In this age of physical and mental clutter, minimalism has become an appealing lifestyle choice to reduce stress. People are looking to declutter their homes, schedules, minds, and priorities.
In this post, we take a closer look at what a minimalist lifestyle is, the biggest pitfall, plus how it can further reduce stress by saving you money.
What is Minimalism?
According to Merriam-Webster, minimalism is a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity.
Originally, minimalism applied to a style of art or the design of buildings and spaces. But it’s become more mainstream, and evolved into a lifestyle where you do away with the unnecessary, creating room to just be.
Instead of filling your life with so many things you don’t appreciate any of them, you become increasingly grateful for the few things you actually need.
The emphasis of your life ceases to be about the negativity of comparing yourself to others and needing more to measure up, to living with less and increasing positivity in more simplistic ways.
The Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle
According to theminimlaists.com, embracing a minimalist lifestyle can bring benefits in the areas of health, relationships, finances, creativity, and giving.
Decluttering the unnecessary elements of your life and reducing your focus on possessions, frees you to put your attention on real priorities.
A lack of clutter allows you to see more clearly what matters to you on a deeper level. You can put your attention on the details of life that make a difference to your overall well-being.
It also allows you time and space to see past yourself, with a more giving attitude toward the needs of others and society in general.
What Does a Minimalist Lifestyle Look Like?
Often, a minimalist lifestyle is seen only as the pursuit of decluttering your home and living with fewer material possessions. While that’s a part of it, the big picture embraces more aspects of life in general.
Decluttering doesn’t have to be limited to the mess in the living room. You can tidy up and prioritize all areas of your life, including:
- Your home and property
- Your relationships
- Your mind with mindfulness practices
- Your finances
- Your daily schedule
- Your life goals
- Your leisure activities
There’s no limit to how you can personalize and adjust your lifestyle to become more minimalist in your outlook and perspective. “Keeping it simple” can become a mantra for everything you do.
The Biggest Pitfall of Minimalism
There’s one big pitfall to minimalism that people often talk about when they discuss the changes being a minimalist has made in their lives.
If you listen carefully, it seems that many people trade possessions for experiences. You often hear them talk about how, since they stopped focusing on possessions, they have more time for relationships and experiences.
Paying attention to relationships is not a problem, but collecting experiences can be if it points to an inability to just be. It’s especially true if it turns into thrill-seeking.
The problem is, many people trade a decluttering of possessions for an increase in mental clutter. It means that instead of embracing their new lifestyle and the comfort it brings, that create an identity around it.
The relationships might suffer, too, if the newly minted minimalist spends their time judging, labeling, and criticizing the rest of the population and their habits.
A minimalist lifestyle is only beneficial in as much as it doesn’t become a mental position to be defended.
Likewise, collecting experiences in place of objects can also become a form of inattention and cluttering of your life if you always need something new to do.
What You Need in Addition to Minimalism
Embracing a minimalist lifestyle will bring more peace and comfort if you simultaneously embrace mindfulness.
Don’t make your new decluttered way of living into a platform to judge others. Make it a channel into the present moment and live with awareness.
If the space in your decluttered life causes you restlessness, you probably need something to still your mind and create space there, too.
Starting a practice such as meditation, yoga, or a mindfulness activity like focusing on breathing will help you learn how to become more present and conscious.
Intentionally doing mindfulness activities will allow you to develop the ability to just be. And, you won’t need to replace what you’ve discarded with other things like more and more experiences.
You also won’t need to judge your neighbor’s crowded garage or your sister’s dozens of shoes. Instead, you’ll find it easier to just be with them, without expectation.
Perhaps your non-judgmental attention will be the inspiration they need to declutter their lives.
So, watch out for any pride and labeling that starts to creep in as you clean things out. Be on the lookout for a frantic need to fill your time with more activities dressed up as “experiences.”
A minimalist lifestyle can be a freeing and profound experience if it is done consciously and mindfully. You don’t need the pitfall of making it a position to defend or platform to look down from to make others feel smaller.
Next, we’ll look at how a minimalist lifestyle can further reduce your stress by helping you trim your budget.
How Minimalism Saves You Money
Engaging minimalism as a lifestyle has many advantages, not the least of with are reduced stress and increased peace.
However, it can also result in a boost to your budget and more overall savings. This is more of a byproduct than a direct result, and it has to do with how your mindset changes as a result of downsizing.
Saving Money with a Minimalist Mindset
When you make the decision to follow a minimalist lifestyle, you’ll eventually develop a new mindset that includes becoming intentional, automatically decluttering, and creating more long-term goals.
Each of these areas will include the byproduct of saving you money now and in the future. This new way of looking at how you live will automatically include being more budget-conscious.
So, while you may not set out with the intention of saving money, it will become a part of your overall way of existing day to day. It will be a nice bonus, rewarding your efforts to become more eco-friendly.
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the 3 ways being a minimalist will contribute to your bank account.
Minimalists Make Conscious Decisions
When you adopt a minimalist lifestyle, you’re more likely to make intentional decisions. Part of being a minimalist means consciously choosing which things you’ll keep or purchase, and which you’ll discard or go without.
You’ll spend more time focused on which things are “needs” and which are “wants.”
For example, you may decide your family needs Internet access to function for work and school, but you don’t need another pair of shoes because it’s a color you don’t have now.
When you become more aware of the difference between needs and wants, you’ll make choices that involve not spending as much money on the wants.
Another example would be determining that you need more family time, then spend the evening making a meal together to eat on the back deck.
This would be in opposition to deciding the time together should involve a large take-out meal from a restaurant for each person.
Decluttering and Downsizing Saves Money
One of the primary activities of a minimalist, especially in the beginning, is to declutter their environment and downsize.
How far you go with this, and how quickly, will depend on your individual personality and circumstances. Some people live alone and make all the decisions, while others live with family members to consider.
Either way, as you declutter, you might have a yard sale or even decide that now your home is too large and sell it to downsize to a smaller dwelling.
It’s all going to come down to what your situation is and what suits your needs. You might even decide to sell some of your expensive “toys” you no longer use, such as boats or bicycles.
A big part of decluttering is deciding if you really will use something again “someday.”
The trick is to resist the temptation to fill up your newfound space with other purchases, defeating the purpose of what you’re doing.
Some people have a minor relapse when they suddenly feel good about their decluttering efforts, and they rush out to celebrate by buying new possessions to fill the space. Be careful of that trap.
Decluttering and downsizing will save you money, but only if you can maintain the mindset that gets you there in the first place.
Minimalists Focus on Long-Term Goals
Often, people who get into the groove of decluttering and being intentional in their choices, find themselves more focused on long-term goals.
When you don’t feel overwhelmed by your lifestyle and cluttered environment, you’re more likely to think clearly about where you’re headed and how you want to live.
This will likely include how you spend your income and where you want to see yourself in six months, a year, or five years.
As with how you live, you’ll likely see improvement in your budgeting skills and how you manage your household.
Again, the intentional mindset carries over into your budgeting, and what you learn is that everything is connected.
When you become conscious about your decisions, it’ll include things like spending and budgeting, which work in your favor.
Again, the trap is to avoid the temptation to rush out and spend your newly acquired nest egg on things that amount to wants, and not needs.
As you can see, you’ll save money when you embrace a minimalist lifestyle. But it may be more indirect than you realize.
The areas outlined above are 3 of the top ways your spending habits will alter, and you’ll find your overall lifestyle will contribute to a healthier budget.