So You’ve Gone Minimalist. Now What?
You see it in the aisles of Target, on HGTV, or that Instagram-friendly cafe by work. The clear, stark interior design, with a single accent piece. Minimalism has officially gone mainstream, and while the aesthetic seems all the rage, there’s more to minimalism than just having less on your end table. Today, the art of being a minimalist is that, and much more—from your wall hangings to your wallet, this trend is becoming a full-blown lifestyle for some people.
Seen as more philosophy than fad, taking a minimalist approach could be the catalyst that helps change your outlook on the way you spend, save, and live.
What Does Minimalist Mean?
Minimalism as we know it today partially stemmed out of the arts movements in the ’60s and ’70s—think bold graphics with stark backgrounds, simple design with little clutter. From there, the idea of minimalism took off as a movement.
The full-on minimalist philosophy, when applied to personal lifestyle, can simply mean consciously and deliberately choosing what you own. It’s asking, “Do I really need that?” when you’re contemplating buying yet another white T-shirt.
So you want to become a minimalist? You could start by working towards eliminating any unwanted “stuff” from your life.
Going minimalist usually entails downsizing what you currently have, gaining some breathing room and clarity in life through maintaining fewer things to better focus on what you really want and need. You might consider donating, recycling, or perhaps selling objects that you have in multiples or things that you decide aren’t actually necessities. Many look to purge their bedroom closets of seasons-old items with little sentimental value.
In today’s Marie Kondo-centric culture, most of us are familiar with the purge, more often called spring cleaning. Clutter can sometimes cause stress, and it could be freeing to let go of items not used in a while. Seeing that cleared-out space in your kitchen cabinet or closet could evoke a feeling like a relief for some.
It can be easy to focus on the actions of minimalism, such as getting rid of things and not buying more, but practitioners of the philosophy also recognize that in the clearing away of items, you could end up making space for other parts of your life. When you’re less focused on material things, you may have more room to focus on other areas of your life, like your health, relationships, personal growth, goals, and more. Sure, it’s about having less, but it’s also about having the space to do more with less.
With culture trending towards minimalist practices, it can seem all too easy to adopt this lifestyle. But for many of us, it’s not about getting rid of what we have that keeps us from minimalism, it can also be the urge to resist buying more. It’s clearing your shelves and keeping them that way that trips some of us up. Many of us have the impulse to fill up those empty shelves again, even if we don’t necessarily need anything. That impulse can become even more challenging when you factor in family and children.
Keeping Up With Minimalism
For some, adopting minimalism can feel like a breath of fresh air. Having less and buying less means you don’t have to keep up with so much. Instead, you’re asked to evaluate each purchase thoughtfully and decide if you really need something before purchasing it. If you were to give yourself a few hours or days to think over a potential purchase—you may decide you won’t really need it. Minimalism sounds appealing—of course we all want to spend less money—but it can become more challenging when put into practice.
In the hectic day to day, it’s often easier to just buy that new toy to appease your kid, or that offset spatula for the kitchen, because you wanted it to frost that cake. Maintaining a minimalism-type lifestyle generally means paying attention to what you have and staying aware of what you don’t need.
Leading by Example
So you’ve decided to adopt that minimalist mindset. Initial thoughts may stray to tossing your partner’s disorganized baseball card selection. As a parent, you might be itching to cut your child’s stuffed animal collection in half ASAP. However, convincing your housemates that minimalism is worth the effort may be easier if you lead by example . This can be one avenue in helping your family adopt a minimalist lifestyle mindset. Instead of pushing your kids to ditch most of their toys, you might turn an eye inward and tackle that CD collection in the den that’s gotten out of hand.
You can certainly talk to your kids about why you value a minimalist lifestyle, but if they don’t see you engaging in it, you may find it hard to ask them to part with their items.
Having a Home for Everything
After you’ve purged your home of what you don’t need, work with your family to find an official logical home for everything that’s left. You can encourage family members to put items away as soon as they are done with them. Toys and games can go in their designated spots, just as dirty clothes could be placed in a hamper.
Remember, it is recommended that this organization take place after you’ve gotten rid of what you don’t need.
Organizing clutter doesn’t usually work, but after a purge, you should be able to find a proper place for everything.
Making a habit of putting things away the instant you’re done with them can serve as a constant gut check. If you get sick of putting away your many pairs of shoes every day, or your child is sick of picking up toys off the floor every evening, it might encourage your family to think about having even less.
Minimalism Is Personal
Minimalism can mean something different for everyone, and it’s unlikely your version of it will be “Instagram” perfect. Everyone values different items and has different needs, so why would your experience look the same as everyone else’s?
Try not to feel you need to get rid of things just because you think you should have less. That mentality can land you right back where you started—unhappy with more stuff.
Doing Less With More: Minimalism and Your Budget
Minimalism can encourage a more frugal mindset such as fewer impulse purchases, which means you’re likely to end up with more cushion in your budget at the end of the month. Instead of spending the surplus, consider saving with a SoFi Money cash management account.
If you’re adopting a minimalist mindset for everything else in your life, you might be considering ways to simplify your finances to adopt a more minimalist approach to money. SoFi Money® is a cash management account that makes it easy to spend, save, and earn all in one place.
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