Less Is More: Things You Can Live Without As A Minimalist

Things You Can Live Without As A Minimalist


Minimalists have mastered the art of living without some of the most basic items while still maintaining a full, satisfying life that they love. The things I choose to live without as a minimalist don’t deprive me of a full life at all. Instead, they save me from a cluttered house and empty wallet.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Learning to live without specific items over the years has made my life feel fuller rather than emptier. The stuff I’ve let go of has given me back more valuable things like time and freedom.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

20 Things That True Minimalists Live Without

Things That True Minimalists Live Without

When it comes to which specific items minimalists get rid of, a lot of it comes down to the mindset and purpose tied to the item itself. Minimalism is all about finding the “why” behind what you do and own, and that goes for your stuff as well.

The items minimalists go without are typically the ones that don’t serve an overt purpose in their day-to-day experience. For me, getting rid of all those extra items also helped me with my spending habits. Now when I go to the store, I think long and hard about what is and isn’t a true necessity.

things minimalist get rid of

Everyday Possessions That Minimalists Live Without

Everyday Possessions That Minimalists Live Without

In our consumer-driven culture, it’s easy to think that some everyday items are necessities that everyone owns. However, there are lots of basic things we assume are must-haves that minimalists have found ways to live without.

what not to buy as a minimalist

Purposeless Furniture

Purposeless FurnitureOne key facet of the minimalist lifestyle is to ensure that you’re only keeping things around that have purpose and add value to your minimalist home. Minimalists live without ornate furniture items that are simply decorative. If it doesn’t have a specific purpose, it goes.

Excess Cookware And Kitchen Gadgets

Unused Cookware And Kitchen GadgetsBecoming a wizard in the kitchen is a great way to make your house feel more like a home, but I promise you don’t need every kind of cookware in the book to do so. Kitchen gadgets are often some of the easiest things to purge or live without as a minimalist.

Think through which kitchen items you use most often and set those to the side. Then, take a look at what you have left and forgo anything that serves the same exact purpose.

Extra Beauty Tools Or Toiletries

Extra Beauty ToolsThe bathroom is another space where it’s pretty easy to find things to let go of. I try to declutter my bathroom at least every other month, just because of how easily toiletries, expired medicines, shower products, and other items pile up. Minimalists tend to go without the beauty tools that they don’t use regularly, then buy those extra items on an as-needed basis.

Unused Storage Bins

leftover storage binsIt may be tempting when shopping at Target or IKEA to grab any little bin or basket you see with the mindset that it will be put to good use. However, unused storage is often a big culprit for taking up space in a minimalist home. True minimalists only buy the boxes, bins, baskets, and drawers that they have a specific use for already.

Exercise Equipment

Exercise EquipmentIn my opinion, at-home exercise equipment isn’t really a necessity in a minimalist home. Even though regular exercise is an absolute must, there are lots of ways to get a workout in without buying clutter like weights or an elliptical.

One thing I try think about is how can I “outsource” these items so I don’t have to personally have them, but still have access to them. A gym membership is a great example of this. Not only do you get access to way more equipment than you could have at your house, but you also get community.

My local gym has about 50 weight machines, a massive free weight section, an indoor basketball court, a pool and hot tub; all of that for only $19 a month! I’m also able to join classes to meet folks and its nice to get out of the house when I work from home.

I also like to walk and I’ve also done running in the past. On the weekends I try to get out in nature when I can by going on a trail hike at a local park. You can also DIY your own workout or yoga mat with old rugs, or simulate your own free weights with gallon water jugs or canned goods.

House Décor That Minimalists Learn To Live Without

House Decor That Minimalists Learn To Live Without

When it comes to building a minimalist life, some people tend to think more about the act of letting go of things, while others think more about a classic minimalist aesthetic. The truth is, these things are interconnected.

By staying away from ostentatious or flashy décor, you’ll give your home a minimalist vibe while living without things you truly don’t need. Most hardcore minimalists that I know intentionally live without excess decorations to limit distractions and over stimulation in their home, as well as to save on money and space.

minimalist house

Floor Rugs

area rugsFloor rugs tend to be one of the most expensive items in a bedroom, living room, or sitting room, and they aren’t really that necessary. Many of the minimalists I know forgo ornate floor rugs altogether and just leave the floor bare.

One minimalist trick I love is to invest in cost-conscious floor pillows that you can whip out when you want to sit on something softer, but keep stored away when you don’t really need them. This way, you save money on a rug and have some extra seating if needed.

Wall Décor

wall decorDecorative wall décor that doesn’t have a direct purpose doesn’t really align with the minimalist life. Most minimalists I know tend to refrain from covering their walls with flashy art or posters.

That being said, you don’t have to leave your walls entirely bare to consider yourself a true minimalist. One of the approaches to wall décor I see over and over in minimalist homes is to have one large, beautiful staple piece on a prominent wall. This way, your walls aren’t totally bare, but they aren’t cluttered and overwhelming either.


candlesCandles may be aesthetically pleasing décor, but they’re pretty wasteful and deplete fairly quickly. In a minimalist house, consider other good-smelling alternatives to candles that can be used longer and more efficiently, like an essential oil diffuser or DIY room spray.

