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I’m sure this topic has been addressed before, by others, but it seems to be circling around back to us as well. I’ve seen comments, read emails, and have spoken to people in person that all seem to say that a minimalist life is not for them – they couldn’t imagine living with less than 100 things, or having all their possessions in a single bag, or not having a car, or only ever renting, etc. etc. etc. But what they’re seeing is just one side of minimalism – not the whole picture.
There is no set standard…
Not everyone is going to fit into that mold of only having 100 items, no car, and no house. What is right for some is not right for all – so don’t try to bend yourself in a direction you’re not comfortable with. Minimalism & Simple Living is a mindset (or way of living) that varies from person to person. It is not about the amount of possessions you have; it’s about what you’re happy with and what you can live without. It’s about breaking away from the desire or “need” to be controlled by our things.
There is no set number of things you must have in order to be a minimalist. I can’t tell you that in order to be a minimalist you must have 100 things or less, especially since I certainly don’t. I can’t say that being a minimalist means not having your own car, or not buying a house. It’s about what is right for you, making wiser decisions, being an informed buyer, and reducing the unnecessary from your life. It’s about making time for the things that matter in your life: family, friends, hobbies, outings, etc. It’s about building a life for yourself that is less focused on stuff.
Every journey is going to be different…
When we decided we were going to downsize and declutter, we didn’t set out with the goal of reaching 100 items. We decided we were going to take it one day at a time, reduce the amount of things we keep that we don’t need, re-evaluate our shopping habits, and spend more time with the ones we love. Since we’ve started doing so, we have made huge strides in our life and savings. I’ve personally been able to save more money than I thought possible. Denise has had the time to train and compete in 5K’s. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have the stress and responsibility to care for things weighing you down.
But the biggest thing to note about the two of us is how different our journeys are from one another. Denise lives in the country, on 4 acres of land, with my father and 9 animals (dogs, cats, horses). She works from home and has the ability to wear torn up jeans, flip flops, and tank tops every day if she desired to do so. Her electric bill is half the amount of someone who lives in the city (such as myself). She has plenty of room to grow her own food and rarely needs to go to the store.
Compared to my journey, it’s night and day. I live in the city. I need a car since I drive to work every day – it’s not within walking distance and no buses head out that way. I attempted to move closer to work to fix this situation, but then the office ended up moving halfway across the city – go figure. I live in a 1000 sq ft home, with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, built in the 1940’s. My electric bill is typically double the amount of my parents, even though I use far less. But, I have a lot more easily accessible to me, including plenty of organic and fresh markets.
The only thing consistent between our journeys has been trying to spend more time with each other. Since her business is on her property, there’s only so much she can realistically downsize in her office. Since I work in a corporate environment, there’s only so much I can realistically downsize in my wardrobe. I could downsize my car to a smaller Eco-efficient vehicle, but she needs a truck to haul hay and other farming items around.
Neither of us have millions of dollars sitting in the bank, but the joy and happiness we receive from being able to do what we enjoy doing sure makes us feel wealthy. Not having to worry about every bill that comes through the door is a fantastic feeling.
The benefits are plenty…
Clutter can make you feel like you’re suffocating. When you walk into your home and are immediately greeted by things, you might feel overwhelmed and cramped. You may consider spending more money to buy a larger home to house these items, which causes an unnecessary stress and bills. Once you’re in your larger house, you see all the free space and wind up going further in debt to buy more stuff to fill the empty areas. And the circle continues…
By reducing the stuff you have, you’ve now saved time and money, and avoided a headache. From our journeys, we’ve seen our wallets grow, our stress reduce, and our happiness double. We’ve lost weight, gained insight, and can breathe easy knowing we’re no longer cramped and being consumed by our things.
Find what works for you…
Before you walk away from the possibility of living simpler and freer, just know that while the journey may be a difficult one to make, the end result will certainly be worth the challenges. Your journey may not be the same as the next person, but the end result is mostly the same across the board. With a minimalistic/simple living lifestyle, we free up our money from stuff, giving us the ability to use it for grand adventures and family outings. We’re able to live with far fewer items, and find joy in activities rather than things. We find happiness.
For tips on how to begin your decluttering journey, you can Start Here, or snag a copy of the 30 Day Challenge (our Minimalism and Decluttering eBook).