Posts Tagged Minimalism

30-Day Declutter Challenge: Go From Stressed To Clutter Free Fast + Free Calendar

30-Day Declutter Challenge: Go From Stressed To Clutter Free Fast + Free Calendar

30 Day Declutter Challenge

I’m a big fan of bite-sized challenges to kick start new behaviors and a 30-day declutter challenge is a great (and practical) way to make a tidy house happen. I want to break down how to do this 30-day challenge and then give you tips to make it stick. Because the last thing you want to do after you declutter your home and work hard to clear away the clutter is to fall back into old habits.

NAVIGATION

Everyday Clutter Zones
Problem areas for decluttering
tackling tough clutter
clean sweep

By the end of this 30-day declutter challenge you’ll be able to:

  • Declutter your home in 30-days with easy steps
  • Stop stressing and bring some order to your messy house
  • Learn some practical tips to declutter your home
  • Keep your home clean, clutter-free, and organize long term

Why Does A 30-Day Declutter Challenge Work?

Why Does A 30 Day Declutter Challenge Work

A declutter challenge is an easy step by step process that gives you one simple thing to do each day. Focusing on one little thing each day makes it easy, but after 30-days, it adds up to a big change. It can be overwhelming to think about cleaning your whole house, but if we break it down into smaller parts, it’s much easier.

How Do I Motivate Myself To Organize My House?

How Do I Motivate Myself To Organize My House

At the end of the day, there is one thing that will actually make you successful when it comes to decluttering your house and getting organized: Action. You don’t need to have the answers, you don’t need to get it all right, you don’t even need to know the best way to start decluttering, you just have to start.

You’re going to have some missteps, you might accidentally toss something you’ll need later, or you might put it away to realize it wasn’t in the right spot. But here’s the thing, you’ve made forward momentum. There will be some of you who read this post with aspirational intent, but it’s the people that get up from their computer after reading this post and just start that will actually make it happen. Even doing it badly is better than not doing it at all.

Where Do I Start Decluttering?

Where Do I Start Decluttering

A lot of people get all worked up when they think about getting rid of stuff and declutter a whole house or apartment. Something about the process makes them jump to the most extreme case. Don’t get bogged down with what you think are going to be the most challenging parts or overwhelmed by the entirety of your whole home.

My best piece of advice is: Start Small and Start Easy. Don’t take on the largest mess in your home right away and don’t start with difficult things to throw away like sentimental items. Start in one small place and things you have zero qualms getting rid of.

refrigeratorFor me, it’s the fridge. It’s a very small space and I don’t have to worry about sentimentality when I toss that third jar of mustard in my fridge that expired long ago that I never really liked anyway. Many people will start with their fridge, the bathroom vanity, a nightstand or their junk drawer (you know you have one). These are places that are a limited scope and don’t carry a lot of emotional work with them.

Once you’re done with one, try another place. Each time you finish try a little bigger space. Then start to tackle things you might have more to process emotionally around. What you’re doing here is building your “decluttering muscles” so when you get to tougher stuff, you have a practiced history to lean on.

There may come a point where you only have the really sentimental stuff or things that are wrapped up with a ton of emotions. But since you took this measured approach, even if you stop right there, you can look back at all the meaningful progress you’ve made; you came a long way!

How To Do Your Daily Declutter Challenge

How To Do Your Daily Declutter Challenge

Each day check out your free printable calendar that you can download below. Try to do this at roughly the same time of day to help build the habit. Set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work.

At the end of the time take a moment to consider the progress you made in that area and over the previous days of the challenge. If you’re feeling motivated, don’t just stop at 15 minutes, but commit to doing 15 minutes each day.

DECLUTTER CHALLENGE CHECKLIST

  1. Check your declutter challenge calendar
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes
  3. Declutter for the full time
  4. Reflect on the progress you’ve made
  5. Keep going if you’re in the zone!

Tips To Make Your Declutter Challenge Successful

Tips To Make Your Declutter Challenge Successful

Here are some things that will make your time decluttering a bit easier and ensure success at the end of your 30-days. Use the calendar as a guide, tweak it to suit your situation and needs.

Start where it makes sense for you. Each of us have our own flavor of clutter. Start with things that will be easy to declutter and are common problem areas for you.

Even if you don’t know where to start, move towards action vs inaction, even if you do it poorly you’ll be ahead of not doing anything at all.

DECLUTTER CHALLENGE TIPS

  • Don’t try to do too much at one time
  • Take time every day to maintain
  • Take before and after photos
  • Start with the easiest areas first
  • Have a bias towards action
  • Declutter first, organize second
  • Be honest with yourself

30-Day Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 Day Declutter Challenge Calendar

This 30-day challenge will help you declutter your house from top to bottom. Working a little bit each day you’ll move from room to room to make it all happen. Below is the 30-day declutter challenge checklist and calendar laying out what you need to do each day, but feel free to make some modifications so it works for you. I’m also going to break down each day with some added resources for you to check below, so grab your calendar and keep reading!

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 1 – Fridge

First day of a declutter challengeStart with this small area and toss out everything that you don’t like, is expired or you have multiples of. Condiments are a place we hang onto things too long. Most of what we use day today is a small fraction of what we have in our fridge door. Worst case you toss something you need and have to buy it again down the road, so be very heavy-handed here. While you’re at it wipe down the whole fridge.

Day 2 – Kitchen countertops

Decluttering your kitchen countertopThe kitchen the center of the home for many, which also means it becomes a place where a lot of things get placed down. Take a few minutes today to not only clean things up, but look at them. Why are they ending up there and not somewhere else? Do they have a place they should be? Should you designate a place for them? What practical steps can you take to stop the flow of these items BEFORE they happen.

Try to spend a few minutes each morning cleaning this area, it’s the beachhead for your decluttering for your whole house, so hold strong here to set the tone for the rest of your decluttering!

Day 3 – Landing Zone

Making sense of the landing zone for your stuffWhen you walk into your house, most of us have a place we drop our essentials: keys, wallet, phone, mail, purse, etc. If you just drop them on the counter or don’t have a designated place, take time today to set one up. It should be a purposeful selected place that is only for this, is out of the way to keep things neat, but easy to drop when you walk in.

Take a look at what you always have with you and what gets dumped right away when you walk in the door. If you have keys, set a single hook that makes it easy to see if your keys are there or not. For your phone, consider a charging stand or wireless charger. When you get mail, how should it be sorted (I do trash, to do, to file). Your purse might get hung or just a designated spot to drop.
For me I keep a minimalist everyday carry setup, so I don’t have a lot. I have a small nook that I purchased a small tray to put things in and I have a mail sorting station.

Day 4 – Front Closet / Mudroom Area

Clearing the clutter from your front closetIf you have kids this is managed chaos at best. Take time to think about what really needs to be there and what might be cut out. You want just the bare essentials here, too often people will use an article of clothing once, but it stays hung up there for months. A whole array of shoes litters the floor, but you most likely only have 1-2 go-to pairs. Cut things down to items you use every day, anything else that gets used occasionally should be removed and stored away elsewhere.

