What is the point of minimalism and becoming a minimalist? Is it to be able to live with 100 items or less? To be nomadic and able to live anywhere, in any city, without having to deal with the hassle of movers?
Are you only a minimalist if you can fit everything you need into your car? Or if your house has more than 50% bare wall space?
Minimalism doesn’t have rules, but it does have a purpose. The purpose of minimalism is to live with less. By living with less, we free ourselves from the shackles of consumerism, and free up our time, money, and emotional capital for focusing on the things that really matter.
Minimalism is not decluttering. Yes, decluttering is a part of being a minimalist, but the idea of decluttering is to get rid of things that build up in your home. Minimalism is not having things build up in the first place.
To completely remove the habits and mechanisms that lead to clutter, so that you can spend less time managing your stuff, cleaning it, moving it around, and more time simply being, and enjoying life. Let’s move towards the balanced life.
Minimalism leads to a balanced life
Personally, I firmly believe that having less stuff leads to a more balanced life. The more stuff you have, the more money you must spend maintaining it all. The more stuff you have, the more space you need to store it all. More money means more time spent working, and less time spent enjoying life, dedicating time to hobbies, etc.
Having more stuff also means having less time. More stuff means spending time cleaning it, arranging it, moving it around, and working to afford it. Having less stuff allows for more time to be spent on experiences, whether it’s time with family, time at a pub, or time working on a hobby.
Finding a good balance in life can be tough, with so many things to pull you in every direction. Between work, maintaining good relationships, money management, and taking care of myself, I barely have any time left over. I’m more than happy to remove acquiring and maintaining physical items from that list.
Minimalism contributes to mental well being
Finally, minimalism contributes to a well balanced life because it helps mental well being.
Being a minimalist doesn’t just mean you have less stuff, it means you want less stuff. It doesn’t have to mean that you don’t ever want to acquire newer or better items to make your life easier. It just means that, for the most part, buying stuff isn’t very high up on your priority list.
For me, being a minimalist has helped my mental well being a great deal. I used to place a lot of value on brands, and would spend a lot of time plotted how best to acquire clothing and other things.
Now, I don’t spend nearly as much time obsessing over material items, and instead spend my time more productively, doing the things that I actually enjoy. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, to not always be thinking about all of the stuff I’d like to buy, if only I had the money.
That’s not to say I never want to buy anything, I do. I’d like a new computer, a new DSLR camera, and a new wardrobe. But these things don’t consume me, and I’m perfectly happy to use what I have until it’s no longer serviceable. I don’t spend much time browsing the internet, or allowing my lust for these things to cloud my thoughts.
Minimalism isn’t measured by how many things you own, how many paintings are on your wall, or how much you spend per year on material items. It’s a mind frame of less is more. It helps lead to a balanced life, where things like family, experiences, and health are valued above status, new cars, and large homes.
What is minimalism to you? Is minimalism important to you?
DC @ Young Adult Money says
You certainly make a compelling case for minimalism in this post (and many of your prior posts as well). As I’ve said, I don’t think I’ve fully embraced minimalism, but I’m not sure why. I have noticed, though, that when I do “keep it simple” in my house/apartment, my work space, etc. it is much easier to feel relaxed and to clear my mind.
For me minimalism is all about living a worry free lifestyle. I don’t like “having” to do things- my life at work is pretty much entirely that– so when it comes to my personal life I try to remove as many “must dos” as possible, and living a minimalist lifestyle is central to that goal.
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
I think for me, it’s about making sure I’m using the things that I have before buying something new. Otherwise it’ll just be accumulating and be wasteful. =)
You’re the ultimate minimalist as you’ve gotten rid of a lot of debt. Minimalism to me is living a life free not only of real clutter, but also of the anything that weights you down literally and figuratively.
Brian @ Luke1428 says
Minimalism to me is simply contentment. Being pleased with where I’m at and not longing after more and more each day.
Free Money Minute says
Minimalism to me is buying only what you need and using the other money to save for a better life. It also costs money to maintain stuff. If you live minimally, you will have more time, more money and less stress.
Matt Becker says
We’re definitely good about not wanting a lot of new stuff, but we’re not great about not letting things accumulate. De-cluttering is always one of those things I want to do, but never really make time for.
Perhaps, instead of decluttering, you could focus on the processes that help you avoid clutter in the first place?
Mr. Utopia says
I definitely have minimalist tendencies. No desire for brand names, fancy clothes, new toys, etc. By contrast, my wife is the opposite. She wants the new clothes, fancy cameras, iphones, cars, trips, etc. I suppose we offset each other and end up somewhere in the middle. I rein her in and keep her tendencies under control as best I can. However, she does “persuade” me to pick some stuff every now and then. We balance each other out although there is some conflict every so often (she’s probably sick of hearing me say “we can’t afford that!”).
It sounds like she’s lucky to have you around! Good for you for being such a minimalist, even if you’re the only one in your household.
To me minimalism is living with less and making the most of what you do have. I do like to declutter and if I am in a clean, organized room I feel so much more productive and can focus on the important things.
Done by Forty says
This is a good summary of the philosophy or lifestyle for someone like me, who’s not that familiar with the idea. I don’t know how much we embrace the approach, but we’re trying to reduce now and I suppose that’s a start!
