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8 Steps To Minimalism: A Beginner’s Guide

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Introduction

More and more people are turning towards a life of minimalism. With soaring house prices and a generation that is more geared towards experiences than savings, switching to a minimalistic life is a growing movement.

From a savings plan, a way to get out of debt, or a way to live a happier life, the motivations behind this change in lifestyle vary drastically from person to person.

Minimalism is just as much about a different mindset and way of thinking as it is about reducing the clutter in your everyday life. It is not simply decluttering your home, it is a chance to simplify your whole life in order to reclaim your health, wealth, time, body and more.

Put simply, minimalism changes your attitude towards meaningless products.

1. Reflect On Why

There are many reasons to make the switch to a life away from the consumerism we have been brought up with. Minimalism is largely associated with mindfulness. The idea behind this is that with less “stuff” occupying your life and drawing your focus, you will have a greater ability to focus on the present.

Whether your motivation is to reduce financial stress, save money, have more time with your family or just generally live a happier healthier life, it is important that you recognize it.

For many, making the lifestyle change can be daunting and intimidating. Try writing down a list of your motivators and regularly checking in with them. After writing your motivators down, try expanding on what parts of minimalism will help you achieve those things. This can show you where to start.

With many different branches to this lifestyle, having an area to start can be helpful. For example, if your biggest motivator is to have more savings, you will want to start your venture into this lifestyle by selling some of your no longer needed items.

Alternatively if your biggest motivator is having more time to spend with the family, you will want to start your focus with possibly slowing down your work life, if possible.

In the beginning stages of the lifestyle switch it will help you to be fully aware of the benefits you are looking to achieve. Understanding that with less clutter in your life you will feel more focus as your mind will no longer be cluttered as well.

Realize that with less reliance on your previous consumerism lifestyle you will have less stress about money and more savings in your pocket. You will begin to redefine what makes you happy and find fulfillment in the things you have and start to recognize that everything you own serves a purpose to you.

While you are in these beginning stages, it is time to understand that minimalism doesn’t just account for the amount of stuff in your home and how often you act on your consumerism habits. Instead it provides the notion of quality vs quantity.

Everything in your life must serve a purpose. This purpose can be anything from logical or emotional. This includes the relationships in your life and the relationship with yourself.

Begin work on your inner voice to ensure that you are kind to yourself, that you are not over stressing and that you are aware of your thoughts and actions. In turn, limit your social connections as well.

This does not simply mean less time spent on social media, although that as well, but ensure that all your relationships in your life leave you fulfilled. Cut loose that friend who is more of a frenemy. Step away from toxic relationships and use this time to fully put yourself first.

In this beginning stage it is crucial that you wrap your head around this lifestyle. Oftentimes people get quite apprehensive about ridding their home of the stuff they have bought creating a meaningless emotional attachment to things.

For this reason it is important to be fully on board with opting for a life of minimalism before continuing to the second stage.

2. Purge

Getting rid of your stuff can be hard – but it’s worth it. It has been said to be a liberating feeling to clean your home and get rid of your extra items, hence the number of garage sales in the spring. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean your home.

If you are fully committed to this way of life it will mean every space that you occupy will be minimal. This includes your car, office, your yard, your whole life.

Duplicates

You can’t be a minimalist with a house full of useless things. If you have more than one of the same object decide which one you would like to keep and get rid of the other, or both.

This can be done by asking yourself which one does a better job at what it’s intended for. For example, if you have two vacuums decide which one you would like to keep by how effective it is at cleaning your home.

There is no point in having a backup item. If something in your home stops working you can simply go out and purchase a better quality one.

Purging can be done in several ways. Have a garage sale to get rid of everything that you don’t use on a weekly basis. If you aren’t sure if you use it or not, put it in your closet or garage and see if you need it in a week. This technique can be used for almost everything in your life. How you get rid of your stuff is completely up to you.

  • Is it close to the holidays? Give some of your gently used items to friends or family as a gift.
  • Donate items that you feel someone else can use such as old clothes or bedding.
  • Sell high valued items that you no longer have a use for.
  • Throw away all items that are broken, worn or damaged.
  • Repurpose household items, such as old clothes into new cleaning rags.  
Take it slow

This is a process, not a one day event. Instead of getting rid of everything you own in one day do it over a couple months. See which items you actually use. If you are apprehensive about throwing things away, try snapping a photo of them first.

That way whenever you want that sentimental feeling you can look at the photo instead of the item.

If you are having trouble with the purging process, try calling in reinforcements. You may have an illogical sense of sentimental attachment to a lot of things but having another pair of eyes may clear that up.

Try looking through your list of friends and family and decide who lives the least cluttered lifestyle. Have that friend come over and help you to lessen your household load.

Paper Items

Things like old paperwork and newspapers will be easy to go through and decide if they are important. Start a file folder with all of your important documents inside and store it in a safe place.

Little items like this can start to take over spaces, it is a good idea to get on top of organizing them. You can take this a step further and keep a digital record instead of a hard copy. Scanning your documents and storing them on a hard drive may take a little effort, but it can turn a 1000 page filing cabinet into a thumb drive.

3. Rewire How You Think Of Shopping

This is what will change your life. Sure you can get rid of all your extra items but without changing the way you think, your home will once again fill up. This isn’t going to be easy – companies have massive marketing strategies to keep you buying. Don’t be hard on yourself as often this step takes the longest.

Sales

The first thing you have to realize is that sales are one big marketing strategy. Stop seeing a “65% Off” sale as a great deal. In fact you are not saving money, you are still spending. Make sure that it is something that you actually need.