This lets us cut down what we have to organize in the first place. For a kid you might have a backpack, a lunch box, a jacket and shoes. Designate a specific hook or nook for each of these (ex: jacket hook, lunchbox hook) for each kid. Set a pattern to place each thing in their respective place, if they just dump and run, bring them back to do it correctly to reinforce it. This way you can quickly scan to see that little Johnny is missing his lunchbox.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 5 – Cleaning Supplies

Organizing cleaning suppliesPeople have a lot of cleaning supplies when you only really need a few essentials to make it all happen. You want to reduce things down to the very basics: An all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, and a disinfectant. That’s it! You can choose to make your own, but I just use store-bought. I get the generic brands of Simple Green for all-purpose, Windex for glass and mirrors, and then a bleach spray to disinfect things. From there I have a few microfiber cloths, a textured sponge, a razor blade scraper, and a scrub brush. Start with those, toss the rest and if you need something else buy it later.

Day 6 – Medicine cabinet

Arranging your medicine cabinetAs a guy my medicine cabinet is pretty lean. I only keep a few core things, but I know for women this is a more complicated matter. Focus on things that you use every day and things you love. Most women have a few go-to looks, so toss the makeup that doesn’t get used for those.

Here is what I keep, use this list to keep just the bare essentials and customize to you.

Minimalist Medicine Cabinet

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen Sodium
  • Ancetaminophen
  • Cough Drops
  • Decongestant
  • Antihistamine
  • A Few Band-aids
  • Q-tips
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Anti-acids
  • Sunscreen
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Razor w/blades

Day 7 – Night Stand

Straightening up your nightstandYou start and end your day in your bed, so let’s get this cleaned so you can kick things off clutter free. A night stand is one of those places that ends up collecting a lot of things. Look at what is there now and try to understand why it got there. Figure out what the core essentials are for a night sleep and consider thinking about keeping your phone outside the bedroom.

Day 8 – Junk Drawer

Cleaning out your junk drawerA junk drawer is a place for things without a place. Let that sink in. Either it’s not worthy of a designated place or it isn’t getting a place it really deserves. Both are undesirable. We tend to toss things in here that we are saving “just in case”, that are useful for “something”, or we haven’t taken the time to find a place for. Take some time to be an archeologist on your junk drawer, fix the underlying issues and clean it out. Consider adding a drawer organizer so you can segment the items in there going forward. Use your “junk drawer” as a place for things without a place, once a month go through it and toss it or find a place for it, regularly clearing it out.

Day 9 – Socks and Underwear

Sorting socks and underwearIt may not be for everyone, but many years ago I went to a single type of underwear and a multiple of identical socks. This lets me have some uniformity with things, I stopped wasting time matching socks and it lets me rotate underwear and socks easily. When things start to get worn out, I buy a whole new set, toss out the old and replace with all new.

Most people have their favorites or things they wear most days. In general, I suggest cutting out everything else. If you don’t love it, toss it. If you have something that you don’t like or something that bothers you about it, replace it now. The cost of most of these things isn’t high, so be pretty heavy-handed here.

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

Day 10 – Linen Closet

Thinning out the linen closetGo through and toss out the things that are getting worn out or maybe don’t fit the beds you have. If your linens are running thin, consider doing a clean sweep and buying all new bed sheets and towels; from time to time it’s good to start totally fresh. Try to only have 2 sets of linens for each bed: one on the bed, the other in the wash or waiting.

Day 11 – Laundry Room

Laundry room organizationGo through all your cabinets and drawers, toss things that you haven’t used or just adding clutter. Focus on things you use daily or weekly, toss things that are used rarely. Go through you cleaning products here and pare down the bare essentials. If you have time, consider what bothers you when you do laundry, take the time to fix it now.

Day 12 – Desk

Straightening up your office deskThis might be the first big challenge for some of us. What I suggest doing is taking your paperwork and sorting into three piles: to do, to file, to shred. I give more tips about how to declutter your office here and how to maintain a simple office in this post.

Once you’ve pulled out all the papers in the office, next I want you to use what I call “the box method”. To start get a big box and go through your entire desk and put everything in that desk into this box. Put the box in a closet somewhere for 60 days, set a calendar reminder for two months out. Don’t leave a single thing on your desk except your computer, keyboard, mouse and a lamp.

Then when you sit down to do something, if you need something that was in your desk, go to the box and pull out that single item. If you need a pen, get only one pen (might as well make it your favorite pen!). If you need to staple something, you can get the stapler, use it, then put it in your desk.

At the end of 60 days, you’ll have only the core items you need in your desk and nothing else. Go through the remaining items to double-check nothing super important is in there, then toss it all.

Day 13 – Bedroom closet

Bedroom closet organizationThis is another big one, so set some more time aside for this one. Most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe, meaning 80% of your clothes you don’t actually wear. I suggest you make three piles: to keep, to donate, to toss. Then go to town sorting. Realize this is a journey, not a destination, so make a solid effort here keeping only what you wear and love, but realize too, this is the first of many cleanouts.

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

how to build a capsule wardrobe

Day 14 – Toiletries, Makeup, and Shower

Simplifying your bathroom suppliesI’ll be honest here; I’m a guy and I don’t get all that goes into women’s morning routines. I’ll just say this: Think about each item you have, consider your wants vs. needs, and question everything. I have one bottle of shampoo, one bottle of body wash, deodorant, razor, shaving cream, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and nail clippers.

Day 15 – Car

Cleaning stuff out your carCars are a place that can collect a lot of stuff, if you have kids, this is doubly so. How I do this is I bring my trash can out and remove all the trash that might have collected there. Then I pull out everything and put it into two piles: keep in car and things that need to be put back in the house. I grab all those house items and put them away where they go right then.

Then I’ll declutter, toss and organize what I want to keep in the car. One thing I’ve started doing is things I use every day in my car, those go in my center console storage. The rest get neatly organized into a small bin that gets put in my trunk. This lets me have the things I need, but not get bogged down in the items I have to have in my car, but are rarely used.

From there I make it easy on myself, I drive down to a local car wash/vac and have them clean it. Bonus: grab a coffee while you kick back and watch them clean your car, you’ve made it halfway!

Day 16 – Garage – Part 1

Organizing the garageHere is a big one, most likely the biggest on this list. An astounding 23% of Americans can’t even park in their own garage because they have so much junk.

Because this is such a big challenge, I’m going to give you three whole days to work on this. Consider doing these days on a weekend because it’s going to take some time. Start with taking a photo of your garage as a “before photo”.

homeowner garage stats

For this I’d start with three piles: keep, toss, donate. Get one big box of black garbage bags and one box of a different color. Black trash bags get tossed; the other color gets donated. If you are in a house with two cars, when you fill a bag, put it right into the car until its full. One car for donation runs and the other for dump runs.

Day 17 – Garage – Part II

Clearing junk out of the garageContinue your progress clearing things out. When you’ve pulled out everything and sorted, make your final runs to the dump and donation location. Then I want you to come back and take your keep pile and go through it one more time. Ask yourself critical questions about each item. Are you really going to use this in the next 6 months? What stories are you telling yourself about these items? Are you keeping this item out of guilt because how much it cost, was it a gift or other hang up?

