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What our grandparents called “living on a budget” has a new name – “minimalist living.”  Minimalism means learning to live with less. Smaller house, smaller car, fewer pieces of furniture and, best of all, less debt.

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If you want to extend your minimalist living to other areas of your life, check out the Minimalist Living lifestyle.

What is Minimalist Living?

Minimalist living is all about living with the minimum. It’s much more than just getting rid of your stuff though – it’s based on a philosophy of living life based on experiences as opposed to worldly possessions. Of course, as an added bonus, by not feeling the need to buy so much stuff, you can more easily live within a budget and free yourself up to enjoy more satisfying relationships, go green, get rid of clutter and more.

Minimalism is about more than getting rid of “stuff.” It’s basically a “less is more” philosophy of life. It can also mean trimming your financial life to one checking account, one savings account (as an emergency fund) and one credit card so that you can more easily track your income and expenses.

Living minimally isn’t easy for everyone. For instance, if you’re a big family, it’s not always feasible to only buy the items that you absolutely need because you’ll be going through things faster. You will want to have kids’ clothes on hand for season changes and growth spurts. Food gets eaten quickly in a family so you’ll want to have a stock on hand so that when you run out of something, especially a staple, you can just reach into a cupboard or pantry to pull out more.

Also, minimalists might euphemistically say that their lifestyle is a philosophy that’s based on valuing experience rather than things. That’s fine if your favored experiences are low-cost. But what if the experiences that you enjoy involve horse-back riding, going to theatre performances or travel? Is that minimalist? 

The answer is that minimalism means different things to different people.  For some, it encompasses everything in life with a focus on getting by with as little as possible. For others, it means living simply so that there’s money left over for other things that would otherwise be out of reach financially. 


Living a minimalist lifestyle has its challenges. For one thing, it’s hard to get rid of things that you’re used to having nearby. Yet decluttering is probably the most oft-cited reason for adopting minimalism. People who have been living a minimalist lifestyle for awhile say that it’s best to get rid of the easy stuff first, and slowly work up to getting rid of harder stuff. You can sell (rehoming is a good way to declutter and, at the same time, save other people money), give to friends or neighbors or donate to a central second hand store (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc).

It’s also not always easy to explain your decision to minimalize to other people in your life. They may pass judgment or ask questions about your decision. Their reaction might also make you start to doubt your decision to minimalize. It helps to remind yourself of your original reason for adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

You don’t have to run after the norms of mainstream society which often seems to be centered on earning more for the sole purpose of accumulating more.  You may need to square your shoulders and be a pioneer as you lead by example and show what’s possible. The people around you will probably not “become minimalists” but your example will almost certainly serve as an illustration of how once can live well without “stuff.”

If you make the decision to minimize, you have to remember that it’s not a one-time decision. You don’t declutter one time and that’s it. You have to keep the issue of maintenance in mind. You will almost certainly continue to acquire things – some you need but we are human beings and we tend to acquire a lot of extras along the way.

Set aside an afternoon every 6 months or so to go through your house and remove things that aren’t part of your minimalist lifestyle. If you live with other people, make those periods into times that you sit and discuss what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to toss. If everyone in your house is onboard with the decisions made, it will be much easier to carry through.

How to Minimalize

There are probably many things in your house about which you’re already thinking “THAT’S what I’m going to get rid of.” But overall, how do you start cutting down on your possessions?

Experts suggest starting with your clothes closet, According to research, we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. That means that 80% of your clothes closet is clutter. There are clothes that you may not like but for which you spent a great deal of money so you feel guilty getting rid of it.

There are also clothes that don’t fit you any more but you keep them because one day……all of those things are just taking up space. Give yourself a treat by creating a more usable space and give someone else a treat by rehoming those items.

It wasn’t too long ago that children grew up playing house with the things that they found in the kitchen, sports with whatever was available outside and make-believe with a few old clothes for dress-up. Today, in many households, more is better. Parents purchase too many toys for their children, many of which are used once or twice if at all. Send those toys to the dumpster (or the second-hand shop) and watch your kids’ creativity shine as they make do with less. 

Unless you’re a professional cook you probably don’t need half the things that you have stored in your kitchen. One appliance to mix, another to make bread, another to juice….. pots and pans of every size and shape…..sets of flatware and dishes for any occasion……When it comes to cooking, simple is better.

You can better organize your drawers, countertops and cabinets by decluttering your kitchen.   There are plenty of tutorials online where experts give you a list of the kitchen essentials. The rest of it – out!  

There’s no need to call yourself “minimalist” or turn your life upside down to adopt a more simple lifestyle. Many people simply refer to “downsizing” or creating a more “manageable” living space. Take things slowly and your find that your more livable space makes for a more comfortable life. 

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