Stop and Think

The time for impulse purchases is over. Learning to stop and think before you buy will go a long way towards a minimalist lifestyle. Just because the sale is “For a Limited Time Only” does not mean that you actually need that item.

Stop Shopping

Ever go to the mall to just browse? Not any more. If you put yourself in a position to buy you will do just that. If you stop going to the mall for entertainment, or to kill time, you will notice less stuff in your home and more money in your bank account.

Shop with a Purpose

Before you buy an item, be sure to visualize where in your house you are going to put it. No more junk drawers, everything should have a place. If you can not think of where to put it, don’t get it.

When you do need something go to a store with a shopping list. This way you will come back with only the items that you actually need and will use. Also, do a little research and see if you can use that item more than one way. For example, use toothpaste to clean your jewelry.

This will save you money on cleaning products and the space to store them.

4. Everything Must Have Purpose

If you are having trouble letting go of certain items think to yourself “Does this have a function in my daily life?”. If the answer is no you should probably start to think about getting rid of it.

Not everything has to be thrown out. You can repurpose items. Those old clothes can be cut into strips and used as rags. This is a philosophy can change your life. Instead of throwing out everything you own try to find a different purpose for that item. You can’t do this with everything, but try to do it with as many items as possible.

5. One Thing In, One Out

If you really like shopping but still want a minimalist life you can have your cake and eat it too. Think about what you’re buying and what it can replace. Want that top of the line computer – sell a pair of high end shoes to get it. This way you are maintaining the number of items in your home.

Once you have purged your house down to a more manageable size you will want to keep it that way. As a general rule of thumb, try to apply this one in one out mindset to everything you buy. If you buy a new shirt, find one to get rid of. Furthermore, if your child needs a new pair of shoes, throw out the worn tattered ones.  

If you need a certain item and it will be a one time use, like a clothes iron, ask your friends and family if you could borrow theirs. This is a good way of avoiding it ending up in your closet never to be used again – and it saves you money.

6. Quality Over Quantity

Since you will no longer be purchasing items in bulk you can start to afford higher quality products. If something breaks that you use regularly upgrade it to something that is better quality. For example, instead of buying that department store lamp that will only last for a couple months, start looking at antiques.

Remember that every dollar you spend is a vote to the world you want to live in. Now that you are no longer buying 2 for $20 t-shirts, you can afford that higher quality shirt that is bound to last you longer. You are still being frugal, it just looks a bit differently than before.

7. Plan Your Meals

This may sound like it has nothing to do with minimalism when in fact it has everything. This step is one of the most effective ways to instantly see a difference in your spending and be the greatest help in living a frugal lifestyle.

You spend so much time during the day thinking about what you will eat for your next meal. Even more time if you add in the hours spent walking aimlessly around a grocery store and making shopping lists every week. Instead, sit your family down and organize your meals.

Give yourself about an hour of time with the family and think of your home like a restaurant. Simply put, make a menu. Have a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. On each menu write a list of a few options your family enjoys to eat.

Your breakfast menu can include cereal (with specific kinds), oatmeal, eggs, bacon, coffee, orange juice and milk. Once you have written down a full menu, similar to a restaurant, paste it on your fridge.

Once you have made all of your menus, including snack and treat menus, you can write down a shopping list. On this list write down every item needed to make all of the meals on your menu. Think of this as stocking your restaurant.

Every week when it is time to grocery shop you will have a master list. From here you can put a small check beside the things you need. This will eliminate a ton of time spent guessing at the grocery store, limit your “extras” being bought and save you both time and money.

This doesn’t have to be a rigid menu. If you are getting tired of one meal change it out with another one.

8. Consider A Change In Scenery

Now that you have switched to a full minimalist lifestyle you will see that your mind-frame and whole way of thinking is much different than before. This is because there is less clutter and distraction in your life. You will now notice that you have more space than you know what to do with.

If your home serves you a purpose you don’t necessarily need to move. But, if you are finding that your closet has shrunk drastically, you’ve reduced the amount of furniture and clutter in your home to a point where it now looks quite empty consider opting for a smaller place.

Typically a smaller living space is associated with less costs. Less rent or a lower mortgage means less money to heat and air condition, etc. Or, this could mean you now can afford a place in the city where you will no longer need a car. Regardless, downsizing to a smaller place can offer many benefits.

A move may sound like a lot of work but it has almost unlimited benefits. Housing prices are soaring due to the new american dream to live in a newly built 6,000 square foot dream home.

Moving away from this trend to opt for a smaller home will mean less debt. It can also mean significantly more savings which will do wonders for your peace of mind. This can give you more money to live a higher quality of life.

Additionally, a smaller home requires less maintenance. You will not have to spend so much time mowing the lawn, cleaning etc. This will give you much more time to spend with your family and to spend enjoying your hobbies.

As a bonus, a small living area helps to keep you on track with your new minimalism lifestyle as you won’t have space to accumulate clutter.

Final Thoughts

Turning away from the modern consumerism mentality will take time and likely will require constant reminding. We have been taught a consumerism mindset and training your mind that you really don’t need to stop for a morning coffee everyday can take some getting used to.

Lots of times we buy without being fully present, without taking the time to see if it is really what we want. Being more mindful of this and asking yourself if you truly need this item before making a purchase can save you big.

It is important to realize that minimalism doesn’t happen overnight. If you have a family you can expect this process to take much longer. Whether it takes you months or years you will still see the same benefits of this. An uncluttered house, a peaceful mind, and more savings in your pocket will all come with a minimalist lifestyle.

Are you practicing a minimalist lifestyle? Let us know your experience in the comment section below.

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