Day 18 – Garage Part III

Garage maintenanceToday is about bringing it all back into the garage and organizing it. Take a step back and really question what you’re about to bring back in and keep. The trick here isn’t to organize your clutter, it’s to reduce the items you have to organize in the first place.

I’d set yourself up with some good shelving and storage containers, and label things clearly. I’d suggest trying to use a uniform container and one or very few sizes, this will make things look very orderly and keep it organized too. Put things that you don’t use often up higher and things you’ll use a lot in easier to reach places. Don’t stack things so you can’t get to them easily and try to only put containers one row deep.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 19 – Maintenance Tidy Up

Guide to tidy up your houseYou had a big few days with the garage. So today go around to all the places you’ve already gone through and do a quick maintenance tidy on them. This will help keep your momentum going!

Day 20 – Kids Toys

Donate unused kids toysGo through and remove broken toys, toys that are no longer age-appropriate and items they haven’t played with in a long time. Donate where it makes sense.

Day 21 – Kids Closet

Sorting through kids closetFollow the same rules you learned with your own closet. Use the lessons you learned from your own experience to teach your kids in this moment. Involve them in the process.

Day 22 – Outdoor/Patio

Clear out outdoor patio spaceGo through your outdoor space and tidy up. Clear out dead plants, unused pots, and clean up outdoor furniture. Clear out your flower beds, coil the hose properly, rake leaves and fix whatever bothers you. Consider calling in a professional power washer for the house and deck, often these cost $200-$300 for the whole house and make a big impact.

Day 23 – Purse/Daily Bag

Decluttering your purseAnother place where things just naturally collect. Go through and clean out your bag, get down to the bare essentials. Take this time to think about the things you have in your bag, , magazines and replace things that never worked well for you or you didn’t like. Consider how you could better organize the items in your bag or purse with smaller pouches, reserving the main pockets and organization for only those things you use every day.

Day 24 – Family Room

Family room cleaningTake time to tidy up, remove things that collect there. Toys are big offender here if you have kids, so take the time to pare down again on toys if you can. Think about what messes are made, why it happened and how you could prevent them before they happen.

declutter your home room by room

Day 25 – Magazines and Books

Toss old magazinesGo through and make three piles: keep, toss, and donate. If you have a pile of unread books consider setting a goal of reading 10 pages each night to start making headway.

Day 26 – Powder Room

Tidy up powder roomTidy up the room, clear out the vanity of extra stuff, and consider adding a setup of your basic cleaning items right there for easy use. If you have extra time today, do some maintenance tidying in the previous areas.

Day 27 – Kitchen Pantry

Sorting out the kitchen pantryMuch like the fridge, go through items and toss things that your family doesn’t love or are expired. The pantry is a place where a lot of things that we used once to make a single dish and never again end up. Pare down your spices to a basic collection of your favorites. Here I’d suggest being pretty aggressive with toss (or donate) items because the cost of replacing is pretty low, so a mistake isn’t a big deal here. Focus on things you use every week.

how to stock a minimalist kitchen

Day 28 – Food Storage Containers And Pans

Use food storage containersEvery time I go into someone’s kitchen, I see them have a lot of pots and pans, but they often have their favorites. Saying things like “eggs stick to that pan” or something that signals it’s not really working well for them.

I suggest a small soup pot, a large soup pot, a good 8” pan, a 12” pan, a Dutch oven, two baking sheets, and a casserole dish. Keep those things and donate the rest.

For food storage containers I’d suggest something a little drastic. Toss everything. The problem people run into with storage containers is they have mismatched containers that don’t nest and they then have to go find a matching lid. If you stick to only one container type, every container will fit every lid. They then will also neatly stack in your fridge every time.

Then go find one container you really like and buy 10-20 of them. I found a great container that was pretty cheap so if it got funky, I could toss it without much guilt. It’s a decent size to hold a fair bit, but small enough so I can take with me if I want to pack a lunch in it.

equipping a minimallist kitchen

Day – 29 Kitchen Final Sweep

Declutter Challenge Kitchen cleanupYou’ve tackled the fridge, counters, pantry, cleaning products, landing zone, pans, storage containers, and spices. Now let’s round out the kitchen with a final declutter from top to bottom. Plan to give yourself a little bit more time today to get this done.

Start with re-tidying everything you’ve already done to keep it going. Now tackle any outstanding areas in your kitchen. Use your three piles to sort and if you’re really hung up on something, try the box method sparingly. Consider the items you use every day or weekly, the rest should be a candidate to get rid of or at the very least find a place to store them out of way and off the countertops. Be judicious about what makes the cut to have a home on top of the countertops, aim to have very few things on the counter.

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Day 30 – Final Push

Final push to decluttering your houseAt this point, there isn’t much you haven’t touched in your home. Think about things that you might want to do a second sort on to declutter a bit more, do those first. Now go back through the above list and do a quick tidy on all your previous work. Finally, tackle any extra things that aren’t on this list.

Take the time to really round out the whole 30-days, even if you have to work an extra day or two. You’ve come so far, finish strong!

How To Make Your Decluttering Stick For The Long Term

How To Make Your Decluttering Stick For The Long Term

Now that you’ve done so much work, we want to maintain it. I’d suggest you take before and after photos so you can remind yourself where you came from and how much better it really is to be on the other end of it.

  • Build a habit of maintenance tidying each day
  • If you keep cleaning up the same mess, ask why then fix that
  • Involve others you live with and gain buy-in, build their habits too
  • If something bothers you, take five minutes and fix it right then
  • Take a step back and question items in your space
  • Calendar times to clean up and tidy monthly
  • In 6 months, do another 30-day declutter challenge for a deeper clean

 

Download the Declutter Challenge Calendar

30 day declutter challenge calendar

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have from your own decluttering?

30 day declutter challenge post

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

How To Stop Shopping – 5 Strategies That Make All The Difference

how to stop shoppingHumans are funny things, we may want to stop shopping, but when it actually comes to making it happen, we find ourselves back in the store or shopping online. The reasons are complicated, you may be shopping to deal with stress – a little retail therapy – you might find yourself among friends who shop socially, it could be a great deal or sale, or any number of other reasons.

We have lots of reasons, but whatever yours happens to be, it led you here; searching for how to stop shopping. Let that sink in, if you find yourself here, it’s a problem and we need to fix it. The good news is, I have been where you are and escaped that cycle, even going on to not buying a single thing for an entire year!

How To Stop Shopping So Much

how to stop shopping so much

Before I get into my strategies to help you stop shopping, let’s take a minute to focus on what the outcomes of shopping too much or even a shopping addiction could mean. This helped me a lot when I started my minimalism journey. Think about made you want to figure out how to stop shopping so much. What was that feeling or driver?

Next, I’m going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do. I want you to sit here for a moment and let the dread, the uncomfortableness, the emotions consume you. Notice how it makes you feel, the thoughts that spiral from it. I want you to feel the dread, the anxiety, the shame, and stress that comes from shopping too much.