Simmer pots can also be a simple way to add some aromatherapy to your space and even make use of kitchen trimmings like citrus peels, herb stems, and other aromatic ingredients bound for the compost bin.

Trinkets And Figurines

trinketsI’ve definitely mentioned this one before: trinkets are easily something minimalists can live without. There’s really no need to fill your shelves or desk with decorative knickknacks or figurines if they don’t have a direct purpose.

I tend to use my shelves for books and jars of office supplies, because I use both of those things daily. I don’t waste money or space on trinkets that are just for decoration.

Seasonal Décor

seasonal decorationsRotating holiday décor takes up tons of room in people’s storage closest and attics, just to sit untouched and unused for the majority of the year. I’m not saying you have to forgo decorating for holidays altogether, especially if doing so brings you joy. But try to think through more minimalistic ways to approach holiday décor.

For example, you could let your fall, Thanksgiving, and Halloween décor overlap. Maybe you use the same pine leaves for your Christmas table that you use next to your Thanksgiving cornucopia. Another idea is using the string lights you wrap around your tree in December to create ambiance and light your backyard the rest of the year. There are lots of ways to double up on décor!

Closet Items That Minimalists Live Without

Closet Items That Minimalists Live Without

The closet is a leading culprit for clutter and a major category that minimalists work to downsize and reduce. There’s a whole array of minimalist strategies to living with less clothing items in a wardrobe, like personal uniforms, capsule wardrobes, and Project 333. However, there are a few clothing items that most minimalists live without universally.

Clothes You Haven’t Worn In Years

old clothes not worn anymoreClothes you don’t wear any more is the number one category when it comes to closet items minimalists live without. Try to combat the tendency to keep items in your closet on the off chance you’ll wear them again. The 90/90 rule for minimalism is a great way to test out how often you actually wear a clothing item.

Event-Specific Clothing

Event Specific ClothingThe idea of keeping clothes arounds only for special occasions is a concept that comes up a lot in the minimalist community. While clothing for special occasions is an easy category for minimalists to purge and live without, try not to deprive yourself.

Minimalism is meant to work for you. If you rarely wear special occasions outfits but keep them around just in case you’re invited to a grand event, this might be an easy category to live without. However, if you’re someone who loves dressing up and goes out often to parties and events, be realistic with the items you purge from this category.

Excessive Accessories

Excessive AccessoriesLiving without tons of accessories is fairly easy for me to do, as I’m not a very flashy guy. However, for someone who loves fashion and trying different looks, living without a small collection of jewelry and embellishments may be a bit of a challenge.

In this category, I’d say challenge yourself to live without the things you don’t deeply love or wear frequently. If you wear it a lot, it stays. If you’re on the fence about an accessory or piece of jewelry, ask yourself if it’s something you would actually miss or not.

Clothing That Serves The Same Purpose

Clothing That Serves The Same PurposeDuplicate clothing is another fairly easy category for minimalists to live without. If you have multiple blue sweaters, black undershirts, workout sets, or running shoes, maybe you can let go of some of those duplicate articles that serve the exact same purpose.

This may go differently if you try to wear the same thing every single day like I do. In the case of personal uniforms, you’ll intentionally be keeping multiples of the same item around.

minimalist personal uniform

Miscellaneous Items Minimalists Live Without

Miscellaneous Items Minimalists Live Without

Apart from items used every day, there are a few other, more quirky items that you might not initially think of that minimalists live without. Keep in mind that the art of minimalism is about letting go of what doesn’t serve you, which extends beyond the stuff you use daily.

declutter like a minimalist

Birthday And Greeting Cards

Birthday And Greeting CardsNo matter how sentimental or nostalgic you tend to be, you really don’t need to hang onto every single birthday card or greeting card you’ve ever received. There’s a high likelihood that many of your special cards come from the same loved ones.

Sift through your arsenal of cards and choose the ones that mean the most to you to save. Another idea that I learned from Swedish death cleaning is to cut out the part of the greeting cards with the actual handwritten note on it. Then, make a collage or shadow box out of them to hang on the wall.

Over-The-Counter Medicine

Over The Counter MedicineLiving without over-the-counter medicine is a common move for many minimalists out there. I don’t mean this in an I-only-use-herbal-remedies way, but more in a why-keep-Aspirin-from-2004 kind of way.

I’ve been a minimalist for about a decade now, and I really try to only keep the medicine I am sure I will actually need on-hand. I recommend sticking to small quantities, and only one medication for each specific purpose so that they don’t pile up.

Unused Gifts

Unused GiftsYou know the feeling you get when you open a gift and immediately realize it will sit in your closet for years to come? We’ve all been there, and yet for some reason we feel the need to keep those gifts around anyway. Oftentimes, I feel like the reason for keeping unused gifts around is out of respect for the people who bought them for you, but that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

The person who purchased the gift for you originally just wants you to be happy. If you’re never going to have a direct use for the gift, let it go! If you can’t re-gift a new item quickly, there are plenty of places where you can donate perfectly good items like these.

