A minimalist lifestyle helped me save money faster than any other savings plan I’ve ever tried. I was shocked to look at my bank account after payday, and realize that I still had money left over from my last paycheck. I danced a little jig when I saw this happening weeks in a row, and saw the number in my checking account consistently growing. Saving money and paying off debt is one of the many benefits that makes a minimalist lifestyle one of freedom and happiness.

These are just five of many reasons you may be a minimalist. There are so many benefits to minimalism, I definitely recommend trying out a minimalist lifestyle. It’s helped me go from broke while working a 9-5, to traveling the world and happier than I’ve ever been.

Your Turn!

  • What aspect of minimalism is most appealing to you?

 

Minimalism & Family: Minimizing with Kids

When the topic of minimalism comes up in my conversations, often times it’s followed by a comment that it would be so much harder to be a minimalist with kids. While minimizing with kids isn’t easy, it’s entirely possible, and maybe even more important that minimizing on your own. Here are some tips on minimizing when you have a family.

minimalism family

1. Have a Packing Party

A packing party is a fun way of saying to throw all of your stuff in boxes, and pull things out as you need them. This could work very well for kids, because they will have to ask for specific toys before you get them out of the box. After a couple of weeks, donate the toys still in boxes.

2. Explain the Importance of Donating

By telling a child what it means to donate, you are giving them the option to do something good. If you teach your children to share, why wouldn’t you teach them the importance of donating and charities? Teach the importance of giving and sharing to your children to help them learn that things and stuff aren’t the most important things.

3. Gain Inspiration

Read blogs by minimalists with families. They are out there. My favorite is Leo Babauta, a minimalist with six kids who lives in San Francisco. Other popular ones are Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, and The Minimalist Mom. Minimalism is a personalized lifestyle, but seeing how other people do it has always been helpful to me in determining how I want to go about it.

minimalism with kids

4. No Gifts, Please

Most kids toys come into the house as gifts. By asking for something other than gifts (donations to a college fund would be a good start), you will be cutting down on clutter and giving a better gift in the long run. If you definitely want to get a toy as a gift, consider buying your child one or two toys from yourself – it’s much easier to get rid of things that you buy a year or two down the road versus things your family or friends buy.

5. Minimize the Available Space for Toys

By creating a smaller storage space for toys (for example, a chest versus an entire playroom), you will be able to cut down the amount of toys your child has. Less space for toys should equal less toys. Less toys means that cleanup and maintenance is so much more simple.

These are five simple tips to start minimizing in a family household. I’d love to hear in the comments below which ones you plan to try out!

Your turn!

  • What is your best tip for minimizing with kids?
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