The reason for this? Sometimes the best way to change a behavior is to think about what it would be like to have a healthy relationship with shopping. But if it was that simple, you’d just do that. Instead, I find sometimes it can be more effective to run from something, rather than towards something. There is something in our DNA rooted in our flight or fight response that makes this true. Unchecked it can be a destructive force, used as a tool, it can propel us forward.

How To Take Control Of Your Shopping Habit

how to take control of your shopping

When you feel the temptation to buy more stuff, I want to you remind yourself of that feeling. When you’re feeling tempted while out with friends, when you feel stressed, when you start to justify a purchase, I want you to let that feeling overcome you as a reminder of what you’re moving away from. This will start to make saying no to buying something a relief rather than a challenge.

Now to the strategies that help me break away from the consumer cycle and stop shopping needlessly.

Say “next time”

say next time

This was a really big hack for me when I was trying to stop shopping. I set a rule that if I saw something that I wanted to buy that wasn’t on my shopping list I wrote at home, I’d tell myself “next time I’m in this store, if I still want it, I’ll buy it then”.

This stemmed the flow of impulse buys majorly. It works so well because you’re not even telling yourself “No” just “not right now.” The funny thing is often when I saw the item again, I often found myself wondering why I wanted it in the first place.

You can do this with online shopping too. If you’re trying to stop shopping on Amazon, they have a “save for later” button. I do this for every purchase I make online now as a habit unless I am replacing something that was broken/worn out.

Remove The Triggers That Lead You To Shopping

remove the triggers

Think about what are the thoughts, situations, and triggers that lead to shopping? It could be that we shop because we find ourselves at the mall with friends. What if instead, we proposed going to the park on a nice day. What if instead of spending $20 on a new top, we went to a wine bar and got a bottle with the same friends.

Do you shop when you’re stressed or bored? What could be an alternative response?
The point is that when we shop too much, it’s way easier to stop the circumstance that proceeds us being at the store than to not buy when we are already at the store. Identifying the steps that lead us to shop makes us aware and thus more intentional. Recognizing the triggers is half the battle.

Ask Why To Stop Shopping So Much

ask why you want to buy something

When you’re considering buying something, take a second and ask yourself the five whys? This technique is from the engineering geniuses at Toyota, but can work wonders in everyday life too. When you want to buy something, ask yourself “why do I want to buy this?”

In your mind I want you to answer this question, then consider the answer. Take the answer and ask yourself, why is that the answer? Then keep on repeating. What you’re doing is digging deeper to the root cause of why you’re buying this item. When you get to the end and you feel you can’t break down the answer anymore (could be 3 “whys” or 7 “whys”) then think about that final answer. Does that final answer make sense with the purchase you’re about to make?

It’s easier to see in an example:

five-whys-to-shopping

So, when we look at the above, we see how we took buying a shirt and distilled it down to “I want to be loved and accepted.” This then lets us compare the action we are taking (buying a shirt) to the TRUE desired outcome (love and acceptance). We then can ask does that action result in the outcome, in this instance we most likely would say “no”.

the purpose of stuff

At that point we have also learned something about ourselves, we can then ask, “what could I do that would get me closer to my desired outcome”. This one-two punch will let you stop your buying habit and build a new one that’s positive.

Reframe The Cost Of Purchases

reframe the cost

One of the most impactful things for me was reframing the cost of items. Let’s say you make $20 an hour and the item you are considering is $160. Ask yourself, “is this item worth me working an entire day for?” This helped me greatly and really oriented me in the right direction. This is also really helpful when you are trying to get out of debt.

Add Pain To The Process

add pain to the process

You’ll read many tips about how to stop spending money on things, but at the root, many of these will fail. Why? Because buying isn’t a painful enough process. Remember how I coached you at the very beginning of this post to sit with the dread of your shopping habit? I wanted to steep shopping with a healthy dose of pain.

Whenever I want to change something about my life and it proves to be stubborn to overcome. I recognize my lack of progress and ask myself “how can I make this MORE painful?” It’s an odd notion, but it totally works.

One personal example was me kicking drinking sodas. Instead of saying I couldn’t drink sodas, I just said I couldn’t buy at the grocery store and keep them at home. If I wanted a soda, I had to get in the car, drive to the gas station 2 miles down the road and buy a single soda. Guess what, every time I wanted a soda, I instantly weighed in my mind if it was worth all that hassle.

So, whatever it is for you when it comes to learning how to stop shopping, ask yourself, “how can I add more pain to this?”

Your Turn!

  • What tricks have you used to stop shopping?

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

why is simple living so hardLast year, I did a no-spend challenge. For an entire year, I didn’t buy anything except food.

It doesn’t get much more “simple living” than living in a tiny house and spending nothing for a whole year, but even after I got into the groove of buying nothing, I still felt the pull of the busy world around me. So, throughout my no-buy year, I kept a list of all the items I wanted to buy when the year was over.

Ryan living simply in a tiny houseI live in a 150 square foot tiny house. I follow a minimalist lifestyle and own less than 1000 items to my name, but at the end of my no-spend year, there were 30 items on my wish list! However, as I went through my list and prioritized, I realized there was only ONE item I truly wanted. Despite my commitment to simple living, even I get tripped up by advertising traps and marketing. We live in a world where we’re constantly told that we need more things to feel happy.

It’s no wonder the simple life has so much appeal. Most people are stressed out, overloaded, and working themselves to the bone. If you look at the way American society has changed in the last 50 years or so, it becomes obvious. When I was growing up, I was told you go to school and get a degree. From there, you get a good job, do a good job, and build job security. You add money to your 401(k), buy a lovely little house with a picket fence. You’ll meet your future wife and create a family, living out the American dream lifestyle. Eventually, you retire fat and happy at age 65.

But in 2009, I graduated with my masters. I got a job and the company I was working for folded six months in. The rug was completely pulled out from under me. I realized the narrative I had been living wasn’t realistic, something had to change.

what's right for you, question to ask when you want to live a simple lifeNow, society is really good at pulling you back on the conventional path. For example, when I was looking for flexible employment I could do anywhere, I saw hundreds of options for jobs that would have tied me to a 9-5 corporate ball and chain. It was daunting to realize I had to create my dream job for myself. It would have been easier to follow society’s path.

What you should ask is what’s right for you…and also, what’s wrong for you? Simple living means different things to different people. Those definitions don’t work for everyone. Often, it’s easier to define what you don’t want. Most people hesitate to say exactly what they want, but they can quickly pinpoint EXACTLY what they don’t. “I don’t want to work for this jerk anymore,” or, “I don’t want to trip over clutter around my house,” or, “I don’t ever want to hear from a debt collector again.” Then, what you want is the opposite.

What You Need To Know BEFORE You Try Simple Living

what you need to know before you try simple living

Do you think you’re ready to rise to the challenge of simple living?

Before you try simple living, you must explore your reasons. People are often hoping to leave their old life behind but embracing a simpler life won’t magically erase your past. Simple living isn’t the ultimate solution to every problem in your life.

It’s important to unpack your baggage and deal with it. When people see others in tiny houses, they often say, “Look at that person, they look so happy! Tiny houses are the secret to happiness.”

