7 Tips For Embracing Minimalism!

Hello Neighbor!

The past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the psychology behind what drives our consumer habits, how we can start to become green consumers, and why we should choose to use green banks – all in the name of improving our consumer habits to be more sustainable. Continuing with that, I want to give you a few tips on how to consume less – or instead, 7 tips for embracing minimalism.

What is minimalism?!

So what is minimalism? It’s not living unhappily in a small house with only a bag of things to your name. On the contrary, one definition of minimalism says,

“Minimalism is a philosophy that can help you to live a more intentional and fulfilling life. The idea is only to exchange your time, money, energy, and physical space for things that align with your core values.”

Larson and Eriksen say that

”Minimalism is about avoiding the unnecessary, it’s about simplicity, utility, and elegance. It’s all about “LESS IS MORE” in terms of embracing the most of fewer things. The most common misconception is that minimalists “suffer” and “sacrifice” while having less things and less interesting experiences. Truth be told, it’s quite the opposite. True minimalists need only particularly selected items, and they make the most of them, thus enriching (and not limiting) their experience. Simply put, quality triumphs over quantity. ”

Some Perspective

I saw a video on social media lately about someone’s junk drawer. The husband takes the junk drawer out and asks the wife to name what’s in the drawer, or else he is getting rid of it. She could only name one or two things.

I’ve been thinking about that in relation to most of the things in our life – in our homes. How often have you cleaned and thought, “I had no idea I had this!” or bought something to find you already had something exactly the same because maybe your house was a bit unorganized and you just didn’t know it? Or how many times have we moved and literally dragged around items that don’t mean that much to us?

What’s the point?

What if everything you surround yourself with was intentional, served you, and made you feel like your best self – because it aligned with your values? Imagine how much happier and fulfilled you might be.

There is no set guide to minimalism, but I wanted to give you some tips to help you start shaping and embracing what minimalism might look like for you.

1. Declutter your life

The first tip for embracing minimalism is to declutter your life. It would probably be overwhelming to do everything at once. Make a plan to go through one room at a time or even start smaller one drawer at a time. We’ve probably all heard of the Marie Kondo method at this point – keeping things that spark joy. That might be a good way to start. Just be sure you include time to repurpose or donate the things you’re getting rid of.

Then you can move on to other things. Like decluttering your phone (yep, you don’t need 5 apps that practically do the same thing), unsubscribing from emails, and setting time limits on how much you use specific apps, so you’re freeing up time and space for yourself (while minimizing the amount of exposure you have to ads and social comparisons).

You can also declutter your schedule. Maybe you’ve said yes to too many things that don’t feel aligned with you anymore, or you just want more time in your schedule. Do a calendar audit and see what needs to shift.

Doing this will open your eyes, reduce stress, and help you focus on things that truly matter.

2. Be more aware of your spending.

One of the best ways to protect your time, money, energy, and space is to be more aware of your spending.

Keeping track of your expenses doesn’t have to be a hassle. Many free apps, such as Mint, can help you do this easily and quickly. Apps will create a budget for you based on what they know about your past purchases and then suggest how much money you should set aside each month for different categories you can prioritize. But you can also stick to good old-fashioned paper or spreadsheets!

Some people even make budgets with the cash they have, putting it in labeled envelopes for different categories, so you can physically see what you’re spending and what you’re taking it from to do so.

Once you’ve created a budget, stick to it! If doing so seems impossible at first because there isn’t enough room in your account for everything else that’s going on in life right now—and trust me: there probably won’t be—then make sure not only does every dollar counts.

3. Don’t Shop on Impulse / Avoid Advertisements

Now that you’re aware of your spending and what you’ve accumulated – you may have realized that you’re an impulse shopper or fallen prey to advertisements that just made things pile up in your corner. The best way to avoid impulse shopping is to, well – not shop on impulse. If that sounds like a difficult feat, it’s because it is. But there are ways you can minimize the chances of inadvertently buying things you don’t need or even want.

First, know your budget. Does what you want to spend your money on fit into the budget you set for yourself? Think about it and re-evaluate.

Don’t shop for anything when you’re tired (or stressed). Your brain tends to go into survival mode when tired or stressed out and will make irrational decisions based on sudden feelings or impulses to protect itself from those negative emotions. So if possible, try not to shop for anything serious after working all day at your job or before going to sleep at night. By forcing yourself not to buy anything significant until your mind has had time for some rest and relaxation away from work and any other stressors, then hopefully, when the time comes around again, you’ll be able to think more clearly about your decision.

One way to help with this is to avoid advertisements. The people who create ads are paid to get your attention and make you buy things. To tap into your subconscious mind and get you to say yes without a second thought. Don’t let them. Reducing your exposure to advertisements will help you to seek out what you want – not something a marketing team wants for you.

You can do this by unsubscribing to certain emails and changing your Google and social media settings to reduce ads.

