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Why I Became A Minimalist

Learning about minimalism and adopting this lifestyle has brought me more peace, more meaning, and more happiness. This is my story of why I became a minimalist.

The Beginning

A few years ago, I had my dream job. I was working 9-5 and had my own office, I was on salary, I had a company laptop and double monitors. I was important, respected, and well-liked in my office. I worked in the wine industry and got plenty of opportunities to further my wine education. We had fancy company holiday parties and I was making more money than I’d ever made before. I thought I should be happy; I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t.

Why I Became a Minimalist

What Was I Doing?

During this time, I was living quite the lavish lifestyle. I had relatively low overhead costs. I was renting a one-bedroom with my boyfriend, and I had previously bought my used car in cash. I had a low car insurance payment, I got health benefits through work, and my only monthly bills were rent and my cell phone bill. I used most of my income on shopping sprees at Target over the weekend (to spruce up my home furnishings, pick up some new work clothes, or try some new makeup), happy hours after work, or dinners at nice restaurants. If I wasn’t shopping on the weekend, I was wine tasting – though I got free tastings for being in the industry, I’d still spend hundreds of dollars stocking up on fancy wines.

The Ted Talk

One day after work, I stumbled upon a Ted talk by The Minimalists. It was called A Rich Life With Less Stuff. I watched it three times in a row, and then forwarded it to everyone I knew. I made a plan to declutter my spaces and live a more minimalist lifestyle. I started with my living room, donating tons of books. I moved to my bathroom and decluttered heaps of lotions, creams, shower gels and old makeup. I cleaned out my closet and donated clothes that still had tags, bags of shoes, and a massive pile of accessories that I never wore.

Going Minimalist

I did a total of three rounds of decluttering. I had a few discussions with my boyfriend, who wasn’t interested in minimalism or getting rid of any of his stuff. Once I finished my last round of decluttering, I started to pay attention to the lifestyles of the minimalists I admired. I started to question my own lifestyle and the ways I was spending my resources – my time, my money and my energy. I decided to make some big changes.

Why Minimalism?

Intentional Living

One of the biggest changes that I made with minimalism was becoming more intentional with how I spent my time, money and energy. I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend, and I started saving like I’d never saved before (it’s amazing what happens when you stop shopping and going out). For the first time in my life, I had a plan to do something just for me. I saved for five months, got my first passport, asked for a 44L backpack for my birthday, and left the US for a life of world travel.

The Happy Ending

Two years later, I’m still traveling full time. I’ve been to twenty-four countries, I’ve lived abroad in two, and I have lots of travel planned for my future. I spend my days how I want to spend them. Because I spend so little money, I don’t need to work full time to support myself. I am rich with time, my passport is filling up rapidly, and I’ve lived more in the past two years than the last twenty-seven.

As you can see, minimalism has been so beneficial to my life. I will be forever grateful to the minimalist movement and the people who introduced me to it. Thanks to them, I can now say that I live a Rich Life With Less Stuff.

Your Turn!

  • Have you tried minimalism?
  • If so, why did you become a minimalist?

 

Minimalism Tips for Beginners

Minimalism has changed my life in so many positive ways. There are so many aspects of your life that can benefit from minimalism, I recommend getting started as soon as possible. These are four minimalism tips for those looking to live a more minimalist lifestyle.

Minimalism Tips

Declutter Instead of Organize

I used to be a big fan of organized. Having everything in it’s designated place made me so happy. Though I was relatively organized and tidy, I still had kitchen drawers overflowing with stuff and clothes that I never wore folded perfectly into my dresser. When I chose to declutter instead of continuous organizing, my drawers became emptier and easier to work with. Getting dressed in the morning was so much quicker when I didn’t have to sort through clothes I didn’t usually wear.

Question Everything You Bring In

I used to buy things on impulse much more often than I like to confess. It was a regular habit for me to pick up a new shirt or pair of cheap earrings when I’d go out for soap or paper towels at Target. But once I started questioning why I was buying something and if I really needed it, my impulse shopping slowed way down. When I started asking for how long I’d use it and how often I’d wear it, the impulse purchases stopped almost completely.