Honestly, happiness doesn’t have anything to do with a smaller home. It’s because the person in the tiny house has decided, “these things are important to me” and “these other things aren’t.” When you see people living a simple life happily, it’s because they’ve gone through the pain of unpacking their emotional baggage.

simple living requires introspection

Simple living requires introspection. One affliction in America is the busyness culture. We are so afraid to slow down because we would be left alone with our thoughts and for most people, that is terrifying. So we put a screen in front of our face. We jam-pack our schedules. We keep our homes filled to the brim. We don’t allow ourselves to slow down and think. We can’t enjoy the experience because we’re too busy taking a selfie to show others how much “fun” we are having, so much so, we haven’t had a substantive conversation with the people we are with that would make a memory, but later that week we’d tell our therapist we don’t feel connected.

In my experience, the best investment I’ve made is time alone with myself. It was the most productive time I’ve spent, and it pays dividends every day.

One saying I follow is: people are happy because they’re happy people. It’s not because of the stuff we own, the house we live in, the place we travel to, or the job we do. We’re happy because we choose to be that way despite the bad things in life that inventibly come up.

The Pros and Cons of Simple Living Like A Pro

pros and cons of simple living

After my company folded, I did a lot of soul-searching. I realized I wanted a different, less-traditional job—basically, a job that I had to create for myself. Could I have taken the cube farm route? Sure! But I know I wouldn’t have been as happy or satisfied.

But building my simpler life didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow and steady process. If I had to take away one lesson from the experience, it would be:

it takes time to start to live simply

Simple living requires time to transition, but it’s so worth it!

There were plenty of bumps along the way too. Like, when I told my parents that I was going to take a simpler job, scale back, and blog full-time. I remember my mom was seriously worried (even though she’s incredibly supportive).

Then when I started to build my tiny house, I found that many people were curious and some of them critical. One day as I was working on my place a lady stopped at watched for a while. She started asking me all kinds of questions about my home. I’ll never forget her parting words, “Good luck finding a wife who will want to live in your tiny house.” I remember thinking maybe she was right. Perhaps I was making a mistake. Which brings me to the second point:

You need to question everything when you want to live a simple life

Simple living means people will question and critique your life.

But the truth is, those people are questioning you, because there are aspects of their own life they’re struggling with. That’s when I learned how self-centered people truly are. They may look at how you don’t need as much “stuff” or how you’ve chosen a less-traditional job, or a smaller home. You may hear, “I could never do that!” And the truth is, they probably couldn’t.

simple living isn't for everyone

Simple living isn’t for everyone.

I also discovered this as I started dating. I found out that there are pros and cons of living a simple life. Yes, people question your choices (and maybe even your sanity), but those who stay in your life are really worth keeping. I’ve found the women attracted to the simple life are really grounded. They aren’t hung up on superficial stuff, and they’re aligned with my worldview. Being open and honest about wanting to live simply, attracted women I wanted to date, and dissuaded those who wouldn’t have been a match anyway.

The same is true with friends. I’ve found that as my life has become simpler, I’ve found more time to spend with the people who really matter to me. It helps you narrow your focus and figure out who is truly supportive and needed in your life.

relationships are important when you focus on what's important

Simple living helps you form closer relationships.

Today, my friends sometimes joke I don’t work at a real job. I just “run a blog.” But then they see me headed off to other countries. They look on when I get to spend a few weeks (or months) in Croatia, Australia, Stockholm, or the UK. They ask me how I take morning hikes on a Wednesday when they’re working their 9-5.

The truth is, because I’ve chosen a simple, less traditional path, I’ve been able to accomplish many big goals. I blog for a living. I write books. I spend time with those who mean a lot to me. My time is more valued, and my life feels more meaningful. Although I’m not a trust-fund kid, by any means, I don’t have debt, and I travel often.

to live simply you need to know what your goals are

Simple living helps you achieve a life you design and remove obstacles.

When it comes to simple living, if you want it, it’s achievable. There’s no secret sauce or trick to simple living. It’s about deciding on the goal that’s right for you, figuring out how to align it with your lifestyle, and then pursuing the goal single-mindedly.

You might think, “Being my own boss, living debt-free, eliminating clutter, cutting back stress—those all sound awesome! I want that!”

And indeed, simple living is possible in some form for everyone. But there are a lot of misconceptions about simple living out there. A lot of people get an idyllic notion stuck in their head that isn’t accurate or aligned to their needs.

farm cabin tiny house

I’ve met a lot of people who jump into living in a cabin in the woods, or they go out and buy a full-fledged hobby farm in the country. They haven’t found out what’s right for them. They’re subscribing to someone else’s definition of simple living, which is a dangerous mistake that will only leave you searching for answers.

When you jump into a new lifestyle out of nowhere, you’re basically saying, “I don’t like my life now. I’m going to live a new life.” But what happens is you end up importing all the problems your former life had: all its definitions, labels, and problems.

understand who you are at your core

Simple living doesn’t change who you are at your core.

So, you want to become a homesteader. You go out and buy land and a barn in a spot you’ve never been to. You fill the barn with animals you’ve never raised before. Then you wake up one morning, and your life is not simple at all. In fact, you’re stuck with a pretty big problem. You never leave the farm because you need to milk the goats, tend chickens, and put the cows out to pasture.

It’s all about finding the simple lifestyle that’s livable for you. For example, I would love to own a few cows and goats, but I also love to travel. I can’t commit to animals that need milking twice a day, every day, or they go off milk. I couldn’t even leave for a weekend trip, and it wouldn’t work with my life.

its not a magic bullet

Simple living doesn’t make your life perfect, but it helps you find more meaning.

In fact, sometimes simple living is really challenging—even difficult. But, it’s in that struggle we find the beauty and satisfaction of a simple life. Research has found that when things come easy for us, we don’t derive as much value out of it. Although a life free of stress sounds terrific at first, it’s struggle and adversity that bring us meaning. I’ve found this very accurate for myself. The things I’m most thankful for were the most difficult. Striving and strife make us value it more. Simple living isn’t easy, but it also brings us a great deal of meaning.

