Guide to a Minimalist Lifestyle

By Caroline Banton · February 10, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Guide to a Minimalist Lifestyle

Many of us struggle to keep up with the demands of our daily lives, which can create stress and anxiety. That’s why some choose a minimalist lifestyle: Fewer possessions make for easier management. Minimalists strive to eliminate anything in their life that does not serve their purpose. This leads to more physical, emotional, and mental space.

There are gradations of minimalism because the mindset change from consumerism to minimalism is a drastic one best done gradually. If that change appeals to you, read on to better understand what a minimalist lifestyle is, its benefits, and how to start on the path to a simpler, more manageable lifestyle.

What Is a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Minimalist living is uncluttered by superfluous items like luxury cars, excessive clothing, and purely decorative furnishings. There can be many reasons someone chooses a minimalist lifestyle; they might want to simplify their life to reduce stress, improve their health, or reduce harm to the environment. They may also want to cut back on expenses and improve their budgeting and finances.

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Surprising Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle

When you have less stuff, it follows that you have less to worry about. A minimalist lifestyle allows you to carry less literal and metaphorical baggage around.

Another benefit is that minimalists buy fewer things, which saves money. From a holistic perspective, minimalism reduces consumerism, and that benefits the planet.

How to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle

Living a minimalist lifestyle can seem daunting for some, requiring a mindset shift. Here’s a window into a more minimalist mindset and lifestyle to give you a taste of what it involves.

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Invest in Experiences

Rather than collecting things and possessions, a minimalist lifestyle emphasizes experiences. Minimalists spend, just in a more deliberate way. For example, minimalists may spend on vacations and concerts rather than on cars and jewelry.

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Audit Your Life

Auditing your life involves deciding what is most important and eliminating anything superfluous. Deciding what is most important can be difficult, but some questions to ask yourself are: How am I doing mentally and physically? What’s important to me now that perhaps wasn’t before? The answer to these and similar questions can help you pinpoint your core values and priorities.

A free budget app can help you audit your spending and evaluate how much of it is really necessary.

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Eliminate Needless Expenses

A meaningless expense to one person may be valuable to another. That’s why conducting a life audit is important to help you decide which expenses are not serving your purpose. For example, a person might discover that buying gas is often unnecessary if they can manage without a car most of the time. Or that mid-price brands and gently used items can be just as nice as luxury goods.

Set Limits and Delegate

A minimalist lifestyle is easier to control. Setting limits and delegating is one way to live a minimalist lifestyle because you have less to manage. For example, you might use an accountant to do your taxes, or hire someone to manage your website. You might have fewer screens or electronics or downsize to a smaller home.

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Honor Your Priorities

The goal of auditing your life is to establish priorities to eliminate what doesn’t align with them. Part of the journey to minimalism is learning to appreciate what you have and not constantly desire new things. Perhaps you and your partner decide to live on a single income while one of you cares for the family. You may also earn less and have to economize.

Minimalist Lifestyle Tips

How do you implement a minimalist lifestyle? Because the changes can be profound, try making small changes at first as you gradually adjust to a new mindset.

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1. Declutter Your Environment and Your Mind

A great place to start is to declutter your environment. Start with your home, your workspace, your car. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a while or that you are just hanging onto in case you need them. As the space around you becomes less messy, you might find your thinking becomes more clear.

2. Be a Purposeful Not Prolific Consumer

Minimalists still make purchases, but the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. An example is choosing to use one credit card that serves many purposes rather than five because each one comes with different rewards. Yes, you may benefit from free miles and cash back, but you will also have to buy more to earn those points and rewards, which is consumerism, the antithesis of financial minimalism.

3. Digitize Movies and Books

Most of us have bookcases full of books that sit and gather dust. It’s fine to keep some treasured items and classic novels, but you can also download e-books or visit your local library. Declutter your home of old DVDs, CDs, and books you don’t need.

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4. Recycle and Reuse

Reusing shopping bags, refilling a water bottle instead of buying bottled water, or taking your own cup to Starbucks are ways to cut back on trash and single-use products. You’ll save money and help the environment.

5. Get Organized

As you declutter, you’ll find ways to be more organized. Find a space for things you want to keep, and use storage bins and organizers. When everything has a place, you’ll waste less time trying to locate things, and you’ll be more motivated to put things back when you’ve used them.

The Takeaway

A minimalist lifestyle is appealing, considering how busy and cluttered our lives can be. However, changing our mindset is difficult, and getting rid of things (both real and symbolic) we’ve held onto for years can be traumatic. Thankfully, you don’t have to embrace full-on minimalism immediately. You can take small steps to simplify your life gradually as you adapt to minimalist life.

Begin by establishing goals and priorities and by envisioning a less complex life. From there, move to decluttering your environment and organizing. You can also reduce your expenses and financial obligations and delegate tasks you don’t need to do yourself. As you progress, you may find that your mind clears, your life slows down, and you learn to appreciate what you have instead of yearning always to have more.

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How do you live a minimalist lifestyle?

Living a minimalist lifestyle requires prioritizing and eliminating things that do not align with your values. The process of elimination will be different for everyone, but it does not have to be quick or painful. Just removing one thing or downloading a budgeting and money tracking app can help you achieve a simple minimalist lifestyle.

What is an example of a minimalist?

An example of a minimalist is someone who lives with very little furniture, or none at all, or someone who moves to a smaller home. A less extreme version of a minimalist might be someone who simplifies things by clearing items from countertops, buys few clothes, or chooses a vegan diet.

What is the 90 rule for minimalism?

The hardest part of achieving a simpler minimalist lifestyle is decluttering. How do you decide what to get rid of? The 90 rule can help. Choose a possession, and ask yourself if you’ve used that item in the past 90 days. If not, then it’s a candidate for elimination from your life because it is not currently serving a useful purpose.

Photo credit: iStock/Pramote Naksomrit

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