Paper Copies Of Important Forms

Paper Copies Of Important FormsFiling cabinets filled with medical documents and tax forms are becoming few and far between as the digital age continues. While it’s important that you keep copies of certain forms and documents, having a paper copy isn’t usually necessary and will just bring more clutter to your office.

My suggestion here is to have digital copies of your important documents in multiple places. Maybe keep one in cloud storage, one on an external hard drive, and one on the computer itself. Consider password protecting or encrypting these files for added security.

Mobile Data

Mobile DataIn the past few years, I actually switched back to a dumb phone that doesn’t have internet at all times, and genuinely haven’t regretted it once. I have plenty of minimalist friends who have also applied minimalism to their digital lives.

Mobile data isn’t really a must like so many of us think. I can use Wi-Fi at home, and I don’t really check the internet when I’m on the go. It saves me money and time.

Physical Credit Cards, Gift Cards, And Passes

credit cardsIn today’s digital age, there’s really no need to keep physical gift cards or credit cards in your wallet. There are lots of ways to convert your physical credit cards, gift cards, movie tickets, parking passes, and concert tickets into digital ones.

One of the most popular digital wallets is probably Apple Wallet, but there are plenty of other options including Google Pay, PayPal, Payoneer, Amazon Pay, and Voucher Vault.

Three Things Minimalists Don’t Always Live Without

Things Minimalists Dont Always Live Without

Like I said before, minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of what you need and love — it’s about getting rid of everything that you don’t. While lists of what you can live without are valuable, it’s also important to talk about the things you shouldn’t have to live without as a minimalist.

how to declutter

Sentimental And Meaningful Items

Sentimental ItemsWhen I’m helping people try out minimalism for the first time, I often see them grow frantic and jump straight to the items that mean the most to them. They’re afraid that they can’t call themselves a true minimalist if they don’t sell their grandmother’s wedding china or baby’s first photo book.

My response to this is always to keep what has meaning to you. Minimalism isn’t an all-or-nothing philosophy. You can keep your high school class ring but throw away expired makeup or donate the Kitchen Aid you never actually use.

Items That Support A Passion Or Hobby

hobby itemsAnother misconception when it comes to the minimalist lifestyle is that minimalists are boring and don’t make room in their lives for things that are just for fun. This could not be further from the truth.

While minimalism does encourage you to only keep things that add value, it doesn’t force you to only keep things that are practical or efficient. Keeping items that support the things you love doing is already a valuable purpose, and should not be regarded as things you have to live without.

Things That Support Health And Hygiene

Things That Support Health And HygieneThere are some items that, no matter how wasteful or expensive, you just need to have around to be a functioning person in the real world. What I mean by this is, you can be as minimal as you want with things like excess beauty products or kitchenware, but please buy toilet paper. Wash your clothes. Buy toothpaste. Refill your pantry when it’s depleted.

Extreme minimalism comes in many forms, but none of those forms should cause you to neglect taking care of yourself to the best of your financial and mental ability. In fact, taking care of your body, mind, and spirit is one of the core tenants of the minimalist life.

Living With Less: Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It Living With Less
While people have differing opinions on living with less, for me, it’s been nothing but a blessing to my daily life. Living minimally has caused me to see the world in a whole new way and given me back time, money, space, and freedom in my day-to-day life.

Asking yourself what should have a place in your life brings intention to the way you live. We want to be sure that the things that take up space in our homes, on our calendar, and in our minds are there to serve us. Many people don’t take these types of things into consideration, but those who do take control of their destiny.

Minimalism for me is about making room for things that are important to us. I view the process as an exercise in abundance, not in scarcity or deprivation. Choosing to think about things in the way has been an empowering way to live.

Your Turn!

  • Which items in your life could you do without in the day to day?
  • How do you think living with less could improve your life?
  1. Believe strongly in minimalism. Luv whole idea!!!

  2. Great article! Something that I could live without is having similar items, like say, hoodies that are similar in color, but slightly different in weight, warmth. Same goes for eyeshadow and lipsticks. Things I really enjoy. Especially since I love art, like drawing, painting… So for me doing my makeup on the daily is a form of art for me. I have to stop myself and ask if I really need more. And who really notices the different shades but me? Nobody!!

  3. Always informative as always.

  4. The Tiny House movement creates the need to reduce our possessions to what really matters. I watch lots of videos about tiny houses and the different ways they fit people/families. Every person is different so what matters is always different.

    I’ve been homeless and lost my storage units over the years. It’s a life lesson that never goes away. You discover how much you really need to survive, but you can’t build a future without some things.

    I am paring down even more now because I’m at the end of my life and everything changes when you get there. It’s a very hard struggle because of the memories attached to some things and the different goals I still have.

    Living with less is really better.
    Finding you special “less” is the challenge. 🙂

  5. Great reading. I have to get started cleaning and getting rid of tools and stuff. I haven’t been a mechanic for years and I still have tools and stuff for the trade and hardly use anymore and still keep buying. I can do a lot of travelling and fishing with the money I spend on stuff I really don’t need.

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