The Logistical Challenges of Simple Living

challenges of simple living

Aside from the philosophical pros and cons of simple living, there are a few logistical challenges as well. It’s important to understand these barriers and consider all aspects BEFORE you move toward a simple life.

the space that you live in might not be largeSpace: When people consider moving into tiny homes, they think they have to live in a tiny house of 200-300 square feet when it might not be right for them. The truth is, 200 feet isn’t going to work for some people, particularly if you have a family. You won’t feel happy with five people in a super tiny home. So, maybe instead, you sell your 4,000 square foot house and buy a 1,000 square foot house. Find something for half the mortgage and use the money to travel as a family.

living simply might actaully cost more moneyMoney: It sounds counter intuitive, but even a simple life costs money, there are times where simple living may even cost more than your old life depending on certain factors. If you want to live simply in a city, you still need to earn an income. You still need to understand your budget. On the surface a simpler life may seem cheaper, but you still need to look at your relationship with money. Why do you spend? How can you simplify your finances and still feel satisfied? Is spending X dollars a month in rent or on your mortgage getting you closer or moving you further away? What steps can you take to get your money under control?

understanding why you buy thingsWants: You need to get down to the underlying reason you want an item. After all, no one buys a $100 designer t-shirt because they NEED it. They buy it because they want to show they can afford it. Why? Because they want a girl to like them? Why? Because they really want love and companionship. Many people are addicted to (fleeting) happiness they think they can buy, which doesn’t actually satisfy their needs. We’ve all heard of retail therapy. It’s a hard habit to break.

cutting out toxic relationshipsRelationships: People run into the obstacle of relationships because they don’t know how to prioritize and say no. Simplifying your life doesn’t only mean tossing out belongings you don’t need and downsizing. It means finding ways to get more control over your schedule. You want to spend time with the people who mean the most to you, doing things your love, in a way that is on your own terms. When I simplified, I cut back to only the people who were important to me and who I wanted to invest time in. The others, I cut out.

figure out what you do and don't want to spend your time onTime: Simple living takes time. One of the biggest obstacles I faced when simplifying was realizing I had to go through the process of figuring out what I wanted. I had to get out of debt. I had to figure out how to become location-independent, own my own business, and deal with my own baggage. It took me years from the time I started my blog to quit my job. During that time, I was downsizing possessions, building my tiny house, and navigating my path. What seemed so simple ended up taking me 6 or 7 years to achieve. And guess what, I’m still working at it even today.

simple living means making choices that are hardSacrifice: When I started to simplify, my family announced they were going on a trip to Italy. Now, family time is extremely important to me. But I had set really aggressive financial goals to pay off my student loans. I decided between the goal of paying off my loans or going to Italy with my family. In the end, I didn’t go on the trip. I’ve faced many of these hard choices over the last 6 or 7 years. I had to recommit every single day.

you'll need to redefine who you are in some waysIdentity: Many of us define ourselves by our career. It’s how we earn money. It’s what people pay you to do. When you introduce yourself, you say something like, “I’m a banker.” Well, you might be a banker now, but it doesn’t mean you need to be a banker tomorrow. If living a simple life means finding a fulfilling career path, you may wrestle with your identity. What are other ways to earn money, and what’s holding you back?

When I started living in a tiny house, my rent went from $1,500 to zero. That allowed me to take risks and follow new pursuits. I could start a company. Most of my pals were like, “I can’t do that because I have a mortgage and bills. I must stay in this cubicle.”

5 Tips To Simplify Your Life (from Someone Who’s Done It)

tips for simple living

No matter where you are with simplifying your life, there are 5 practical tips I recommend that you can apply today. These tips really apply to any new situation or significant lifestyle change you’re considering. If you’re wondering how to destress your life and build a life you love, it starts here.

1
Ask What You Want More Of – Look at your current lifestyle and write a list of all the positive aspects that bring you joy. What do you want more of in your life? Maybe it’s time, family, travel, health, or something else. What makes you the happy and what would you like to expand on?
2
Ask What You Want Less Of – Now it’s time for the flip side. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down what we do want, but people are pretty clear what they don’t want. What are all the aspects you’d like to eliminate from your life? Write down anything that drags you down, makes you unhappy, drains your energy, or causes you stress. It may include debt, your dead-end job, too much clutter, toxic relationships, or something else entirely. What do you want less of in your life?
3
Define Your Ideal Day – This journaling exercise really helps you pinpoint how your perfect life looks. Imagine your ideal day (or even your ideal week); walk through each moment from the time you get up to the time you drift off to sleep. What is your morning like? What’s your routine? Do you work? What type of work? How would it look? Get as specific as possible—what clothes would you wear, what would you eat, what people would you spend time with?
4
Define Your Goals – Behind every single success is a goal. Goals give us a marker to move toward. When you pinpoint your targets, write them as clearly as possible. Set SMART goals and define the parameters. Any time you want to achieve something big (or small), a goal will guide your way.
5

Write Out the Steps – This will look a little different for everyone. There isn’t a clear point A to point B roadmap and sometimes it seems like such an overwhelming task that you don’t even know where to start. The question is, what do you need to do next? Do you need to break down your goals into smaller steps? Do you need to set a budget?

If you ask yourself these questions about your ideal life, your vision will start to come together. You’ll match up your idea of a simple life with the reality of what works for you. Life doesn’t need to be complicated. Many people find the simpler their life gets, the more satisfying it becomes. Make time for the lifestyle that really matters to you.

Your Turn!

  • What does simple living mean to you?
  • What’s your biggest challenge when simplifying?

How to Find Products You Only Need to Buy Once in a Lifetime

Choosing products you buy once in a lifetime
Living a (close to) zero-waste lifestyle means only buying what’s really necessary, and when you do need to purchase, finding products you only need to buy once. There are times when I’ve found items I needed to buy or replace only to be disappointed when the new product breaks down. So, how do you find products you only need to buy once?

You see, everything’s built to last a finite amount of time. A rule of manufacturing is to never invent the perfect lightbulb. Back when lightbulbs were first made, they were practically indestructible. Lightbulb makers quickly realized their business wouldn’t last long if they made lightbulbs you only need to buy once. Thus, lightbulbs were made with filaments to burn out after a few years. Occasionally you’ll see one of these very old lightbulbs that keeps shining, but as we know, lightbulbs, like many other products, aren’t built to last a lifetime.

There are, however, certain items you only need to buy once. Either they’re guaranteed to last or they’re built with such high-quality workmanship, they keep working for years. Here are the rules you should use to find practical products you only need to buy once in a lifetime.

How to Find Quality Products You Only Need to Buy Once

find quality products
For the last year, I’ve tried to maintain a zero (or close to zero) waste lifestyle. The biggest step I’ve taken toward doing this is that I’ve largely stopped buying anything other than consumables (like food, toilet paper, and toiletries). Not only does this cut back on the amount of waste and trash I produce, but it’s also great for saving money.

When I do need to buy or replace an item due to wear and tear, this is how I go about finding quality products I only need to buy once (or at least won’t need to buy again for a very long time).

Research the Life of the Product

research product life

I’m a big proponent of researching before I ever spend money on an item. This was especially true as I built and outfitted my tiny house. Of course, there are certain cases when I haven’t had time for extensive research, but usually I follow a rule to check reviews and thoroughly compare options before I buy.

At the very least, I always read the reviews on any product I plan to purchase. I look for independent reviews and unbiased sources whenever possible (and I post my own product reviews for others). Of course, most manufacturers put glowing reviews of their own products on their website, so it’s usually not the best source for honest product comparisons or learning the pros and cons. Look for independent sources. For example, when looking into solar ovens, I tested several brands against each other and posted my solar oven reviews online as a helpful resource.

Solar Oven Review and Guide

I look for review forums that I trust. If I’m looking for tiny house supplies, like a power generator or solar panel gear, I go to other tiny house forums and websites. Someone with a large cabin or a residential home will offer a very different perspective on these types of items because chances are their needs are different from mine. As a blogger, I also think it’s very important to share my own experience to help others navigate issues like how to find the best tiny house plans.

