We are so fortunate to be alive during this awesome minimalist movement. When my family and I first started downsizing over a year ago, I started seeking out other like-minded people. I read books, joined Facebook groups, and watched tiny house documentaries. Yet doing all of this, it’s kind of hard not to panic. “Do I have too much?” “If I’m not living in a tiny house can I call myself a minimalist?” How do you downsize and start minimalism without going overboard? Is there a way to keep a clutter-free home when you still have items you want to purchase? I have the answer to all these questions. How you can create a peaceful, minimalist environment and still keep “stuff” in your life.
Do I have too much stuff?
One thing you might start to feel after watching all the documentaries and reading all the downsizing books is feeling like you have too much stuff. No matter how much decluttering or downsizing you have done, it can be tough to avoid that feeling that you still didn’t do enough.
You’re not ready for tiny living. Should you be ready for tiny living? Can you call yourself a minimalist in a regular-sized house?
I worried about all of these things. In fact, I felt like a fraud, a sham, and unworthy of the title “minimalist.”
Am I the only person this crazy?
Don’t answer that.
Do I need to have less to be minimalist?
Everyone who wrote books and starred in documentaries I watched had done major downsizes. They were living in tiny homes, living out of backpacks, and absolutely loving their life.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I couldn’t call myself a minimalist if I still had a house full of things. My clothes would never all fit in a backpack.
Clearly, these people were just way better than me. Right? Wrong. Let’s discuss.
There are no rules in minimalism
Slowly I started to realize, there weren’t actually rules to minimalism. So why did I feel like creating them? There would never be a point in downsizing or minimizing where I would know I had officially “made it.” Minimalism is meant to be a way of life. Living with more purpose and intention.
There were a few things I personally had to remind myself:
- It’s okay to own things.
- Liking clothes is ok.
- Some items will enhance joy.
- Stuff isn’t bad — the love of stuff is bad.
- Everyone’s journey is different.
Even while reminding myself of all of this, I couldn’t help but think maybe there were guidelines that would help me keep myself on track. I didn’t want to fall back into the giant consumer, credit card debt pit I had been stuck in before.
So I decided to get intentional.
The golden rule: out before in.
Before I bring anything new into our home, I make sure to make room by clearing out old clutter. Around Christmas time I get some garbage bags ready and the kids and I go through their rooms and toy area together to get rid of unused toys. This makes Christmas a lot less stressful of time and encourages the kids to find joy in the new things they’ve been given. Here are some major areas to keep an eye on:
- Toys – Like I said if Christmas or a birthday party are coming up, clear out the old toys before the new ones make their way in. Did you know places like Decluttr will even pay you for old toys, like Legos?
- Clothes – If I know I need to update my wardrobe, or if I get some clothes from friends before I hang anything else up, I clear out some of the old, less worn things.
- Food – Yes, food! Before we go grocery shopping we make sure to go through our fridge and clear away or finish up any leftovers that we have. I also try to keep in mind ingredients we have left in the pantry, I come up with meal ideas based off those items so I don’t end up purchasing too much at the store. If you aren’t great at meal planning, try out the $5 Meal Plan and have someone else do the dirty work for you! –I also make sure to shop with my savings apps to get the most money back as possible.
- Paperwork – This is probably one of the things that drives me the craziest! I hate when paperwork clutters the countertops! As soon as we bring in the mail, I am quick to sort the “junk” mail right into the recycling. You can also cut them off at the source by removing yourself from their mailing list.
Buy only the best of the best
I make sure to clear things out before anything new makes it in and I also make sure what comes in is only the top quality of items. When I’m shopping, if I don’t absolutely love the shirt I try on, I won’t get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s on sale or not. I would rather buy a $60 dress that I LOVE and will wear constantly than a dress that’s $5 that I have lukewarm feelings for.
Questions to consider before bringing a new item into your home:
- Do I need this?
- Have I thought about it? –Avoid snap purchases, by giving yourself a week to think about it
- Does this enhance my life?
- Is there something else I could use? –If I wanted a dress for an upcoming wedding, I might consider my current dresses, or consider borrowing from a friend.
- When You Need to Stop Being Frugal
- Downsizing. How Our Family of 5 is Doing After 2 years of Living Smaller
- Downsize Your Schedule Like a Minimalist Boss
- 6 Reasons You Should Downsize Your Home
- 5 Simple Habits to Help Keep a Clean House Every Day
- 19 Rich People Who Live With Less
There is no deadline
If you decide the minimalist way of life is for you, and you love the idea of a tiny house, it doesn’t mean you have to go from a 5,000 square foot home into a 900 square foot trailer to be successful at it. We downsized our house over a year ago and have repeatedly had to re-downsize. Then, as I said, with my wardrobe, I up-sized again. Well, I didn’t really up-size, I just didn’t force myself to downsize where I wasn’t ready to.
Who knows, maybe someday I will end up living in a portable tiny home. –Please God let it be after the kids move out because heaven knows Mama can’t take that kind of smothering.
I do know it doesn’t have to be today or even in the next 10 years. What I do know is that minimalism has cleared my mind and my house. I wake up happier and for today, it works for me where I’m at. So give yourself patience and grace and know that this doesn’t have to be one drastic life change.
Keep the peace.
If you find yourself stressed or feeling unsuccessful (as I did) then you’re doing it all wrong. Minimalism should be a peaceful, enjoyable experience so make sure to keep your peace.
Keep the things around you that make you happy. Hang the art that brings you the most joy. Wear clothes that make you feel awesome each day. Collect what you want and let go of what doesn’t enhance your life. Minimalism is just choosing to surround yourself with all the right things and letting go of any minor distractions.