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How to Get Started with Minimalism



The idea of suddenly jumping into minimalism can feel really overwhelming. How do you switch to the minimalist lifestyle? What are the rules of minimalism? What do you get rid of? Do you throw your furniture away? Do you paint your rooms white? Where to begin?

 

One of the main ideas with minimalism is that your focus on keeping only those things you need. You do away with things you do not cherish. Something tells me you don’t cherish that expired coupon in your purse, that pair of socks with holes in it, the expired evaporated milk in your pantry, etc.

 

To answer the question of how to get started with minimalism? Keep it simple. Keep the things you need or love. Get rid of all the rest. Do not bring anything new into your life (from people to plants to a pair of jeans) unless you love it or need it. Minimalists keep what they need or love. Everything else goes. I don’t love my toaster, but I keep it.

 

But it’s hard to get started with the whole decluttering process. The idea of decluttering your whole house can feel really overwhelming. Some people suggest you go room by room. The Komari method by Marie Kondo suggests you declutter by categories. I like and have used both of these methods, sometimes in tandem. But when you’re first starting out, it’s helpful to start with something small just so you get the hang of it and have a chance to feel the positive energy around a decluttered space.

 

To get started minimalizing, we’re going to focus on three small spaces you can efficiently declutter. Starting small will help build your confidence. You’ll get a sense of how the process works. The three areas I’m going to have you declutter are both practical and symbolic. Sure, you can jump right to decluttering your closet (see more about that here), but it’s a lot easier to start with baby steps.

 

As you declutter, you can ask yourself the following questions to help guide your decluttering process. I can this the NELL method:

 

 

Let’s take a look at 3 easy steps you can take to begin decluttering.

 

Declutter your purse or wallet.

Practical: You get rid of clutter, mess, and waste.

Symbolic: Your purse or wallet is where your money lives. Make room for more!

 

One of the easiest ways to begin decluttering is to start with something small but meaningful. Your wallet or purse is where your money lives, either in terms of the green stuff or your bank and credit cards. It’s also a place that can easily becomes cluttered with lots of extra stuff. As a mom, I used to have matchbox cars, hair bows, sandwich bags full or Cheerios, and all manner of nonsense in my purse. No more. Declutter your wallet or purse. Throw away used gift cards, cut up expired credit cards, toss store cards for places you don’t visit (I recently discovered I was carrying around a store card for a shop no longer in business), save or throw away receipts, etc. When you’re done, you should only have the things you use, need, or cherish. For instance, you might have bank cards, insurance cards, and a treasured wallet photo. You don’t need ten lip gloss tubes, five moisturizers, or an expired coupon. Make physical space, and energetic space, by making room in your purse or wallet. Treat your money nicely. Remember, when you open space in any aspect of life, you make room for more. Making room for more in the wallet is a good thing!

 

Declutter your socks and/or underwear drawer.

Practical: You are making physical space.

Symbolic: Energetically, you are letting the universe know you value yourself. Wearing tattered drawers and holey socks sends the opposite message.

 

Why are you holding on to socks or underwear with holes in them? What are you keeping ill-fitting garments? Tight socks won’t magically become loose just because you can’t bring yourself to donate them. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you have socks or stockings you never wear. You’ll have undergarments that should be tossed and replaced. And seriously, how many pairs of socks or undergarments do you really need? Still have items with the tags, but they don’t fit? Donate them. Holey socks? Tattered undergarments? Toss. This is an easy area to pare down. Donate or toss items.

Declutter your kitchen food pantry.

Practical: You are eliminating spoiled food items, or food you will not eat. Ideally, donate any items that are still good.

Symbolic: You are being more mindful about what you put in your body. You are honoring the food that nourishes you, showing your gratitude.