Want Versus Need

Minimalist TipsDetermining the difference between things you want (because it’s cute, you like it, or it looks good on you) versus what you actually need can make all the difference in living a minimalist lifestyle. Though you may need a dress for a special event, you don’t necessarily need a new one. Using what I have and being conscious with my decisions to purchase new items helped me keep my closet minimal and clean.

 

One in, One Out Rule

The one in, one out rule means that every time you purchase something and bring it in to your space, you must get rid of one thing. This helps keep clutter to a minimum, and is especially useful after you’ve done a few rounds of decluttering. This rule helps prevent me from replacing items that I already have, which haven’t seen their fair share of use. It also means that if you decide that you need a wardrobe overhaul, you can do that by replacing the same amount of items that you already have, guilt free. I do recommend buying clothing from thrift stores for budgeting and environmental reasons.

These four simple rules have helped me to maintain my minimalism and keep my closet clean, clear, and clutter-free. Minimalism not only helps me maintain a clear closet, but it helps me maintain a clear mind and simple, happy life.

Your Turn!

  • Do you use any of the tips I mentioned?
  • Which tip will you try first?

 

Minimalism and Shopping: Questions to Ask Before Buying

After the decluttering and the clearing out, I started to feel like such a pro minimalist. But soon the day will come when you need to buy something – and this sent me into a panic mode at first. Could I go to Target and buy only soap? It took a long process of trial and error, but these are the questions I now ask myself to consider with minimalism and shopping.

1. Is this a planned or spontaneous purchase?

I only buy things that I’ve been considering for some time. This means that I’ve thought about purchasing and already considered whether or not it was a necessary purchase. A lot of the time, I will think about buying something for a couple of weeks, and then at the end of this time, decide that it’s actually not something that I need. This process is super helpful for me, as I used to be a very spontaneous shopper (and addicted to Target). It also helped me learn how to start living a minimalist lifestyle.

Minimalism and Shopping

2. Is there something else I could use instead?

This question has actually prevented me from purchasing things that I’d wanted and thought about but didn’t actually need. I now buy primarily multi-use products, or turn my products into multi-use products. For example, I used to use separate products for my face and body. Now, I try to use the same soap for my face and body (preferably a bar soap as they last longer), and I use the same moisturizer all around as well. I have even moved into using products that can go further than this; I’m currently trying out oils as moisturizers, because they can also moisturize my hair (and knock out the need for a hair serum!).

3. Will I use this until it expires?

I’ve bought many a product that I had not planned to use to it’s fullest potential. Before minimalism, this was mostly fast fashion – cheap jewelry from forever 21 that would stain my fingers green after a week, tank tops that would fall apart after a couple of washes. But even after transitioning into minimalism, I would purchase things that I might only need for a short time.

Minimalism and Shopping

The best example here is the multiple types of coffee makers I (used to) own. I travel the world full time; I live out of a backpack. I definitely don’t need to be carrying around more than one coffee maker, but at one point I was carting around a French press, a cone filter (complete with a pack of 100 filters), and a plastic reusable Tupperware container full of coffee. I do love a good cup of coffee, but even to me, that is over the top. Since this ridiculous incident, I’ve removed all of these items from my backpack and now just use the coffee maker that is available to me (also trying to quit the daily coffee habit, so I don’t have to rely on anything).

These are the three questions that have helped me avoid lots of unnecessary purchases, and have assisted me so much in my journey to minimalist shopping.

Your Turn!

  • What secrets do you have for avoiding unnecessary purchases?

When Does Minimalism Become Unhealthy?

Minimalism is a lifestyle that has brought me so many benefits, I tell everyone I know about it. Though it is a helpful and healthy lifestyle for me, it can become an unhealthy obsession for some. So, when does minimalism become unhealthy?

Obsession Over Getting Rid of Stuff

When I first started to get rid of my stuff I didn’t need, it felt good. I am still getting rid of stuff, and minimalism is a constant learning process for me. I used to feel the shoppers high after buying a ton of stuff I didn’t need at Target; now I feel the minimalism high after getting rid of bags of old clothes or college books. I can see how getting rid of stuff could turn into an obsession.

