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Minimalism: the trend that can save you money, boost your happiness and save the environment.
Everyone is talking about it and it’s too easy to dismiss as just the latest fad. I mean it’s got it’s own documentary on Netflix…
But if you are at all interested in early retirement and financial independence or improving your health and happiness, then this is one trend you should be paying attention to.
And whist I always say you should never try and keep up with the Jones, in the case of minimalism you may just want to outdo the Jones, hook, line and sinker.
So what is minimalism?
Minimalism is the act of consciously choosing to live with less.
You know people who live in tiny houses or sprinter vans, well they’re minimalist (although perhaps less through choice but instead through necessity). Of course you can be a minimalist and live in a ‘normal’ house, it’s more about the conscious act of only living with what you need, as opposed to what you live in.
The best way I can describe minimalism is that it’s like the perfect capsule wardrobe, but for your whole life.
Many minimalists believe that possessions end up owning you, causing you more stress and stopping you from doing the things you want.
For example, if traveling the world is your life’s dream, what’s really stopping you?
You’ve got a mortgage, a car payment, the kids want the latest toys and trainers. They’re all possession (well not the kids…) and should not be the reason you’re not living out your dream.
The only reason that should be causing you to pause for thought is how to pay for food while you’re out doing what you really want to be doing. Anything else is just arbitrary noise. Plus when you get rid of possessions you will often find that that the amount of money you need decreases a lot as you aren’t paying for their upkeep.
Why would you want to be a minimalist?
I’ve got three reasons: it will save you money, it will boost your happiness and it can help save the environment.
Why minimalism will save you money?
Because you’re not buying as much…
No I’m serious, it almost sounds too simple. But with minimalism you’re choosing to only buy things you truly want or need. No more mindless buying just because the sales on or you’ve had a bad day.
Every purchase becomes a conscious and thought out decision, because when you consider that possessions become a burden, well you wouldn’t want too many of them…
Now if there are any moustaches reading this you’re probably doing this trend already even if you don’t realize it. After all, mustachism has a strong line of anti-consumerism running through it with an emphasis on finding happiness NOT through the normal America dream of buying everything and getting up to your eyeballs in debt.
You will be surprised just how much rubbish you spend your money on when you actually stop and consider whether an item truly will bring you joy in the long (ish) term. That instant boost of happiness when you buy an item doesn’t count, you can get that same feeling from going for a run and it’s better for you.
How minimalism will boost your happiness?
I’ve touched on this slightly, mainly about how having less responsibility for ‘stuff’ can make you feel so much lighter and free.
I mean how often do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning your overly large house, keeping the multiple cars your family owns maintained or tidying up every day despite everything being put away yesterday.
What if you knew that when you got home from work you would be walking into a tidy home where the only thing you had to do was eat some delicious dinner? Well that’s the reality of minimalist because with less stuff there’s just less that you have to do to keep it all cleaned and maintained.
Another benefit of minimalist and a big happiness booster is the reduction of decision fatigue.
There is a reason people in high-powered positions often wear the same or very similar clothes everyday. Like Mark Zuckerberg who created Facebook wearing a similar grey t-shirt each day or Barak Obama always wearing his signature grey suits.
Why do they do this? Because decision fatigue is a real thing and when you’re making as many incredibly important decisions as they are making everyday you certainly don’t want to be unable to make the right one.
But what is decision fatigue? It’s when you have to make so many different decisions every day that you literally burn out on your ability to make a choice.
Ever got home from a stressful day of work (or shopping…) and literally were unable to decide what to have for dinner. Like making that choice was just way too hard so you probably either went without or ended up eating general rubbish from the cupboards. Yep you had decision fatigue.
When you become a minimalist your list of options for, well everything, are significantly reduced which cuts down on your decision fatigue A LOT.
For example, do you currently find it difficult to decide what to wear? Well that won’t be a problem if you move towards minimalism because your wardrobe will only contain things that you actually like wearing and fit you.
You will be surprised just how much a tidy home, where you hardly have to do anything to maintain, and just less choice in your day to day life because you are only surrounded but objects that you actually like and use, will seriously raise your happiness level.