When I’m buying a larger item like an appliance or electronic, I’ll also check Consumer Reports (when possible). Most of their product reviews are only accessible with a paid membership, but many public libraries carry issues of the printed reports. It may also be worth the cost to access a report before a major purchase.

consumer reports for product reviews

Reviews on Amazon and Google are also helpful for products, but because they aren’t as carefully regulated, be wary of bias and false reviews. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people give items a poor review for strange reasons like, “It didn’t fit on my counter” or “the color didn’t match my house.” Read with discretion, paying close attention to mentions about the life of the product, common problems, and customer support offered by the manufacturer.

One tip is to read the 3-star reviews. People selling the product are only going to give themselves 4- or 5-star reviews. Competitors might try to fake bad reviews with 1- or 2-star reviews. Three-star reviews are the sweet spot; no one is going to pay for a fake 3-star review, so you can usually get a good view on what the product is really like.

There are also sites like Buy Me Once and Buy This Once that offer full listings of products built to last. Many of these items either feature a lifetime guarantee or are so highly durable, they’re proven to last years, so you only need to buy once. Reddit’s sub r/buyitforlife is a great source to learn what will last and get advice.

Budget to Spend Extra

budget to spend extra on quality goods

Personally, I tend to live on the frugal side. However, I’m willing to spend extra if it’s an investment in quality. I’m a firm believer of avoiding a “pennywise and pound foolish” mentality. This is especially true if you’re seeking items you only need to buy once. As a general rule, if I use something every day, I give myself the permission to spend big if I find the perfect item.

For example, I ordinarily wouldn’t spend $20 on a pair of socks, but these Darn Tough Wool Socks feature multiple excellent reviews, promising they’re durable. Better yet, the company offers a lifetime unconditional warranty. So, if you stick to a uniform wardrobe like I do, then a few pairs of tough, long-lasting socks may be the last sock purchase you ever need to make. In that case, the price seems worth it.

darn tough socks

Of course, there are other times when the price isn’t justified. For example, buying certain brand name cast iron cookware is more expensive than a second-hand, generic, or cheaper brand cast iron skillet. Yet, the life of cast iron is proven across the board. So, in this case, paying extra for a fancy brand at a culinary supply store isn’t worth your investment.

For the most part, quality items require more workmanship, design, and high-quality materials. The reality is quality is often more expensive. If you research the product thoroughly before purchasing, you’ll get a good idea if the price tag is justified.

lodge cast iron skillet

The other area to look at is the planned use of the product. If you’d like to find a product you only need to buy once but plan to use every day, a high price is easier to defend. A pair of dress shoes that cost $100 that you wear once or twice a year means you’ll pay $10-25 per wear over the next few years. On the other hand, a quality pair of sneakers that cost $100 but you plan to wear every day may cost much less than $1 per wear over their lifetime.

Test the Return Policy

test return policy on products you buy

Does the product come with a lifetime guarantee? Does the store offer a “no hassle” return policy?

Don’t feel afraid to test the limits of warranties, guarantees, and return policies. Typically, when a guarantee is offered it’s because the manufacturer believes the product is built to last. The other reason is company owners know returns are a hassle, so they bet on the fact most people won’t take them up on the promise. They may also require complicated documentation in the hope customers will give up.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, keep receipts, (typically a scan or photograph is acceptable, but read the fine print) and send back warranty cards, especially on major purchases. If you’re already minimizing the number of items you buy, then chances are you won’t have many receipts and warranties to keep track of anyway. Certain credit card companies also offer purchase protection and extended warranties on major purchases.credit card

Many retail stores—like grocery stores—guarantee the quality of their products as well. This means when you find produce that goes bad too fast, or mold on a block of recently purchased cheese before the expiration date, return the item to the store for an exchange or refund. While consumables aren’t meant to last a lifetime, it’s still worth it to ensure you get what you pay for. Stores with great return policies include Nordstrom, Costco, and Eddie Bauer. Both Aldi and Trader Joe’s offer satisfaction guaranteed, easy returns.

Ask Around Before You Buy

ask around before buying

Another way to find products you only need to buy once is to ask around! Talk to your friends and see what they’ve found reliable and trustworthy. Check with product experts and repair people to find out what products will really stand the test of time. See if someone will let you test, borrow, or check out the product so you can see it in use.

worn red wing bootsIt’s amazing how experience changes your impression of a product. Many of us feel gung ho about a purchase at first, but then once we’ve tried it for a while, we may change our perspective. I like to check with friends who’ve used a product for a long time before I go out and purchase it for myself. Everyone loves a new set of pots and pans, a great kitchen knife, or new power tools. The real question is, how do they feel about those same products 3, 5, even 10 years down the road?

Again, this type of information sharing is so important, especially in the tiny house world. When you have a minimal amount of space and are living a minimalist lifestyle, each purchase should be deliberate and long-lasting. This is, again, one of the main reasons why I like to share reviews as much as possible with my readers. I also like to do follow up reviews, like my three year review on the Luggable Loo composting toilet.

When you ask someone you trust for their opinion, you know you’re getting the full, unbiased picture of how the product will work. I’ve found maintenance and repair guys often offer a lot of insight on products like power tools, small machines, and appliances because they’re the ones who get called in when something goes wrong. So, listen to the advice of friends and those with experience!

Seek Quality Materials and Simple Designs

quality-materials

Call it the Occam’s razor theory of finding items you only need to buy once: the simplest choice is often the best. Typically, products that last will feature simple, straightforward design and are made from the highest quality materials. Truth be told, a simple design is loaded with nuances and details you have to get perfect.

When it comes to design, the reason simple products are the best is well…simple. When there are a lot of bells and whistles, there’s more pieces to break. There are more areas where something will go wrong. Unnecessary complexity leads to bigger complications and concerns. Think of all the different “cutting-edge” technology and gadgets that flopped after consumers got their hands on them. When something breaks on a complicated machine, it’s often the “extras” that cause a problem.

surefire flashlight

While it’s tempting to seek the latest and greatest product with the most modern conveniences and digitization, at the end of the day, simplicity and function win out. Think about what you really want the product to do, then seek a trusted brand with quality materials and manufacturing.

For example, Stanley Thermos has been around for hundreds of years. The simple, insulated design works time and time again, even as new versions of water bottles, coffee mugs, and thermos-type containers come out on the market every day. It seems the more complex the designs, the more likely imitation brands are to leak, spill, or lose heat. Many reviewers report they’re still using Stanley thermoses for 25, even 40 years (that said, there are reports the quality declined in recent years). Stanley also offers a lifetime warranty.

mason jars

Another example is DeWALT tools. The simple designs and quality materials have been used for decades and they’ve become a household name and standard. They also offer a lifetime warranty and have stood strongly behind their products.

I’m a big fan of using mason jars for storage as well. They work much better than plastic products, seal tighter, and are usable again and again. When you’re looking for a solution to a household problem, the tried and true answer is often the best. Look at what your parents or grandparents did. While modern conveniences and technological advances have improved many areas of life, there are also places where it’s unnecessarily complicated life too.

