The lifestyle sounds enticing: owning less stuff means spending more time on experiences and with the people you love the most. Do you have what it takes to thrive as a minimalist?
Many people surround themselves with unnecessary stuff out of fear. “What if I need it someday,” haunts their mind like an unwelcome ghost. However, possessions are also encumbrances — you’re responsible for what you own, including the upkeep and maintenance that often monopolizes your free time when you’d rather make memories.
How can you get started with the “less is more” mindset? It’s easier if you have a plan. Use these five tips to thrive as a minimalist.
Create a Place for Everything
Why should you make organization your first step to thriving as a minimalist? Consider this: the average American spends 2.5 full days each year looking for stuff they lost. Worse, these households spend $2.7 billion annually replacing what they can’t find. Running out for a second pair of scissors because you can’t find the ones you own isn’t practicing minimalism, especially since you usually spy the missing pair the minute you get back from the store.
Besides, you must sort your belongings to clear what you no longer need. Start with your garage, organizing your small tools on a pegboard and installing locking cabinets for hazardous materials like antifreeze. Get creative with repurposing — for example, you can sometimes find used school lockers for cheapor even free. Slap a padlock on them, and done. Use old crates and jars for loose items like workboots, screws and nails.
Make the Great Cleanout Fun
A minimalist lifestyle means freeing yourself from old ghosts, like that wedding dress that still hangs in your closet five years post-divorce. Donate it to a lucky bride who needs a big-day bargain — you’ll both walk away with a smile.
Remember, minimalism doesn’t mean giving away everything you own. You still need clothes. How can you freshen your wardrobe without spending a dime and have fun with the great cleanout? Invite your tribe to get in on the action.
Plan to clean out your closets the same weekend, then make a date. You probably have scores of items you don’t wear, but they could and vice-versa. Plan a party exchange for cleanout weekend where you get together with your BFFs and surplus duds and swap from each other’s closets. Anything left over after your friendship “shopping excursion” becomes charitable donations.
Here’s another fun trick to make your next cleanout easier: When restocking your closet, reverse your usual hanger direction. When you wear something, turn the hanger back the “right” way. After 12 months, you’ll have a tidy inventory of items you haven’t worn.
Practice One-In, One-Out
What is one-in, one-out living? It’s a minimalist technique that entails donating or repurposing an item before you buy something new. It’s a handy trick to keep clutter from accumulating.
If you’re a mom, instilling this principle in your little one will help prevent some of the “gimmes.” Imagine if each time your child clamored for a new toy, they had to surrender one they already owned. This process might entail little more than passing down something they outgrew to a sibling, softening the blow, so it isn’t entirely “gone,” but it requires kids to be mindful of their belongings.
Get a Little Handy With a Hammer
If you want to get hardcore into thriving as a minimalist, you need a bit of DIY skill. Eventually, the items you rely on daily will break. Knowing how to fix them prevents buying replacements — and creating waste in the process.
Where should you focus your energy? Look at what you couldn’t run your daily life without, which may include the following:
● Your vehicle
● The computer and cellphone you use for work
● Various home appliances
● Your home itself — the kitchen sink, the AC system, your front door.
You might not gain proficiency in everything — there’s a reason it takes people a lifetime to get good at their trades. However, you can learn minor things, like replacing your weather stripping or changing your motor oil, that prevent you from shelling out big bucks.
Your minimalist lifestyle can also drive your purchasing decisions. Sadly, manufacturers will do anything to increase profit margins, including forcing you to return devices to the factory for service instead of selling replacement parts for those that frequently break. While many state and federal governments have attempted to pass right-to-repair legislation, some companies insist on such practices to boost their bottom lines while ignoring the impact on the environment.
The bottom line: When shopping for new big-ticket items, prefer manufacturers who let you fix things yourself if they break.
Connect With Others Who Share Your Lifestyle
If you want to thrive as a minimalist, it helps to have support. Connect with others who share your lifestyle. How?
Look for in-person and online sustainability groups. Many such collectives have regular meetings to share tips and tricks for living more sustainably and breaking your addiction to “stuff.”
Are you interested in the minimalist lifestyle? It has a lot of perks, including more time for the things you love the most.
You can thrive as a minimalist by following the above tips. You’ll feel truly free once you liberate yourself from the urge to fill the void in your life with mindless consumerism and instead spend your time making memories.