4. It’s all about quality, not quantity.

Minimalism is all about quality, not quantity. The more you buy, the more likely you are to have things that don’t last as long and end up in the landfill too soon. When purchasing a product, think about how long you will use it before replacing it and if it would need to be replaced by another one shortly after and have that help shape your decision.

If you’re buying something and it’s going to be used for a long time—a couch, your car, or even an appliance—you should think about what impact it’s going to have on the environment. Usually, things made with the environment in mind will be better quality with less fuss.

Maybe you save and spend a little extra for something that will last longer, that is easier to fix if it breaks, or that is from a sustainable company that will take and reuse what you needed to be replaced.

Consider buying something used instead of new. Things were made better back in the day – if it’s lasted a long time without damage, it will likely stay in quality shape.

Also, try asking yourself if there are better ways of doing things than buying more expensive products, like borrowing from your neighbor, and reusing and repurposing items when possible, which will help save money and reduce consumption and waste.

5. Try to prioritize experiences over material things.

You may be thinking, “But I enjoy my possessions! They bring me joy.” And you would be right—but only for a short time.

We have been conditioned as a society to associate happiness with ownership and consumption, but in reality, experiences are more valuable than things. In fact, research shows that people who own material goods often become unhappy when they compare themselves to others who have more – which, truth be told, seems like everyone else, even if it’s not. We even treat people more manipulative and selfishly when we are too materialistic.

On the other hand, people who do not own as much are less likely to compare themselves with others in the first place and thus tend to be happier than those who own lots of stuff. Stop the comparison game in its tracks.

Experiences can also be shared with loved ones or friends (and pets!), which makes them even more enjoyable since you’re sharing something special together rather than collecting things you barely look at.

Experiences leave a lasting impression on us; memories made while doing something fun last longer than items purchased from Amazon could ever hope to.

6. Take your Time

Something that really makes a difference here is taking time—slowing down and being patient before consuming. Whatever you were thinking about spending your money on will still be there tomorrow. Give yourself time to think.

Practice patience, practice mindfulness, schedule time for yourself (to take care and tune into yourself), and try not to multitask – all of these things will give you MORE time. More time to think, more time to realign with your values, more time to live fully and detach yourself from the things you own.

A quote from Author Bridget English reads,

“​Everyone has the same amount of hours per day, it’s not that you don’t have enough time, it’s that you don’t have a clear focus.”

You’ve got the time. It sounds counterintuitive but slow down, and everything will start to come into focus.

7. Create an Accountability Loop

Minimalist expert Joshua Becker says that creating an accountability loop can help us to consume less. An accountability loop is just that – something to keep us accountable and allow us to keep our values top of mind and stick to them.

He gives 5 ways you can create this loop.

    1. Talk to a close family member or friend about being a minimalist – Tell them your hopes, dreams, and plans for owning less. This will help you get trusted advice and support from people you love about your values and what matters most.
    2. Share a specific goal for minimalism on social media – When we share something with others, we automatically put our intentions into words – making us that much more committed to our goal and willing to inspire and get encouragement from others.
    3. Take a before and after decluttering photo of your house – Before and after photos are my favorite because you really can see a difference when you’re comparing photos versus just relying on time – and decluttering and changing can take a long time. By taking a photo, you’ve got a reminder about your growth and your goal.
    4. Create a private or public place to catalog your journey – Journaling comes to mind here. How do you feel having more time or even going through the process of consuming less? Cataloging your journey is like a photo to show growth, but internally. You can look back on what you thought, believed, or felt and see how much things have changed. If you’re doing it publicly, it can help your motivation and encouragement to keep going.
    5. Invite others to declutter and make your own support community – Joshua quotes the truism, “the best way to learn anything is to teach someone else.” I can speak from experience, literally by this podcast, that by putting your values into action and sharing what you learn for the world to see and grow from, you stay committed and encouraged because you’ve got a community. (Click here to understand the importance of community).

Something to grow on

I wanted to leave you with some final thoughts for this week’s something to grow on.

Minimalism isn’t just good for your mental health and quality of life. It’s also good for the planet.

Getting caught up in the consumer cycle of buying, using, and then throwing away is easy. But if you can break this cycle by utilizing these 7 tips to embrace minimalism – then we all win.

You can reduce the amount of waste you produce, the amount of money you spend on things you don’t need, and the amount of time you spend shopping or scrolling for something new. You can fill that time with more experiences, more quality time with the people you love, and more time for yourself!

It’s important to understand that as a consumer, you have power over what products are made and sold. You can make an impact on the world around you.

And again, minimalism isn’t a one size fits all prescription. If you’re a fashionista, a book enthusiast, or a hobbyist – you can still do those things. Just make sure you’re not consuming things to let them fall by the wayside.

To quote Joshua Becker again,

“It is firstly about being in harmony with yourself and then the rest of the World, not vice versa. Being a minimalist is a state of mind rather than a set of rules or harsh restrictions.”

So I encourage you to try it out. At least start thinking about it as you move around your home and your life. Start with one drawer and see where it leads.

Until next time, thanks for joining me, neighbor.

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