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Have you ever wondered what a real life minimalist lifestyle looks like?
Whether kids and minimalism actually work?
Or if minimalism really can help you pay off debt and save money?
Today I interview Hannah from Eat, Drink and Save Money and get all the details on living a purposeful, family centred, minimalist life her way.
Plus she reveals why confidence is your biggest asset in pursuing your own minimalist lifestyle!
Ready? Let’s dive in!
What does minimalism mean to you? And why do you identify as a minimalist?
Minimalism is a lifestyle that I completely stumbled upon and for that reason, it means something different to me than most people.
I never decided to become a minimalist. I didn’t have an “aha moment” where I gave away stuff in order to have less. Instead, minimalism is a way of life that allows me to focus less on stuff and more on the important things in life like family and moments.
I identity as a minimalist because I would rather experience things in life than have a tangible item.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like to have things. I still love my stuff, but I try to save my money for bigger and better things instead of a bunch of silly knick knacks that I have to dust.
Being a minimalist gives me more time too. I spend less time cleaning up clutter and dirt around the house and spend more time doing the things I love in life.
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You have quite a unique story on why you became a minimalist, could you tell us a little about that?
I didn’t realize I was a minimalist until it got trendy a couple of years ago. One day I looked around my house and thought about my lifestyle and it hit me that I am, indeed, a minimalist. I definitely never intended to live this way, it’s just the way life unfolded for me.
There are 4 pivotal events that have molded me into the minimalist that I am today: a house fire, a brief stint in the Peace Corps, a home robbery, and a series of moves.
Through each of those events I lost things that I once thought were important only to find out that the stuff never really mattered to me anyway. With each event I became more and more aware of the fact that tangible items didn’t bring me happiness.
You can read more about the details of each event in this blog post.
Your family also paid off a large amount of debt, could you tell us about that and how minimalism impacted your debt payoff journey?
My husband and I made the decision to pay off his law school debt at a quick rate. He had such a high interest rate that we would have paid nearly $350,000 in interest alone if we decided to pay it over the standard 25 years.
We made a goal to pay it off in 7 years and we actually met that goal!
Knowing that we would be wasting so much money in interest helped us decrease our spending on things that we didn’t need. For about 4 or 5 years, if we didn’t absolutely have to have something, we wouldn’t buy it.
Once we paid down the amount and were paying less interest we finally had a little wiggle room and could buy things again. We quickly found out that we didn’t miss buying stuff at all. At that point we started putting our extra money to experiences and savings. Our money now goes to food, vacations, and savings.
Minimalism made me think hard about how to spend my money. I realized through the experience of paying off debt that I want to spend my money on things that bring me joy. Because of this, I no longer clip coupons or feel guilty when I go over budget at the grocery store. Eating well makes me happy. I’d rather buy less clothing and home goods so I can spend more on a good cup of coffee and a steak.
How do you handle minimalism with three children?
Raising kids as a minimalist involves a lot of give and take.
I wish I could keep all the cheap plastic toys that kids love out of my house, but it’s impossible when kids go to birthday parties and attend preschool.
Instead, I try to control the clutter by limiting what we buy the kids. My kids learned early on that we don’t buy something every time we enter a store.
I’m a huge Target fan, probably because I love looking at everything without having the bring it into my home. I could walk all the aisles just for fun. I think my kids have seen me go to stores and only buy what we need, so they realize that they only need to buy what they need too.
Of course that doesn’t mean it came easily. There have been many tears over toys they can’t have. However, staying consistent and saying no over and over again has had an effect. They now know that they can only get stuff if they buy it themselves or it’s a special occasion.
I also work hard to control clutter by limiting toys to the playroom. I don’t let them kids have toys in their room because I want that to be a calm space just for them to rest.
We converted our dining room into a playroom because we didn’t have a need for a formal dining room and a breakfast table. I love having that space where my kids can play without having the worry about making a mess. As soon as my kids outgrow a toy, I take it to the consignment store and sell it. With 3 boys, I don’t have the household space or the mental space to keep every toy they’ve ever had.
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What are your top minimalist and decluttering tips to help someone who wants to move into living a more minimalist lifestyle?
This is where I really struggle as a minimalist!
Since I sort of fell into minimalism I have a hard time coming up with tips, however, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.
My biggest piece of advice is to have self confidence.
So often we use shopping to make ourselves feel better as a little pick me up. I’ve found that the more confident I get about saving money and spending money on things that really bring me joy, I spend less on other things. I no longer buy super trendy clothes to fit in or buy something just because everyone else has it. It definitely requires confidence to be different though!
Finally, what is the biggest positive and biggest negative you have found with minimalism?
The biggest positive I’ve found is that I have more time to spend with the people I love because I’m spending less time taking care of my “stuff”. I don’t have to waste time cleaning or dusting too much because I don’t have much to clean or put away.
The biggest negative is that it’s sometimes hard to explain my lifestyle to friends.
I’m 99% sure that most of my neighbors and friends think we are really poor! I happen to live in a very wealthy town. While there are like minded people here, the majority of the people don’t understand my lifestyle. I’ve found that it’s not even worth trying to explain it to people who aren’t actively seeking a change!
Hannah blogs over at Eat, Drink and Save Money and at Beautiful Budget Life about balancing a frugal and fabulous lifestyle while paying off debt!