How to Downsize Your Life and Not Just Your Stuff

Minimalism is meant to be about more than just the possessions that you own or the possessions that you let go of. It’s about a mindset. A way of life. Minimalism should help you to live an all-around simpler existence. But beyond downsizing your home or decluttering your stuff, how can you downsize your life? What changes can you make that can have a ripple effect on everything else? The answer is a lot simpler than you might think. One simple statement can help you get completely clear about how to downsize your life in all areas.

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures

You downsizing keyword is: NO

Have you ever gotten an invite to a party or get together and your gut instantly sank? You hesitated to answer, but instead just kind of mumbled something like, “Yeah…Iiiii’m sure I can do that.” Chances are you responded this way because you really wanted to say no.

So often we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed in all areas of our lives just because we don’t know how to say “no” to the right things.

Now, I don’t mean running around saying no to everything or turning yourself into an anti-social hermit. The word, no, however, can have some serious benefits if you learn to use it right.

Downsizing your life with “No”

There are three main areas of your life that can totally transform your existence if you learn how to say no to them in the right way.

These 3 simple areas can help you simplify your entire life, live a more peaceful existence and consequently, help you get even more clear about the stuff you want in your minimalist journey.

You can downsize your stuff, sure. But, can you downsize your life in other areas? There is one special word that can help you in 3 major life areas.
The more you start saying no to things in your life that you don’t need or want, the more you can say yes to things that truly bring you joy.


There is no doubt that drowning in clutter and stuff can make us feel panicky, hopeless and stressed. Read How a Minimalist Lifestyle Can Easy Anxiety and Depression.

Well, drowning in stuff and possessions can feel similar to drowning in debt and/or struggling financially. Money is a huge cause of stress in most people’s lives and for good reason. In fact, on average in America, we carry around $14 BILLION in debt and in most households, credit cards are a big part of this!

The credit card epidemic and minimalist movement

We turn to credit cards so quickly because often times we struggle with delayed gratification. Something catches our eye, or we hear about a new gadget and convince ourselves that we need it. Enter: the credit card.

No matter where you are on your minimalist journey, there is a good chance that you have some lingering debt. Here are some great strategies for learning to say no to debt.

Saying “No” to debt:

One of the first steps you need to take to start saying no to debt is to become fully aware of where you struggle. Do you tend to over-spend on clothing? Are you quick to swipe your card for travel? Is poor budget planning to blame?

The faster you can get behind the reasons why you are swiping, the more successful you’ll be with saying no in the future. As far as your current debt, here is a quick breakdown of how you can say no by getting rid of it for good.

Build your emergency fund

Having a secure $1,000 emergency fund is a top priority before beginning a debt payoff strategy. The Savings Builder savings account will give you a higher interest rate when you set up automatic savings of only $100 per month! You can do this every month in order to keep building your emergency fund while you pay off debt. Click here to learn more.

Debt Snowball

Use the Debt Snowball method. To begin knocking out your debt. When done well, this method can help you knock out debt incredibly quickly and with very little effort.

Related posts:

Full Schedule

Like most people these days, you probably have some seriously jam-packed days. Whether you are working, have kids, go to school, or all of the above. One thing people tend to do is get away with saying yes to everything.

It gets exhausting.

When your schedule is already full, saying no can be one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do. Think Mila Kunis in Bad Moms when she says “NO” to running the crazy bake sale.

Things to practice saying no to:

  • Social events.
  • Playdates.
  • Extra hours.
  • Helping a friend.
  • Volunteering.

Whatever it is, whatever the extra addition to your schedule, chances are you have an idea of the areas in your schedule where you need to downsize your life.

Don’t let guilt sink in when you are choosing your sanity over a jam-packed schedule. Yes, some people might get hurt or not understand why you’re saying no. That’s ok. It’s ok to have your priorities in line, even if they don’t match up with someone elses.

Schedule clearing posts:

The more you start saying no to things in your life that you don't need or want, the more you can say yes to things that truly bring you joy.


Now this one can be tough.

What expectations are you putting on yourself that are just plain unrealistic?

Are there expectations someone else is putting on you that are unrealistic?

Time to let go of all of them.

Putting high expectations on ourselves can easily add stress where stress is not needed.

One huge way to avoid the stress of this is to just totally own up to your limits. Be honest about what you can and cannot handle and proceed accordingly.