When Minimalism Becomes Unhealthy

Getting Competitive

I talk about minimalism a lot, and though I’m probably more of a minimalist than your average person, I sometimes get called out in the minimalist community for things like wearing makeup or owning multiple pairs of shoes. This doesn’t bother me because I believe that minimalism looks different for everyone. It’s not a competition over who has less stuff, and you can still be a minimalist if you own two dresses instead of one.

Getting Rid of Things You Actually Need

Minimalism is a great way of life. My favorite thing about it is the individuality, and figuring out what you consider worthy of keeping to use on a regular basis. If I used something like a potato peeler on a regular basis, but someone else doesn’t, it might make sense for the other person to get rid of their potato peeler. Minimalism can become unhealthy when one gets rid of items they use regularly, simply to become more minimalist.

When Minimalism Becomes Unhealthy

Mindset

To me, minimalism is lifestyle that makes my day-to-day life easier and more enjoyable. I got rid of the stuff I didn’t need to make room for the things I care about in my life, like spending time with family and having freedom in my schedule. When minimalism becomes a competition or obsession, it starts to become unhealthy.

When Life Becomes Harder

It can be easy to slip into a mindset of wondering what else you can get rid of, what you haven’t used in the last few weeks, what takes up the most room in your closet. If getting rid of things and being as minimalist as possible is making your life harder than it is easier, you may have an unhealthy obsession with minimalism.

These are just a few ways in which minimalism can become unhealthy. Minimalism has brought so many benefits to my life. As with anything, it’s best practiced in a way that works best for the individual. This will look different for everyone. I really believe that everyone can benefit from adopting a few minimalist practices.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have any other reasons you think minimalism could become unhealthy?

 

How To Quit Impulse Shopping

When I became a minimalist, one of the first things I had to do was learn how to stop impulse shopping. Learning to quit impulse purchases was hard at first, but I had a few tricks that helped me quit for good. This is how I quit impulse shopping.

Get Clear on Why You Want to Stop

If you don’t have a reason to stop impulse shopping, you won’t quit. I had been buying random clothes on impulse for years, and wanted to be more responsible, but my only reason to stop thus far was simply to save money. This reason was so vague that it didn’t help me at all. Eventually, I created a bigger “why” that did help – a lot.

How to Quit Impulse Shopping

Create Short And Long Term Goals

By creating goals, I had a reason to quit shopping on impulse. I wanted to travel, so my short term goal was to save a certain amount of money per month. My long term goal was to be able to save enough to travel for one year (and I did it!). When I made a stop at Target, I kept these goals in my mind, and knew that impulse purchases would prevent me from hitting my goal deadlines.

Take Notes

When you have the urge to buy something on impulse, stop for a second and acknowledge that feeling. Why do you want to buy that candy/top/whatever? I noticed that I craved impulse purchases when I was upset or craving something else in my life. When I took a look at what was causing these cravings, I was able to really quit impulse shopping.

Kick Off with A Strong Start

To get motivated and determined (and stick to my goals), I would go on a spending freeze for one week out of the month, every month. A spending freeze for me meant no money spent on social activities (try hiking with a friend or meeting for a date in the park), no coffees out, no clothes or extras at all purchased during this week. I would set a grocery budget and stick to it, use the least amount of gas in my car, and spend my afternoons hiking outside and prepping meals at home. Once the week was up, I would feel so accomplished and proud that I’d often be more motivated to keep saving.

How to Quit Impulse Shopping

Don’t Go To Stores that You Have Trouble With

The places that would always suck me in to buy things on impulse were Target and Forever 21. If I knew that I felt weak, but I needed laundry detergent, I would go to CVS or Walgreens instead of Target. Though laundry detergent is less expensive at Target, I knew that if I went there, I would probably end up buying way more than just laundry soap, so this was a savings overall. After time, I was able to go in to a Target without feeling the urge to buy everything.

Quick Tips

A few quick and simple tricks that helped me overcome impulse shopping were: carry only the amount cash you’ll need when going to the store, (no credit or debit cards), freeze your credit cards if you feel it’s necessary, and try to get all of your shopping done once a week, and make lists for the things that you need to buy – and don’t stray from the list.

These tips all helped me to quit impulse shopping and stop impulse buying. When I quit impulse purchases and went minimalist, I was able to save money to travel the world full time.

Your Turn!

  • Which tip is your favorite?
  • What would help you quit impulse shopping?

 

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