Firstly, what is a minimalist?
So, I’ve now been a minimalist for over 5 years and to me, it just means only using the things that serve a purpose. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your possessions it’s all about “LESS IS MORE” in terms of embracing the most of fewer things. Think of only keeping items in your life that make you happy and serve a purpose. It’s also about living life based on experiences rather than possessions.
Why did I decide to become a minimalist?
I decided to become a minimalist after watching a film called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” by the Minimalists on Netflix. It looked at minimalism and how people from different walks of life have used it to create more meaningful lives. The whole concept appealed to me as throughout my life I’ve always felt I’ve constantly thrived to buy the next new shiny thing. You’ve heard that old saying – “Keeping up with the Joneses”. This is easy to do when you have access to disposable income, but when your circumstances change (as mine did) it can very quickly lead to debt.
The problem we have these days is it’s so easy to just go online and purchase something just because we can. As consumers, we are encouraged to get into debt by being offered credit cards, low-interest loans and other credit facilities. Gone are the days when you would save up to buy something and doing this would give you a greater appreciation for the item you purchased.
We now live in such a throwaway culture
Very rarely do we buy things and expect them to last. Clothes are now so cheap that I know people that just go out every weekend to buy new items that they’ll probably never get around to wearing. It all comes down to the experience and the quick hit pleasure we get from buying something new. However, this never lasts long as in many cases when you get home and try the items on it never feels the same as it did in the shop.
We are also constantly encouraged to upgrade our technology to experience the next best thing but are we really gaining anything for doing this. A great example of this is our smartphones. Manufacturers now bring out so many different variations of each phone providing a slightly different offering. It’s ironic now as many people don’t use them to talk and prefer to message, which in turn has affected our social interaction with other people.
So, how did I start?
I think the hardest thing with anything is just getting started. I decided the first step was to go through each room in my house as an initial approach and quickly get rid of anything that wasn’t being used or I felt I didn’t need. The big question then was what to do with all the items I didn’t want. I decided to put the items into three categories as below:
1. Items to sell – with this category I would use Facebook Marketplace and ended up selling most things.
2. Items to give away – with this category I decided the first approach would be to list the items on the Freecycle website (freecycle.org). If the items didn’t sell I would put them in a stack and give them away to a charity shop.
3. Items to recycle – this category would consist of items that would be disposed of at the local recycling centre.
I quickly worked through all the rooms (10 in total) with my biggest challenge being the attic. Like most people, I think this is always the go-to place to put those items you don’t know what to do with (as well as the Christmas decorations) – out of sight out of mind as they say. I also went through all of my clothes which I had loads of and some of which hadn’t even been worn. It was a brutal task all in all but well worth it.
What helped me the most…
I decided to apply one key rule. This was that I wanted to be in a situation where if I ever decided to downsize to a two-bedroom flat (apartment for those overseas), I wanted to be in a situation to just have the essentials and to be able to pack pretty quickly. I also planned to decorate the whole house, so getting rid of all the clutter would be a huge advantage.
I’d also gone through a number of family bereavements over the years and had the task of sorting through their items. This was a very difficult thing to do and brought on a lot of guilt, especially when disposing of things that meant something to that person. I have two children myself and would hate them to have to go through a similar process.
So, what have I learned?
Minimalism is all about avoiding the unnecessary, it’s about simplicity. The common misconception is that as a minimalist you suffer by having less, but this is certainly not the case. It’s all about each item serving a specific need. So, on that note, one of the biggest things I’ve learnt has been quality over quantity. I now don’t mind paying a bit more for something that I know will last. How does that saying go – buy cheap buy twice.
I have also adopted the one-in and one-out rule. So, as an example, if I buy a new T-shirt then I have to get rid of one of my existing ones. This also means that I now think before I buy something. The other thing I do is use the Minimalist 30/30 rule. This means that if something costs more than £30, you ask yourself whether you can get by without it for the next 30 hours. If an item is more than £100 try and wait 30 days. This gives you time to work out whether you really need the item and if it will bring value to your life.
I hope you like and benefit from this article and that it gives you an insight into Minimalism and a minimalist’s life. Below are some links I think would be beneficial especially if you’re looking at becoming a minimalist.
What is Minimalism and how can I embrace its benefits – http://justbloglife.com/what-is-minimalism-and-how-can-i-embrace-its-benefits/
Minimalists 30/30 Rule – https://www.theminimalists.com/3030rule/
The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and Netflix films.
Simple Lionheart Life – A blog dedicated to helping you simplify and declutter your home and your life.