My wife and I are dabbling in minimalism. Consequently, I will use as few as words as possible for this post. We had too much junk. We got rid of a lot of it. We are happier. You should try it. The end.
A 43 word post sounds great to me, but I’ll give you the extended version if you’re interested in decluttering your home and thinking about how that affects your personal finance.
Alli (my wife) has been reading some blogs lately (that’s what expecting mothers do!) and was intrigued by a few different concepts that revolve around minimalism. Minimalism can cover a wide spectrum of arenas and there is certainly a range of how “all in” someone dives into minimalism. The core idea of minimalism is living with less stuff: less clothes, less pictures, less movies, less books, less tables, less lamps, less tv’s, less Qdoba (ha – not a chance, will never be that hard-core).
Our Goal: Alli and I didn’t sign a contract, drink any kool-aid, sell a car, or make any long-term commitment. The goal for us was to declutter the house to achieve less chaos and more peace of mind with a baby on the way within a month.
Although chucking everything excess in a dumpster is one way to go, Alli and I have some tips from experience if you want to try ‘minimalizing’:
- Carve out plenty of time. From our experience, thoroughly taking inventory of a room and removing excess took a couple hours. Our plan was roughly one room per day for a week.
- Respect the ‘No’. It doesn’t make sense to create more stress in the process of trying to reduce stress. If there were things Alli wanted to keep (really, another scarf?! Kidding honey if you’re reading this…), I respected that decision and didn’t fight it. Alli was kind of enough to do the same (why yes I do need a metric and standard ratchet set in the garage!).
- Give away when possible. Sometimes organizing a garage sale or finding a buyer is more hassle than keeping it (remember the goal: peace of mind), so giving things away is a great option.
- Work room by room. Splitting up the house has made it more manageable and given us benchmarks and little successes along the way.
It’s hard work to take inventory of what can stay and what needs to go. The hardest part is making decision after decision after decision about keeping or parting ways with an item. Here are some rules that Alli and I followed to make those decisions simpler.
- The 365 Day Rule. If I haven’t used it or worn it this past year, I probably don’t need it. One year was a time frame that I used. You could use a shorter or longer period of time depending on what your goals were.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
- The “feel factor” – Alli read a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo which suggested that you know an item should stay when it sparks joy when you pick it up and hold it. If it didn’t spark joy, we found the nearest trash can or donation box.
- In with the new requires out with the old. This rule is a new concept that Alli and I are trying this summer. If I buy a collared shirt, a collared shirt has to go. If we get a new book, an old one must leave.
My thrifty side was a little skeptical of this process because I didn’t know if we would be spending money, losing money, saving money, or making money. Here’s how the experiment in minimalism affected our bottom line.
- A little boost. Selling a few book textbooks along with some jewelry was a nice payout but nothing significant.
- A new outlook on the value of things. I found myself debating whether I needed to keep an item simply to justify purchasing it in the first place. After a few rounds of internal debate, I sided with the angel on my shoulder whispering “toss it” and convinced myself that the money had already been spent. I can’t change the expense, but I can change how I manage my stuff now.
- A different perspective on belongings. Going through the process helped us better define what are needs, what are wants, and what is extra. We’ve achieved a place where our spending will undoubtedly be lower in the foreseeable future based on the convictions we formed the past two weeks.
Do you think dabbling in minimalism would be good on the budget in your case? Any tips of managing the steady accumulation of stuff?