Have you ever considered setting the bar lower?

Big goals are great, but the reality is that it takes a lot of tiny goals before you make your way to a big goal.

So, what is one small goal you can set for yourself today instead of piling a ton of stuff on your to-do list and then either accomplishing none or just half-heartedly doing some of them.

The guilt of “No”

The first thing you need to remember is that saying “no” does not make you a bad person. It can actually make you a better person.

The more you start saying no to things in your life that you don’t need or want, the more you can say yes to things that truly bring you joy.

Let go of any guilt that you feel over this word and start to embrace what possibilities would open up if you started using it more. It can be the best way to downsize your life.

A downsized life is right on the other side of the word no just waiting for you! Ok, that sounded corny…

Saying “no” means saying “yes.”

If you say “no” to volunteering at your child’s school, you may be saying yes to 1 hour of quiet alone in your house. Never underestimate the power of doing nothing.

Minimalism requires a lot of saying no. It’s all about priorities and knowing what yours are. To start to downsize your life, I promise you no will be the word that can do it all for you.

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You can downsize your stuff, sure. But, can you downsize your life in other areas? There is one special word that can help you in 3 major life areas.
You can downsize your stuff, sure. But, can you downsize your life in other areas? There is one special word that can help you in 3 major life areas.


  1. jacqueline garcia | 14th Nov 17

    what such a great post ! (:

    • | 14th Nov 17

      Thanks so much! Have a great day!

  2. Gloria Harvley | 14th Nov 17

    More people should read this! It’s so hard to let go of our thought process sometimes to be MORE than we can do actually do. We try to be Superwoman without realizing that we already are. Definitely going to use this as a reminder to let more things go.

    • | 14th Nov 17

      Exactly. I’m glad I’m not the only guilty one. Let it go.

  3. Erika | 14th Nov 17

    First of all, I love the GIF from Pitch Perfect and second, this is something I meant to dive whole heartedly into this year but only made baby steps. This is my top priority for 2018. Happy mind = happy life.

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Haha Thanks Erika. You have totally got this, I have no doubt! 2018 will be your year…until 2019, of course!

  4. Donyell | 15th Nov 17

    This is a great post to read before starting the new year! Definitely sharing this!!

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Great! So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day and a super amazing (peaceful) new year!

  5. Kim | 15th Nov 17

    I needed to read all of that about expectations! Oh man that spoke to my soul. Thanks for sharing this. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to my stuff, but clutter can come in MANY forms.

    • | 15th Nov 17

      I absolutely can! I’m glad you found it helpful. We all need these little reminders sometimes!

  6. Ngumabi | 15th Nov 17

    This post has made me understand better the need to minimize
    I used to think that it all about living on a few things and this made me fear minimalism
    Thanks for this

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Yes. People can definitely take it that far, but really, it’s just about living a little bit more simply.

  7. Oh to Be a Muse | 15th Nov 17

    I can definitely relate to the full schedule hard pass. I sometimes have days of the week that seem way more jam-packed than other days. But every time I read the word “downsizing” in this post it reminds me of the new Matt Damon movie coming out. Have you seen previews for it? It’s all about downsizing in a funny way.

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Oh man! I will be Googling that right now!

  8. Tom | 15th Nov 17

    I can relate to every point, a great read!

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Thanks so much Tom. Have a great day!

  9. Holly | 15th Nov 17

    This is a great post! Expectations would def be the hardest one for me to give up. I put so much pressure on myself which causes stress and anxiety. Especially during this busy holiday season! I need to let some of it go.

    • | 15th Nov 17

      Yes! Let it go!! I used to be/kind am the same way. I’m working on it. Hope you can too because you are already awesome! Whoop whoop!

  10. jill conyers | 16th Nov 17

    My husband have been working on minimizing life over the past year. The next step is right-sizing to a new home. Following your Pinterest board 🙂

    • | 16th Nov 17

      That is so exciting! It has been a little over a year since we “right sized” (I like that!) and life has seriously taken off. Good luck to you as you head toward your next phase!

  11. Luci | 16th Nov 17

    I have been meaning to minimalize for a long time but I can’t find the time to do so.

    • | 16th Nov 17

      I dream of a job where I can declutter people’s houses for them. Haha. Hope you can make some time soon!

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