Decluttering the pantry is both easy and difficult in some regards. The easy part is tossing anything that’s expired. It’s easy to overlook things like evaporated milk, pudding mixes, sauces, etc. So your first step will be to trash anything expired. Next, look for partial bags or boxes. Can items be combined? My son would leave 45 bags of crackers with three crackers in each in the pantry if he could. Do you have anything like that you can declutter? How about that half-box of past from who knows when? What can be tossed or combined to be saved? Your next step is to look for food you really don’t eat or like. Many of us are on a journey to eat healthier. What foods in your pantry are you better off without? Maybe your tastes have changed? I was a huge fan of vodka marinana sauce—until I wasn’t. Sometimes, we grow tired of foods we used to love. In my neighborhood, the Boy Scouts often stop by to collect food. I use this as an opportunity to declutter my pantry. What my family doesn’t need may feed someone else. As COVID takes its toll, food banks are struggling to support those in need. Label a box for donation and drop it off at your local food bank.

Need to find a local food bank? Check out Feeding America.

Minimalism and Money

 




What is Minimalism?

 



When people think of minimalism, it often draws up images of tiny houses, following Marie Kondo’s Konmari decluttering method, wearing the same outfit over and over, or donating your belongings. You might imagine an empty house with white walls, a well-placed orchid, and three shirts in the closet. While minimalism can include those things—I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” philosophy—minimalism doesn’t have to be that. So just how do you define minimalism?

Merriam-Webster defines minimalism as "a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity."

This definition does capture the "pared down" sense of minimalism as a lifestyle, but not the spirit of it. A simple life can be an abundant life. A spareness, if we go with the "healthily lean" definition of that word, is more about putting your energy onto the things that matter. When you strip away the excess--spending your time and money on things you don't care that much about--you will have a simple life. But this life focuses ONLY on those things that really matter, not on the rest of the junk that has no meaning. That said, if we define minimalism by it's simplicity, but also note that in simplicity we can focus on what matters, then simple is a great term to use--but it does not necessarily imply lack.

Minimalism is about reclaiming your life.  



Overflowing closets, drawers, and garages are often symbols of clutter in our lives—mental, emotional, financial, social, and spiritual clutter. How much of that stuff do you really cherish? How much of that stuff do you really use? Go into your closet. Do you have clothes hanging in there you are hanging on to--maybe because they were expensive or you got a great deal--but you kind of hate them and never wear them? Maybe you outgrew that fashion. Those clothes have become clutter. All this stuff is the physical manifestations of our inability to let go, of discord, or of distress. What does reclaiming your life have to do with a cluttered closet? A lot, actually. Sigmund Freud once said that the house is the symbol of the body. I’d take it a step further and say it is a symbol of your life. If your home is symbolic of your life, what do all those cluttered closets, drawers, attics, garages, etc. represent about how you are living? There is literally no space for anything new and you are drowning in the past. Do you need to do that? Is it good for you to do that? No. Getting inspired by minimalism will help you learn to declutter your life and make space for new, healthy things!

Minimalism is about doing more of the things you love.




Minimalism isn’t just about your physical space, it’s also about your time. How do you spend your time? Do you spend it on the things you love, or do you spend it on work or tasks you hate? Do you spend your time with people you love? Do you follow up on dreams and express your talents? Minimalism asks you to keep things simple. Make a list of the ways you want to spend your time. How close does your life match that list? When you apply the theory of minimalism to your daily life, you spend more time focusing on those tasks you genuinely enjoy.

Minimalism is about manifesting abundance.





Ever hear the phrase, “less is more?” While that's true, minimalists are still abundant. Their lives are full. This might seem like an oxymoron…the abundant minimalist? Yes. After years of working hard to practice minimalist ideas, I am consumer debt-free, my student loans are paid off, I own my vehicle, I make more money than I ever did, and I’m a hundred pounds lighter. I work entirely on my passions. How do you do this? Mindset. Understand the importance of wants over needs. Understanding the difference between assets and liabilities. And putting down my fork and my credit card at the right moment. Saying no to a new car that I don’t need, a new pair of shoes I won’t wear, an extra slice of pizza I should not eat, and more can lead you to a place of abundance.

So, how do you get there? How do you become a minimalist? It takes focus. It takes making choices. The purpose of this blog is to guide you through the steps of minimalizing every aspect of your life so you can reclaim your life, do the things you live, and live in abundance.

Inspired? I hope so! That’s the goal of this blog, to help you become an inspired minimalist. Get ready to live a life you love!