Ryan’s Top Ten Lifetime Products (for Everyone)

top ten lifetime products

I’m not a proponent of going out to buy items you don’t need simply because they’re recommended. Use what you have on hand first and wait until you’re ready to replace it. Once you are ready to buy a new item, here are my top ten items you only need to buy once (or will at least last for years).

1. Cast Iron Skillet

lodge cast iron skillet

2. Mason Jars (for storage, cooking, drinking)

mason jar

3. Vitamix 5200 Blender

vitamix blender

4. Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle thermos

stanley thermos

5. Chef Knife

chef knife

6. KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

kitchenaid-mixer

7. Pendleton Wool Blanket

pendleton blanket

8. Yeti Cooler

yeti cooler

9. SureFire LED Flashlights

surefire flashlight

10. Le Creuset Dutch Oven

lecreuset-dutch-oven

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas of how to buy smart, so you only need to buy once or twice in the future. Choose high quality items, read reviews, and do your research before you spend your hard-earned money on products that won’t last.

Your turn!

  • What quality products have you found that are built to last?
  • What stores and retailers offer superior warranties and customer care?

How To Become A Minimalist: 7 Simple Steps To Live Your Best Life

How To Become A Minimalist: 7 Simple Steps To Live Your Best Life

I’ve never met anyone who has decided to become a minimalist and decided to go back.  I went from a packed house, a garage full of stuff and a storage unit, to traveling the world out of a single backpack.  I went from being in debt to having more money in my bank account than ever before. Here’s what helped me make the transition.

How_To_Become_A_Minimalist

What Is Minimalism?

Minimalism is simply taking control over your life and distilling it down to it’s most important parts. By seeking a minimalist lifestyle we identify priorities in our lives and intentionally optimize everything around those things.  So in the end minimalism isn’t about clutter, how we dress, or how to get rid of stuff; It’s about us making room, mentally and physically, for what is most important to us.

1. Understand Why You Want to Change

Understanding why you want to take the journey to minimalism will not only help you stay motivated on your journey, it will help you to know what exactly minimalism means to you. When I decided I wanted to become minimalist, it was simply to make my daily life easier.

minimalist lifestyle

I was tired of rifling through clothes that I didn’t wear to get to the ones I do, I was tired of my kitchen drawers overflowing with utensils when I only needed about a quarter of what was in those drawers. I was exhausted from spending my days off trying to work my way through the constant pile of laundry in the washroom and picking up random things around the house. I was jealous of friends who were going on weekend getaways while I spend my days pulling weeds in a constant attempt to create a garden.

When you understand what you want minimalism to do for you, it’s so much easier to declutter. While I went through the decluttering process, which took me around 6 months all together, I would have moments where I would be holding something I never used and trying to justify why I’d need to keep it. Once I remembered the purpose of minimalism and why I was implementing it, I had such an easier time letting that thing go.

Learn about How to find your purpose and better understand why you want a change.

2. Get Rid Of Stuff And Be Clutter Free

make your home clutter free

The decluttering process is the easiest way to kick start your journey to minimalism. Doing this slowly and in a few sweeps seems to be the most efficient. I did about three or four sweeps of decluttering before I was completely satisfied with everything I got rid of, and everything I kept. When you go through the decluttering process at a reasonable pace (for example, don’t do it all in one day or even in one month), the transition will be a bit easier.

If you go from a full house to a mostly empty house overnight, it will be a much harder adjustment. It worked well for me to try to hit about 5 areas per week – and I chose small areas, like one desk drawer or just the sweaters in my closet. Many people like to declutter by the room, so if that works for you start there.  Though it takes longer to declutter slowly, it is much easier to maintain a minimalist lifestyle if the decluttering process is done slowly and carefully.

3. Clear Your Calendar To Manage Your Time More Effectively

time managment for a minimalist

By making your calendar a simpler and less cluttered space (I mean not scheduling so many appointments/dates), you will have so much less stress. I used to schedule meetups with friends back to back, and I would always be late to one because I didn’t want to leave the one I was at before. I was never able to truly live in the moment because I was constantly thinking about what I needed to do next and if I was going to be late. It stressed me out quite a bit, which is ridiculous to think about now, as I had complete control over my schedule.

The limits you have are the limits you create – even if you have a full time job, you are still in control of how you spend your time outside of work. If your work hours aren’t working for you, take that into consideration as well. Since I’ve become minimalist, I have worked less than I ever have in my life, but still have more money in my bank account, since I don’t spend like I used to.

4. Build A Capsule Wardrobe With Style

a simple wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is designing a wardrobe from the ground up so that every item in your closet can be mixed and matched to every other piece of clothing.  Many people have embraced a minimalist wardrobe even if they aren’t minimalist because this allows you to maximize the number of outfits you can create, while minimizing the items you own.

Typically people choose one or two main colors and then add in a few pieces that are complimentary colors.  Keeping styles classic allows you to avoid the yearly swings in fashion trends and let you have only the clothes that you love.  Accessories, scarves, jewelry and jackets let you mix up your looks so you don’t always look the same.

5. Boost Productivity With Minimalist Work Habits

We spend a lot of time at work, so it’s important not just to have a minimalist home, but also a minimalist office.  Taking control over all aspects of your life will lead to less stress, better time management, increased income, and a better work life balance.

minimalist work habits

The biggest increases in my income and contentment with my work all stemmed from being intentional in my life.  When I decided on the life I wanted I was able to leave my old corporate job and start my own business, making more money that I ever dreamed of.  Building good habits is much easier as a minimalist because we do one important thing that most people don’t do: we took the time to understand what’s important to use and made intentional changes to live a better life.  That puts us way ahead of most people and the rewards are seen in our personal lives and in our career.

6. Simplify Your Diet For Simple Meals

minimalist diet

A simple diet doesn’t mean a bland diet or having the same thing over and over again.  I first started by getting a handle on my kitchen clutter and figuring out what I really need in my kitchen.  Once I slimmed down the key essentials I found I enjoyed cooking more, I now look forward to coming home and preparing fresh dishes for all my meals.  Having a well stocked, but simplified pantry helped a lot towards this.

Like everything with minimalism, it’s important to figure out what is right for you and optimize things to that end.  Some people have a extremely simple diet of rice and beans, others find a plant based diet or minimalist raw vegan diet to be right for them.  For me I start with my favorite dishes and determining a base set of ingredients that I always keep on hand.

7. Start Saving And Become Debt Free

saving money and getting debt free

One of the biggest perks of minimalism (and the one that draws a lot of people to minimalism) is the amount of money you are able to save with a minimalist lifestyle. By spending money on only necessities, you’ll end up accidentally saving loads of money. It wasn’t until I saw my bank account balance steadily increasing that I realized that I can really do anything I want.

I could look into potentially purchasing a house, buying my next car in cash, or traveling long term, the way I was going. When you start saving on accident and stop thinking about the material possessions that you want (because you know you don’t need them anymore!), you’ll be able to really focus on your passions, and even donate to charities that you are involved in.

Living a minimalist lifestyle can change your life so much for the better. I would love to hear how your minimalist journey is going and what you love about minimalism!

Your Turn!

  • Where are you on your minimalist journey?
  • What draws you to minimalism?