I like your definition of minimalism, and I agree with it. I am slowly moving toward being a minimalist by not acquiring more stuff I don’t need. I’m stopping the flow of items coming in, but I need to work on getting things out! The way you describe it, it’s like a cycle: you buy more stuff, more stuff piles up, more money is being spend on all this stuff, then stuff consumes you. There’s so many little things I’ve held on to that don’t have purpose anymore, I’ve just kept them because they’re a bit sentimental. I honestly don’t look at them enough so I doubt I will miss them.
Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet says
I am not a minimalist, per se, but I do like simplicity. I feel like the less I have the less stress I have. I once heard a quote that I really resonate with, ” The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you” It is so true. The more things we have, the more we have to clean, fix and maintain. Speaking of which, I have a washer that I have to fix later today.
I agree with you. Of course, I’d love a new car, wardrobe, to take 20 vacations a year but I don’t need those things. I need my family and great blogs like this 😉
I enjoy minimalism for the sole fact of cleaning things. I was constantly decluttering and moving things around and finally realized that I dislike cleaning more than I liked any of my things. So I downsized and it’s great!
I want to live a minimalist lifestyle too! I just need the simple things in my life.
But I know I want certain things like a new couch and king size bed.
Josh Chambers @ Earmark says
My definition: Decreasing the quantity of what I consume and increasing the quality.
One thing I think often happens when discussing minimalism is that quality is inadvertently decoupled from quantity. For me, it’s not about just buying less stuff and/or buying it as cheap as possible. For me, the point of minimalism is freedom (which everyone has already said). But it’s not just freedom from my stuff ruling over me (although that’s a big part of it); it’s also the mental freedom that comes from knowing 1) I’m helping the environment, 2) if I spend a bit more I’m less likely to be supporting slave/child labor (not to suggest all expensive items are slave/child labor free – but the ones that are are generally more pricey), and 3) I’m freeing up my time when buying a high quality item the first time around because it saves me time buying it a second time when it breaks, or spending time repairing it when it breaks/falls apart).
Thanks for the post! I really enjoyed reading it, and all the comments.
Tanya @ The Heavy Purse says
Minimalism to me is focusing on the things that truly matter. For long time, like many people, I focused more on what I thought I needed based upon what others told me or what they had. So I acquired a lot of junk. Fortunately it didn’t come with debt, but still – when I think of all the money I wasted on things I really didn’t even want but bought because I was bored or lonely or stressed, etc – I feel sad. There were so many other things I could have done with that money. Now I’m smarter. 🙂 My budget maybe leaner these days but that’s okay. It really forced me to pare down and think about what I buy, rather than buying something just because I could afford it. While I am confident my income will increase to the point where I no longer have to worry about money, I want to keep my minimalistic sensibilities and spend money on the things I love. Great post, Jordann!
Yeah, I strive for minimalism but it is eluding me constantly. What really annoys me though, is that when packing for a holiday we end up with very large suitcases and live in couple of t-shirts and a pair of short. Bad!
Excellent timing, this is just the post I needed to read. I’ve been saying for quite some time that I’m going to declutter and change my habits. If something comes in, something else will be going out. I hate cleaning and organizing. It stresses me out. Having less is such a simple solution, but it seems like such a task, as I sit here and stare at the unneeded crap surrounding me…. Time to go tackle my desk!
I knew that when I moved into a new apartment a year and half ago that I had too much “stuff” and that I needed to get rid of it. But I didn’t. Now that I’ve been spending pretty much all of my time in my apartment (since I’m off work for the summer), it’s really been bugging me. But every time I go to clean out my closet, or empty the junk drawer, I get rid of maybe one or two things. It’s stupid. I don’t know why I’m attached to most of these things, and know that I’d feel better without the clutter.
What I’ve been trying instead is to put all the things that I don’t think I need, but can’t let go of into a box, and putting that box in my storage closet. If a year passes and I haven’t missed anything from the box, off to good-will (or the dump in some cases) it goes.
Marissa @ Thirty Six Months says
I am so glad you talked about this, Jordann, because I wasn’t aware of the advantages of it. I think I’m a minimalist myself for I love looking at spaces that don’t have too much stuff in them.
Marissa @ Thirty Six Months says
Yep. That’s true. Seeing less stuff delights me. Oh well should have a chair, a table, and your computer. Ha!
One trick I try to do is clean my kitchen every night before I go to bed. This means no dishes or appliances on the countertops and no dirty pots and pans on the stove. That way when I wake up and go have breakfast I can walk into a nice clean space filled with good energy. Thats a great way to start your day!
I have never desired a minimalist life, but after getting back from vacation, I can’t shake the feeling that I want to sell most of my stuff and travel the country in an Airstream trailer. I ‘m sure it will pass, but holy cow, it’s a bit scary. Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis?
Michelle's Finance Journal says
I never thought of minimalistic lifestyle until I started blogging. To me, minimalism is getting rid of or not obtaining things that you don’t need or can’t afford. Knowing what’s important in your life and not clutter your life with what people say is important. Being smart about money and material things and focus on your inner peace and joy. But if you have something you want and can afford it, don’t think too much and give your stress. Just buy it.
Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans says
Minimalism to me is being less dependent on things. Clearing out physical space in one’s home eventually helps clear the mind.
Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings says
I have a bad habit of collecting craft supplies, but I don’t have time to work on them as much as I think I do. And they take up a lot of storage space!