As someone who suffers from depression I can confirm this shit really works. I mean you won’t be cured just by having a good declutter, but honestly it makes a huge difference.
Why will minimalism save the environment?
I think we are all aware of the damage our environment is currently under going. Climate change is a real thing and something we all need to worry about.
So what’s something we can all do that will have a significantly good impact on our struggling planet. Embrace minimalism.
Basically the rate of human consumption is crazy, and things like the manufacturing process, transportation of goods and sourcing the raw products to make these goods rarely has any benefit to the environment. In fact normally it negatively affects the environment significantly.
So if you’re buying less stuff then naturally there will be less of a negative impact on the environment.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. That they’ve already made the stuff so the environmental impact has already happened and yes I see what your saying. But over time if products are being sold less, then shops will stock less of them, and manufacturers will produce less of them.
And because minimalism is such a hot trend right now, the more people who jump on the bandwagon, well the shops are going to notice pronto and so we will all have actually contributed to less being manufactured and transported. Our planet will be happy!
Plus with less purchasing there is less waste. And waste is another major impact on our environment.
AND if your being more conscious with the purchases you do make, and because you’re making less purchases thus you can spend a bit more money on each one, you could decide to shop from more sustainable places that are taking their environmental impact seriously.
Minimalism really can help to heal our planet, and the more people are start living minimally the better off our planet will be.
So yeah, it looks like this minimalist trend can really have a positive impact on nearly every aspect of our life!
I’m guessing you’re now just a little bit interested in living a more minimalist life, right?
So here are some great beginners steps to becoming a minimalist:
1) Implement a spending freeze challenge.
The first thing to do is have a go at being a bit more minimalist and one of the best ways to do that is to have a go at a spending freeze challenge.
If you’re use to buying multiple things everyday then just challenge yourself not to spend anything for one day. If you don’t normally buy much daily then consider making the challenge a bit longer, like five days or even a full week.
Some people do entire months (except food and travel to work) so if you’re really keen to save money and become more conscious about your spending and consumption habits then you could try that. Just don’t bit off more than you can chew!
2) Time to de-clutter.
I don’t care how well you’ve tidied, you definitely have clutter and other things you don’t need. One core part of minimalism is to reduce what you own so it doesn’t own you.
Now’s the time to get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy or have a use.
Need some help with this, and realistically everyone does because we have been brought up in a society that rewards the ownership of possession. You need to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I have just finished reading it and have implemented her system with great sucess. It’s honestly a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone who is not already a die hard minimalist. Consider getting it from the Library rather than buying it, it will be one less thing to get rid of…
3) Try and only buy quality items that you actually want or need, and that will last and be of use.
You see minimalism isn’t necessarily frugal. Because minimalists generally buy so much less than ‘normal’ consumers, when it is time to buy they can actually spend more money on quality items that will last.
Need a new winter coat? A minimalist would not think twice about spending a decent amount on a good coat. One that is stylish enough to wear to every occasion but good quality enough to last a number of years. That way they only need one, rather than the normal five plus that everyone else has.
I know I would much rather have one really good thing, than five kind of rubbish versions…
So start buying only decent items that will last. Not only will you feel better because you will be surrounded by high quality items, but you will save money because you won’t have to keep replacing them!
4) Rinse and repeat.
So you’ve had a go at not spending anything, you’ve had a good de-clutter and now your only buying items that will actually last, what next?
Now you just need to rinse and repeat.
No one became a minimalist overnight. It will take time. Time not just to reduce your possessions to a level that you really feel comfortable with but also time to enter into the minimalist mindset.
Don’t beat yourself if you mindlessly spend one day, or end up buying something rubbish and cheap. Just be conscious that what you did was not in line with the new mindset you’re developing and that next time you will be more aware.
Minimalism really is a simple concept, so the steps towards living a more minimalist life shouldn’t be complicated either!
I hope you enjoyed this post about minimalism. It’s something I’m really trying hard to implement into my own life and so far the results have only been positive.
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