Minimalism for beginners
The minimalist movement began in response to a society consumed with filling their lives with unnecessary things. This culture of clutter and excessive consumerism is quite evident where I live in the United States, as Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they don’t actually need. Consumerism was programmed into my life, and like many, I grew up thinking that buying new, trendy things was the only way to be happy.
When I first started living on my own six years ago, I came to the realization that my consumeristic habits were getting to the best of me. I would always look towards a new purchase, or trip to a shopping center on a weekly basis to reward and keep myself happy — consumerism promised me satisfaction, but I knew deep down, I was miserable.
As some of you who follow me know, I look towards my Christian faith and the Bible for wisdom and direction. I was reading the Bible one morning, frustrated by my worries of the world and dissatisfaction with my consumeristic habits, and came across Matthew 6 which says, to “not store up for [myself] treasures on earth…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When I read these words, I was immediately convicted of the fact that consumerism had become an idol for me, something I could find love and satisfaction in, instead of God Himself. I was storing up all these treasures on earth and holding so tightly to the things of this world that I forgot to focus on what was actually important and worthwhile.
When I become convicted of a life change, I often go down a rabbit hole of internet research, in this case, I found myself scrolling through websites talking about the concept of minimalist living. Minimalism is defined as a lifestyle “that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.” The idea of having less to own, less to buy, and less to worry about sounded absolutely freeing.
Fast forward to today, and I can happily say that applying minimalist principles to my life has changed me for the better. I’ve compiled ten tips for starting minimalism based on my experience and some of questions I’ve received on Instagram. Feel free to watch the video version above, or check out the synopsis of my tips below.
Ten tips to start minimalist living
Refuse the things you don’t need
Take a step back to reconsider what you actually need - it often boils down to the essentials to live
Try not to buy something you want for at least 30 days
Pausing that online checkout for 30 days will allow you to truly determine whether or not your life would be 100x better with that new product in your life or not. You can look back after 30 days to see if you would’ve used that new product and found it necessary and useful.
Don’t be afraid to borrow or rent things
Borrow things from your family, friends or community
Be on the lookout for places like tool or rental libraries
Consider renting things like formal clothing
If you do need to buy, look for higher quality pieces that will last
Higher quality pieces not only last longer, but help you make less purchases in the long run and reduces your waste
Be on the lookout for products with warranties, repair and recycling programs
Buy me once is a great resource if you need to find products with life time warranties
Consider experiences over new things
Instead of purchasing a new object for yourself, here are some things I like to do to keep my mind stimulated:
Explore a new area in my city
Catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in years
Make a new meal with friends or family
Go into nature
And the list goes on!
Slowly declutter your belongings that you know you don’t need
Start decluttering your belongings first before others’ belongings
Tips for how to responsibly declutter your home without all the waste and a free worksheet
This is optional, but a clean space can help make your purchases even more intentional
Know that you don’t have to declutter everything overnight
Take it slow to avoid throwing out something on accident
If you have a tough time deciding what to do with rarely used items but do consider them useful, hold them for a few months
Declutter regularly, perhaps once a year to go back to those items you weren’t sure about, and to keep clutter low
Paperwork — make sure you keep documentation you may need for the next year or two, but once the documentation has expired or is 5+ years ago, consider recycling
Mindfully store away sentimental items
Sentimental items can be tough, as we often have emotional ties to them
In the case you’d like to remove physical clutter, consider taking digital photos of sentimental items as a way to remember them
Have a special container for the items you want to keep, and continue to declutter slowly over time if you’d like
Be patient with your family, roommates and household
Remember that decluttering is an emotional process
Continue to lead by example with your own belongings
Understand that being minimalist doesn’t mean you need to have less than 100 belongings, wear only black and white, get rid of your car, and live miserably
These common minimalist stereotypes exist as a way to help encourage simplicity in a world full of excess
It’s all about simplifying what you can and being intentional with what you have, and everyone is on their own journey with figuring out what they need or don’t need